Word for Wednesday: Purple

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In February, we are continuing with the Word for Wednesday theme of colours

The word colour entered English via Old French and comes from the Latin ‘color’, from the Old Latin ‘colos’ meaning ‘a covering’, from the PIE root ‘kel-’ meaning ‘to conceal’. The word has been used in reference to skin colour since the early-thirteenth century and in reference to pigments and dye since the fourteenth century. 

The spelling colour became the common English spelling from the fourteenth century, but a classical correction made color an alternative from the fifteenth century. Color is now the common American English spelling of this word. 

So far we’ve looked at the words redorangeyellowgreen, and blue. Today’s word is purple

Purple is a colour made from mixing red and blue. On the colour spectrum, indigo – a dark blueish purple – falls after blue and before violet. Violet – also a blueish purple – is at the far end of the spectrum, opposite red. 

Purple comes from the Old English ‘purpul’, from the Latin ‘purpura’ which meant ‘purple dye or garment’. The word ‘purpura’ also referred to the shellfish from which the purple dye was made. ‘Purpura’ comes from the Greek ‘porphyra’. 

Indigo’ literally translates to ‘blue dye from India’. It dates to the sixteenth century and originates from the Greek ‘indikon’. 

Like the word ‘orange’ is used to describe things that are the same colour as the orange fruit, ‘violet’ is used to describe things that are the same colour as the purple-blue flower with the same name. The word dates to the fourteenth century and came into English via the Old French ‘violete’, from the Latin ‘viola’.

10 Feb 2021
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