March 22, 2016
vermilion (noun)
\ver-MILL-yun\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a bright reddish orange
How do you use it?
Dana was able to identify the bird by its vermilion plumage and crown as a vermilion flycatcher.
Are you a word wiz?

The word "vermilion" (also spelled "vermillion") comes from "vermis," which is the Latin word for a kind of animal. What do you think "vermis" means?

It seems pretty strange that a beautiful color would be named for worms, which are not creatures that we usually think of as attractive, but it's true! A long time ago, people made vermilion dye from the dried bodies of various scale insects. We call the dried bodies and the dye made from them "kermes," but in Latin it was called "vermiculus," meaning "little worm." "Vermiculus" comes from "vermis," the Latin word for "worm." Another word that descends from "vermis" is "vermicelli," a thin kind of spaghetti that looks like worms.
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