Colors have the most fascinating etymology – take the color fuchsia for example


It all started in 1858 with August Wilhelm von Hofmann who created a new dye


Its manufacturer named the dye fuchsine, probably because its color resembles flowers of the fuchsia plant


If you think fuchsine is only used  to dye fabric for hip fashion models

fuchsia model

You would be wrong, because it’s also used to stain hip bacteria

fuchsine bacteria2
not a real bacteria

The fuchsia plant in turn, takes its name from the well known 16th century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs – more on that later

Now, while the color fuchsia (named after the dye/plant) remained, the name fuchsine was very short lived, because in June of 1859 it was renamed magenta to celebrate a victory of the French army at the Battle of Magenta.  Why name it after a battle? (note: people die in battles, not dye) Well, probably to honor the Zuave fighters of the French Army – Algerians who were famous for their courage, but more importantly, for their red (or is it magenta?) baggy trousers

The Brave Zuave

The name magenta given to the town of Magenta, where the battle was waged, is traditionally connected to castrum Maxentiae, meaning "castle of Maxentius" after the roman emperor

The thing is – Fuchs, the botanist who gave the fuchsia plant its name, means fox in German – a name reserved for people with…, you guessed correctly! red hair
And so the German, pure-bred, stern ancestors of Leonhart are now forever associated with the color fuchsia, an association I'm not sure they would have approved of.

red haired German
Red Haired Non-German

It’s also interesting to note that technically (in the RGB color model) magenta and fuchsia are exactly the same color – attained by mixing an equal amount of red and blue. However, as anyone in the fashion biz will tell you, fuchsia and magenta are, like, totally not the same!… duh
Magenta tends to be more reddish while fuchsia more purple-pink. Here is the Crayola version of the two

magenta-fuchsia crayola

To sum it all up, it was the Roman emperor who named the town, that named the battle, that named the color magenta, that renamed fuchsia, which was named after Fuchs – named for his (ancestors’) red hair. If you happen to be a computer programmer then fuchsia and magenta (and possibly many other colors) are indistinguishable to you, but if you’re not, then you know they are quite different. Duh

Now crimson – is a whole different story


Crimson comes from Spanish Cremesin – belonging to the Kermes – A louse that feeds on oak sap and produces a dye of this color

I'm not blushing - I was born like this
I'm not blushing – I was born like this

The louse is named after the Arabic/Persian word Karmaz which means red, and Karmaz comes from the Sanskrit word kṛmi-ja meaning "worm-made" – so a bit of a logic loop there. Those of us who know Hebrew may recognize the Biblical color Carpas which also comes from the same source – the louse on the oak tree, see here . Carpas appears in the Bible as one of myriad colors garbing Mordechai The Jew while he was paraded in the streets of Shushan in ancient Persia

The triumph of Mordechai *oil on panel *52 x 71,5 cm *1617
"The triumph of Mordechai" – it's a long story…

The guy parading Mordachai was later executed (as were his 10 children) but he was also kind of a louse and really had it coming

The End

2 תגובות בנושא “Fuchsia

  1. this is in one word – amazing.
    BTW if we are discussing the color "Fuchsia", are you aware that the women you are married to is a descendant of a family bearing the name "ROTHBART" (before it was changed to what it is today) which means "BARBAROSA" which means "Red Beard" ……..

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