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cochineal

[koch-uh-neel, koh-chuh-, koch-uh-neel, koh-chuh-] /ˌkɒtʃ əˈnil, ˌkoʊ tʃə-, ˈkɒtʃ əˌnil, ˈkoʊ tʃə-/
noun
1.
a red dye prepared from the dried bodies of the females of the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus, which lives on cactuses of Mexico, Central America, and other warm regions.
Origin
1575-1585
1575-85; < Middle French cochinille < Spanish cochinilla the insect; of obscure origin; perhaps to be identified with Spanish cochinilla sow bug (assuming a likeness between it and the female cochineal insect), diminutive of cochina sow, but chronology is doubtful
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for cochineal
  • Emerald and cochineal the flight of days, their cardamom-infused evanescence.
  • cochineal insects give a red or pink coloring to foods, lipsticks, and beverages.
  • cochineal is primarily used as a food colouring and for cosmetics.
British Dictionary definitions for cochineal

cochineal

/ˌkɒtʃɪˈniːl; ˈkɒtʃɪˌniːl/
noun
1.
Also called cochineal insect. a Mexican homopterous insect, Dactylopius coccus, that feeds on cacti
2.
a crimson substance obtained from the crushed bodies of these insects, used for colouring food and for dyeing
3.
  1. the colour of this dye
  2. (as adjective) cochineal shoes
Word Origin
C16: from Old Spanish cochinilla, from Latin coccineus scarlet-coloured, from coccum cochineal kermes, from Greek kokkos kermes berry
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cochineal
n.

1580s, from French cochenille (16c.), probably from Spanish cochinilla, from a diminutive of Latin coccinus (adj.) "scarlet-colored," from coccum "berry (actually an insect) yielding scarlet dye" (see kermes). But some sources identify the Spanish source word as cochinilla "wood louse" (a diminutive form related to French cochon "pig").

The insect (Coccus Cacti) lives on the prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Central America and is a relative of the kermes and has similar, but more intense, dying qualities. Aztecs and other Mexican Indians used it as a dyestuff. It first is mentioned in Europe in 1523 in Spanish correspondence to Hernán Cortés in Mexico. Specimens were brought to Spain in the 1520s, and cloth merchants in Antwerp were buying cochineal in insect and powdered form in Spain by the 1540s. It soon superseded the use of kermes as a tinetorial substance. Other species of coccus are useless for dye and considered mere pests, such as the common mealy bug.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cochineal in Medicine

cochineal coch·i·neal (kŏch'ə-nēl', kŏch'ə-nēl', kō'chə-nēl', kō'chə-nēl')
n.
A red dye made of dried, pulverized female cochineal insects and used as a biological stain and as an indicator in acid-base titrations.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for cochineal

red dyestuff consisting of the dried, pulverized bodies of certain female scale insects, Dactylopius coccus, of the Coccidae family, cactus-eating insects native to tropical and subtropical America. Cochineal is used to produce scarlet, crimson, orange, and other tints and to prepare pigments such as lake and carmine (qq.v.). The dye was introduced into Europe from Mexico, where it had been used long before the coming of the Spaniards

Learn more about cochineal with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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