from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A red dyestuff once prepared from the dried bodies of various female scale insects of the genus Kermes.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Short for kermes-mineral, or, more properly, mineral kermes.
  • noun A red dyestuff consisting of the dried bodies of the females of one or two species of Coccus, especially C. ilicis, an insect found on various species of oak in countries bordering on the Mediterranean.
  • noun [capitalized] [NL,] A genus of Coccinæ erected by Targioni-Tozzetti.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) The dried bodies of the females of a scale insect (Kermes ilices formerly Coccus ilicis), allied to the cochineal insect, and found on several species of oak near the Mediterranean; also, the dye obtained from them. They are round, about the size of a pea, contain coloring matter analogous to carmine, and are used in dyeing. They were anciently thought to be of a vegetable nature, and were used in medicine.
  • noun (Bot.) A small European evergreen oak (Quercus coccifera) on which the kermes insect (Kermes ilices, formerly Coccus ilicis) feeds.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A genus of scale insects including many species that feed on oaks. The adult female resembles a small gall.
  • noun (Old Chem.), (Med. Chem.) A compound of the trioxide and trisulphide of antimony, used in medicine. This substance occurs in nature as the mineral kermesite.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun any of several insects of the genus Kermes
  • noun uncountable Crimson dye made from the crushed bodies of these insects


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French kermès, short for alkermès, from Arabic al-qirmiz, the kermes, probably from Sanskrit kṛmi-ja-, (red dye) produced by worms; see kwr̥mi- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Persian قرمز (qermez).


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  • "By the fourteenth century, Europeans had discovered yet another word to describe these dyestuffs: kermes, a term borrowed from kirmiz, the Arabic word for the insect reds. (The same word gave rise to the term crimson.) Like vermilion, kirmiz meant 'worm,' though it is unlikely that most Europeans were aware of this. First used to describe eastern imports of Armenian red and St John's blood, kermes became a common word for all three insect dyes by the sixteenth century."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 31.

    See also oak-kermes.

    October 5, 2017