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Female (left) and male (right) cochineal insects.


Borrowed from French cochenille[1], itself probably from Spanish cochinilla, or from Ancient Greek κόκκινος (kókkinos, red tint), from κόκκος (kókkos), from Latin coccus (berry or grain)[2] (term applied to Kermes quercus, a scale insect used in the production of red dye)



cochineal (countable and uncountable, plural cochineals)

  1. (entomology) A species of insect (Dactylopius coccus).
  2. A vivid red dye made from the bodies of cochineal insects.
    Synonym: E120
  3. The vivid red color of this dye.
    • 2000, Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, pg. 26
      I just keep staring at all the ink we have, that wild variety of color, everything from rootbeer, midnight blue and cochineal to mauve, light doe, lilac, south sea green, maize, even pelican black, all line up in these plastic caps...



cochineal (not comparable)

  1. Possessing a vivid red color, as produced from dying with cochineal.
    • 1997, The Ethiopian Borderlands. Richard Pankhurst. 1997.
      The principal imports arriving by sea, then as previously, were textiles, among them coarse cotton cloth, known as Surat, the Indian port from which they were shipped, as well as blue cotton cloth and cochineal cloth called kemis
    • 1927, Breeze Hill News
      Batavus, of somewhat the same shade, was slightly taller, and perhaps with a little more cochineal color.

Further reading[edit]