1495, earlier lytmos, from Old Norse litmosi (“moss used for dyeing”), from lita (“to dye, stain”), from litr (“colour, dye, blee”), from Proto-Germanic *wlitiz, *wlituz (“appearance, blee”), from Proto-Indo-European *wel- (“to see”) + mosi (“moss”). Cognate with Old English wlite (“appearance, form, brightness, countenance”). More at moss.
- (uncountable) A dyestuff extracted from certain lichens, that changes color when exposed to pH levels greater than or less than certain critical levels.
- A simple test of acidity in a liquid using litmus, usually in the form of litmus paper.
- A simple test of any attribute; a litmus test.
- (dyestuff from lichen): lacmus