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kermes Line breaks: ker¦mes
Pronunciation: /ˈkəːmɪz/

Definition of kermes in English:


1 [mass noun] A red dye obtained from the crushed dried bodies of a female scale insect, used for colouring fabrics and manuscripts.
Example sentences
  • Traditional red colourings include kermes and cochineal, both of which are pigments made by crushing masses of tiny insects.
  • In medieval color symbolism, red often connoted sin, but it also indicated wealth, especially in trecento Italy, where woolen cloth dyed in kermes was the most expensive.
  • Exports from the city of Arcadia included wool, wax, silk, and kermes, destined for Venice via Zakynthos.
2 (oak kermes) The scale insect from which kermes is obtained, forming berry-like galls on the kermes oak.
  • Kermes illicis, family Eriococcidae, suborder Homoptera


Late 16th century (denoting the kermes oak): from French kermès, from Arabic qirmiz; related to crimson.

  • crimson from Late Middle English:

    The colour crimson was originally a deep red dye used in colouring fine cloth and velvet and obtained from an insect called the kermes (late 16th century), whose body was dried and ground up to produce the dye. The name of the insect came ultimately from Arabic qirmiz. See also ingrain, purple, vermilion

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