Definition of cinnabar in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsɪnəbɑː/


1 [mass noun] A bright red mineral consisting of mercury sulphide, sometimes used as a pigment.
Example sentences
  • Allergy to tattoo pigment is rare, but reaction to cinnabar, the red pigment, is the most common.
  • But, among what Ms. Moore lists as ‘poisonous’ pigments are cinnabar and realgar.
  • Some of the oldest focus not on gold but on cinnabar, the red mineral mercury sulphide.
1.1The bright red colour of cinnabar: [as modifier]: the blood coagulated in cinnabar threads
More example sentences
  • The yellow is paired with a brilliant, beautiful cinnabar red.
  • The thick curly mass of her cinnabar hair hung heavily, almost to her waist when wet.
  • The white plaster dust had been washed out of his hair and now his rich cinnabar mane shone.
2 (also cinnabar moth) A day-flying moth with black and red wings, whose black and yellow caterpillars feed on groundsel and ragwort.
  • Tyria jacobaeae, family Arctiidae.
Example sentences
  • In recent years, ragwort hysteria has led to a decline in numbers of cinnabars.
  • Ragwort is the food plant for more than 70 species of insects, most notably the cinnabar moth.
  • Ragwort supports the life cycle of a multitude of creatures, most notably the cinnabar moth.


Middle English: from Latin cinnabaris, from Greek kinnabari, of oriental origin.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: cin¦na|bar

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.