Definition of cochineal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkɒtʃɪˈniːl/
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒtʃɪniːl/


1 [mass noun] A scarlet dye used for colouring food, made from the crushed dried bodies of a female scale insect.
Example sentences
  • The same options were available for dyeing the wool or cotton, which could be achieved at home using dyes such as cochineal and indigo.
  • Traditional red colouring includes kermes and cochineal, both of which are pigments made by crushing masses of tiny insects.
  • The most common animal dye was cochineal, a crimson colour which came from cactus eating insects, of which 17,000 were needed to produce one single ounce of dye.
1.1A dye similar to cochineal made from the oak kermes insect (see kermes).
2 (cochineal insect) The scale insect that is used for cochineal, native to Mexico and formerly cultivated on cacti.
  • Dactylopius coccus, family Dactylopiidae, suborder Homoptera.
Example sentences
  • The brightly-coloured snack contains a red dye processed from the dried body of the female cochineal insect, collected in central America.
  • The kermes was expensive and the abundant cochineal insect could be used to make a cheap substitute.
  • Farmed, harvested, and dried by natives on small family plots, cochineal insects helped color the silks and wools of Hapsburg royalty.


Late 16th century: from French cochenille or Spanish cochinilla, from Latin coccinus 'scarlet', from Greek kokkos 'berry' (the insect bodies were mistaken for grains or berries). Compare with coccus, kermes.

Words that rhyme with cochineal

allele, anele, anneal, appeal, Bastille, Beale, Castile, chenille, cockatiel, conceal, congeal, creel, deal, eel, Emile, feel, freewheel, genteel, Guayaquil, heal, heel, he'll, keel, Kiel, kneel, leal, Lille, Lucille, manchineel, meal, misdeal, Neil, O'Neill, ordeal, peal, peel, reel, schlemiel, seal, seel, she'll, spiel, squeal, steal, steel, Steele, teal, underseal, veal, weal, we'll, wheel, zeal

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Line breaks: coch¦in|eal

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