cochineal


cochineal
/koch'euh neel", koh'cheuh-, koch"euh neel', koh"cheuh-/, n.
a red dye prepared from the dried bodies of the females of the cochineal insect, Dactylopius coccus, which lives on cactuses of Mexico, Central America, and other warm regions.
[1575-85; < MF cochinille < Sp cochinilla the insect; of obscure orig.; perh. to be identified with Sp cochinilla sow bug (assuming a likeness between it and the female cochineal insect), dim. of cochina sow, but chronology is doubtful]

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dye
      red dyestuff consisting of the dried, pulverized bodies of certain female scale insects, Dactylopius coccus, of the Coccidae family, cactus-eating insects native to tropical and subtropical America. Cochineal is used to produce scarlet, crimson, orange, and other tints and to prepare pigments such as lake and carmine (qq.v.). The dye was introduced into Europe from Mexico, where it had been used long before the coming of the Spaniards.

      Cochineal has been replaced almost entirely by synthetic dyes, but it continues to be used principally as a colouring agent in cosmetics and beverages. Its dyeing power is attributed to cochinealin, or carminic acid, obtained by boiling cochineal in water. Cochineal also contains glyceryl myristate (a fat) and coccerin (cochineal wax).

      The insects are carefully brushed from the cacti into bags and are then killed by immersion in hot water or by exposure to sunlight, steam, or the heat of an oven; much of the variety in the appearance of commercial cochineal is caused by the differing modes of treatment. It takes 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal. See also kermes.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cochineal — Female (left) and male (right) Cochineals. Scientific classification Domain: Eukaryota …   Wikipedia

  • Cochineal — Coch i*neal (k[o^]ch [i^]*n[=e]l; 277), [Sp. cochinilla, dim. from L. coccineus, coccinus, scarlet, fr. coccum the kermes berry, G. ko kkos berry, especially the kermes insect, used to dye scarlet, as the cochineal was formerly supposed to be the …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cochineal — 1580s, from Fr. cochenille (16c.), perhaps from It. cocciniglia or directly from Mod.L. coccinum scarlet robe, coccineus scarlet colored, from coccum scarlet, lit. grain, berry. Coccum is cognate with Gk. kokkos, which had the same senses. Some… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cochineal — [käch′ə nēl΄, käch΄ə nēl′] n. [Fr cochenille, prob. < L coccinus, scarlet colored < coccum, a berry, scarlet: see COCCUS] a red dye made from the dried bodies of female cochineal insects: used, esp. formerly, in coloring foods, cosmetics,… …   English World dictionary

  • cochineal — ► NOUN ▪ a scarlet dye used for colouring food, made from the crushed dried bodies of a female scale insect. ORIGIN French cochenille or Spanish cochinilla, from Latin coccinus scarlet …   English terms dictionary

  • cochineal — noun Etymology: Middle French & Spanish; Middle French cochenille, from Old Spanish cochinilla cochineal insect Date: 1582 1. a red dye consisting of the dried bodies of female cochineal insects 2. cochineal insect …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cochineal — [16] Cochineal ‘red dye’ comes via French cochenille from Old Spanish cochinilla, a term applied both to the dye and to the small insect related to the mealybugs, from whose dried body it is made. It is generally thought to be a derivative of… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • cochineal — [ˌkɒtʃɪ ni:l, kɒtʃɪni:l] noun 1》 a scarlet dye used for colouring food, made from the crushed dried bodies of a female scale insect. 2》 (cochineal insect) the scale insect that is used for cochineal, native to Mexico and formerly widely… …   English new terms dictionary

  • cochineal — [16] Cochineal ‘red dye’ comes via French cochenille from Old Spanish cochinilla, a term applied both to the dye and to the small insect related to the mealybugs, from whose dried body it is made. It is generally thought to be a derivative of… …   Word origins

  • cochineal — n. [Gr. kokkinos, scarlet] (ARTHROPODA: Insecta) A crimson dye commercially extracted from the dried bodies of the homopterous insect Dactylopius coccus (cochineal scale) cultivated in South America, Mexico and the Canary Islands; see quinone… …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology


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