Wednesday, June 24, 2009

facebook spillover: jacinthe

for about a week i have been posting a word-of-the-day color descriptor as my status on facebook. i'm enjoying it...and my two friends are as well...but today's is too long to post as a status so i'm writing it here. i started with eau-de-nil (pale blue-green; the color of the nile river), then albugineous (whitish, like the white of an eye), next was coccineous (red, derived from the latin root for cochineal), then amaranthine (deep red, like the color of undying love); yesterday's was greige (exactly what it sounds like--grey beige), and today is jacinthe.

jacinthe is tremendously difficult to define, because in the three different dictionaries i used i got three different color definitions. let me explain: i first came across the word online describing something orange. i was intrigued, because i had never heard of the word before, so i looked it up. jacinthe is actually the french term for hyacinth (it is also spelled jacinth when anglicized). i personally have never seen an orange hyacinth so i looked it up in our dictionary here at home. it was defined as a dark purple. i looked it up in another dictionary at a bookstore and it was defined as a deep red zircon (a gem). so i got online, and found yellow, purple and red definitions. and someone said it used to mean "sapphire." i was thoroughly confused.

so i took a step back: i couldn't help noticing that jacinthe bore a striking similarity to my dad's name, san jacinto. (as an aside, san jacinto is just a scary-ass name, no matter what last name you pair it with, but his particular combination makes for a truly imposing moniker.) and, i remember a priest talking to me after his (my dad's) mother's funeral about how saint hyacinth did....who knows what. i had never put it together--this scary-ass name actually means saint hyacinth. i know from greek mythology that hyacinthus was killed by accident by his lover, apollo, and that is where we get the flowers from; st. hyacinth apparently walked on water (thank you, google). anyway, jacinto and jacinthe both translate to hyacinth; ironically, jacinthe is now gaining popularity as a girl's name.

so, what color is jacinthe? i have no idea. anything that isn't white, black, brown or green seems to be fair game. if you find out definitively, let me know!

1 comment:

  1. ahh.....just to make things difficult the hyacinths in our yard this year were white and purple and pink...clearly the name pre-dates all that crazy easter color palette plant genetics....i'm enjoying this whole excursion though. there must be some perfect names for all the shades of blue that the water is here...i've run out...