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The Quick 10: How 10 Colors Got Their Names

When a flosser commented the other day that Alice Blue got its name from Alice Roosevelt, I started wondering what the stories behind other color names were. I love that kind of trivia, and figured you guys might be interested, too. Thanks for the idea, Kit!

color wheel1. Puce - "puce" means "flea" in French and fleas are generally a reddish-brownish-purplish color.

2. Alice Blue "“ Named after Teddy Roosevelt's eldest daughter, Alice, who had grayish-blue eyes. The Navy uses Alice Blue as one of the colors on its insignia.

3. Chartreuse "“ the traditional yellow color (the Web color chartreuse is different) was named because it was just about the same color as a French liqueur called yellow chartreuse.

The liqueur was named because it was produced by Carthusian monks whose headquarters, the Grand Chartreuse, was located in the Chartreuse Mountains in France.

4. Fuchsia was named for the color of the flowers on the fuchsia plant. The plant is named for Leonard Fuchs, a 16th-century botanist.

5. Mountbatten Pink was invented by Louis Mountbatten of the British Royal Navy during WWII. Louis Mountbatten noted that a particular shade of pink was just about the color of the sky during dawn and dusk and would be ideal for camouflage during those hours.

6. Prussian Blue is also called Berlin Blue, because the synthetic pigment was accidentally discovered in Berlin in 1704. It became Prussian Blue when the Prussian army dyed their uniforms with the pigment.

7. Tyrian Purple, AKA Royal Purple, was first used by the ancient Phoenicians from the city of Tyre. The dye was so expensive that only the very weathly could afford it, hence "Royal" purple. In Natural History, Pliny the Elder said the color was mixed just right when it looked like "clotted blood". Greek legend says that Hercules' dog discovered Tyrian Purple when he ate one of the snails that produces the dye.

8. Zinnwaldite "“ You probably know this color as "beige." It was named after the mineral zinnwaldite. AT&T's phones in the 1960s were first marketed as "zinnwaldite" colored, but when people found it easier to say "beige," the telecommunications giant rolled with it. Military combat boots are often zinnwaldite.

9. Cerulean. The color name has been around since 1590, at least, and probably has Latin roots - "caeruleus" means dark blue, blue or blue-green in Latin. In turn, "caeruleus" probably comes from the diminutive of the Latin word "caelum," which means heaven or sky.

10. Cerise. This one's easy - "Cerise" is French for "cherry," which comes from the Norman "cherise." "Hollywood cerise" is another name for the color "Fashion Fuchsia," which is a less-saturated verison of fuchsia that's often used for clothing.

Photo from Flickr user Jacinthe.

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