AskDefine | Define crimson

Dictionary Definition

crimson adj
1 having any of numerous bright or strong colors reminiscent of the color of blood or cherries or tomatoes or rubies [syn: red, reddish, ruddy, blood-red, carmine, cerise, cherry, cherry-red, ruby, ruby-red, scarlet]
2 characterized by violence or bloodshed; "writes of crimson deeds and barbaric days"- Andrea Parke; "fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing"- Thomas Gray; "convulsed with red rage"- Hudson Strode [syn: red, violent]
3 (especially of the face) reddened or suffused with or as if with blood from emotion or exertion; "crimson with fury"; "turned red from exertion"; "with puffy reddened eyes"; "red-faced and violent"; "flushed (or crimson) with embarrassment" [syn: red, reddened, red-faced, flushed] n : a deep and vivid red [syn: ruby, deep red] v : turn red, as if in embarrassment or shame; "The girl blushed when a young man whistled as she walked by" [syn: blush, flush, redden]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a deep, slightly bluish red. Traditionally the colour of blood.
    crimson colour:   


Translations to be checked


  1. having a deep red colour
  2. having loose morals


having loose morals

Derived terms

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Extensive Definition

Crimson is a strong, bright, deep red color combined with some blue, resulting in a tiny degree of purple. It is originally the color of the dye produced from a scale insect, Kermes vermilio, but the name is now also used for slightly bluish-red colors in general that are between red and rose.


Crimson was produced using the dried bodies of the kermes insect, which were gathered commercially in Mediterranean countries, where they live on the Kermes oak, and sold throughout Europe. Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York. They fell out of use with the introduction of cochineal, because although the dyes were comparable in quality and color intensity it needed ten to twelve times as much kermes to produce the same effect as cochineal.
Carmine is the name given to the dye made from the dried bodies of the female cochineal, although the name crimson is sometimes applied to these dyes too. Cochineal appears to have been discovered during the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniard Hernán Cortés, and the name 'carmine' is derived from the Spanish word for crimson. It was first described by Mathioli in 1549. The pigment is also called cochineal after the insect from which it is made.
Alizarin is a pigment that was first synthesized in 1868 by the German chemists Carl Gräbe and Carl Liebermann and replaced the natural pigment madder lake. Alizarin crimson is a dye bonded onto alum which is then used as a pigment and mixed with ochre, sienna and umber. It is not totally colorfast.


The word crimson has been recorded in English since 1400, and its earlier forms include cremesin, crymysyn and cramoysin (cf. cramoisy, a crimson cloth). These were adapted via Old Spanish from the Medieval Latin cremesinus (also kermesinus or carmesinus), the dye produced from Kermes scale insects, and can be traced back to the Turkish kırmızı (red in Turkish), which in turn stems from the Sanskrit krmi-ja, a compound meaning "produced by a worm" from krmih "worm" + -ja "produced" (from the Proto-Indo-European *gene-).
A shortened form of carmesinus also gave the Latin carminus, from which comes carmine.
Other cognates include the Old Church Slavic čruminu and the Russian čermnyj "red". Cf. also vermilion.


mainarticle carmine Carmine dyes, which give crimson and related red and purple colors, are based on an aluminium and calcium salt of carminic acid. Carmine lake is an aluminium or aluminium-tin lake of cochineal extract, and Crimson lake is prepared by striking down an infusion of cochineal with a 5 percent solution of alum and cream of tartar. Purple lake is prepared like carmine lake with the addition of lime to produce the deep purple tone. Carmine dyes tend to fade quickly.
Carmine dyes were once widely prized in both the Americas and in Europe. They were used in paints by Michelangelo and for the crimson fabrics of the Hussars, the Turks, the British Redcoats, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Nowadays carmine dyes are used for coloring foodstuffs, medicines and cosmetics. As a food additive, carmine dyes are designated E120, and are also called cochineal and Natural Red 4. Carmine dyes are also used in some oil paints and watercolors used by artists.

Alizarin crimson

The shade of red on the infobox to the right is alizarin crimson. This is an artificially created color, used to replace the harder to obtain rose madder.

Crimson in human culture

  • In English, crimson is traditionally associated with the color of blood, and hence is associated with violence, courage and martyrdom. It was the most distinctive color of British officers' uniforms until the introduction of khaki camouflage, and remains in use for the colours (flag). The King's Royal Hussars still wear crimson trousers. However, the haemoglobin red is darker and has a lower chroma, and the haemoglobin molecule is structurally unrelated.
  • In Polish, karmazyn ('crimson') is also a synonym for a Magnate, i.e., a member of the nobility.


See also


crimson in Spanish: Carmesí
crimson in Persian: زرشکی
crimson in French: Cramoisi
crimson in Korean: 심홍색
crimson in Italian: Cremisi (colore)
crimson in Hebrew: ארגמן
crimson in Japanese: クリムゾン (色)
crimson in Polish: Karmazyn
crimson in Portuguese: Carmesim
crimson in Simple English: Crimson
crimson in Serbian: Гримизна боја
crimson in Swedish: Karmosinröd
crimson in Vietnamese: Đỏ thắm
crimson in Chinese: 緋紅色

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Titian, Titian-red, blanch, blush, bricky, cardinal, carmine, carnation, carnelian, cerise, change color, cherry, cherry-colored, cherry-red, color, color up, damask, darken, ferruginous, fiery, fire-red, flame, flame-colored, flame-red, flaming, flush, glow, glowing, grow red, gules, henna, hot, incarmined, incarnadine, inflame, inflamed, infrared, iron-red, lake-colored, laky, lateritious, lipstick, lobster-red, look black, lurid, madder, mantle, maroon, miniate, pale, pink, port-wine, puce, red, red-dyed, red-ink, red-looking, redden, reddened, reddish, reddish-amber, reddish-brown, rose, rouge, rubicund, rubify, rubiginous, rubric, rubricose, ruby, ruby-colored, ruby-red, ruddied, ruddle, ruddy, rufescent, rufous, rust, rust-red, rusty, scarlet, squirm with self-consciousness, stammel, stammer, tile-red, turn color, turn pale, turn red, vermilion, vinaceous, warm, whiten, wine, wine-colored, wine-red
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