It seems natural to follow last week's "sounds" theme with a "sights" theme. We'll focus on the color red, with respite from the highly-unusual words we've had the last few weeks.
rubric – 1. a part of a book, such as a title, heading, or initial letter, set in decorative red lettering or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
Presumably this is the source for:
2a. a title; a name; b. a class or category
rubricate – to mark in red. (also religion: to place in the calendar as a red-letter saint)
An aside: The term "red-letter day" originates with the tradition of marking holy days in a church calendar in red.
Wordcrafter, what a marvelous theme for this week...especially since I am seeing red here today!
red tide – brownish-red discoloration in seawater, due to proliferation of certain plankton.
Toxins that red tides produce kill many fish; they accumulate in shellfish, which is why one must be careful of eating them at certain times of the year. There is some thought that red tides are stimulated by human discharge of nutrients, particularly phosphorus, in the area.
See links for further discussion, and for a dramatic photo of a red tide off Texas three years ago.
cherry pick – to unfairly select only the desired items
I uunderstand the picking part, but why is it cherry-pick? What's so special about cherries?
Just a thought: Oftentimes the cherry on the top of an ice cream treat, or other desert, is picked off and eaten first, as a delicacy.
red-pencil – to censor, cut, revise, or correct with or as if with a red pencil
(compare blue-pencil – to edit, revise, or correct with or as if with a blue pencil)
roborant – a strengthening, restoring drug; a tonic (adj: restoring vigor or strength)
Another form of this word is roberate: to strengthen; to corroborate.
From the same root are corroberate, robust and rambunctious.
But in what way are these "red" words? Their source, the Latin robus red oak (which grew from Indo-European reudh- red, ruddy), branched to mean both "oak" and "strength".
from American Psychological Association: "The main conclusions of the study are basic: that color perception is not as rigid and inflexible as was thought before," says the study's lead author, Emre Ozgen, PhD. "This is the first time that it's been shown that a new perceptual color category boundary can actually be induced through laboratory training."
Also: In 1969, using the original stimulus set of Lenneberg and Roberts (1956), B&K compared the denotation of basic color terms in twenty languages and, based on these findings, examined decriptions of seventy-eight additional languages from the literature. They reported that there are universals in the semantics of color: the major color terms of all languages are focussed on one of eleven landmark colors. Further, they postulated an evolutionary sequence for the development of color lexicons according to which black and white precede red, red precedes green and yellow, green and yellow precede blue, blue precedes brown and brown precedes purple, pink, orange and gray.
[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Fri Aug 22nd, 2003 at 20:20.]
red herring – something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand
Etymology: Herring was an extremely common food fish for England's poor. Red herring was herring preserved by salting and smoking it until it turned dry, hard and red.
How did the metaphoric sense arise? Almost all sources agree that because red herring had a strong smell, it was used to distract bloodhounds from the trail. (The sources differ as to who so used it: fleeing fugatives, citizens opposed to fox-hunting, or dog-trainers teaching the hounds to ignore distraction.)
But Quinion's fascinating article casts doubt that view of the etymology. Quinion points out that this metaphoric use of "red herring" does not appear in the record until 1884, long after both fox-hunting and red herring (the fish) were common.
redactor - an editor who's been blacklisted ?
erythrism – unusual redness of plumage or hair (in humans, often accompanied by a ruddy complexion). Coined 1864 from Greek eruthros red; caused by excessive red pigmentation
Here is a picture of an erythric leopard.
Of several terms for pigment abnormalities, the sole familiar one is albinism – whiteness due to absence of pigment. Some others, according to the web:
excessive yellow: both xanthochroism and xanthochromism
excessive red: erythrochroism but not erythrohromism
Who said language has to be logical?
Interestingly, there is a skin condition, characterized by patches of unpigmented skin, called "vitiligo." My roommate had it when I was in college, and it definitely challenged her self image. It is an acquired disease.