The word periwinkle can describe a light purple color, a kind of evergreen plant, or a cute little gastropod. The name of the hue alludes to the appearance of the flower, and the name for the flower has been around for a while. In Middle English, it went through some alterations such as perwinke and parvink, and in Old English, it took forms like perwince and perfince. It all derives from the Latin word for the flower, pervinca, which has an uncertain origin. There's one theory that it could be related to or coming from the verb pervincire, meaning "entwine", but that's not for sure. The name for the sea snail is a bit of a different story. It's composed of the Old English roots pine, meaning "mussel", and wincel, meaning "spiral shell". This was combined together to form pinewincel, which was then intentionally altered to look more like the word for the flower, even though there is no etymological connection. Pine is from Latin pina, also "mussel" (that being from Ancient Greek), and wincel could be from a Proto-Germanic word for "corner".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.