The English word vermilion, describing that particular shade of red, comes from the French word vermeillon, with the same meaning. This comes from the Old French word vermeil, meaning "crimson" (and the source of the English word vermeil, meaning "gilded silver", through a connection of fanciness), which may be traced to the Latin word vermiculus, which is a conjugation of vermis, or "worm". How, you may very well ask? Turns out that some early crimson dyes were made out of the crushed scales of a worm-like bug, and thus the connection was formed. Vermis is from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction wrmis, which meant "worm" as well, and is a cognate of the Old English word wyrm, the predecessor of our word for worm. You can kind of see it: worms are vaguely a vermilion color. Anyway, creepy but cool.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd