Saturday, 20 August 2016

Maroon (August)

The fossilised meaning of maroon may never be excavated. Maroon comes into English via Italian and medieval Greek, “a large and particularly sweet kind of chestnut.” Hence, marron glacé. Presumably it’s its colour stuck. “A brownish-crimson or claret colour,” says the Dictionary, which proves yet again how colours defy definition. Even pronunciation is indefinite. Aug-ust we say for the month, au-gust for the adjective. Marr-own or ma-rooooooooooon? 17th-century descendants of runaway slaves in the West Indies were called maroons, which is maybe how pirates invented the verb. However, the abandoned derivations of maroon may never be rescued, stranded in time.

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