Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Pink (August)

A pink is a Dutch narrow-sterned sailing vessel. Is this how the word glided into English, one August? Dictionaries prevaricate, muttering definitively ‘Origin uncertain’. Dutch say pink-eye for half-shut eye. Pinks, those flowers of genus Dianthus, are described as narrow-leaved. Did pink replace rose in esteem? Somehow it often means small, hence the little finger is pinkie. Obversely, for reasons dictionaries are reluctant to explain, pink early came to mean the very finest example of something, as we say when in very good health we are in the pink. Hence Shakepeare: “I am the very pink of courtesy.” That’s Mercutio?

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