AS ONE WHO has spent most of her life in a black and white world, I have a particular fascination with color, in its many random variations.

I recently gave in to an argument over the meaning of the word “cerise.” I had received, as a birthday gift from Daisy Potter and her daughters Laura and Laine, a beautiful bouquet of a half dozen roses and white baby’s breath.

I mentioned to the admirer that I had never before seen cerise and white roses such as these. The deliverer stood me down, saying that cerise was a shade of yellow.

Some arguments are not worth winning, and that was the case here. But when I got my laptop computer back I was able to research the question.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of cerise as a color name in English was in The Times of Nov. 30, 1858.

This date of 1858 as the date of first use of the color name is also mentioned in the 1930 book A Dictionary of Color. However, it was used at least as early as 1845 in a book of crochet patterns.

THE COLOR NAME comes from the French word “cerise”, meaning cherry. The word “cherry” itself comes from the Norman cherise.

Distinction between the colors cerise and cherry red is somewhat controversial.

In the 1930 book A Dictionary of Color it is pointed out that the color cerise has always been depicted as a somewhat bluer color than the actual color of a fresh uncooked cherry, which is denoted by a different redder color called cherry red.

BASICALLY, the color cerise is a depiction of the somewhat bluer color of a cooked cherry, such as the cherries in a cherry pie.

There are various tones of cerise.

Hollywood Cerise is one of them.

In the 1950s, a popular brand of colored pencils, Venus Paradise, had a colored pencil called Hollywood Cerise which was this color. Before being renamed Hollywood Cerise in the 1940s, the color had been known, since its inception in 1922, simply as Hollywood.

The color name cerise has been in use for this color since 1993 by Crayola.
© 2014