This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Word To Use Today: puccoon.

There are some words which are too endearing to ignore, but which provide very few opportunities for use in day-to-day life.

Such a word would appear to be puccoon.

Puccoons make up a small group of North American wild plants, mostly of the borage family.

This is Lithospermum canescens, or the hoary puccoon (at least, that's what it said on the source of this image, though, now I come to think about it, it doesn't look very hoary to me):

And this is the unrelated plant called Bloodwort, or Canada Puccoon.

Illustration by William Curtis

The plants, though unrelated, do have something in common, which is that you can get a red dye from the root which has been used by some Native American people as body paint. John Smith in 1624 tells of it colouring the head and shoulders of Native Americans, a spectacle he calls an exceedingly handsome shew.

I'm not sure about the shoulders, but plenty of people put red pigment on their faces. It used to be called rouge, and then, perhaps because rouge was associated with a lack of respectability, blusher; but perhaps now is the time to embrace the ridiculousness of face paint and go back to calling it puccoon.

It would brighten the morning ritual, wouldn't it.

Word To Use Today: puccoon. This word comes from the Powhatan word poughkone.

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