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May 23, 2013
This week's theme
Words coined after mountains

This week's words

Chartreuse Mountains
Chartreuse Mountains

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with Anu Garg


(shahr-TROOZ, -TROOS)

noun: 1. A light, yellowish green. 2. An aromatic, usually yellow or green liqueur, originally made by Carthusian monks in Grenoble, France.
adjective: Having a light, yellowish green color.

From mountain to monastery to drink to color -- that's the circuitous route for this word's origin. La Grande Chartreuse, a monastery got its name after the Chartreuse Mountains. The liqueur got its name because it was first made by the monks in the monastery. Finally, the color got its name from the liqueur. Earliest documented use: 1806.

"The tree crowns were packed together like puffballs and shimmered with every hue, tint, and shade of green: chartreuse, emerald, lime, aquamarine, teal, bottle, olive, jade."
Douglas Preston; The El Dorado Machine; The New Yorker; May 6, 2013.

"I must have been 7 or 8, squatting on the summer-hot pavement with my sister, scrawling disappearing messages on the concrete with snapped leaves of an ice plant, when it occurred to me that people could agree on the name of a thing, in this case, a color -- the green of the translucent fluid that oozed from the leaf, which we determined was chartreuse -- while seeing it very differently. I understood that when my sister agreed on the name chartreuse, she might, in fact, be seeing what I call red or yellow or blue. I began to see language less as a bridge between people than as a threadbare rope tossed from one edge of a precipice to open hands at another."
Allison Hoover Bartlett; An Ear For Color: Exploring the Curious World of Synesthesia, Where Senses Merge in Mysterious Ways; The Washington Post; Jan 22, 2002.

See more usage examples of chartreuse in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

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