Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Verdigris

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is verdigris. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Verdigris is a green or bluish deposit, usually of copper carbonates, that forms on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces.

// We removed the verdigris from Grandma’s old copper jewelry by first soaking it in lemon juice, then gently polishing it with a soft rag.

VERDIGRIS in Context

“There’s a standard shower room, but also—drum roll—an outside bath, which is private thanks to a wooden fence, so you can concentrate on the canopy of tree branches shimmering and rustling overhead. This tub is made of copper, all dappled with verdigris and it rumbles loudly as it slowly fills up.” — Gaby Soutar, The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland), 13 July 2022

Did You Know?

“Green of Greece”—that is the literal translation of vert de Grece, the Anglo-French phrase from which we get the modern word verdigris. A coating of verdigris forms naturally on copper and copper alloys such as brass and bronze when those metals are exposed to air. (It can also be produced artificially.) Like cinnabar, fuchsia, and amaranth before it, however, verdigris is also seeing increased use as a color name that can be applied to anything suggestive of its particular hue. For more colorful history you might enjoy this article before testing your knowledge with a quiz.

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