One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1archaic mass noun Sulphur.
- ‘And still the wall of steam and brimstone advanced…’
- ‘At times mournful, and at other times gently consoling, there's little about it that smells of brimstone.’
- ‘A fog covered her vision, a dark fog that smelt of burning brimstone.’
- ‘The smell of blood and brimstone filled the air.’
- ‘No creatures reeking of brimstone entered our church.’
2A bright yellow butterfly or moth.
(also 'brimstone moth') a small yellow European moth (Opisthograptis luteolata, family Geometridae).
(also 'brimstone butterfly') a European butterfly of the white family, the male of which is yellow and the female greenish-white (Gonepteryx rhamni, family Pieridae).
- ‘Reminding me of an animated daffodil, a male brimstone butterfly flits through the sun-dappled shade.’
- ‘And who wouldn't enjoy the sight of the first brimstone of the year eagerly supping at a garden primrose.’
- ‘Many interesting moths showed throughout this year including the Brimstone.’
Late Old English brynstān, probably from bryne ‘burning’ + stān ‘stone’.
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