One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A red or purple cosmetic paint or paste used in the 16th and 17th centuries; (more usually) a red paste derived from Tyrian purple, used in ancient Greece and Rome as a pigment or cosmetic.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Coryate (?1577–1617), traveller and writer. From classical Latin purpurissum kind of earth dyed with Tyrian purple, used as a pigment or cosmetic (Pliny) from ancient Greek πορϕυρίζον, neuter present participle of πορϕυρίζειν to be purplish from πορϕύρα purple + -ίζειν.
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