Definition of kermes in English:



  • 1A red dye used, especially formerly, for coloring fabrics and manuscripts.

    • ‘Exports from the city of Arcadia included wool, wax, silk, and kermes, destined for Venice via Zakynthos.’
    • ‘Traditional red colourings include kermes and cochineal, both of which are pigments made by crushing masses of tiny insects.’
    • ‘Not only dyeing with purpura juice, but also with kermes was common in Homer's day.’
    • ‘In medieval color symbolism, red often connoted sin, but it also indicated wealth, especially in trecento Italy, where woolen cloth dyed in kermes was the most expensive.’
    1. 1.1The dried bodies of a female scale insect, which are crushed to yield this dye.
  • 2The scale insect from which kermes is obtained, forming berrylike galls on the kermes oak.


Late 16th century (denoting the kermes oak): from French kermès, from Arabic ḳirmiz; related to crimson.