co·​chi·​neal | \ ˈkä-chə-ˌnēl How to pronounce cochineal (audio) , ˈkō- \

Definition of cochineal

1 : a red dye consisting of the dried bodies of female cochineal insects

Examples of cochineal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But blush prevailed again during the Renaissance, with concoctions of cochineal, sandalwood, or cinnabar mixed with grease or wax. Linda Wells, Town & Country, 16 Apr. 2021 The dye used by the Aztecs to produce this incredible tone of red was obtained from a tiny insect, the cochineal, that lives on cactus plants (various species belonging to the genus Opuntia, the prickly pear). Longreads, 23 Mar. 2021 The paintings are by Metsu and Ter Borch, the compositions and concepts subtly varied, yet each includes an elegant young woman in a shimmering white silk skirt and a cochineal-red bodice. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2017 Starbucks was using what is called a cochineal dye, which is a natural dye derived from insects, to color its strawberry Frappuccinos. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, 8 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cochineal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cochineal

1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cochineal

Middle French & Spanish; Middle French cochenille, from Old Spanish cochinilla cochineal insect

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Time Traveler for cochineal

Time Traveler

The first known use of cochineal was in 1582

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Dictionary Entries Near cochineal

Cochin China


cochineal fig

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Cite this Entry

“Cochineal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for cochineal


co·​chi·​neal | \ ˈkäch-ə-ˌnēl, ˈkō-chə- How to pronounce cochineal (audio) \

Medical Definition of cochineal

: a red dye consisting of the dried bodies of female cochineal insects used especially as a biological stain and as an indicator

More from Merriam-Webster on cochineal

Britannica English: Translation of cochineal for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cochineal


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