se·​ri·​ceous | \ sə-ˈri-shəs How to pronounce sericeous (audio) \

Definition of sericeous

: covered with fine silky hair sericeous leaf

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In the writings of the ancient Greeks, there is mention of the Sēres, an eastern Asian people who made "sērikos" fabrics. Historians now believe that the Sēres were the Chinese, from whom the ancient Greeks first obtained silk. The ancient Romans wove the Sēres' name into their language, creating "sericum," the Latin word for silk. The English word silk is also assumed to be spun - with some very dramatic alterations from Old English to Middle English - from the same Greek fiber. Both "silk" and "silken" have been in the English language for many, many centuries, but scientists of the 18th century wanted a new term to describe the silky hairs on some leaves and bodies, and so they adapted the Late Latin word sericeus ("silken") to create "sericeous."

First Known Use of sericeous

circa 1777, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sericeous

Late Latin sericeus silken, from Latin sericum silk garment, silk, from neuter of sericus silken, from Greek sērikos, from Sēres, an eastern Asian people, probably the Chinese

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The first known use of sericeous was circa 1777

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Cite this Entry

“Sericeous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Aug. 2021.

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