Wednesday, 9 December 2009


This delightful-sounding word is nothing to do with pores or dimples, but is a very simple adjective:

porraceous adj leek-green [Origin from Latin porraceus, from porrum a leek] Chambers, 1998

If I'd already known the Latin word for leek, I expect this word would have seemed fairly obvious. It's funny though, I don't tend to think of leeks as being eaten by Romans or anywhere in the Mediterranean really. Is this just because I used to live in Swansea and saw one too many giant inflatable leeks being brandished by rugby fans?

The Food Museum says the first ever mention of a leek was by a Mesopotamian scribe, meaning that its origin is likely to have been in the Middle East over 4,000 years ago. The leek was also apparently the Roman Emperor Nero's favourite vegetable. Blimey.

Hang on, doesn't the colour fade from deep green to white along the body of a leek? I wonder if porraceous refers to a specific bit of the green, or just a greenish colour that is reminiscent of a leek in general?

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