or ver·mil·lion

[ver-mil-yuh n]


a brilliant scarlet red.
a bright-red, water-insoluble pigment consisting of mercuric sulfide, once obtained from cinnabar, now usually produced by the reaction of mercury and sulfur.


of the color vermilion.

verb (used with object)

to color with or as if with vermilion.

Origin of vermilion

1250–1300; Middle English vermilioun, vermillon < Anglo-French, Old French verm(e)illon, equivalent to vermeil vermeil + -on noun suffix


[ver-mil-yuh n]


a town in N Ohio. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for vermilion

Historical Examples of vermilion

  • Her mouth, the vermilion of her lips, and her ivory teeth were all perfect.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete

    Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • Her lips, like bits of vermilion paper, stared as from an idol's face.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • They will work, as I have seen, with wax hardened with vermilion or softened with lard.

  • Her vermilion colour had faded, and left her face deadly white.

  • The lead is what gives the inside of the trough its vermilion color.

    The Story of Glass

    Sara Ware Bassett

British Dictionary definitions for vermilion




  1. a bright red to reddish-orange colour
  2. (as adjective)a vermilion car
mercuric sulphide, esp when used as a bright red pigment; cinnabar

Word Origin for vermilion

C13: from Old French vermeillon, from vermeil
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for vermilion

late 13c., "cinnabar, red dye," from Anglo-French and Old French vermeillon, from vermeil (see vermeil). As an adjective, from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper