Sunday, February 6, 2011


I've always loved both the word chartreuse and the color, a yellowish green or greenish yellow that graces my front yard every February when the helleborus argutifolius pops out in my front yard garden. Doing a little research, I recently learned that the word chartreuse is a toponym, or a word derived from a place.

The Chartreuse Mountain range in Grenoble, France, was the home of the Carthusian monastery, La Grande Chartreuse, where the monks produced the aromatic liqueur called Chartreuse.

I think I tasted chartreuse once but I didn't like it much. I did enjoy this snippet of poetry, though, found online:

Lost with the sun in a chartreuse wood, afflicted
by associations, flies, thirst, and by
a growing chill my clothes cannot keep out ...

--Elinor Wilner


  1. Hellebore is a favorite. We loved having it in La Jolla. And chartreuse is a color that I like but can't wear. Now, back to the game which I'm finding hard to follow since both teams have on yellow pants!!


  2. you take me places that i enjoy whole hearted.

    charteuse....who knew?

  3. I have a funny history with the word "chartreuse" that I had completely forgotten until just now. When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9 and I was learning my more obscure color words, I inadvertently got chartreuse and magenta mixed up. I don't really know how I did that, maybe I learned them both on the same day? But for a while I thought that chartreuse was the intense purpley red and magenta was yellowish green. And also? These were two of my favorite colors.

    The thing is, I have a very strong, nearly photographic memory (or I used to until middle-age-mommy-brain set in) and once something "sets" in there, it is really hard to dislodge. So for years, even after I had had my word snafu corrected? I would automatically picture the WRONG color in my head when I heard or read the color words “chartreuse” and “magenta”.

    Thanks for bringing that back up, this just totally set the way-back machine in my head to 1969. Wow!

  4. Toponym! Let's have a toponym party and wear chartreuse and drink Champagne!

  5. I loved you history and horticulture lesson immensely. As someone who is passionate about language, I really appreciate posts like yours that delve into a word's etymology. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.



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