Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fuschia, etc. (for Fuchsia)

I once heard fuchsia called the hardest word to spell in the entire English language. And I'm more or less willing to grant it that dubious distinction, provided the field is narrowed to words we've actually heard of before—as opposed to those obscure behemoths put in the mouths of babes at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. With only 71 instances spelled correctly in OhioLINK, we face a fusillade of snafus for it as well: one hit each for Fushia and Fucsia, two apiece for Fuscia and Fushcia, and 11 for Fuschia, amounting to a ratio of less than 4:1. Often compared to magenta, cerise, and fandango, fuchsia has long been an honored hue, if not on the red carpet, then on the silver screen. (The color is also known as "Hollywood cerise.") Perhaps my favorite description of something really red lies in the old tune "Liza up in the 'Simmon Tree" by Bradley Kincaid: "Cheeks are like the cherries, cherries like a rose..." In gay circles, a "fuchsia queen" is a beautiful woman and, according to the "handkerchief code," the shade means that the brandisher has a spanking fetish. But before I blush fuchsia, I'm going to have to bring this blog entry to an end. (Fuchsia photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Postscript: A friend informs me that fuchsia is named after the 16th-century German botanist Leonhart Fuchs, which is both fun to know and a useful mnemonic. (Or, as another friend put it, "Thanks for clearing up the confuchsian.")

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