It was a lazy Sunday morning, and the rest of the house was still asleep, so I went out onto the lanai or terrace and inspected my testes…
Hahaha! Gotcha if you clicked on the jump. :) Unbeknownst to many, including myself until just a few seconds ago, orchids got their name from the Greek word orchis, which refers to testes, see definition here. So basically, I was in the garden inspecting the orchid plants and these are just three of the more interesting blooms in the yard at the moment. As I have mentioned several times before, I have a black thumb, so I do not directly care for the orchids, or they would die, but our part-time gardener manages to charm them into blooming again and again. And September is a huge month for orchid blooms; the wet weather, cooler? temperatures and possibly the recently passed arid summer months all triggering a rash of blooms. Here a large white phaelaenopsis, of which we have some 6-7 sprays of huge flowers, a giant yellow oncidium or “dancing lady,” and a deep maroon orchid of unknown (to me) name…
But the word “orchid” also figured in an interesting discussion Mrs. MM and I had this morning. In going through a list of vocabulary words for teenagers in preparation for standardized testing, it seems the suggested definition for the word “orchid” in a Kaplan Review book is given as “purple (as in the flower).” The sample sentence is “The vice-principal turned orchid with rage.” And Synonyms: lavender. Huh??? Obviously written by someone who has probably never seen a live orchid plant… Yet, when I looked up web definitions, even the Merriam Webster also suggests a color reference, but thankfully, only as a secondary definition, and I quote:
“1 : any of a large family (Orchidaceae, the orchid family) of perennial epiphytic or terrestrial monocotyledonous plants that usually have showy 3-petaled flowers with the middle petal enlarged into a lip and differing from the others in shape and color
2 : a light purple”
So frankly, I think the Kaplan book is misleading at best, or just outright dumb, at worst. Why would you suggest to an impressionable teenager that “orchid” is first and foremost, the color purple? And who, for Buddha’s sakes, says “The vice principal turned ORCHID with rage???” That is stretching it a bit, or else it’s an English teacher with poor verbal SAT scores with a chip on his/her shoulder. Just dumb, really. “Purple with rage” is fairly common usage and totally descriptive, but “orchid with rage”? I bet 90% of the world’s population would not associate “orchid” automatically with the color “purple.” After all, there are dozens and dozens of shades of colors amongst orchid blooms. And should I now start saying “my lips turned orchid after a prolonged dip in the fishing hole on the frozen lake?” or “my balls turned orchid…” Harumph. :[
P.S. “Cornflower blue sapphires” are a far more descriptive usage as cornflower blue is more specific, and it DOES almost exactly describe that particular type of sapphire. Whereas orchid refers to a flower of many colors, and thus saying “an exquisite orchid amethyst” sounds ridiculous. Having said that, Crayola has a color named “orchid,” and perhaps that’s where the researcher for Kaplan was introduced to the color/flower.