You Have Purple Testes???


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.

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17 Responses

  1. hahaha… just what i guessed.. luckily i am a nursing student.. my mind did not resort to any malicious things… nice blooms by the way..

  2. hi MM, its near the species of cymbidium dayanum but not the same.. will check it out. lovely blooms

  3. Another testament to the suspicious Greek preoccupation and over-familiarity with the male genitals. A friend suggested to me once that entasis (the gentle swelling and tapering of Greek columns) might have been originally based on their intimate observation of the adjacent organ.

    Not having the heart to dump barren orchid plants even if they have never ever sprouted a single bud, mother was extremely delighted to see them all break out in bloom after being blanketed with the fallout of the Mount Pinatubo eruption.

  4. market manila will never be a porn site!! :-)..inflammation of the testes is called ORCHITIS. usually comes with mumps and is quite painful, if you could imagine. zofhia should remember this one from school..

  5. Seeing these orchids made me reminisce my childhood at grandma’s house. She had an orchid garden and like many frustrated gardeners, she had difficulty in caring for them. She experimented with various techniques to make them bloom. One of those methods is covering the plant’s flowering part with washed and dried eggshell halves. I, bad kid that I am, used to get those eggshells and crush them with my foot…. Hearing the crunch was so satisfying… Good thing grandma didn’t spank me, but I think my ma did..

  6. I agree with millet, there are far more purple varieties of eggplant than orchids (purple:orchids as botany:Kaplan).

  7. mila and millet, and to think, eggplants were named so because of pale cream eggshaped varieties of the vegetable… with aubergine in Europe being more appropriate to common varieties today! I actually saw EGG PLANTS as in the egg shaped cream colored ones at the Union Square market once… they were pretty cool…

  8. I think my dad has a black thumb, too. We’re done a lot of planting together, sowing kalabasa seeds from the same batch, but his share never seem to germinate while all of the seeds I planted are now growing. We only realized it now, since before he was more of a duck farmer and when he stopped the business he turned into vegetable gardening as a hobby. So now we leave him to take care of the animals which he really does better.

  9. my wild dream is to pollinate an orchid, watch the pod grow and open, and grow an orchid from the seed. hahaha!

  10. My old aunt has several orchids at home and we are so amazed how she grows them and keeps them in bloom. A technique she shares every time we ask her is, she talks to them every morning, weird but true : )

  11. I love etymology and I thank you for the heads up about orchids. Snickered through the Kaplan bit: The vice principal turned orchid with rage…they’ve got to be kidding.

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