Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A deep red to dark grayish purple.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a brownish-purple color. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, deep red to dark grayish purple.
  • adj. Of a brownish-purple color. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, deep red to dark grayish purple.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of a dark brown or brownish purple color.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Purple-brown; reddish-brown; of a flea-color.
  • n. A purple-brown or reddish-brown color.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a color varying from dark purplish brown to dark red

Etymologies

French (couleur) puce, flea (color), puce, from Old French, variant of pulce, flea, from Latin pūlex, pūlic-.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French couleur puce ("flea-colored"), from Latin pūlex ("flea"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • We should all be grateful for our honest friends; the ones who tell us hard truths, like that we have something stuck in our teeth and that puce is not a color anyone should wear.

    2007 March « A Bird’s Nest

  • He was arrayed in puce and gold, rings slipped on to his fingers, his legs coaxed into hose with marvellous clocks splashed on their sides, and a diamond buckle placed above the large black bow of his tie-wig.

    The Black Moth: A Romance of the XVIII Century

  • It seems that SNCF ticket machines, autoroute toll collection machines, etc. need a "puce" - what's a Yank to do?

    Metro Boulot Dodo - French Word-A-Day

  • He does not understand the soul-agony of a man who makes his first appearance in puce.

    The Black Moth: A Romance of the XVIII Century

  • With Chirac playing the drama queen, decribed by the media as "puce", and a Schröder, "white with rage" puffing himself up with artificial fury, not least because Blair is cosying up to Merkel, all it needed was for Juncker to come up with his now infamous phrase: "Europe is not in a state of crisis… it is in a state of profound crisis," and the copy-writers had all they needed.

    Not time for the obituaries

  • The puce-faced obstructionist, breathing fire and fury at anyone who dares ask about Rooney?

    Sir Alex Ferguson's press conference on Wayne Rooney | 19 October

  • Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin A detail of the "cigar box" at Drynachan Lodge, the drawing room with tartan carpet and puce velvet club chairs.

    Scotland's Cawdor Estate

  • Like how sometimes your friend has a new sweater in a particularly awful shade of puce that makes him/her look quite bilious, and when your friend asks, "How do I look in my pleasing new sweater?" you respond, if you are a well-bred person, "What a striking color that is!"

    A Word

  • His black eye faded to a sort of sickly puce gray.

    Earl of Durkness

  • Let the country be relieved that Old Glory's design does not include puce or mauve.

    Fashion: Robin Givhan on candidates' and their families' election-night apparel

Comments

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  • Uggh, puce makes me think of unpleasant surprises in public toilets. Your colour association with puce may be erroneous but it's on the kind side, sarra.

    November 29, 2008

  • See mauve for a description of a similarly bastard colour. I cannot make this word conjure up the colour it really ought, no matter how hard I try.

    Puce is a horrible word; this is the colour it (inaccurately!) recalls to me.

    I am eagle-eyed and sharp-tongued on any other colour names, including those on the green/blue border which everyone loves to argue about. I got a perfect score on the hue test. Why these two anomalies?! I must have been misinformed by my mother at a very tender age…

    November 29, 2008

  • It was named by Louis XVI.

    August 5, 2008

  • Ah, Stan Freberg. Man's a genius. Like you, c_b, I have that whole thing memorized. :-)

    December 29, 2007

  • That's great chained_bear, do you recommend buying the whole thing? Stan Freberg's "The United States of America" box set on Amazon

    December 25, 2007

  • "Why couldn't it have been puce?
    Lavender over chartreuse?
    Or possibly some exotic shade--
    A delicate orange, mauve, or jade--
    Instead of the choice that has been made?
    Why couldn't it have been
    Possibly cinnamon?!"
    --George Washington to Betsy Ross, as depicted in Stan Freberg's "The United States of America, Volume I."

    "Everybody wants to be an art director,
    Everybody wants to call the shots.
    Everybody wants to be a flag dissector,
    Changing all my stars to polka-dots.
    Everybody thinks that they're the final word on
    What is strictly 'out' and what is 'in'!
    How'd you like a flag that features fleur-de-lys on
    Ochre corrugated tin?!"
    --Betsy Ross to George Washington, as depicted in Stan Freberg's "The United States of America, Volume I."

    December 22, 2007

  • I find it tricky to imagine this colour but the name of the colour is very unappealing.

    December 22, 2007

  • I had no idea that this referred to the color of a flea. "And where does the flea get its red-brown color?" she mused.

    Ick.

    June 30, 2007