Coch"i*neal (k&obreve;ch"&ibreve;*nēl; 277),
[Sp. cochinilla, dim. from L. coccineus,
coccinus, scarlet, fr. coccum the kermes berry, G.
ko`kkos berry, especially the kermes insect, used to
dye scarlet, as the cochineal was formerly supposed to be the
grain or seed of a plant, and this word was formerly defined to
be the grain of the Quercus coccifera; but cf. also Sp.
cochinilla wood louse, dim. of cochina sow, akin to
F. cochon pig.] A dyestuff consisting of the dried
bodies of females of the Coccus cacti, an insect native in
Mexico, Central America, etc., and found on several species of
cactus, esp. Opuntia cochinellifera.
&fist; These insects are gathered from the plant, killed by
the application of heat, and exposed to the sun to dry. When
dried they resemble small, rough berries or seeds, of a brown or
purple color, and form the cochineal of the shops, which is used
for making carmine, and also as a red dye.
&fist; Cochineal contains as its essential coloring matter
carminic acid, a purple red amorphous substance which
yields carmine red.