Turkish: pembe


Senior Member
Spanish - Mexico
The dictionaries I've consulted agree that this Turkish word for the color pink comes from Persian پنبه [pæmˈbe] (Iranian Persian IPA) which means "cotton" (!).
Does anybody know the reason behind that change of meaning?
  • It may be related to their red cotton. "In 1765... special attention to the red cotton yarn... in Izmir" (Hakkı 2012). "Cotton from certain regions of Anatolia was red in color, a condition caused by excessive humidity or insect damage [Dysdercus]. In the fourteenth century the cotton guild of Cremona prohibited the use, in any type of cotton cloth, of 'red' cotton from Turkey, Apulia and North Africa" (Mazzaoui 1981). Given the timing, perpaps in the increased demand for the first one, lower-quality cottons became more common locally. Then white + red, or faded red.