1. <zoology> The dried bodies of the females of a scale insect (Coccus ilicis), allied to the cochineal insect, and found on several species of oak near the Mediterranean. They are round, about the size of a pea, contain colouring matter analogous to carmine, and are used in dyeing. They were anciently thought to be of a vegetable nature, and were used in medicine.

Alternative forms: chermes.

2. <botany> A small European evergreen oak (Quercus coccifera) on which the kermes insect (Coccus ilicis) feeds. Kermes mineral.

<medicine> A compound of the trioxide and trisulphide of antimony, used in medicine. This substance occurs in nature as the mineral kermesite.

Origin: Ar. & Per. Girmiz. See Crimson, and cf. Alkermes.

(01 Mar 1998)

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