Word of the Week! Cerulean

Blue Mesa, Arizona, 2022Forget all those shades of gray. Did you know that there exist at least 270 shades of my favorite color, blue? Blue has a lot of poetic power. We feel blue. If we have talent enough, we might sing the Blues, too.

Artist Yves Klein became so obsessed with a particular shade of blue that he made a point of partnering with a paint-maker to create it. He had difficulty finding a paint that would not change color over time; to him, what became International Klein Blue marked a venture into the Socratic realm of essences. Here’s that color, courtesy of Wikipedia.Tile of International Klein BlueMy favorite blue is cerulean. It appears in the photo at top, one I snapped in the Painted Desert of Arizona, Blue Mesa to be specific, in May, 2022. The mesas present lots of colors, but the sky was a perfect deep blue one gets without humidity. We see it best this time of year in Virginia. The effect of the heat, high altitude, and contrast of sky and topography made me nearly pass out, though I was well hydrated and protected from the sun. It was one of the few moments of vertigo I’ve experienced.

I think it mostly involved that infinite cerulean sky. We felt ready to fall upward into it.

Now let’s recover our balance to consider where we get the word “cerulean.” The ever-handy OED’s etymology for the word notes that it comes from the Latin caeruleus plus a suffix. This means a dark blue. Azure provides a good synonym.

I look forward to another desert trip with lots of cerulean skies overhead. Happy trails until next week. Don’t forget to look up (unless you are driving!).

If you have a word or metaphor you enjoy, send them by e-mail (jessid -at- richmond -dot- edu) or leaving a comment below.

See all of our Metaphors of the Month here and Words of the Week here.

Hiking, Sedona Arizona, 2022