So how did the word amaranth go from being an imaginary flower to a genus of flowers by the likes are the deep red cockscomb, love-lies-bleeding, and prince's feather; to A color inclining to purple as Webby 1913 says? The entry for amaranth in Random House Webster's College Dictionary goes into more details about the story behind this interesting word:
- English amaranth, which first appeared in the 16th century, came from Latin amarantus, meaning not just 'flower', but 'an unfading flower'. The Greek word from which Latin amarantus derived is amarantos which is formed from the prefix a- meaning 'not' (called the "alpha privative") plus marainein meaning 'to wither or decay'. The Indo-European root of this word, mer- meaning 'to die', is also the source of such words as "mortal, murder," and "mortgage."
- Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In Paradise fast by the tree of life
Began to bloom; but soon, for man's offence,
To heaven removed, where first it grew.
- "Hope plucks amaranthine joys from bowers of bliss."
- "The angel with the amaranthine wreath, Pausing, descended."
Public Domain text of the poem taken from E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898." Am'aranth."