Where does the term “Paris Green” come from and What does Paris Green mean?

The term Paris green, which dates at least to the 1870’s, seems to be of American origin, but has spread to Europe by this time.

Today, it refers to the compound copper aceto-arsenite, which has had extensive use both as an insecticide and as a pigment, and which is better known in Europe as Schweinfurt green.

When the name Paris green was first coined, it was more often used to designate the related compound, copper arsenite, of similar use and color, more commonly known as Scheele’s green.

Paris green has also been used as a name for the color obtained on using these pigments.

The origin of the term is obscure, it may have indicated that the material was manufactured in or exported from Paris, but it seems equally plausible to suggest that the name was coined by some shrewd Yankee merchant who reasoned that “Paris green” would be a much more attractive shade of paint or wallpaper to the American housewife than would one of “Schweinfurt green” or “Scheele’s green.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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