Fuchsia

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The name of the plant genus Fuchsia is spelled thus. It is pronounced 'FYOU-she(r)', IPA: /ˈfjuː ʃər/ in conventional English. (Do not confuse the pronunciation with that of future, which is spelled 'FEW-cher', IPA: /ˈfjuː tʃər/: the difference is in the realization, or absence of realization, of the phoneme /t/.)

The English pronunciation has given rise to the difficulty many writers have with spelling the word. It does NOT have the letter '-s-' before the '-c-', fuschia. It may help to think that the original German name from which it is derived is pronounced 'fooks' (/fuːχ (or k)s.

Professor Alan Alexander wrote a letter to the Guardian (29/9/2011): "In my family, we have a mnemonic for remembering how to spell fuchsia (Corrections, 28 September): it's the only other word in the dictionary that begins with fuc." Although many readers will find this is a witty way of remembering the spelling, the Professor is using a small dictionary (see AWE's thoughts at The dictionary): the huge historical OED lists many 'obsolete' or 'rare' words starting with 'fuc-', of which a few (e.g. fuchsine) are chemicals derived from the genus, or other technical terms; many derive from the obsolete noun 'fucus', meaning 'a cosmetic'. These include the verb 'to fucate' 'to paint [with cosmetic]', hence 'to counterfeit', 'to falsify', 'to deceive'; which, with its participial adjectives fucated and fucate, and further adjectives fucal, fucatious and fucatory, as well as the noun fucation, seem well worth reviving in an age of political deception. (The first syllable of all of these is pronounced like 'few', IPA: /fjuː/, and not like the common obscenity spelled with a '-k'.)

The fuchsia is named in honour of Leonhard (or Leonhart) Fuchs (1501-1566) (his surname means 'fox', as a common noun), after whose death it was first found and described in the Caribbean (published 1703), by Charles Plumier (1646-1704). The genus contains over 100 species of Fuchsia. Most are tropical or sub-tropical shrubs, natives of South and Central America, with several native to Caribbean or Pacific islands. They are common garden plants: many varieties and hybrids are grown for their ornamental qualities. The typical fuchsia has drooping flowers with two different colours (the sepals being of one and the petals of another), most often shades of red and of purple. The colour fuchsia (as adjective and noun) is a bright, vibrant shade, variously described by colour consultants, fashion writers, interior designers, paint manufacturers etc. as of pink, red, purple or magenta.