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Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Veilchen

Roses are red, violets are blue...but they aren't always pretty, at least according to this quirky German word.

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Veilchen look sweet, bloom in spring, and their alluring scent is used to make perfumes. But perhaps the most dominant feature of this unassuming flower is the deep purple color it's named after. The Veilchen, or violet in English, also has a place in the popular poem that begins: "Roses are red, violets are blue..."

In German, however, Veilchen can also mean something else - something just as purple as the pretty flower, but far less pleasant to receive, or to behold.

This kind of Veilchen refers to the nasty blue-purple patch that can appear around the left or right eye - sometimes even around both eyes - of someone who's just been in a fight. A punch to the face is enough to induce a Veilchen, or black eye, and the colorful mark can stick around for days before finally fading away.

As the small blood vessels around the eye burst, the skin turns from red, to violet, to yellow-brown. You can speed up the process by holding an ice pack against the skin, or applying a topical healing cream (violet-scented, of course).

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