Words: smaragdine, adj.

WHEN MY children ask me what is my favourite colour, I always reply smaragdine. I'm not particularly fond of emerald green, but it is one of those words you can roll around your mouth and savour like a good brandy.

Etymologically, smaragdine and emerald are the same word, both coming from the Old French smaragde, esmaragde or esmeraude. A smaragd is an emerald, and smaragdine means emerald-like, or green-coloured.

The New Oxford Dictionary of English chooses to omit this fine word, but you will find it in Chambers. Conscious of their responsibility as the standard dictionary for so many word- games, they could hardly deny Scrabble-players the possibility of scoring 50 bonus points with the seven- letter smaragd.