My watch list  


Atramentum or atrament, generally means a very black, usually liquid, substance. For example, an octopus may emit a puff of atrament.

In one modern meaning of the word, atramentum is deep black coloring substance manufactured by a reaction of an iron salt with tannic acid (the tannic acid for this purpose is often extracted from oak bark). It is a historically-important black dye or pigment fundamentally different from carbon black or black iron oxide pigments. It was also sometimes called "ink stone". It appears greyish-black in water but the colour becomes very deep and lustrous in linseed oil[1].

In ancient Rome, the term atramentum signified any black colouring substance used for any purpose. The Romans distinguished three principal kinds of atramentum, one called librarium (or scriptorium), another called sutorium, the third tectorium. Atramentum librarium was the writing ink of Roman times, atramentum sutorium was used by shoemakers for dyeing leather, atramentum tectorium (or pidorium) was used by painters for some purposes, apparently as a sort of varnish.[2]

Atramentous is a related adjective which means "black as ink". Historically, to atrament something would mean to write something down with ink. The word atrament is related to modern English atrocious — both originate from Latin atrare which presumably meant to make something black.

See also

  • Ink
  • Coprinopsis atramentaria
  • Victaphanta atramentaria


  1. ^
  2. ^ William Smith (editor), "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, 1870.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Atramentum". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE