1. (Science: zoology) The dried bodies of the females of a scale insect (coccus ilicis), allied to the cochineal insect, and found on several species of oak near the Mediterranean. They are round, about the size of a pea, contain colouring matter analogous to carmine, and are used in dyeing. They were anciently thought to be of a vegetable nature, and were used in medicine.
alternative forms: chermes.