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pimpernel

[pim-per-nel, -nl] /ˈpɪm pərˌnɛl, -nl/
noun
1.
a plant belonging to the genus Anagallis, of the primrose family, especially A. arvensis (scarlet pimpernel) having scarlet or white flowers that close at the approach of bad weather.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English pympernele < Middle French pimprenelle, nasalized variant of Old French piprenelle < Late Latin *piperīnella, equivalent to piper pepper + -īn- -ine1 + -ella diminutive suffix; replacing Old English pipeneale < Late Latin pipīnella, syncopated variant of *piperīnella
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for pimpernel

pimpernel

/ˈpɪmpəˌnɛl; -nəl/
noun
1.
any of several plants of the primulaceous genus Anagallis, such as the scarlet pimpernel, typically having small star-shaped flowers
2.
any of several similar and related plants, such as Lysimachia nemorum (yellow pimpernel)
Word Origin
C15: from Old French pimpernelle, ultimately from Latin piperpepper; compare Old English pipeneale
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for pimpernel
n.

c.1400, from Old French pimprenelle, earlier piprenelle (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin pipinella name of a medicinal plant. This is perhaps from *piperinus "pepper-like" (so called because its fruits resemble peppercorns), a derivative of Latin piper "pepper" (see pepper (n.)); or else it is a corruption of bipinnella, from bipennis "two-winged." The Scarlet Pimpernel was the code name of the hero in an adventure novel of that name published 1905.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for pimpernel

(genus Anagallis), any of several plants of the primrose family (Primulaceae), consisting of about 30 species of low herbs mostly native to western Europe.

Learn more about pimpernel with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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