pimpernel

pimpernel

[pim-per-nel, -nl]
noun
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:
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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Collins
World English Dictionary
pimpernel (ˈpɪmpəˌnɛl, -nəl)
 
n
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)
 
[C15: from Old French pimpernelle, ultimately from Latin piperpepper; compare Old English pipeneale]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

pimpernel
c.1400, from O.Fr. pimprenelle, earlier piprenelle (12c.), from M.L. pipinella "a medicinal plant," perhaps from *piperinus "pepper-like" (so called because its fruits resemble peppercorns), a derivative of L. piper "pepper" (see pepper). "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 Britannica
Encyclopedia

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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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