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[pim-per-nel, -nl] /ˈpɪm pərˌnɛl, -nl/
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 of pimpernel
late Middle English
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for pimpernel
Historical Examples
  • I trust there is nothing wrong with that most estimable lady, Mrs. pimpernel?

    The Chaplain of the Fleet Walter Besant and James Rice
  • Might it not be himself, instead of the poor mother, who was accountable for the pimpernel?

    Janet of the Dunes Harriet T. Comstock
  • Suddenly she thought that possibly between pimpernel Schley and herself there were resemblances unconnected with colouring.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
  • The blossoms of the Poppy have four petals, those of the pimpernel have five.

    Wildflowers of the Farm Arthur Owens Cooke
  • She did not go so far as that; for she had a firm faith in pimpernel's cuteness and was aware that she would be found out.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
  • She and pimpernel Schley were very silent members of the party.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
  • Primulace, to which belongs the pimpernel, the 'poor man's weather-glass'.

  • pimpernel's found that out and gone in for the savage state.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
  • Indeed, Mrs. pimpernel, wonderful are the decrees of heaven!

    The Chaplain of the Fleet Walter Besant and James Rice
  • "She hates you, pimpernel," said Mrs. Wolfstein to her friend.

    The Woman With The Fan Robert Hichens
British Dictionary definitions for pimpernel


/ˈpɪmpəˌnɛl; -nəl/
any of several plants of the primulaceous genus Anagallis, such as the scarlet pimpernel, typically having small star-shaped flowers
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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pimpernel

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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