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[saf-ruh n] /ˈsæf rən/
Also called vegetable gold. a crocus, Crocus sativus, having showy purple flowers.
an orange-colored condiment consisting of its dried stigmas, used to color and flavor foods.
Also, saffron yellow. a yellowish-orange color.
Origin of saffron
1150-1200; Middle English saffran, saffron Old French safran < Medieval Latin saffrānum < Arabic zaʿfarān Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for saffron
  • It totally transformed the park into a wonderland of saffron color.
  • Add a few crushed nuts, raisins, and saffron thread.
  • In a place full of colors, this saffron yellow really stood out, even against the hay.
  • They perform tree ordinations, which means they bless trees and wrap them with saffron-colored robes.
  • Horizon and distance are indistinguishable in the glowing saffron light.
  • Snapping waists compete in the dance, fluttering saffron skirts.
  • Some toy of the stage has perhaps recently been covered with this thin substance, and a dash of pale saffron-water washed it off.
  • The rich slept on pillows of saffron in the belief that it would cure hangovers.
  • Further, the remaining marinade is simmered with saffron to create its own distinctive dipping sauce for the kebabs.
  • Carefully pour hot saffron liquid over rice and scatter chorizo on top.
British Dictionary definitions for saffron


an Old World crocus, Crocus sativus, having purple or white flowers with orange stigmas
the dried stigmas of this plant, used to flavour or colour food
meadow saffron, another name for autumn crocus
false saffron, another name for safflower
  1. an orange to orange-yellow colour
  2. (as adjective): a saffron dress
Word Origin
C13: from Old French safran, from Medieval Latin safranum, from Arabic za'farān
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 saffron

c.1200, from Old French safran (12c.), from Medieval Latin safranum (cf. Italian zafferano, Spanish azafran), ultimately from Arabic az-za'faran, which is of unknown origin. As a color word and an adjective, late 14c. German Safran is from French; Russian shafran' is from Arabic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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saffron in the Bible

Heb. karkom, Arab. zafran (i.e., "yellow"), mentioned only in Cant. 4:13, 14; the Crocus sativus. Many species of the crocus are found in Palestine. The pistils and stigmata, from the centre of its flowers, are pressed into "saffron cakes," common in the East. "We found," says Tristram, "saffron a very useful condiment in travelling cookery, a very small pinch of it giving not only a rich yellow colour but an agreable flavour to a dish of rice or to an insipid stew."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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