Word Origin & History
mid-13c., "rich cloth" (often, but not necessarily, bright red in color), from an aphetic form of O.Fr. escarlate (12c., Mod.Fr. écarlate), from M.L. scarlatum "scarlet, cloth of scarlet" (cf. It. scarlatto, Sp. escarlate), from Pers. saqirlat "a kind of rich cloth," variant of siqillat "scarlet
cloth, rich cloth," of unknown origin (Arabic siqillat "fine cloth" probably is ult. from Pers.). In reference to color, attested from late 14c. Scarlet lady, etc. (Isa. i:18, Rev. xvii:1-5) is from notion of "red with shame or indignation." Scarlet fever is from 1670s.