scarlet woman

scarlet woman

noun
1.
a sexually promiscuous woman, especially a prostitute or a woman who commits adultery.
2.
a symbol of pagan Rome or, opprobriously, of the church of Rome. Rev. 17:1–6.

Origin:
1810–20

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World English Dictionary
scarlet woman
 
n
1.  New Testament a sinful woman described in Revelation 17, interpreted as a figure either of pagan Rome or of the Roman Catholic Church regarded as typifying vice overlaid with gaudy pageantry
2.  any sexually promiscuous woman, esp a prostitute

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

scarlet woman

A prostitute, an immoral woman, as in Malicious gossip had it that she was a scarlet woman, which was quite untrue. This expression first appeared in Revelation 17:5, describing Saint John's vision of a woman in scarlet clothes with an inscription on her forehead, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Some interpreters believe she stood for Rome, drunk with the blood of saints, but by about 1700 the term was being used more generally for a woman with loose morals.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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