c.1400, from O.Fr. pimprenelle,
(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.