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scarlet pimpernel

noun
1.
See under pimpernel.
Origin
1850-1855
1850-55

pimpernel

[pim-per-nel, -nl] /ˈpɪm pərˌnɛl, -nl/
noun
1.
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
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
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for scarlet-pimpernel

pimpernel

/ˈpɪmpəˌnɛl; -nəl/
noun
1.
any of several plants of the primulaceous genus Anagallis, such as the scarlet pimpernel, typically having small star-shaped flowers
2.
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

scarlet pimpernel

noun
1.
a weedy primulaceous plant, Anagallis arvensis, of temperate regions, having small red, purple, or white star-shaped flowers that close in bad weather Also called poor man's weatherglass, shepherd's weatherglass
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 scarlet-pimpernel

pimpernel

n.

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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Encyclopedia Article for scarlet-pimpernel

pimpernel

(genus Anagallis), any of several plants of the primrose family (Primulaceae), consisting of about 30 species of low herbs mostly native to western Europe.

Learn more about pimpernel with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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9
11
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