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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. 2017.
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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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