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purple

[pur-puh l]
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noun
  1. any color having components of both red and blue, such as lavender, especially one deep in tone.
  2. cloth or clothing of this hue, especially as formerly worn distinctively by persons of imperial, royal, or other high rank.
  3. the rank or office of a cardinal.
  4. the office of a bishop.
  5. imperial, regal, or princely rank or position.
  6. deep red; crimson.
  7. any of several nymphalid butterflies, as Basilarchia astyanax (red-spotted purple), having blackish wings spotted with red, or Basilarchia arthemis (banded purple or white admiral), having brown wings banded with white.
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adjective, pur·pler, pur·plest.
  1. of the color purple.
  2. imperial, regal, or princely.
  3. brilliant or showy.
  4. full of exaggerated literary devices and effects; marked by excessively ornate rhetoric: a purple passage in a novel.
  5. profane or shocking, as language.
  6. relating to or noting political or ideological diversity: purple politics; ideologically purple areas of the country.
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verb (used with or without object), pur·pled, pur·pling.
  1. to make or become purple.
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Idioms
  1. born in/to the purple, of royal or exalted birth: Those born to the purple are destined to live in the public eye.
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Origin of purple

before 1000; Middle English purpel (noun and adjective), Old English purple (adjective), variant of purpure < Latin purpura “kind of shellfish yielding purple dye, the dye, cloth so dyed” < Greek porphýra; cf. purpure, porphyry
Related formspur·ple·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for purple

color, mauve, plum, lilac, lavender, periwinkle, violet, heliotrope, pomegranate, mulberry, amethyst, magenta, wine, orchid, amaranthine, perse, violaceous

Examples from the Web for purple

Contemporary Examples of purple

Historical Examples of purple

  • The robe of fine Milesian texture, was saffron-coloured, with a purple edge.

    Philothea

    Lydia Maria Child

  • "But there should be another one," cried the man in the purple coat.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • To one familiar with savage peoples there could be no doubt that these were close to the purple.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • They dropped from his grasp, and I saw that his fingers were purple and black.

    A Woman Tenderfoot

    Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson

  • Gather the grapes when they are full grown, but before they begin to purple.


British Dictionary definitions for purple

purple

noun
  1. any of various colours with a hue lying between red and blue and often highly saturated; a nonspectral colour
  2. a dye or pigment producing such a colour
  3. cloth of this colour, often used to symbolize royalty or nobility
  4. the purple high rank; nobility
    1. the official robe of a cardinal
    2. the rank, office, or authority of a cardinal as signified by this
  5. the purple bishops collectively
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adjective
  1. of the colour purple
  2. (of writing) excessively elaborate or full of imagerypurple prose
  3. noble or royal
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Derived Formspurpleness, nounpurplish, adjectivepurply, adjective

Word Origin for purple

Old English, from Latin purpura purple dye, from Greek porphura the purple fish (Murex)
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

Word Origin and History for purple

n., adj.

Old English purpul, dissimilation (first recorded in Northumbrian, in Lindisfarne gospel) of purpure "purple dye, a purple garment," purpuren (adj.) "purple," a borrowing by 9c. from Latin purpura "purple color, purple-dyed cloak, purple dye," also "shellfish from which purple was made," and "splendid attire generally," from Greek porphyra "purple dye, purple" (cf. porphyry), of uncertain origin, perhaps Semitic, originally the name for the shellfish (murex) from which it was obtained. Purpur continued as a parallel form until 15c., and through 19c. in heraldry. As a color name, attested from early 15c. Tyrian purple, produced around Tyre, was prized as dye for royal garments.

Also the color of mourning or penitence (especially in royalty or clergy). Rhetorical for "splendid, gaudy" (of prose) from 1590s. Purple Heart, U.S. decoration for service members wounded in combat, instituted 1932; originally a cloth decoration begun by George Washington in 1782. Hendrix' Purple Haze (1967) is slang for "LSD."

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v.

c.1400, from purple (n.). Related: Purpled; purpling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper