scarlet

[skahr-lit]
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adjective
  1. of the color scarlet.
  2. flagrantly offensive: Their sins were scarlet.

Origin of scarlet

1200–50; Middle English < Old French escarlate < Medieval Latin scarlata, scarletum, perhaps < Arabic saqirlāṭ, siqillāṭ < Medieval Greek sigillátos < Latin sigillātus decorated with patterns in relief; see sigillate
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British Dictionary definitions for scarlet

scarlet

noun
  1. a vivid red colour, sometimes with an orange tinge
  2. cloth or clothing of this colour
adjective
  1. of the colour scarlet
  2. sinful or immoral, esp unchaste

Word Origin for scarlet

C13: from Old French escarlate fine cloth, of unknown origin
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 scarlet
n.

mid-13c., "rich cloth" (often, but not necessarily, bright red), from a shortened form of Old French escarlate "scarlet (color), top-quality fabric" (12c., Modern French écarlate), from Medieval Latin scarlatum "scarlet, cloth of scarlet" (also source of Italian scarlatto, Spanish escarlate), probably via a Middle Eastern source (cf. Arabic siqillat "fine cloth"), from Medieval Greek and ultimately from Late Latin sigillatus "clothes and cloth decorated with small symbols or figures," literally "sealed," past participle of sigillare, from the root of sign (n.).

In English as the name of a color, attested from late 14c. As an adjective from c.1300. Scarlet lady, etc. (Isa. i:18, Rev. xvii:1-5) is from notion of "red with shame or indignation." Scarlet fever is from 1670s, so called for its characteristic rash. Scarlet oak, a New World tree, attested from 1590s. Scarlet letter traces to Hawthorne's story (1850). German Scharlach, Dutch scharlaken show influence of words cognate with English lake (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper