[ 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for vegetable-gold


/ (ˈsæfrən) /


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 for saffron

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

Word Origin and History for vegetable-gold



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