Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A corm-producing plant (Crocus sativus) native to the eastern Mediterranean region, having purple or white flowers with orange stigmas.
  • noun The dried aromatic stigmas of this plant, used to color foods and as a cooking spice and dyestuff.
  • noun A moderate or strong orange yellow to moderate orange.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To tinge with saffron; make yellow; gild; give color or flavor to.
  • noun A product consisting of the dried stigmas of the flowers of the autumnal crocus, Crocus sativus.
  • noun The plant which produces saffron, a low bul-bous herb, Crocus sativus, the autumnal crocus.
  • Having the color given by an infusion of saffron-flowers, somewhat orange-yellow, less brilliant than chrome.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Having the color of the stigmas of saffron flowers; deep orange-yellow.
  • transitive verb obsolete To give color and flavor to, as by means of saffron; to spice.
  • noun (Bot.) A bulbous iridaceous plant (Crocus sativus) having blue flowers with large yellow stigmas. See crocus.
  • noun The aromatic, pungent, dried stigmas, usually with part of the stile, of the Crocus sativus. Saffron is used in cookery, and in coloring confectionery, liquors, varnishes, etc., and was formerly much used in medicine.
  • noun An orange or deep yellow color, like that of the stigmas of the Crocus sativus.
  • noun (Bot.) See Safflower.
  • noun (Bot.) a bulbous plant (Colchichum autumnale) of Europe, resembling saffron.
  • noun (Bot.) the yellowish wood of a South African tree (Elæodendron croceum); also, the tree itself.
  • noun a shade of yellow like that obtained from the stigmas of the true saffron (Crocus sativus).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The saffron crocus plant, Crocus sativus.
  • noun A seasoning made from the stigma of the saffron plant.
  • noun A dye made from the stigma of the saffron plant.
  • noun An orange-yellow colour. The color of a lion.
  • adjective Having a orange-yellow colour.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a shade of yellow tinged with orange
  • noun Old World crocus having purple or white flowers with aromatic pungent orange stigmas used in flavoring food
  • noun dried pungent stigmas of the Old World saffron crocus

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English safroun, from Old French safran, from Medieval Latin safrānum, from Arabic za‘farān.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French safran, from Medieval Latin safranum, from Arabic زَعْفَرَان (za'farān), possibly from Persian زرپران (zar-parân).

Examples

  • In Chelsea Manhattan, two weeks before Halloween, white powdered, barefoot Beings in saffron skirts and robes moving on crystal sand escort us to our essence where we are quiet; grace reigns (rains).

    Jack Schimmelman: Sankai Juku (studio by the mountain and the sea)

  • Check at your major produce distribution center in D.F. And you are right ... so-called mexican saffron is absolutly NOT a substitute for real saffron ...

    Indian/Arab Ingredients in Mexico

  • In Chelsea Manhattan, two weeks before Halloween, white powdered, barefoot Beings in saffron skirts and robes moving on crystal sand escort us to our essence where we are quiet; grace reigns (rains).

    Jack Schimmelman: Sankai Juku (studio by the mountain and the sea)

  • In Chelsea Manhattan, two weeks before Halloween, white powdered, barefoot Beings in saffron skirts and robes moving on crystal sand escort us to our essence where we are quiet; grace reigns (rains).

    Jack Schimmelman: Sankai Juku (studio by the mountain and the sea)

  • In Chelsea Manhattan, two weeks before Halloween, white powdered, barefoot Beings in saffron skirts and robes moving on crystal sand escort us to our essence where we are quiet; grace reigns (rains).

    Jack Schimmelman: Sankai Juku (studio by the mountain and the sea)

  • Check at your major produce distribution center in D.F. And you are right ... so-called mexican saffron is absolutly NOT a substitute for real saffron ...

    Indian/Arab Ingredients in Mexico

  • The killers were dressed in saffron scarves and khaki shorts, the uniform of the RSS, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (Organization of National Volunteers) — the umbrella group of the Hindu nationalist movement — and came armed with swords and gas cylinders, as well as electoral registers and computer printouts of addresses.

    India’s New Face

  • Check at your major produce distribution center in D.F. And you are right ... so-called mexican saffron is absolutly NOT a substitute for real saffron ...

    Indian/Arab Ingredients in Mexico

  • Check at your major produce distribution center in D.F. And you are right ... so-called mexican saffron is absolutly NOT a substitute for real saffron ...

    Indian/Arab Ingredients in Mexico

  • In Chelsea Manhattan, two weeks before Halloween, white powdered, barefoot Beings in saffron skirts and robes moving on crystal sand escort us to our essence where we are quiet; grace reigns (rains).

    Jack Schimmelman: Sankai Juku (studio by the mountain and the sea)

Comments

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  • I'm just mad about this word. ;-)

    February 15, 2007

  • You know, I was going to say that!

    December 5, 2007

  • Don't like it. Reminds me of all those words plasticky words and things like nylon, rayon, teflon, etc. All I see here is an artificial fabric made out of Buddhist monks.

    December 5, 2007

  • Ah, bilby, I was just quoting a song. Anyway, I didn't realize they still used Buddhist monks to make fabric. ;->

    December 6, 2007

  • Yeah, just like naugahyde.

    December 6, 2007

  • "Outside the Essex town of Saffron Walden, few would guess that in medieval times England was long Europe's greatest producer of saffron."
    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 306

    Also see comment on pepper. Another usage/historical note on sacrament.

    November 30, 2016

  • Another usage/historical note (esp. for Saffron Walden) can be found in a comment on turnsole.

    January 8, 2017

  • "At Christ's Hospital School, the essayist Charles Lamb remembered Thursday's fatty, grey, boiled beef 'poisoned by detestable marigolds floating in the pail' in cheap imitation of saffron."

    --Kate Colquhoun, Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking (NY: Bloomsbury, 2007), 242


    See also Crocus sativus or crocus sativus.

    January 18, 2017

  • "The temptation to profit from adulteration was great. Saffron was especially vulnerable because of its extremely high price, which explains the corresponding value of even a small addition to its weight or diminution of its purity. Catalan regulations of the 15th century describe three ways of adulterating saffron: mixing in foreign but not readily visible ingredients such as (apparently) eggs, must, and lard; not cutting the stigmas of the flower closely so that some of what is called the 'style' (the stem) is included (this still goes on); and adding to the weight by moistening the saffron with olive oil."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008), 125.

    Another note can be found on rarity.

    November 28, 2017