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

  • noun A strong to vivid red or reddish orange.
  • noun Scarlet-colored clothing or cloth.
  • adjective Of a strong to vivid red or reddish orange.
  • adjective Flagrantly immoral or unchaste.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make scarlet or bright-red; redden.
  • To clothe in scarlet.
  • noun In archery, the second or next to the innermost circle of the target, which is colored red. See red, 7.
  • noun The rank, dignity, or office of a cardinal: so called from the official color of his robes.
  • noun A name by which benzopurpurin 4B is sometimes known.
  • noun A highly chromatic and brilliant red color, inclining toward orange.
  • noun One of a group of coal-tar colors used for dyeing wool and silk, and to a certain extent for the manufacture of pigments.
  • noun Cloth of a scarlet color; a scarlet robe or dress.
  • Of the color scarlet; bright-red.
  • Dressed in scarlet; wearing scarlet.
  • The red valerian, Centranthus ruber.

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

  • noun A deep bright red tinged with orange or yellow, -- of many tints and shades; a vivid or bright red color.
  • noun Cloth of a scarlet color.
  • transitive verb rare To dye or tinge with scarlet.
  • adjective Of the color called scarlet.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) the red admiral. See under Red. -- Scarlet bean (Bot.), a kind of bean (Phaseolus multiflorus) having scarlet flowers; scarlet runner.
  • adjective (Med.) a contagious febrile disease characterized by inflammation of the fauces and a scarlet rash, appearing usually on the second day, and ending in desquamation about the sixth or seventh day.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) the telescope fish; -- so called from its red color. See under Telescope.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) See under Ibis.
  • adjective (Bot.) the red maple. See Maple.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) any one of numerous species of bright red carnivorous mites found among grass and moss, especially Thombidium holosericeum and allied species. The young are parasitic upon spiders and insects.
  • adjective (Bot.) a species of oak (Quercus coccinea) of the United States; -- so called from the scarlet color of its leaves in autumn.
  • adjective (Bot.) the scarlet bean.
  • adjective (Zoöl.) See under Tanager.

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

  • noun A bright red, slightly orange colour.
  • noun a scarlet-coloured cloth.
  • adjective Of a bright red colour.
  • adjective Sinful or whorish.
  • verb To dye or tinge with scarlet.

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

  • adjective of a color at the end of the color spectrum (next to orange); resembling the color of blood or cherries or tomatoes or rubies
  • noun a variable color that is vivid red but sometimes with an orange tinge


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

[Middle English, scarlet cloth, scarlet, from Old French escarlate, from Medieval Latin scarlata, scarlet cloth, from Persian saqirlāt, rich cloth, scarlet cloth, variant of siqillāt, from Arabic, perhaps from Medieval Greek *sigillatos, from Latin sigillātus, decorated with raised figures, from sigilla, little figures, pl. of sigillum, sigil; see sigil.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old French escarlate ("a type of cloth"), from Medieval Latin scarlatum ("scarlet cloth"), from Persian سقرلات (saqerlât, "a warm woollen cloth").


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  • The term scarlet as employed in the Old Testament was used to designate the blood-red color procured from an insect somewhat resembling cochineal, found in great quantities in Armenia and other eastern countries.

    Forty Centuries of Ink 1904

  • I forget what I called the scarlet-runner thicket, but by some eastern name, and drawing nearer I found an opportunity for another shot, which missed.

    Nat the Naturalist A Boy's Adventures in the Eastern Seas George Manville Fenn 1870

  • And later, after the interview: I might not have gone but for you, and so have missed the finest study I ever came across: a study in scarlet, eh?

    A three pipe problem Matthew Guerrieri 2009

  • At her heels ran two of her sailors, Papehara and Mahameme, in scarlet lava-lavas, with naked sheath-knives gleaming in their belts.

    Chapter 13 2010

  • His celebrated portrait of Charles William Lambton in scarlet velveteens was sometimes assumed to be an imaginary portrait of the dreaming, youthful Byron, the very soul of English romanticism, and was reproduced across Europe as such, and is still instantly recognisable today.

    Thomas Lawrence: The new romantic – review Richard Holmes 2010

  • And later, after the interview: I might not have gone but for you, and so have missed the finest study I ever came across: a study in scarlet, eh?

    Archive 2009-01-01 Matthew Guerrieri 2009

  • In the stern he saw a young bronzed god in scarlet hip-cloth dipping a flashing paddle.

    Chapter 40 2010

  • He has brought in scarlet, pink and purple ones this week.

    Tianguis: itinerant traders in a traveling Mexican market 2009

  • The Aorai swung out a boat smartly, into which sprang half a dozen brown-skinned sailors clad only in scarlet loincloths.


  • He has brought in scarlet, pink and purple ones this week.

    Tianguis: itinerant traders in a traveling Mexican market 2009


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  • When I am dead, I hope it may be said: "His sins were scarlet, but his books were read." -- Hilaire Belloc

    February 11, 2007

  • from Persian saqalat "a type of red cloth". a rich cloth of bright color.

    August 31, 2009

  • Extensive usage note in comment on crimson.


    "It was under Oliver Cromwell, shortly before the Restoration, that English army coats became red, and Cromwell specified that they be made in Gloucestershire, an area that was to become famous for scarlet woolens dyed with cochineal and tin. While lower-ranking redcoats had to settle for less costly dyes like madder, Gloucestershire's cochineal scarlet cloth was used to make many a British officer's uniform over the next two centuries. Drebbel's scarlet therefore appeared on such famous British battlefields as Culloden and Waterloo--and made British officers easy marks for the sharpshooters of Lexington and Concord in 1775."

    I hate to break it to her, but they weren't sharpshooters. They were farmers. I wonder how much of that was just using "sharpshooters" instead of "marksmen" (also not accurate) for the sake of not saying "soldiers" or something as boring (since they weren't soldiers either, at least not yet)--and how much of it was a traditionally British view (as she was educated there, I believe) of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.... Also, let's be fair, they wore crossed white straps over their red coats, so... X marks the spot, you know? Anyways...

    Amy Butler Greenfield, <i>A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire</i> (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 141.

    See also Cornelis Drebbel, aqua regia, and Bow-dye.

    October 4, 2017

  • See also sackcloth.

    August 12, 2020