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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the color of the stigmas of saffron flowers; deep orange-yellow.
  • n. A bulbous iridaceous plant (Crocus sativus) having blue flowers with large yellow stigmas. See crocus.
  • n. 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.
  • n. An orange or deep yellow color, like that of the stigmas of the Crocus sativus.
  • transitive v. To give color and flavor to, as by means of saffron; to spice.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A product consisting of the dried stigmas of the flowers of the autumnal crocus, Crocus sativus.
  • n. 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.
  • To tinge with saffron; make yellow; gild; give color or flavor to.

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

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


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).



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  • "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

  • "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

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

    January 8, 2017

  • "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

  • Yeah, just like naugahyde.

    December 6, 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

  • 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

  • You know, I was going to say that!

    December 5, 2007

  • I'm just mad about this word. ;-)

    February 15, 2007