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

  • n. A southwest Asian perennial plant (Rubia tinctorum) having small yellow flowers, whorled leaves, and a red root.
  • n. The root of this plant, formerly an important source of the dye alizarin.
  • n. A red dye obtained from the roots of this plant.
  • n. A medium to strong red or reddish orange.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A herbaceous plant, Rubia tinctorum, native to Asia, cultivated for a red-purple dye obtained from the root.
  • n. The root of the plant, used as a medicine or a dye.
  • n. A dye made from the plant.
  • n. A deep reddish purple colour, like that of the dye.
  • adj. Of a deep reddish purple colour, like that of the dye.
  • adj. comparative form of mad: more mad
  • n. Alternative spelling of mether.(obsolete)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A plant of the genus Rubia (Rubia tinctorum). The root is much used in dyeing red, and formerly was used in medicine. It is cultivated in France and Holland. See rubiaceous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To dye with madder.
  • n. A plant of the genus Rubia, natural order Rubiaceæ, yielding a valuable dyestuff of the same name.
  • n. A dyestuff and pigment obtained from the roots of Rubia tinctorum and other plants of the same family.
  • n. Oldenlandia umbellata.
  • n. Some species of the genus Hedyotis.
  • n. The white bedstraw, Galium Mollugo.
  • n. A large wooden drinking-vessel.
  • n. Same as purple-black.

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

  • v. color a moderate to strong red
  • n. Eurasian herb having small yellow flowers and red roots formerly an important source of the dye alizarin


Middle English, from Old English mædere.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English mæddre, mædre, from Germanic, perhaps from an Indo-European base meaning ‘blue’. Cognate with Swedish madra. (Wiktionary)
Inflected forms. (Wiktionary)
From mead (Wiktionary)



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  • "Through the peculiar chemical affinity of phosphate of lime for its coloring matter, madder is noted for its remarkable physiological effect of turning red the bones of animals to which it is fed, as well as the claws and beaks of birds."

    --from the Century Dictionary definition.

    September 24, 2010

  • Madder, the color "Turkey" red, or the color of French military cloth.

    January 4, 2009

  • That's what they say. But not in my world. I *eat* chocolate; I *drink* coffee. :-) Not that I don't like hot cocoa; it's just not a year-round drink for me.

    July 12, 2007

  • No, that's chocolate (Theobroma cacao)...

    July 12, 2007

  • Coffee--drink of the gods.

    July 12, 2007

  • coffea is in the madder family. I love coffee!

    July 12, 2007

  • madder - the color not the emotion

    April 6, 2007