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See also: rußet



The rosemary russet, a variety of apple with a russet skin

From Middle English russet, from Anglo-Norman russet, rossat, roset, and Middle French rosset, rousset (reddish, reddish-brown; a rough wool cloth), from Middle French rous, rus (to rouse) + -et (suffix indicating diminution); compare Late Latin rossetum, russetum, russeta (rough wool cloth), Latin russus (red) (from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rewdʰ- (red)), Occitan rosseta (rough wool cloth).



russet (countable and uncountable, plural russets)

  1. A reddish-brown color.
    • 1664, Francis Gouldman, “Rhacĭnus”, in A Copious Dictionary in Three Parts: I. The English before the Latin [...] II. The Latin before the English [...] III. The Proper Names of Persons, Places, and Other Things Necessary to the Understanding of Historians and Poets [...] The Whole Being a Comprisal of Thomasius and Rider’s Foundations, Holland’s and Holyoak’s Superstructure and Improvements [...], London: Printed by John Field, →OCLC:
      Rhacĭnus, ni; m. Plin[y] ex ῥάχινον, ob coloris ſimilitudinem. A fiſh of ruſſet colour.
    • 1805, James [Bentley] Gordon, chapter I, in A History of Ireland, from the Earliest Accounts to the Accomplishment of the Union with Great Britain in 1801. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, Dublin: Printed by John Jones, 90, Bride-Street, →OCLC, page 6:
      Many of theſe [turf-bogs] are capable of being converted by induſtry into excellent ground, and, where they occupy not too great a proportion of the land, they compenſate for their ruſſet or ſable hues by the abundance of fuel which they yield.
    • 1914, Robert Frost, “After Apple-Picking”, in North of Boston, London: David Nutt, →OCLC, page 78:
      And I could tell / What form my dreaming was about to take. / Magnified apples appear and disappear, / Stem end and blossom end, / And every fleck of russet showing clear.
  2. A coarse, reddish-brown, homespun fabric; clothes made with such fabric.
    • 1866, James E[dwin] Thorold Rogers, “On the Price of Textile Fabrics and Clothing”, in A History of Agriculture and Prices in England: From the Year after the Oxford Parliament (1259) to the Commencement of the Continental War (1793): Compiled Entirely from Original and Contemporaneous Records, volumes I (1259–1400), Oxford: Clarendon Press, →OCLC, page 575:
      Of the various kinds of woollens, the cheapest appear to be those which are known by the names of ‘bluett,’ ‘russet,’ and ‘blanket.’ [] The second appears to have been almost uniformly an inferior article; but the third is the cheapest of all. The first two terms point to the colour of the stuff, blanket being undyed stuff. It seems that sometimes russet is understood to be cloth made from black wool.
  3. A variety of apple with rough, russet-colored skin.
    Synonym: russeting
    Coordinate term: reinette
  4. A variety of potato with rough, dark gray-brown skin.
    • 1817, “Agriculture”, in Encyclopaedia Britannica: Or, a Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Miscellaneous Literature, 5th enlarged and improved edition, volume I, Edinburgh: Printed at the Encyclopædia Press, for Archibald Constable and Company; London: Gale and Fenner; York: Thomas Wilson and Sons, →OCLC, page 322, column 2:
      The cauſe of the curled diſease he attributes to potatoes being of late years produced from ſeed inſtead of roots as formerly. Such will not ſtand good more than two or three years, uſe what method you pleaſe. Laſt ſpring he ſet the old red and white ruſſets, and had not a curled potato amongſt them.
    • 2015, Cinda Chavich, “Potatoes”, in The Waste Not, Want Not Cookbook: Save Food, Save Money, and Save the Planet, Victoria, B.C.: TouchWood Editions, →ISBN, page 129:
      Potatoes come in so many different shapes, sizes, colors, and types that you need to choose the right potato for the job—dry fluffy russets for baking or gnocchi, waxy reds for potato salads, buttery yellow Sieglinde and blue heirlooms for colorful mashes, French fingerlings to steam for fancy dinners.



russet (comparative more russet, superlative most russet)

  1. Having a reddish-brown color.
  2. (archaic) Gray or ash-colored.
  3. Rustic, homespun, coarse, plain.
  4. The condition of leather when its treatment is complete, but it is not yet colored (stained) and polished.
    • 1813 June, “Duty on Leather: Report from the Select Committee on the Petitions Relating to the Duty on Leather”, in The Literary Panorama, being a Compendium of National Papers and Parliamentary Reports, Illustrative of the History, Statistics, and Commerce of the Empire; a Universal Epitome of Interesting and Amusing Intelligence from All Quarters of the Globe; a Review of Books, and Magazine of Varieties, Forming a Complete Annual Register, volume XIII, London: Printed by Cox and Baylis, Great Queen Street, for C. Taylor, No. 108, Hatton Garden, Holborn, page 720:
      [] I received some bales of leather, that when I sent them to the Currier's to wax them, they having been at the Currier's before, as they came up in the russet state, when I had sent them back to be waxed, he sent me back word they were so badly tanned, and so burnt in the tanning, he could not recommend them, []
    • 1871 July 22, “Commercial Epitome”, in The Economist, Weekly Commercial Times, Bankers’ Gazette, and Railway Monitor: A Political, Literary, and General Newspaper, volume XXIX, number 1,456, [London: Economist Office], →OCLC, page 885, column 1:
      Usually the London leather trade exhibits little animation during the latter part of June, but this year a fair general business was transacted at Leadenhall. [] [I]n curried leather, russet butts and middlings, kip butts of bright manufacture, calf skins, light grain, prime Cordovan, and harness appear in considerable request.
  5. (botany) Having a rough skin that is reddish-brown or greyish; russeted.
    • 2015, Jennifer A. Jordan, “Remembering Applies”, in Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes & Other Forgotten Foods, Chicago, Ill., London: University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 98:
      Many apple varieties are mottled or russet, with a rough, dull skin hiding crisp, flavorful flesh.



russet (third-person singular simple present russets, present participle russeting or russetting, simple past and past participle russeted or russetted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive, of apples, pears, etc.) To develop reddish-brown spots; to cause russeting.
    • 1995, T. R. Unruh, P. H. Westigard, K. S. Hagen, “Pear Psylla”, in J. R. Nechols et al., editors, Biological Control in the Western United States: Accomplishments and Benefits of Regional Research Project W-84, 1964–1989 (University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication; 3361), Oakland, Calif.: Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, →ISBN, page 95:
      Pear psylla causes damage when nymphs, feeding at high densities on leaves, produce enough honeydew to drip onto the fruit. A black, sooty mold fungus then grows into the honeydew, distorting and russeting the fruit surface, which substantially lowers its commercial value, []
    • 2003, John E. Jackson, “Flowers and Fruits”, in The Biology of Apples and Pears (Biology of Horticultural Crops), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 323:
      Cultivars differ greatly in their propensity to russet: the characteristic is heritable but more than one factor seems to be involved [].
    • 2007, Eric [Linn] Ormsby, “Time’s Covenant”, in Time’s Covenant: Selected Poems, Emeryville, Ont.: Biblioasis, →ISBN, prologue, stanza 3, page 256:
      I surprised my own amazement in the looking glass / where the resinous radiance of a chandelier / russeted the chaise longue and the chiffonier. / Autumn lay over everything I loved.

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  1. Switzerland and Liechtenstein standard spelling of rußet.