saffron

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See also: Saffron

English[edit]

saffron (spice): the dried threads from the stigma of Crocus sativus

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English saffron, from Old French safran, from Medieval Latin safranum, from Arabic زَعْفَرَان (zaʿfarān), from Persian *زرپران (*zar-parân, literally with golden leaves).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

saffron (countable and uncountable, plural saffrons)

  1. The plant Crocus sativus, a crocus.
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Song of Songs 4.13-14,[1]
      Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron []
    • 2009, D. H. Sanaeinejad, S. N. Hosseini, Regression Models for Saffron Yields in Iran, Daoliang Li, Chunjiang Zhao (editors), Computer and Computing Technologies in Agriculture II, Volume 1, page 510,
      Usually the maximum temperature for October, November and December in the southern parts of Khorassan–the main saffron growing area of the Iran-does not exceed 20°C, while the minimum temperature reaches 0°C.
  2. A spice (seasoning) and colouring agent made from the stigma and part of the style of the plant, sometimes or formerly also used as a dye and insect repellent.
    Synonym: kesar
    • c. 1610, William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Act IV, Scene 3,[2]
      I must have saffron to colour the warden pies []
    • 1658, Thomas Muffet, The Theatre of Insects, [1634, Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum], quoted in 2008, Anna Suranyi, The Genius of the English Nation: Travel Writing and National Identity in Early Modern England, page 117-118,
      The Irish and Ireland people (who are frequently troubled with lice, and such as will fly, as they say, in summer) anoint their shirts with saffron, and to very good purpose, to drive away the lice, but after six months they wash their shirts again, putting fresh saffron into the lye.
    • 2002, James A. Duke (editor), CRC Handbook of Medicinal Spices[3], page 129:
      Saffron is not included in American and British pharmacopoeias, but some Indian medical formulae still include it.
    • 2004, Melitta Weiss Adamson, Food in Medieval Times[4], page 15:
      Saffron is the stigma of the crocus flower, which is harvested by hand, dried, and sold either in strands or ground to powder. [] Of all the medieval spices, saffron was the most expensive, which is not surprising given that 70,000 flowers only yield one pound of dried stigmas. In the European cookbooks of the late Middle Ages, nearly all of which which reflect refined upper-class dining, saffron is ubiquitous.
    • 2011, Mathew Attokaran, Natural Food Flavors and Colorants, unnumbered page,
      Saffron is often called the “golden spice.”
  3. An orange-yellow colour, the colour of a lion's pelt.
    Synonym: saffron yellow
    saffron colour:  
    • 1728, James Thomson, Spring, London: A. Millar & G. Strahan, p. 18,[5]
      [] The stately Ram
      Shone thro’ the Mead, in native Purple clad,
      Or milder Saffron []
    • 1915, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Chapter 7,[6]
      [] the girls locked up Echo Lodge again and went away in the perfect half hour that follows the rose and saffron of a winter sunset.
    • 1973, Anthony Powell, Temporary Kings[7], page 82:
      These colours might have been expressly designed—by dissonance as much as harmony—for juxtaposition against those pouring down in brilliant rays of light from the Tiepolo; subtle yet penetrating pinks and greys, light blue turning almost to lavender, rich saffrons and cinnamons melting into bronze and gold.
    • 2011, Seth Hunter, The Winds of Folly, unnumbered page,
      The classical shades of Antiquity were the most prevalent, but along with the Venetian reds and Egyptian blues, the saffrons and ochres and indigos, were more delicate hues: of pink and cream and lilac, like shells littered upon the shore.

Usage notes[edit]

The distinction between the plant and spice senses is often blurred.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Adjective[edit]

saffron

  1. Having an orange-yellow colour.
    The saffron robe of a Buddhist monk.
    • 1624, Thomas Heywood, Gynaikeion: or, Nine Bookes of Various History. Concerninge women inscribed by the names of the nine Muses, London, Book 3, “A Funerall Oade vpon the death of Anna Panareta” p. 123,[8]
      Now Hymen change thy saffron weedes
      To roabe and habit sable:
      For ioyfull thoughts, vse funerall deedes
      Since nothing’s firme or stable;
    • 1794, Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, London: G.G. & J. Robinson, Volume 1, Chapter 9, p. 256,[9]
      The sun was now set; but, under the dark branches of the almond trees, was seen the saffron glow of the west, spreading beyond the twilight of middle air.
    • 1876, George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, Chapter 40,[10]
      [] it was half-past four, and the gray day was dying gloriously, its western clouds all broken into narrowing purple strata before a wide-spreading saffron clearness []
    • 1961, V. S. Naipaul, A House for Mr Biswas, Part 1, Chapter 2,[11]
      The jacket was brown but had turned saffron where it had been soaked by Lal’s sweat.

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

saffron (third-person singular simple present saffrons, present participle saffroning, simple past and past participle saffroned)

  1. To add saffron to (a food), for taste, colour etc.
    saffroned water, saffroned rice.
    • 1559, Peter Morwen (translator), The Treasure of Euonymus by Conrad Gesner, London: John Day, “Of certain other Aromatical wynes,” p. 407,[12]
      Saffrond wyne bryngeth mirthe, and taketh away Melancholines []
    • 1884, Robert Browning, “Two Camels” in Ferishtah’s Fancies, London: Smith, Elder, p. 70,[13]
      Well-saffroned was that barley-soup!
  2. To give a saffron colour to (something).
    • 1593, Michael Drayton, Idea the Shepheards Garland, London: Thomas Woodcocke, Second Eglog, p. 6,[14]
      My dreadful thoughts been drawen vpon my face,
      In blotted lines with ages iron pen,
      The lothlie morpheu saffroned the place,
      Where beuties damaske daz’d the eies of men.
    • c. 1594, Michael Drayton, Peirs Gaueston Earle of Cornwall His Life, Death, and Fortune, London: Nicholas Ling and John Busby,[15]
      Or like the twifold-twynned Geminy,
      In their star-gilded gyrdle strongly tyed,
      Chayn’d by their saffrond tresses in the sky,
      Standing to guard the sun-coche in his pride.
    • 1917, Charles V. H. Roberts, “The Call of the Country” in Collected Poems, New York: The Torch Press, p. 20,[16]
      We accept the perfect stillness of the ground,
      And the vision of a sunset-saffroned sea.
    1. To dye (a fabric, garment, etc.) with a saffron-based dye.
      • 1580, John Stow, The Chronicles of England, London: Ralph Newberie, “A briefe Description of Englande, Scotlande, Wales, and Cornwall,” p. 9,[17]
        The other part Northern, & ful of mountaines, a very rude and homely kinde of people doth inhabite, which are called the redshankes or wilde Scottes. They be clothed with a mantel and shyrte saffroned, after the Irishe manner, going bare legged to the knée.
      • 1582, Richard Stanyhurst (translator), The First Foure Bookes of Virgil his Aeneis, Leiden: John Pates, Book 4, p. 82,[18]
        Thee next day foloing lustring Aurora lay shymring,
        Her saffrond mattresse leauing to her bedfelo Tithon.
      • 1638, uncredited translator, Historie Naturall and Experimentall, of Life and Death by Francis Bacon, London: William Lee and Humphrey Mosley, p. 244,[19]
        The same Irish, use to weare Saffroned Linnen, and Shirts; Which though it were, at first, devised to prevent Vermine, yet, howsoever, I take it, to be very usefull for Lengthening of Life []
    2. To colour (a metal or wooden surface) with a gilding product containing saffron.
      • 1594, Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller, London: C. Burby,[20]
        His horse was harnished with leaden chaines, hauing the out-side guilt, or at least saffrond in stead of guilt, to decypher a holie or golden pretence of a couetous purpose []
      • 1633, John Donne, “Elegie” in Poems, London: John Marriot, p. 149,[21]
        And like vile stones lying in saffrond tinne,
    • Or warts, or wheales, it hangs upon her skinne.
  3. (figuratively) To embellish.
    • 1970, Robert Randolph Turner, Tennessee Legends: An Analysis in Terms of Motifs, Structure, and Style:
      Saffroning the rest of the account are several other regionalisms: agin for against, hit for the expletive it, knowed as a preterite, and no use to say not bin' (a fascinating doubling of the negative).
    • 1992, Jerome Mandel, Geoffrey Chaucer: Building the Fragments of the Canterbury Tales:
      He saffrons his speech with Latin which he knows all by rote.
    • 2015, Robert B. Burlin, Chaucerian Fiction, page 231:
      The Nun's Priest's rhetorical devices, too numerous to catalogue exhaustively, are of two kinds: first, the heroic-historical, beginning with the setting of the occasion in a time sequence that starts with the Creation, saffroning the high points with apostrophes and epic similes, and culminating with a chase in which Chauntecleer's fall proves to have the "cosmic reverberations" required by epic standards []

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Old French safran, from Medieval Latin safranum, from Arabic زَعْفَرَان (zaʿfarān), from Persian *زرپران (*zar-parân).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈsafrɔn/, /ˈsafruːn/, /ˈsafrən/

Noun[edit]

saffron (uncountable)

  1. saffron (the plant Crocus sativus)
  2. saffron (yellow powder used in cooking, pharmaceuticals, and dyes)
    • c. 1430 (reprinted 1888), Thomas Austin, ed., Two Fifteenth-century Cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with Extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55 [Early English Text Society, Original Series; 91], London: N. Trübner & Co. for the Early English Text Society, volume I, OCLC 374760, page 11:
      Soupes dorye. — Take gode almaunde mylke [] caste þher-to Safroun an Salt []
  3. saffron (the colour of the powder)

Descendants[edit]

References[edit]

Adjective[edit]

saffron

  1. Yellow; the colour of saffron.
  2. (rare) Resembling saffron in taste.

Descendants[edit]

References[edit]