Origin of pimpernelMiddle English pympernelle ; from Old French piprenelle ; from Late Latin pimpinella, an herb with medicinal uses, probably altered ; from an unverified form piperinella, ultimately ; from Classical Latin piper, pepper: its fruit resembles small peppercorns
Origin of pimpernelMiddle English pimpernelle, from Old French, alteration of piprenelle, from Late Latin pimpinella, perhaps from Latin piper, pepper; see pepper.
- (now rare) A plant of the genus Pimpinella, especially burnet saxifrage, Pimpinella saxifraga. [from 16th c.]
- Any of various plants of the genus Anagallis, having small red, white or purple flowers, especially the scarlet pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis. [from 15th c.]
- Great burnet or salad burnet. [from 16th c.]
- Someone resembling the fictional Scarlet Pimpernel; a gallant dashing resourceful man given to remarkable feats of bravery and derring-do in liberating victims of tyranny and injustice. [from 20th c.]
From Anglo-Norman pimpernele et al., Middle French pimpinelle (“burnet saxifrage") et al., from Late Latin pipinella, most likely from Vulgar Latin *piperinus (“pepper-like"), because its fruit resembled peppercorns, from Latin piper. It has also been linked to Latin bipinnella, from bipennis (“two-winged").