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").