Definition of madder in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmadər/


1A scrambling or prostrate Eurasian plant of the bedstraw family, with whorls of four to six leaves.
  • Genera Rubia and Sherardia, family Rubiaceae: several species, in particular R. tinctorum of southern Europe and western Asia, formerly cultivated for its root, which yields a red dye, and the Eurasian wild madder (R. peregrina).
Example sentences
  • The roots of lady's bedstraw, a roadside weed in the northeastern United States, produce a red dye on wool yarn, as does the root of the madder plant, a perennial originating in the Mediterranean regions.
  • In 1868 the German chemists Carl Graebe and Carl Liebermann synthesized the alizarin molecule, which is responsible for the red colour of the dye extracted from the root of the madder plant.
  • Threads for the work have been dyed in authentic colours of the period, using natural dyes some of which have been derived from plants like cow parsley, madder and walnut tree, picked locally by society volunteers.
1.1A red dye or pigment obtained from the root of the madder plant, or a synthetic dye resembling it.
Example sentences
  • Vegetable dyes have always been cheaper, the most common in William Perkin's day were madder and indigo, the ancient red and blue dyes.
  • Dyers had used some natural dyes, such as madder and indigo, for thousands of years.
  • Although the pigments were the same, ranging from costly exotic ultramarine to local vegetable dyes such as madder and indigo, a radical change of technique was needed when they were mixed with egg-white or plant-gum rather than oil.


Old English mædere, of Germanic origin; obscurely related to Dutch mede, in the same sense.

Words that rhyme with madder

adder, bladder, khaddar, ladder

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mad·der

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