Definition of scarlet in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈskɑːlɪt/


Of a brilliant red colour: a mass of scarlet berries
More example sentences
  • The brilliant masses of scarlet flowers of the Gulmohar are quite a sight in any setting.
  • The brilliant scarlet sky which provided a backdrop to the ship's arrival helped persuade the five judges the picture was tops.
  • Tamora's room was a wide space, and the top panes in her window were tinted red, causing scarlet splashes of colour over the flagstones.


[mass noun]
1A brilliant red colour: papers lettered in scarlet and black
More example sentences
  • They give an awe-inspiring explosion of fat, juicy blooms in scarlet, yellow or deep purpley - black.
  • The flower stems should be tall, around two feet in height, and the flowers a rich cherry red, each petal edged in scarlet.
  • The wound on his side was an angry blotch, tipped in scarlet.
1.1Scarlet clothes or material: silk awnings of brilliant scarlet
More example sentences
  • They opened and two guards stood in front of the party, dressed in robes of scarlet with black trim.
  • She was clothed in an attractive silk blouse of scarlet with gold brocade that laced up her ample front like a bodice.
  • Though the gap in his fingers, he had gazed upon the man dressed in regal scarlet, presently greeting the crown prince.


Middle English (originally denoting any brightly coloured cloth): shortening of Old French escarlate, from medieval Latin scarlata, via Arabic and medieval Greek from late Latin sigillatus 'decorated with small images', from sigillum 'small image'.

  • Scarlet originally referred to an expensive type of cloth. Since good strong colours, particularly a fast bright red, were expensive they were only used on high-quality cloth and the word was associated with the colour rather than the cloth by the 15th century. It is a shortening of Old French escarlate, from medieval Latin scarlata: this came via Arabic and medieval Greek from late Latin sigillatus ‘decorated with small images’, from sigillum ‘small image’, which must originally have referred to embroidered or damasked cloth. The sense ‘red with shame or indignation’ dates from the mid 19th century. The phrase scarlet woman arose in the early 19th century, originally applied (as scarlet lady), with reference to Revelation 17, to the Roman Catholic Church, by those who perceived it as devoted to showy ritual.

Words that rhyme with scarlet

Scarlett, starlet, starlit, varlet

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: scar|let

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