One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small European plant of the primrose family, with creeping stems and flat five-petalled flowers.
Genera Anagallis and Lysimachia, family Primulaceae: several species, in particular the scarlet pimpernel
- ‘Primroses grew in the grass around it and a small red flower that I thought must be pimpernel.’
- ‘As well as being a home to wildlife, it also has pockets of enchanted nightshade, yellow pimpernel and oak fern.’
- ‘A rich diversity of plants thrive in the wet conditions at Greena Moor including bog pimpernel, marsh violet, saw-wort and abundant meadow thistle and devil's-bit scabious.’
Late Middle English (denoting the great burnet and the salad burnet): from Old French pimpernelle, based on Latin piper ‘pepper’ (because of the resemblance of the burnet's fruit to a peppercorn).
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