One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A woman who is notorious for having many casual sexual encounters or relationships.‘I will not consent to be portrayed in the press as a scarlet woman!’
- ‘Then there is Kellie, cast as the scarlet woman.’
- ‘For most people, the death penalty for adultery sounds too much like Arabic laws that call for stoning scarlet women.’
- ‘And instead of feeling like a scarlet woman I felt excited and almost as though I was given a new lease on life.’
- ‘I was only a year a widow and my landlady was advised to get rid of me, because I was a kind of scarlet woman.’
- ‘‘I really was the scarlet woman all those years ago,’ she said.’
- ‘Cinderella's stylish godmother is a bit of a scarlet woman and definitely had a very good war.’
- ‘There I was, an innocent auburn-haired kid and in walks this scarlet woman who introduced me to heroin and pre-marital sex.’
- ‘They were clearly hoping that perhaps they would learn some interesting gossip about this obviously scarlet woman being entertained in the Whitman household.’
- ‘What was notable in tonight's BBC special was the horror felt by women scholars that ‘their’ Mary Magdalene could possibly have been a rehabilitated scarlet woman.’
- ‘Having been told that she was a scarlet woman who had brought the name of the House of Windsor into disrepute, Margaret decided to behave like one.’
Early 19th century: in early use mainly as a derogatory reference to the Roman Catholic Church, identified (by some Protestant interpreters) with the symbolic biblical figure of ‘the great whore’, described as a woman in scarlet and purple robes (Revelation 17).
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