Middle English Dictionary Entry

saf(f)rǒun n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) The saffron crocus (Crocus sativus); ~ plot; (b) ~ bulb, hed of ~, the corm of the saffron crocus; clove of ~, one of the corms produced on a bulb; rote of ~, the corm; also, the corm and roots; ~ chith, the stamen of the saffron crocus; ~ floures, ?the blossoms of the saffron crocus; ?the stamens; (c) the stamens and part of the stigma of the saffron crocus, esp. dried and powdered, used as a spice in cooking, in medical recipes, etc. and as a dyestuff; (d) safflower (Carthamus tinctorius); ~ d'ort(is, gardin ~; (e) ~ of iren, ferric oxide and hydroxide, rust.
The yellow or yellow-orange color produced from saffron; also in comparisons emphasizing the color of saffron; ~ heued, saffron colored.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • c1475 Yale-BA.Artist.Recipes (Yale-BA R486.M43 1450) 98/23 : Take sabul of a bacen, and saferon dorte, and medyl hit togyder, and anew hit þerwith.
  • a1500 Add.21431 Artist.Recipes (Add 21431) 328/19 : ℞ safrune dort and grund it on a ston þe space of half an oure with þe yelew of an eg.
  • Note: Additional quots., sense 1.(d). See suppl. note below.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: As usual with plant names, it is not always possible to assign particular species to particular examples with confidence, especially in the case of examples from glossaries or synonoma. Some examples assigned here to safflower may belong to saffron and vice versa, but Clarke's attempt to identify 'saffoun dorte' (sense 1.(d)) with either dart n. (in the sense of 'stamen') or drit n. (in the sense of 'dirt') is surely mistaken (M. Clarke, 'The Crafte of Lymmyng and the Maner of Steynyng': Middle English Recipes for Painters, Stainers, Scribes, and Illuminators, Early English Text Society, Original Series 347 (2016), note on 98/23).