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03
Aug
2012
2:40 mins
Episode: scarlet pimpernel 
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day | 1882 Episodes
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<p><strong><font color="#000066">Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 04, 2012 is:</font></strong></p>
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<strong>scarlet pimpernel</strong> &#149; \SKAHR-lut-PIM-per-nel\&nbsp; &#149; <em>noun</em><br />
1 : a European pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) naturalized in North America and having scarlet, white, or purplish flowers that close in cloudy weather 2 : a person who rescues others from mortal danger by smuggling them across a border <br />
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<strong>Examples:</strong><br />
The refugees will always be grateful to the <em>scarlet pimpernels</em> who saved their lives by getting them out of the country ahead of the death squads.<br /><br />&quot;The <em>scarlet pimpernel</em> plant also disguises itself, albeit in a reverse sort of way. It appears to be the most docile and friendly of plants yet it contains toxins and its digestion by grazing animals may cause their death..&quot; &#151; From a column by Joshua Siskin in <em>The Daily News of Los Angeles</em>, June 2, 2012<br />
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<strong>Did you know?</strong><br />
In 1903, Hungarian-born playwright and novelist Baroness Emmuska Orczy introduced the world to Sir Percy Blakeney, ostensibly a foppish English aristocrat, but secretly a swashbuckling hero known as &quot;The Scarlet Pimpernel&quot; who rescued aristocrats from certain death in the French Revolution by smuggling them to England. In <em>The Scarlet Pimpernel</em>, Blakeney's character used a drawing of a small, red, star-shaped flower known in England as a &quot;scarlet pimpernel&quot; as a signature of his involvement in an escape. The popularity of Orczy's novel prompted English speakers to start using &quot;scarlet pimpernel&quot; for any daring hero who smuggled those in danger to a safe haven in another country. Today it is also sometimes used more broadly for a person who is daring, mysterious, or evasive.<br /><br />
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