1. Any of a group of colors with a hue between that of violet and red.
2. Cloth of a color between violet and red, formerly worn as a symbol of royalty or high office.
3. Imperial power; high rank: born to the purple.
4. Roman Catholic Church
a. The rank or office of a cardinal.
b. The rank or office of a bishop.
1. Of the color purple.
2. Royal or imperial; regal.
3. Elaborate and ornate: purple prose.
tr. & intr.v. pur·pled, pur·pling, pur·ples
To make or become purple.
[Middle English purpel, purple, dark crimson, from Old English purpul, from alteration (by dissimilation of the second r to l) of purpure, purple or dark crimson cloth, from Latin purpura, mollusk yielding Tyrian purple, Tyrian purple cloth, purple color, from Greek porphurā, of unknown origin.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.