mid-13c., "coarse, woolen cloth," usually of a subdued reddish-brown color; also (early 15c.) the color of this; from Old French rousset, from rosset (adj.) "reddish," diminutive of ros, rous "red," from Latin russus, which is related to ruber "red" (from PIE root *reudh- "red, ruddy").
As an adjective, "reddish," from late 14c. The name continued even when the cloth color was brown or gray. The coarse, homespun cloth also was indicative of rustic homely, simple persons or qualities (by 1580s). The adjective was applied to a type of apples by 1620s; as the name of a variety of eating apple by 1708; as a type of pear by 1725.
updated on October 25, 2021