c. 1200, safroun, "product made from the dried stigmas of flowers of the autumn crocus," from Old French safran (12c.), from Medieval Latin safranum (cognate with Italian zafferano, Spanish azafran), ultimately from Arabic az-za'faran, which is of unknown origin. The substance is noted for its sweet aroma and deep orange color. As a color word for deep yellow-orange, and an adjective, by late 14c. In reference to the crocus plant itself from early 15c. German Safran is from French; Russian shafran' is from Arabic. Related: Saffrony (adj.).
updated on November 22, 2021