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A woman who is ostracized because of promiscuous behavior. Once everyone learned of her affair, she moved away from the city, rather than staying and being labeled a scarlet woman.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A prostitute, an immoral woman, as in Malicious gossip had it that she was a scarlet woman, which was quite untrue. This expression first appeared in Revelation 17:5, describing Saint John's vision of a woman in scarlet clothes with an inscription on her forehead, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Some interpreters believe she stood for Rome, drunk with the blood of saints, but by about 1700 the term was being used more generally for a woman with loose morals.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
scarlet womana notoriously promiscuous or immoral woman.
The term was originally applied as a derogatory reference to the Roman Catholic Church, regarded as being devoted to showy ritual. It comes from Revelation 17.
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