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purple prose

flowery writing


purple prose = schwülstiger Stil (Schreiben, das durch den offensichtlichen Einsatz bestimmter Effekte, wie übertriebene Gefühle oder Pathos, auf sich aufmerksam macht, insbesondere in dem Versuch, die Sympathien des Lesers zu gewinnen oder zu manipulieren)



“Imagine being thirsty and drinking out of a fire hose instead of just getting a glass of water. This is what PURPLE PROSE does. It drowns the reader.”

Lucille Moncrief - Medium (5th April 2017)

Did you

purple prose

- a passage full of ornate and flowery language

- writing that calls attention to itself because of its obvious use of certain effects, as exaggerated sentiment or pathos, esp. in an attempt to enlist or manipulate the reader's sympathies

Farlex Dictionary / Collins Dictionary


The term "purple prose" is believed to have been derived from the Latin phrase purpureus pannus, which translates to "purple patch" or "purple scrap." In ancient Rome, purple fabric was associated with wealth, luxury, and extravagance. Therefore, a "purple patch" was used figuratively to describe a richly embroidered or embellished piece of writing.

Over time, "purple prose" evolved as a descriptive term to criticize writing that was overly flamboyant, filled with excessive embellishments, and lacking in subtlety or restraint. It is often used to refer to passages or texts that are melodramatic, excessively descriptive, or overly sentimental, sacrificing clarity and conciseness for dramatic effect.

The term "purple prose" has since become a commonly used literary criticism to highlight the pitfalls of overly flowery or ostentatious writing styles, emphasizing the importance of clarity, simplicity, and precision in effective communication.


“The river… flinging diamonds from the mill-wheels, throwing kisses to the lilies, silvering moss-grown walls and bridges, making sweet each lane and meadow, lying tangled in the rushes, peeping, laughing, making soft the air with glory - is a golden fairy stream.” ― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat


The colour purple has a fascinating and somewhat mysterious history that spans thousands of years. In ancient times, purple was a rare and highly prized colour, often associated with power, wealth, and royalty. Its uniqueness and expense made it a symbol of status and prestige.

The earliest known use of purple dye dates back to around 1900 BCE in ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean region. Obtaining the colour was an arduous process, as it required extracting a dye from the glands of certain sea snails known as "murex”. It took thousands of snails to produce a small amount of dye, making purple a luxury reserved for the elite.

The ancient Phoenicians, renowned traders and sailors, became famous for their purple dye known as "Tyrian purple”. It gained popularity throughout the Mediterranean and was highly sought after by the Greeks and Romans. Purple textiles and garments became synonymous with royalty and high-ranking officials.

In Roman times, wearing purple garments was strictly regulated, with the colour reserved for the emperor, senators, and other elite members of society. The dyeing process was closely guarded, and the production of purple became a state monopoly.

Over the centuries, the popularity of purple waxed and waned, but its association with wealth and power endured. In medieval Europe, purple was associated with the Church and became a colour of religious significance.


amethyst, eggplant, grape, lavender, lilac, magenta, mauve, periwinkle, plum, PURPLE, violet

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SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Actually, some PURPLE PROSE is quite charming—for instance some passages of 'Three Men in a Boat' by Jerome K. Jerome."

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