scarlet letter


: a scarlet A worn as a punitive mark of adultery

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Infection with Serratia was so rare that the outbreak was extensively investigated by the University to identify the origins of this scarlet letter bug. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 28 June 2015 The goal is to help those in need, not to brand people with some sort of a scarlet letter that could then trigger them to lash out. Byjohn Cohen, ABC News, 7 July 2022 The threat posed by the sous vide machine—which, after one failed attempt, left chard juice fanned across my chest like blood splatter for the rest of service, a scarlet letter in bright, unmistakable green. Caitlin Raux Gunther, Bon Appétit, 23 Feb. 2022 Like a Hawthorne character forever branded — and cursed — with a birthmark, a black veil or a scarlet letter, Pietro is haunted by the dread that his ugly personal truth will come out. Steven G. Kellman, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2021 Being a divorcée cuts both ways on Lynn's classic takedown of the unfair double standards for women who dare to wear the scarlet letter of singledom. Leah Greenblatt,, 14 Sep. 2021 But unvaccinated workers like Mr. Taranto fear that any company policy that identifies them is like a scarlet letter on their chests. New York Times, 7 Aug. 2021 Unvaccinated players also have to wear a scarlet letter inside their practice facilities., 23 July 2021 But Arikan, a Republican representing Harford and Baltimore counties, called the practice is discriminatory, with the masks serving as a scarlet letter of sorts. S. Wayne Carter Jr.,, 24 May 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'scarlet letter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


from such a letter in the novel The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne

First Known Use

1850, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of scarlet letter was in 1850

Dictionary Entries Near scarlet letter

Cite this Entry

“Scarlet letter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

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