scarlet letter


: a scarlet A worn as a punitive mark of adultery

Examples of scarlet letter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Like the unnamed narrator who finds Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter in the Salem Custom House and then sets about telling her tale, Banks’s narrators are anonymous busybodies and town gossips, nosy neighbors or observers once removed from the action. Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 17 Apr. 2024 The two medical students were surprised that in Chicago, adding ketchup could earn someone a scarlet letter. Michael Loria, USA TODAY, 13 Apr. 2024 But even those reactionaries to the shifting sensibilities are poised to arrive late at the party or have their shifts come across as insincere or forced to wear the scarlet letter of sellout. Paul Fitzgerald, Rolling Stone, 5 Mar. 2024 Impeachment will still be a useful constitutional tool because of the scarlet letter that presidents perceive in being impeached, Mr. Gerhardt said, citing Mr. Clinton and Mr. Trump. Peter Baker, New York Times, 1 Feb. 2024 In darker days, the 27-year-old host of Brooke and Connor Make a Podcast wore her identity as a fan-fiction enthusiast like a scarlet letter. Bella Arnold, Vulture, 25 Jan. 2024 Was the woman who had been branded with a scarlet letter as scary as they’d been led to believe? Helena Andrews-Dyer, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2023 Anything lower than an A can be akin to a scarlet letter for a restaurant. Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 But when someone leaves, the community labels them an 'apostate' – the scarlet letter of the FLDS. Lauren Lantry, ABC News, 22 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'scarlet letter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 13 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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