In literary criticism, purple prose is prose text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.
Purple prose is characterized by the excessive use of adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages, standing out from the rest of the work.
Purple prose is criticized for desaturating the meaning in an author's text by overusing melodramatic and fanciful descriptions. As there is no precise rule or absolute definition of what constitutes purple prose, deciding if a text, passage, or complete work has fallen victim is a somewhat subjective decision. According to Paul West, "It takes a certain amount of sass to speak up for prose that's rich, succulent and full of novelty. Purple is immoral, undemocratic and insincere; at best artsy, at worst the exterminating angel of depravity."