Purple prose is writing that is elaborate, flowery, and showy, possibly to the point of being detrimental to the rest of the writing. However, purple prose can be used to heighten the writing, when used by an author who knows what they are doing. On occasion, such racks of ornament can be despicable, with the scintillating adjectives bewildering the reader and obscuring the subject.
The writing style is named after a quote by Roman poet Horace, who compared writing such prose to sewing purple patches to clothing. This practice was a common means to show pretentiousness in wealth, since purple dye was an expensive rarity. "Purple Patches" is used when the writer only occasionally breaks into purple, like scintillating arrays of diamonds appearing incongruously in mire, which can make much of the text more readable but less consistent, so the reader is jolted from one style to the other. (Consistent purple prose at least lets the reader get into the swing of things.)