Skip to search.

Definition of wallflower


Reference
Dictionary
Encyclopedia
Thesaurus
World Factbook

 
Search Dictionary:

Houghton Mifflin

wall·flow·er  audio  (wôlflour) KEY 

NOUN:
    1. Any of numerous herbs of the genus Erysimum of the mustard family, having fragrant yellow, orange, or brownish flowers.
    2. Any of several perennial herbs of the genus Cheiranthus, especially C. cheiri.
  1. One who does not participate in the activity at a social event because of shyness or unpopularity.
  2. A security, company, or industry that is out of favor with investors.


WORD HISTORY:
The sweet-smelling flowers of Cheiranthus cheiri came to be called wallflowers because they often grow on old walls, rocks, and quarries. The plant name is first recorded in 1578. It is not known who first made the comparison between these delicate flowers and the unpartnered women sitting along the wall at a dance, but the figurative sense is first found in an 1820 work by Mrs. Campbell Praed entitled County Ball. Although originally used to describe women at dances, the word is now applied to men as well and used in situations remote from a ballroom.


Visit our partner's site
Provided by Houghton Mifflin
logoeReference -- Download this interactive reference software to your desktop computer