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[hot-hous] /ˈhɒtˌhaʊs/
noun, plural hothouses
[hot-hou-ziz] /ˈhɒtˌhaʊ zɪz/ (Show IPA)
an artificially heated greenhouse for the cultivation of tender plants.
of, relating to, or noting a plant grown in a hothouse, or so fragile as to be capable of being grown only in a hothouse.
overprotected, artificial, or unnaturally delicate.
Origin of hothouse
First recorded in 1505-15; hot + house Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hothouse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is with the Hindu mind as if a seed were placed in a hothouse.

  • No; it is still the spirits' home—a hothouse for sickly plants.

    The Sand-Hills of Jutland Hans Christian Andersen
  • All the stock of hothouse and stove plants at Hartwell Priory.

    A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell
  • It is as hot as fire here, and the park has that steamy smell that a hothouse has.

    The Heart of Rachael Kathleen Norris
  • She always looked like a hothouse flower, and now she is simply frail.

    The Blower of Bubbles Arthur Beverley Baxter
  • As in a hothouse, a marvellous vegetation flourished in the carcass.

    Egoists James Huneker
  • Just imagine, hothouse strawberries at one and sixpence a basket!

    Married August Strindberg
British Dictionary definitions for hothouse


  1. a greenhouse in which the temperature is maintained at a fixed level above that of the surroundings
  2. (as modifier): a hothouse plant
  1. an environment that encourages rapid development
  2. (as modifier): a hot-house atmosphere
an environment where there is great pressure: showjumping is a tough, hothouse world
(modifier) (informal, often censorious) sensitive or delicate: a hothouse temperament
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hothouse

mid-15c., "bath house," from hot + house (n.). In 17c. a euphemism for "brothel" (cf. massage parlor); the meaning "glass-roofed structure for raising plants" is from 1749. Figurative use by 1802.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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