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[pi-oo-nyuh, -nee-uh, -tyoo-] /pɪˈu nyə, -ni ə, -ˈtyu-/
any garden plant belonging to the genus Petunia, of the nightshade family, native to tropical America, having funnel-shaped flowers of various colors.
a deep, reddish purple.
Origin of petunia
obsolete French
1815-25; < New Latin < obsolete French petun tobacco < Tupi petyn; see -ia Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for petunia
Historical Examples
  • There was a patter of feet from the sitting-room and Barbara came running, petunia in her arms.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • So petunia would feel bad if I didn't go to Sam's, would she?

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • petunia and I know you ever and ever so well now and we're used to—to the way you do.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • And petunia and I expect one, too, and we're just as excited about it as we can be.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Barbara, in the big rocker, looked up over petunia's head at her mother.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • You just want petunia and me for company, same as we want you.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • He turned into his garden and watched Max, the robot, spading in the petunia bed.

    Cerebrum Albert Teichner
  • A similar circumstance has been observed in petunia violacea by Morren.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters
  • Sometimes they are only a Geranium or two, or the gay petunia.

    A Woman's Hardy Garden

    Helena Rutherfurd Ely
  • I do not care for the petunia close at hand on account of its sickish odor.

    Old-Time Gardens Alice Morse Earle
British Dictionary definitions for petunia


any solanaceous plant of the tropical American genus Petunia: cultivated for their white, pink, blue, or purple funnel-shaped flowers
Word Origin
C19: via New Latin from obsolete French petun variety of tobacco, from Tupi petyn
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 petunia

1825, from Modern Latin Petunia (1789), from French petun (16c.), an obsolete word for "tobacco plant," from Portuguese petum, from Guarani (Paraguay) pety. It has a botanical affinity to the tobacco plant. The word first is recorded (in German) as bittin; it survives as the regular word for tobacco only in Breton butun, but it was in use in English in 17c.

Many haue giuen it the name, Petum, whiche is in deede the proper name of the Hearbe, as they whiche haue traueiled that countrey can tell. [John Frampton, translation of Nicolás Monardes' "Joyful Newes Oute of the Newe Founde Worlde," 1577]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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