[glad-ee-oh-luh s]

noun, plural glad·i·o·lus, glad·i·o·li [glad-ee-oh-lahy] /ˌglæd iˈoʊ laɪ/, glad·i·o·lus·es for 1; glad·i·o·li for 2.

any plant of the genus Gladiolus, of the iris family, native especially to Africa, having erect, sword-shaped leaves and spikes of flowers in a variety of colors.
Anatomy. the middle and largest segment of the sternum.Compare manubrium(def 2a), xiphisternum.

Origin of gladiolus

1560–70; < Latin: small sword, sword lily, equivalent to gladi(us) sword + -olus -ole1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gladiolus

Historical Examples of gladiolus

  • I know men who fall like this into the iris, the dahlia, the gladiolus and the peony.

    Child and Country

    Will Levington Comfort

  • Gladiolus, anemones, roses, and mignonette fill the air with fragrance.

  • To secure the best effect from it, the Gladiolus should be planted in masses.

    Amateur Gardencraft

    Eben E. Rexford

  • The Tuberose may be used in the garden with the same effect as the Gladiolus.

    A Garden with House Attached

    Sarah Warner Brooks

  • They are said to be superior to any gladiolus hitherto introduced.

    Talks about Flowers.

    M. D. Wellcome

British Dictionary definitions for gladiolus


noun plural -lus, -li (-laɪ) or -luses

Also called: sword lily, gladiola any iridaceous plant of the widely cultivated genus Gladiolus, having sword-shaped leaves and spikes of funnel-shaped brightly coloured flowers
anatomy the large central part of the breastbone

Word Origin for gladiolus

C16: from Latin: a small sword, sword lily, from gladius a sword
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

Word Origin and History for gladiolus

c.1000, from Latin gladiolus "wild iris," literally "small sword," diminutive of gladius "sword" (see gladiator); so called by Pliny in reference to the plant's sword-shaped leaves. The Old English form of the word was gladdon. Form gladiol is attested mid-15c.; the modern use perhaps represents a 1560s reborrowing from Latin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for gladiolus



n. pl. glad•i•o•lus•es

The large middle section of the sternum.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.