• synonyms


[ruh-flee-zhuh, -zhee-uh, -zee-uh, ra-]
  1. any stemless, leafless, parasitic plant of the genus Rafflesia, of the Malay Peninsula and Republic of Indonesia, characterized by apetalous flowers, measuring 3 in.–3 feet (8 cm–90 cm) in diameter, that exude a putrid odor: now greatly reduced in number.
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Origin of rafflesia

< New Latin (1821), after T. S. Raffles, who obtained the type specimen
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rafflesia

Historical Examples of rafflesia

  • The remarkable Javanese fungus Rafflesia belongs to this order.

    Botany for Ladies

    Jane Loudon

  • This extraordinary Rafflesia Arnoldii is the biggest flower in the world.

    The Romance of Plant Life

    G. F. Scott Elliot

  • The guide who was some distance behind, came up with a Rafflesia bud.

  • The poisons of rafflesia, muscarine, and orsere are introduced in his fictions; somewhere he devotes an essay to toxicology.

    The Merry-Go-Round

    Carl Van Vechten

British Dictionary definitions for rafflesia


  1. any of various tropical Asian parasitic leafless plants constituting the genus Rafflesia, esp R. arnoldi, the flowers of which grow up to 45 cm (18 inches) across, smell of putrid meat, and are pollinated by carrion flies: family Rafflesiaceae
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Word Origin for rafflesia

C19: New Latin, named after T. S. Raffles, who discovered it
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 rafflesia



genus of Malaysian plants, 1820, named for Sir T. Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), British governor of Sumatra, who introduced it to the West. He reports the native name was petimum sikinlili "Devil's betel-box."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper