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wallflower

[wawl-flou-er]
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noun
  1. a person who, because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of a partner, remains at the side at a party or dance.
  2. any person, organization, etc., that remains on or has been forced to the sidelines of any activity: The firm was a wallflower in this year's bidding for government contracts.
  3. a European plant, Cheiranthus cheiri, of the mustard family, that, when growing wild on walls, cliffs, etc., has sweet-scented, usually yellow or orange flowers, but when cultivated has flowers varying in color from pale yellow to brown-red or purple.
  4. any of several related plants of the genera Cheiranthus and Erysimum.
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Origin of wallflower

First recorded in 1570–80; wall + flower
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for wallflower

wallflower

noun
  1. Also called: gillyflower a plant, Cheiranthus cheiri, of S Europe, grown for its clusters of yellow, orange, brown, red, or purple fragrant flowers and naturalized on old walls, cliffs, etc: family Brassicaceae (crucifers)
  2. any of numerous other crucifers of the genera Cheiranthus and Erysimum, having orange or yellow flowers
  3. informal a person who stays on the fringes of a dance or party on account of lacking a partner or being shy
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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 wallflower

n.

1570s, "flowering plant cultivated in gardens," from wall (n.) + flower (n.). Colloquial sense of "woman who sits by the wall at parties, often for want of a partner" is first recorded 1820.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper