any of numerous shrubs belonging to a particular group (Azalea) of the genus Rhododendron, of the heath family, comprising species with handsome flower clusters of various colors, some of which are familiar in cultivation: the group was formerly the botanical genus Azalea but is now a horticultural classification.

1750–60; < Neo-Latin < Greek azaléa, noun use of feminine of azaléos dry; so named because it grows in dry soil Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
azalea (əˈzeɪljə)
any ericaceous plant of the group Azalea, formerly a separate genus but now included in the genus Rhododendron: cultivated for their showy pink or purple flowers
[C18: via New Latin from Greek, from azaleos dry; from its supposed preference for a dry situation]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1753, coined by Linnaeus from the fem. of Gk. azaleos "dry," related to azein "to dry up" (see ash (1)). The plant thrives in sandy soil.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
She figured her plants, including her beloved fruit trees and azaleas, were a
  total loss.
If the azaleas are not in bloom or you can't make the trip, you can see a
  sampling of the azaleas in this gallery.
On rhododendrons the flower parts may be involved but on azaleas it is chiefly
  leaf tissue.
In the spring, azaleas, rhododendron and other flowers are in bloom all over
  the mountain.
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