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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. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for petunia
Historical Examples
  • The improvement made in the size and markings of the petunia has been marked of late.

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

    Cerebrum Albert Teichner
  • In a few days I was still more pleased to learn that I could sell my petunia sixes for 104 if so wished.

    Mother Owen Wister
  • Barbara, in the big rocker, looked up over petunia's head at her mother.

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Others were given to petunia Blossom to be fixed over for her growing family.

    The Corner House Girls Grace Brooks Hill
  • Sometimes they are only a Geranium or two, or the gay petunia.

    A Woman's Hardy Garden Helena Rutherfurd Ely
  • So petunia would feel bad if I didn't go to Sam's, would she?

    Shavings Joseph C. Lincoln
  • A petunia and a bridal-rose might come next—the petunia twined among the others to hide its scraggy limbs.

    A Garden with House Attached Sarah Warner Brooks
  • It was only semi-double and white, but it was the commencement of a new era in petunia culture.

    Talks about Flowers. M. D. Wellcome
  • The petunia, as a window plant, blooms freely, and the white variety is fragrant—especially by night.

    A Garden with House Attached Sarah Warner Brooks
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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