any of various plants belonging to the genus Tulipa, of the lily family, cultivated in many varieties, and having lance-shaped leaves and large, showy, usually erect, cup-shaped or bell-shaped flowers in a variety of colors.
1578, via Du. or Ger. tulpe, Fr. tulipe "a tulip," all ult. from Turk. tülbent "turban," also "gauze, muslin," from Pers. dulband "turban;" so called from the fancied resemblance of the flower to a turban. Introduced from Turkey to Europe, where the earliest known instance of a tulip flowering in cultivation is 1559 in the garden of Johann Heinrich Herwart in Augsburg; popularized in Holland after 1587 by Clusius. The full form of the Turk. word is represented in It. tulipano, Sp. tulipan, but the -an tended to drop in Gmc. languages, where it was mistaken for a suffix. Tulip tree (1705), a North American magnolia, so called from its tulip-shaped flowers.