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wallflower

[wawl-flou-er] /ˈwɔlˌflaʊ ər/
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.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80; wall + flower
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for wall-flower

wallflower

/ˈwɔːlˌflaʊə/
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
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 wall-flower

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wall-flower

wallflower

noun

A person, esp a woman, who is peripheral and uncourted at a dance, party, etc: the homely and ugly girls who were called wall-flowers (1820+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Encyclopedia Article for wall-flower

wallflower

any of several plants belonging to the genera Cheiranthus and Erysimum of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), so named for their habit of growing from chinks in walls. Some golden- or brown-flowering species are widely cultivated. The European wallflower (C. cheiri), native to cliffsides and meadows of southern Europe, is naturalized in Great Britain. It is biennial to perennial, with erect, 70-cm (28-inch) stalks bearing spikelike, fragrant clusters of golden to brown, four-petaled flowers. The western wallflower (E. asperum), a 90-cm (35-inch) perennial found on prairies, sand hills, and open woods in central to western North America, produces fragrant, yellow to orange flowers borne on spikes that, like those of C. cheiri, eventually become quite long.

Learn more about wallflower with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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