a person who, because of shyness, unpopularity, or lack of a partner, remains at the side at a party or dance.
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.
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.
any of several related plants of the genera Cheiranthus and Erysimum.

1570–80; wall + flower

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wallflower (ˈwɔːlˌflaʊə)
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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1578, "flowering plant cultivated in gardens," from wall + 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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Encyclopedia Britannica


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.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Through good times and bad, it has remained a wallflower among meat cuts.
Island wallflower is also known to occur on public land.
Common wildflowers include wallflower, larkspur and penstemon.
Until now the country has been a wallflower and it is about time it put on its
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