See also: Flower

English edit

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Pink cactus flowers in bloom.

Alternative forms edit

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English flour, from Anglo-Norman flur, from Latin flōrem, accusative of flōs, from Proto-Italic *flōs, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰleh₃- (to thrive, bloom). Doublet of flour.

Partly displaced native Old English blostma, whence Modern English blossom.

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

flower (countable and uncountable, plural flowers)

  1. A colorful, conspicuous structure associated with angiosperms, frequently scented and attracting various insects, and which may or may not be used for sexual reproduction.
    • 1653, William Basse, “Clio, or The First Muse; in 9 Eglogues in Honor of 9 Vertues. As It was in His Dayes Intended. [Munday. Laurinella. Eglogue. Of True and Chast Love.]”, in J[ohn] P[ayne] C[ollier], editor, The Pastorals and Other Workes of William Basse. [] (Miscellaneous Tracts, Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I), [London: s.n.], published 1870, →OCLC:
      O Laurinella! little doſt thou wot / How fraile a flower thou doſt ſo highly prize: / Beauty's the flower, but love the flower-pot / That muſt preſerve it, els it quickly dyes.
    • 1954 July 29, J[ohn] R[onald] R[euel] Tolkien, “A Long-Expected Party”, in The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings, New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, published September 1973, →ISBN:
      The flowers glowed red and golden: snapdragons and sunflowers, and nasturtians trailing all over the turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.
  2. (botany) A reproductive structure in angiosperms (flowering plants), often conspicuously colourful and typically including sepals, petals, and either or both stamens and/or a pistil.
    • 1894, H. G. Wells, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid:
      You know, Darwin studied their fertilisation, and showed that the whole structure of an ordinary orchid flower was contrived in order that moths might carry the pollen from plant to plant.
  3. A plant that bears flowers, especially a plant that is small and lacks wood.
    We transplanted the flowers to a larger pot.
  4. The stem of a flowering plant with the blossom or blossoms attached, used for decoration, as a gift, etc.
    He always keeps a vase full of flowers in his office.
  5. (uncountable, usually with in) Of plants, a state of bearing blooms.
    The dogwoods are in flower this week.
  6. (euphemistic, hypocoristic) The vulva, especially the labia majora.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “(Please specify the letter or volume)”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC, page 106:
      [F]or ſtill, that my virgin-flower was yet uncrop'd never once enter'd into his head, and he would have thought it idling with time and words to have queſtion'd me upon it.
  7. The best examples or representatives of a group.
    • 1513, John Skelton, Agaynst the Scottes; republished in John Scattergood, editor, John Skelton: The Complete English Poems, 1983, →OCLC, page 116, lines 25–28:
      At Floddon hyllys, / Our bowys, our byllys / Slew all the floure / Of theyr honoure.
    • 1594–1597, Richard Hooker, edited by J[ohn] S[penser], Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, [], London: [] Will[iam] Stansby [for Matthew Lownes], published 1611, →OCLC, (please specify the page):
      The choice and flower of all things profitable the Psalms do more briefly contain.
    • 1808, Robert Southey, Chronicle of the Cid, from the Spanish:
      the flower of the chivalry of all Spain
    • 1915, Katharine Tynan, The Golden Boy:
      In times of peace, so clean and bright, / And with a new-washed morning face, / He walked Pall Mall, a goodly sight, / The finished flower of all the race.
  8. The best state of things; the prime.
    She was in the flower of her life.
  9. (obsolete) Flour.
    • 1731, John Arbuthnot, “Of the Different Intentions to be Pursued in the Choice of Aliment in Different Constitutions”, in An Essay Concerning the Nature of Aliments, and the Choice of Them, According to the Different Constitutions of Human Bodies. [], 1st Irish edition, Dublin: [] S. Powell, for George Risk, [], George Ewing, [], and William Smith, [], →OCLC, prop[osition] VII, page 86:
      The Flovvers of Grains mix'd vvith VVater vvill make a ſort of Glue.
  10. (in the plural, chemistry, obsolete) A substance in the form of a powder, especially when condensed from sublimation.
    the flowers of sulphur
  11. A figure of speech; an ornament of style.
  12. (printing) Ornamental type used chiefly for borders around pages, cards, etc.
    • 1841, William Savage, A Dictionary of the Art of Printing:
      I pointed out to the late Mr. Catherwood, of the firm of Caslon and Catherwood, the inconvenience of both these modes of cutting flowers,
  13. (in the plural, obsolete) Menstrual discharges.
  14. A delicate, fragile, or oversensitive person.
    • 2015, Sally Chiwuzie, Silent Symphonies:
      [] she whispered leaning over and kissing her forehead; and then added, 'Mummy loves you, precious flower.'
    • 2016, Barbara Ann Wright, Paladins of the Storm Lord:
      “Take care of yourself out there, Brown, you delicate flower.”
    • 2021, Alica McKenna-Johnson, The Unicorn's Scion:
      “Come on, you delicate flower, we just need to nap. It will be fine.”
  15. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) Credit, recognition.
    to give someone his flowers
Usage notes edit
  • In its most common sense as "a colorful conspicuous structure", the word flower includes many structures which are not anatomically flowers in the botanical sense. Sunflowers and daisies, for example, are structurally clusters of many small flowers that together appear to be a single flower (a capitulum, a form of pseudanthium), but these are considered to be flowers in the general sense. Likewise, the botanical definition of flower includes many structures that would not be considered a flower by the average person, such as the catkins of a willow tree or the downy flowers found atop a cattail stalk.
Synonyms edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Verb edit

flower (third-person singular simple present flowers, present participle flowering, simple past and past participle flowered)

  1. (intransitive) To put forth blooms.
    This plant flowers in June.
  2. (transitive) To decorate with pictures of flowers.
  3. (intransitive) To reach a state of full development or achievement.
    • 1579, Immeritô [pseudonym; Edmund Spenser], “December. Aegloga Duodecima.”, in The Shepheardes Calender: [], London: [] Hugh Singleton, [], →OCLC; republished as The Shepheardes Calender [], London: [] Iohn Wolfe for Iohn Harrison the yonger, [], 1586, →OCLC:
      when flowr'd my youthful spring
    • 1940 Mahadev Desai, translator, Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography, Part III (IX) The Story of My Experiments with Truth/Part III/Simple Life, original published 1927-1929
      It only needed watering to take root, to flower and to fructify, and the watering came in due course.
    • 2012, Naomi Wolf, Vagina: A New Biography, page 43:
      In life after life of this now-expanded circle of women artists, writers and revolutionaries, the same appeared: a flowing of creative insight and vision seemed the follow a sexual flowering.
  4. (archaic, intransitive) To froth; to ferment gently, as new beer.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “(please specify |century=I to X)”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] William Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], →OCLC:
      That beer did flower a little.
  5. (intransitive) To come off as flowers by sublimation.
Synonyms edit
Derived terms edit
Translations edit

Derived terms edit

Related terms edit

See also edit

Etymology 2 edit

  1. flow +‎ -er

Alternative forms edit

Pronunciation edit

Noun edit

flower (plural flowers)

  1. (rare) Something that flows, such as a river.
    • 1886–1890, J. D. Rees, Narratives of Tours in India, page 340:
      Leaving the weavers’ village behind you, and crossing the sandy bed of the Vengavati or ‘Swift-flower,’ which, however, contained not a drop of water, you reach the ancient Jain temple.
    • 1888, John T. White, The Seventh Book of Cæsar’s Gallic War with a Vocabulary, page 224:
      Rhŏdănus, i, m. The Rhodanus (now Rhone); a river of Gaul [prob. a northern word, meaning “Swift-flower or Swift-passer”].
    • 1893, Arthur A. MacDonnell, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, page 340:
      sará-yu, f. [swift flower: √sri] N. of a river (in Oudh), in C. gnly. û.
    • 1959, Scottish Studies, volumes 3-4, page 92:
      one that flows with force and speed; the fast flower
    • 2019 August 24, Radio Times Crossword:
      Bonnie partner with Scottish flower (5) [as a clue for CLYDE]
Usage notes edit
  • The term is used with this meaning almost exclusively in cryptic crossword clues, where it generally stands in for the name of a specific river.

Anagrams edit

Cebuano edit

Etymology edit

Unadapted borrowing from English flower.

Noun edit


  1. someone who is allowed to participate in games but cannot become it; usually a younger sibling of a player who may or may not fully grasp the mechanics of the game
  2. (mahjong) flower or season tile
  3. (mahjong) act of declaring and revealing a flower or season tile and in order drawing a replacement tile

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of flour