wall +‎ flower

Alternative formsEdit


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwɔːl.ˌflaʊ.ə/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈwɔl.ˌflaʊ.ɚ/, /ˈwɑl.ˌflaʊ.ɚ/
  • (file)


wallflower (plural wallflowers)

  1. Any of several short-lived herbs or shrubs of the Erysimum genus with bright yellow to red flowers.
  2. Gastrolobium grandiflorum, a poisonous bushy shrub, endemic to Australia.
  3. A person who does not dance at a party, due to shyness or unpopularity; by extension, anyone who is left on the sidelines while an activity takes place.
    • 1878, Fannie Bean, Dr. Mortimer's Patient: A Novel, page 23:
      Mrs. Galbraith shook all over with laughter as she replied, “Hear that boy, asking me to dance ! I'm content to be a wallflower, now-a-days."
    • 1885, The Freemason's Repository, page 133:
      And now, by virtue of his office, he is entitled to a seat in the Grand Lodge. Is it any wonder he is a wall-flower there  []
    • 1897, Mrs. C. E. Humphry, Manners for Women, page 53:
      It is a triumph, of course, to have plenty of partners, and not to be a wallflower for a single dance.
    • 1913, Plasterer, page 8:
      Jack Breen was a wallflower; still at the same time I noticed he was cultivating an ornamental smile — a Jack of Trumps, you bet.
    • 1921, Collier's, page 3:
      She was a wallflower in a sleepy little town itself a wallflower. She was a joke to the village wits and a byword to the village belles.
    • 2017, Sam Wasson, Improv Nation: How We Made a Great American Art, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (→ISBN), page 94:
      Second City was a wallflower at the show business ball. It needed to be. Improvisers needed to fail, and fail safely; and in the Midwest, far from Broadway and Hollywood, they really could. Second-class stature was the secret ingredient, ...
  4. (informal) Any person who is socially awkward, shy, or reserved.
    • 2019, Liz Tyner, To Win a Wallflower, Harlequin (→ISBN)
      I've always been a wallflower, even in my own home. But, I'm willing to learn to be a part of your world. I would like to. I have already told my parents that I want to go to soirées.


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wallflower (third-person singular simple present wallflowers, present participle wallflowering, simple past and past participle wallflowered)

  1. (intransitive) To stand shyly apart from a dance, waiting to be asked to join in.
    • 2010, Alexandra Carter, Janet O'Shea, The Routledge Dance Studies Reader (page 237)
      [] the idea that a full tango experience is impossible without the presence of wallflowers and without the threat of wallflowering as the potential dancers enter the tango club.

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