flower

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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-Indo-European *bʰleh₃ (to thrive, bloom). Replaced Middle English blosme, blossem (flower, blossom) (more at blossom).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

flower (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.
    • 1597, De Campo, Don Richardo de Medico The Trimming of Thomas Nashe Gentleman
      How frail a flower thou doſt ſo highly a prize:/Beauty's the flower, but love the flower-pot/That muſt preſerve it, els it quickly dyes.
  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. (usually with in) Of plants, a state of bearing blooms.
    The dogwoods are in flower this week.
  5. (euphemistic, hypocoristic) The vulva, especially the labia majora.
  6. (idiomatic) The best examples or representatives of a group.
    We selected the flower of the applicants.
    • Hooker
      The choice and flower of all things profitable the Psalms do more briefly contain.
    • Southey
      the flower of the chivalry of all Spain
  7. The best state of things; the prime.
    She was in the flower of her life.
    • Tennyson
      A simple maiden in her flower / Is worth a hundred coats of arms.
  8. (obsolete) Flour.
    • Arbuthnot
      The flowers of grains, mixed with water, will make a sort of glue.
  9. (in the plural, chemistry, obsolete) A substance in the form of a powder, especially when condensed from sublimation.
    the flowers of sulphur
  10. A figure of speech; an ornament of style.
  11. (printing) Ornamental type used chiefly for borders around pages, cards, etc.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of W. Savage to this entry?)
  12. (in the plural) Menstrual discharges.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bible, Leviticus xv. 24 to this entry?)
Quotations[edit]

For usage examples of this term, see the citations page.

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]
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

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

  1. To put forth blooms.
    This plant flowers in June.
  2. To reach a state of full development or achievement.
  3. To froth; to ferment gently, as new beer.
    • Francis Bacon
      That beer did flower a little.
  4. To come off as flowers by sublimation.
    • Milton
      observations which have flowered off
Synonyms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

flow +‎ -er

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

flower (plural flowers)

  1. Something that flows, such as a river.

Anagrams[edit]