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  1. #1
    Keith2468 is offline Newbie
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    Exclamation Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    The definition of "wallflower" in the idiom dictionary is wrong, or at least incomplete.

    The idiom dictionary has:
    Wallflower A woman politician given an unimportant government position so that the government can pretend it takes women seriously is a wallflower."
    Maybe it means that in some other parts of the world, I don't know. But it does not mean that in the USA and Canada.

    I suggest this definition:

    (1) A person who shows up at dances and parties, but who, because of shyness or unpopularity, does not dance or socialize. (2) A person or organization that hopes or tries to be interact and participate, but is generally ignored.


    Definitions 1 and 2 immediately below are the meanings we would intend in the USA and Canada when we use the term wallflower. Definitions 3 and 4 are unfamiliar, and they are not idioms anyway.

    wallflower definition | Dictionary.com
    –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:
    1570–80; wall + flower
    Definition 2 below is very familiar idiom. Definitions 1 is unfamiliar to me, and they not an idiom anyway. Definition 3 is a broadening of the classes of wallflower, and a broadening that I'm sure most North Americans would instantly understand.

    wallflower - definition of wallflower by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
    n.1. a. Any of numerous herbs of the genus Erysimum of the mustard family, having fragrant yellow, orange, or brownish flowers.
    b. Any of several perennial herbs of the genus Cheiranthus, especially C. cheiri.

    2. One who does not participate in the activity at a social event because of shyness or unpopularity.
    3. A security, company, or industry that is out of favor with investors.


    Word History: The sweet-smelling flowers of Cheiranthus cheiri came to be called wallflowersCounty Ball. ... Although originally used to describe women at dances, the word is now applied to men as well and used in situations remote from a ballroom.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    A wallflower is that in British English- it used to be a term for an old woman who would sit and watch people dancing at parties, though through age not shyness.

  3. #3
    Searching for language is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    In the political example of "wallflower" I think the more appropriate word would be they have a "token woman" in the government.

  4. #4
    pau92 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    you know , in my country we say do you think that I am painted on the wall? when we are ignored .....maybe wallflower means that he/she is being ignored.
    its just a guess though.

  5. #5
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    A wallflower is that in British English- it used to be a term for an old woman who would sit and watch people dancing at parties, though through age not shyness.
    I have always known it as meaning a girl too shy to dance, apart that is from its horticultural meaning. I have never heard of the old woman meaning.
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 21-Jul-2009 at 13:50.

  6. #6
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Definition of "Wallflower" wrong in idiom dictionary

    Clearly it's a metaphor except when referring to the plant species -- and a metaphor cannot be a word's primary definition, necessarily. So, either type, or any type, of sensible metaphoric use is acceptable, as long as people can understand. In both types, we have someone who embellishes the scene without being useful, a person who is sidelined by their lack of real interaction. They both make sense to me.

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