Definition of gillyflower in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈjilēˌflou(ə)r/
(also gilliflower)


Any of a number of fragrant flowers, such as the wallflower, clove pink, or white stock.
Example sentences
  • Finally, and very much later, gilliflower became a name for flowers such as the white stock and the wallflower that, although sweetly scented, had no connection with the spice or the clove-pink.
  • They said these flowers had been picked from places far away, where wild roses, gillyflowers and many unknown yellow wild flowers were often gathered by children and women to sell to those passing by.
  • Apricots and gillyflowers, honey and wine are the least I can wish for my son and his beautiful new wife.


Middle English gilofre (in the sense 'clove'), from Old French gilofre, girofle, via medieval Latin from Greek karuophullon (from karuon 'nut' + phullon 'leaf'). The ending was altered by association with flower, but gilliver survived in dialect.

  • clove from Middle English:

    You might have two different types of clove in your kitchen cupboard, one in a jar on the spice rack and one in a garlic bulb. These are two different words. The spice clove comes from Old French clou de girofle (source of the name gillyflower for the similarly scented pink), meaning ‘nail of the clove tree’. You can see why—cloves look like nails. The clove of garlic is an Old English word related to cleave (Old English) and cloven (Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: gil·ly·flow·er

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