Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The carnation or a similar plant of the genus Dianthus.
  • n. Any of several plants, such as the wallflower, that have fragrant flowers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. clove pink
  • n. Any clove-scented flower.
  • n. A variety of apple.
  • n. A stylized representation of a carnation blossom, usually red, and shown with or without a slip and leaves.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A name given by old writers to the clove pink (Dianthus Caryophyllus) but now to the common stock (Matthiola incana), a cruciferous plant with showy and fragrant blossoms, usually purplish, but often pink or white.
  • n. A kind of apple, of a roundish conical shape, purplish red color, and having a large core.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The clove-pink or carnation, Dianthus Caryophyllus, especially one of the smaller varieties.
  • n. The Cheiranthus Cheiri. This is the plant which now usually bears the name, distinguished as the wall-gillyflower. See Cheiranthus.
  • n. The wallflower, Matthiola incana, distinguished as the stock-gillyflower, but more frequently known as the stock.
  • n. A name of several other plants, as the cuckoo- or marsh-gillyflower, Lychnis Flos-cuculi; the feathered gillyflower, Dianthus plumarius; the queen′ s, rogue′ s, or winter gillyflower, Hesperis matronalis; the sea-gillyflower, Armeria vulgaris; and the water-gillyflower, Hottonia palustris.
  • n. The gillyflower-apple.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of several Old World plants cultivated for their brightly colored flowers
  • n. Eurasian plant with pink to purple-red spice-scented usually double flowers; widely cultivated in many varieties and many colors

Etymologies

Alteration (influenced by flower) of Middle English gilofre, from Old French gilofre, girofle, clove, from Late Latin gariofilum, from Greek karuophullon : karuon, nut; + phullon, leaf.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
By folk etymology, with influence from flower, from French girofle, gilofre, from Late Latin caryophyllum, from Ancient Greek καρυοφυλλον (karyophyllon, "dried flower buds of the clove tree"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Add lesser quantities (the recipe says a denier) of the following spices: galingale, cloves (no more than 1/2 teaspoon, I suggest), gillyflower (if you can get it, which I have never succeeded in doing), long pepper (Asian groceries have this, sometimes), nutmeg, cardamon, mace.

    Even in a little thing

  • “Not of course at all!” replied Francie, who used a particularly expensive essence of gillyflower herself.

    In Chancery

  • He knew gillyflower tea from the Temple, where it occasionally appeared with the morning bread, and it did seem to wake him up when he felt a little foggy or sleepy.

    Take A Thief

  • Only a few flowers of autumn were visible, such as the fleabane and red gillyflower, autumn colchicums in the ravine, and under the beeches bracken and tufts of northern heather.

    Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12)

  • A very pretty picture was she, reader. -- with such a face as you sometimes see painted in those wayside shrines of sunny Italy, where the lamp burns pale at evening, and gillyflower and cyclamen are renewed with every morning.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 43, May, 1861 Creator

  • “Well, a booky as big almost as a hay-stack; I have put up two bottles of the gillyflower-water for Mrs. Sedley, and the receipt for making it, in Amelia’s box.

    I. Chiswick Mall

  • "Not of course at all!" replied Francie, who used a particularly expensive essence of gillyflower herself.

    Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works

  • Over the green carpet trembled flower clusters, light as down, on bending stems, and between the long, narrow leaves could he seen the half-opened blossoms of the red gillyflower.

    Invisible Links

  • They no longer mentioned the gillyflower and the daffodil, but permitted themselves a general reference to Flora's vernal wreath.

    A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century

  • The youth recognizes the seek-no-further, buried beneath a dozen other varieties, the moment he catches a glance of its eye, or the bonny-cheeked Newtown pippin, or the gentle but sharp-nosed gillyflower.

    Winter Sunshine

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