One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A tropical American plant of the pea family, whose leaflets fold together and leaves bend down when touched. A common weed of sugar cane, it has become naturalized throughout the tropics.
- ‘Mimosa, the sensitive plant, folds up its leaves at night and opens them again in the day.’
- ‘In temperate climates, the sensitive plant is grown mainly as an indoor plant, usually for its fascinating behaviour.’
- ‘The sensitive plant commonly sold in stores as a curiosity is a member of the pea family.’
2informal A delicate or sensitive person.
- ‘Perhaps the pressure was up because Godard was contested territory, favoured by the Screen group but also ‘the darling of the sensitive plants of Sight and Sound’.’
- ‘The implication is that poet-critics are some kind of sensitive plant, and their heads are easily turned.’
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