Definition of gladiolus in US English:


nounPlural gladioli

  • An Old World plant of the iris family, with sword-shaped leaves and spikes of brightly colored flowers, popular in gardens and as a cut flower.

    Genus Gladiolus, family Iridaceae: many species

    • ‘Is it too early to plant gladiolus and caladiums?’
    • ‘Among these, the best known are the stunning Asiatic and Oriental lilies, dramatic gladioli, and the many incarnations of dahlia.’
    • ‘This group contains varieties in which the plants are not as big as the large-flowering gladioli, therefore the flowers are also a little smaller.’
    • ‘Babiana looks a little bit like a gladiolus, but is much smaller with Freesia-like flowers in clusters.’
    • ‘A member of the iris family, gladiolus have great diversity of flower color and shape.’
    • ‘He officially opened a new polytunnel in the school's garden and helped children to plant gladioli bulbs, tomatoes, runner beans and broad beans.’
    • ‘In the perennial gardens, the use of colorful and fragrant plants, including gladiolus, iris, tuberose and alstroemeria, is abundant.’
    • ‘Together with gladioli, lilies and begonias, the dahlias are one of the most important and popular summer-flowering bulbs.’
    • ‘Other sachets contained bits of reproductive material, called propagules, of calla lilies or gladioli.’
    • ‘The tulip is followed in popularity by the daffodil and other narcissi, the gladiolus, the lily and the crocus.’


Old English (originally denoting the gladdon), from Latin, diminutive of gladius ‘sword’ (used as a plant name by Pliny).