Definition of gladiolus in US English:



  • 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

    • ‘He officially opened a new polytunnel in the school's garden and helped children to plant gladioli bulbs, tomatoes, runner beans and broad beans.’
    • ‘Babiana looks a little bit like a gladiolus, but is much smaller with Freesia-like flowers in clusters.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A member of the iris family, gladiolus have great diversity of flower color and shape.’
    • ‘Together with gladioli, lilies and begonias, the dahlias are one of the most important and popular summer-flowering bulbs.’
    • ‘In the perennial gardens, the use of colorful and fragrant plants, including gladiolus, iris, tuberose and alstroemeria, is abundant.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Is it too early to plant gladiolus and caladiums?’


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