tulip definition by Webster's New World
- any of various bulb plants (genus Tulipa) of the lily family, mostly spring-blooming, with long, broad, pointed leaves and, usually, a single large, cup-shaped, variously colored flower
- the flower or bulb
Origin: French tulipe (earlier tulipan) ; from Turkish tülbend, turban: from the flower's resemblance to a turban
tulip definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Any of several bulbous plants of the genus Tulipa, native chiefly to Asia and widely cultivated for their showy, variously colored flowers.
- The flower of any of these plants.
Origin: French tulipe, alteration of tulipan, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend, muslin, gauze, turban (from the shape of the opened flower), from Persian dulband, turban.Word History: Although we associate tulips with Holland, both the flower and its name originated in the Middle East, where both are associated with turbans. Tulips were brought to Europe in the 16th century; the word tulip, which earlier in English appeared in such forms as tulipa or tulipant, came to us by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend, “muslin, gauze.” (Our word turban, first recorded in English in the 16th century, can also be traced to Ottoman Turkish tülbend.) The Turkish word for gauze, with which turbans can be wrapped, seems to have been used for the flower because a fully opened tulip was thought to resemble a turban.