Shrinking violet

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The idiom shrinking violet seems to have first appeared in the early 1800s. We will examine the meaning of the expression shrinking violet, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A shrinking violet is a very shy person, someone who is an extreme introvert and does not enjoy attention or engaging with others. The earliest known use of the term shrinking violet was in 1820, in an article written by Leigh Hunt. However, Hunt used the term shrinking violet to refer to an actual flower. It wasn’t until the end of the 1800s that the idiom came into use. The idea behind the expression is that a wild violet is a flower that grows in shady spots, out of the sun, and more or less hides its flowers under its leaves. The plural form of shrinking violet is shrinking violets.


Flaggs, no shrinking violet, sat between Trump and Transportation Chairwoman Elaine Chao on Monday at the White House when they announced the infrastructure plan. (The Clarion Ledger)

“You’ve got to be outgoing; it is not a job for a shrinking violet,” said Mr Wabe. (The Watton and Swaffham Times)

No matter that I was more than 6 feet tall and towered over her whenever she was near to me, I was an emotional shrinking violet. (The Virginia Gazette)

From the point of view of Turkey, the presence of a Kurdish force of that nature on its border is seen as a threat to the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, no shrinking violet in his approach to defending his country. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)