aza·​lea | \ ə-ˈzāl-yə How to pronounce azalea (audio) \

Definition of azalea

: any of a subgenus (Azalea) of rhododendrons with funnel-shaped corollas and usually deciduous leaves including many species and hybrid forms cultivated as ornamentals

Examples of azalea in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Native to Alabama and Georgia, this azalea grows 5 to 6 feet tall and suckers to form colonies. Steve Bender, Southern Living, 8 Apr. 2021 Tallamy stops on his walk to adjust a wire barrier around a native azalea. Matthew Cicanese And Erika Reiter, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Apr. 2020 Once the show is over, the azaleas can be replanted in the care facility’s garden if there is one, and if the garden has room. oregonlive, 12 May 2020 An early spring in 2017 for parts of the southeast U.S. left horticulturalists worried that the colorful azaleas would pop too early to be at peak performance for the contest. Jennifer Hijazi, Scientific American, 7 Mar. 2020 Think of an arrangement as a gin and tonic: The base of the composition (gin) is greenery that’s leafy, strong and sometimes flowering — in the Bay Area, rhododendron, azalea or Philadelphus (mock orange) would naturally fit the bill. Leilani Marie Labong,, 14 May 2020 Day 2: Found our youngest had removed all of her clothing and was frolicking in neighbor’s azaleas. Daniel Kibblesmith, The New Yorker, 17 Apr. 2020 Adjacent to the lake is a nine-acre Japanese garden and a seven-acre botanical garden with over 5,000 azaleas. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, 30 Dec. 2019 And in soils that contain nitrate but little to no ammonium, cranberries, blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas are, for the most part, a non-starter. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, 22 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'azalea.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of azalea

1755, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for azalea

borrowed from New Latin Azalea, genus name, borrowed from Greek azaléā, feminine of azaléos "dry, parched, withered," from az-, base of ázō, ázein "to dry out, parch," and in same sense azánesthai, azaínein (perhaps going back to an Indo-European verbal base *h2ed- "dry up," whence also Hittite ḫāt- "dry up, become parched") + -aleos, adjective suffix, often paired with derivatives based on a nasal consonant

Note: The genus name Azalea was introduced by Linnaeus, first in Systema naturae, 1735. Linnaeus nowhere comments in print on the reason for the name. Hortus Cliffortianus (Amsterdam, 1737), p. 69, contains the note "Nominis rationem vide Fl. lapp. 89 e" ("for the reasoning behind the name see Flora Lapponica 89 e"), but in this paragraph of the plant description in Flora Lapponica (Amsterdam, 1737), Linnaeus simply notes why he rejected the earlier name Chamaerhododendros (it violated his prescriptions against sesquipedalian words and against forming a name by prefixing an existing name). Hence subsequent hypotheses on the choice of the name (as, for example "either from the dry soil in which it flourishes, or from its dry brittle wood" in the Oxford English Dictionary, first edition) are purely speculative. — An earlier Indo-European etymology for Greek ázein saw it as reflecting *as-d-, a "root extension" of *as-, in laryngealist terms *h1eh2s-, which also underlay Old Polish and Old Czech ozd "structure for drying malt," Old Czech ozditi "to dry (germinated grain for malt)." See arid and note at ash entry 2.

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Cite this Entry

“Azalea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for azalea



English Language Learners Definition of azalea

: a type of bush that has colorful flowers that bloom in the spring


aza·​lea | \ ə-ˈzāl-yə How to pronounce azalea (audio) \

Kids Definition of azalea

: a usually small bush that has flowers of many colors which are shaped like funnels

More from Merriam-Webster on azalea

Nglish: Translation of azalea for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about azalea


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