aza·​lea ə-ˈzāl-yə How to pronounce azalea (audio)
: 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 When to trim? Q: When is the proper time to trim azaleas and rhododendrons? oregonlive, 16 Sep. 2023 The candidates: wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis, of Brooklyn), pinxter azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides, of Staten Island), spicebush (Lindera benzoin, of the Bronx), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, of Manhattan), and the giant sunflower (Helianthus giganteus, of Queens). Adam Iscoe, The New Yorker, 25 Sep. 2023 Deer definitely have favorite foods, such as arborvitae, hostas, daylilies, and azaleas. Lauren Smith McDonough, House Beautiful, 24 Mar. 2023 These would include bleeding heart, foxglove, euphorbia, helleborus, irises, milkweed, peonies, azaleas, rhododendrons, and wisteria. Chris McKeown, The Enquirer, 19 Aug. 2023 Think about throwing some pink roses, peonies, tulips, maybe even azaleas into the mix. Megan Schaltegger, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 July 2023 Additionally, the azaleas are planted within approximately 50-60 feet of three mature black walnut trees. oregonlive, 8 July 2023 Its ponds, pastures and woodlands contain several species of trees, including Japanese Maples, azaleas, camellias, boxwoods, gardenias, magnolias, oaks, pines, beeches, river birches and firs. William Thornton |, al, 12 July 2023 Garden District For $1.25, the olive-green St. Charles Streetcar took me from Canal Street, near the French Quarter, to the Garden District, a 19th-century residential area with elegant mansions landscaped with fragrant azaleas. Kate Donnelly, Travel + Leisure, 8 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'azalea.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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.

First Known Use

1755, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of azalea was in 1755

Dictionary Entries Near azalea

Cite this Entry

“Azalea.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


aza·​lea ə-ˈzāl-yə How to pronounce azalea (audio)
: any of numerous rhododendrons that have funnel-shaped flowers, usually shed their leaves in the fall, and include many grown as ornamental plants

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