a shrinking violet

shrinking violet

A negative term for a very shy person. After years of being seen as nothing more than a shrinking violet, Christine decided to overcome her fears and start talking to strangers.
See also: shrink, violet

a shrinking violet

If you describe someone as a shrinking violet, you mean that they are very shy. Give him a tough assignment and he turns into a shrinking violet. None of the women he paints could be described as shrinking violets. Note: You can say that someone is no shrinking violet to mean that they are very self-confident. Amber is no shrinking violet. She is a brash colourful character. Note: In the past, violets were considered to be a symbol of modesty, because of their small size and the fact that the flowers remain hidden among the leaves until they open.
See also: shrink, violet

a ˌshrinking ˈviolet

(humorous) a very shy person who is easily frightened: I can’t imagine why a dynamic young woman like her is marrying a shrinking violet like him.
See also: shrink, violet

shrinking violet, a

A very shy individual. Why the violet, a small but common shade-loving perennial, should be chosen to designate shyness is unclear. On the contrary, violets can boldly take over patches of ground, and gardeners may even find them difficult to eradicate from unwanted spaces. Nevertheless, the phrase has been used since the early 1900s. The Listener stated (July 22, 1976), “Frayn has not forgotten the underdog. . . . The shrinking violet . . . is the most dangerous plant in the glades of privilege.”
See also: shrink
References in periodicals archive ?
I'VE never been a shrinking violet, but to be called a Labour plant is a new one on me
OK, I may be exaggerating slightly there but it is true that the amount you get for your hard-earned dosh these days is definitely shrinking faster than a shrinking violet in a shrinking machine.
There was a time when Kate was a shrinking violet, too timid to make a stand - but not anymore.
But Eddy's daughter Saffy is no longer a shrinking violet.
I said to him, 'You are hardly a shrinking violet yourself Joey so come on mate.
I said to him: 'You're hardly a shrinking violet yourself.
Poor little Ian must be one hell of a shrinking violet.
Never a shrinking violet on the music scene, the unpredictable IMANI COPPOLA tackles rock, punk and pop genres on The Black and White Album (Ipecac Recordings).
JOHN Ashton, never a shrinking violet, has announced he is retiring as north west public health chief rather than apply after 13 years in the job for renewal.
Does he have to think before he laughs in case a shrinking violet in a neighbouring town may be offended?
Chef Gordon Ramsay is not a man known for being a shrinking violet.
Nobody has ever accused Doug Ellis of being a shrinking violet.
Yuskavage may never strike anyone as a shrinking violet, but the odd mixture o f empathy and prurience aroused by her early work clearly pointed to the confusing dialectic of shame and fascination.
Indeed, as the world's fastest means of moving four people around in a convertible car, it's never going to be a shrinking violet.