the flower of

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the flower of (something)

The finest, most vital, or most exemplary part of something. Though many worry the legislation will hamper trade with foreign countries, I'm hopeful that it will help nurture and cultivate the flower of local industries. The community has been struggling to come to terms with the death of the three boys, all struck down in the flower of youth.
See also: flower, of
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

the flower of —

the finest individuals out of a number of people or things.
Middle and early modern English did not recognize the modern distinction in spelling and sense between flower and flour , and the earliest instances of this expression relate to the sense that in modern English would be spelt flour , referring to the finest part of the wheat.
1991 Pat Robertson New World Order This vainglorious conqueror wasted the flower of French youth on his own personal dreams of empire.
See also: flower, of
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

the flower of something

(literary) the finest or best part of something: The people of the village will never forget the war and their young men, killed in the flower of youth.
See also: flower, of, something
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in classic literature ?
Just then the Tulip Society of Haarlem offered a prize for the discovery (we dare not say the manufacture) of a large black tulip without a spot of colour, a thing which had not yet been accomplished, and was considered impossible, as at that time there did not exist a flower of that species approaching even to a dark nut brown.
Then the flower of vines; it is a little dust, like the dust of a bent, which grows upon the cluster in the first coming forth.
This is the flower of the Upas-tree, which usually grows only in the depths of forests; and the flower fades so quickly after being plucked, that it is scarcely possible to keep its form or colour even so far as the outskirts of the forest!
THE flower of the holy night, or the Christmas flower, has got a special connection with s the Christmas celebrations.
The researchers found that placing a live "demonstrator" bumblebee on an artificial flower of one color usually inspired observer bumblebees to fly to faux flowers of the same color.
The numbers of carpels per flower were recorded and the number of ovules per carpel counted under a dissecting microscope for all carpels within each flower of 22 of the 26 marked plants (some samples were misplaced) at the BRM population and all marked plants at Bellview.
The flower of a plant exists to attract insects, or sometimes birds or animals, so that it can be pollinated.
The monument plant (Frasera speciosa), another flower of dry places, also builds up slowly to one flare of blooms.
Scouring forests in Borneo, Beaman and his colleagues located a male flower of Rafflesia pricei in bloom and created a picture window on its private life.