shrinking violet

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

shrinking violet

Fig. someone who is very shy and not assertive. I am not exactly a shrinking violet, but I don't have the guts to say what you said to her.
See also: shrink, violet
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

shrinking violet, a

An extremely shy person, as in She was a shrinking violet until she went away to college. This metaphoric idiom refers to the flower, but the precise allusion is unclear, since violets thrive under a variety of conditions and often are considered a garden weed. [Early 1900s]
See also: shrink
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

shrinking violet

an exaggeratedly shy person. informal
2004 Sunday Times Clough was no shrinking violet. He had absolute belief in himself and his methods, and wasn't afraid to say so to anybody.
See also: shrink, violet
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

shrinking violet

A shy person. The violet flower gives the impression of shyness, growing as it does close to the protective ground and often beneath other plants, shrubs and trees. Compared to other larger foliage, violets do seem to look as though they are shrinking, growing smaller. As applied to shy people, the phrase first appeared in both America and Great Britain in the 1820s.
See also: shrink, violet
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
Shrinking violets who would have difficulty controlling a bucking bronco.
ONE THING' S FOR SURE, THOUGH - IT'S NOT A LOOK FOR SHRINKING VIOLETS, SAYS POST STYLE EDITOR CAROLINE FOULKES
Posh boss Gary Johnson said: "Away from home we have a few shrinking violets and that's poor."
"They're absolutely admirable people in many senses - but when it comes to the business of simply being honest about who they are, some of them become little shrinking violets because they're afraid, probably, of being booed from the terraces, and that must be a horrible experience and shame on people who do it." - Actor and gay campaigner Sir Ian McKellen launches an attack on the sports world.
Too late, as it transpired, because Good Ba Ba already had the race sewn up with his charge down the outside, which gives me an excuse to illustrate this week's column with this fantastic shot of jockey Olivier Doleuze - not one of life's shrinking violets - celebrating at Sha Tin.
I think there might be as much entertainment on the sidelines as those two shrinking violets Adam and Warnock lock horns.
Bike's smooth as silk but not for shrinking violets KTM have their roots firmly embedded in the off road scene but for a while now they have been dipping a mud encrusted toe into the road market.
SHRINKING violets is a term you certainly wouldn't associate with young farmers' clubs, and now the rural youth movement has launched an eye-catching poster campaign to attract new members.
A RED is not for shrinking violets, but it's fantastic for giving depth and life.
The fun loving group stripped off and posed in the busy shop front, showing they were no shrinking violets.
The Rose of Tralee hopefuls proved they were no shrinking violets as they tried their hands at windsurfing, dinghy sailing, boogie- boarding and jet-skis.