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Hothouse Flower

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 01, 2004

In Reply to: Hothouse Flower posted by ESC on March 31, 2004

: : What does the phrase "hothouse flower" mean. Thanks a lot.

: A flower that isn't hardy enough to grow under natural conditions. It has to be pampered and grown in a greenhouse or hothouse.

: On "Frazier," (a U.S. television show), the main character was complaining about various things that bothered him. His father said, "Aren't you the little hothouse orchid."

ESC is, as usual, exactly right. For the figurative use of the phrase in regard to people (besides Frazier) who need pampering or special conditions, the OED cites Dickens (in Nicholas Nickleby, 1838): "Mrs. Witterly is of a very excitable nature, very delicate, very fragile, a hothouse plant." SS