type of flowering plant, 1550s, folk etymology alteration (by association with unrelated flower) of gilofre "gillyflower" (late 14c.), originally "clove" (c. 1300), from Old French girofle "clove" (12c.), from Latin caryophyllon, from Greek karyophyllon "clove, nut leaf, dried flower bud of clove tree," from karyon "nut" (see karyo-) + phyllon "leaf" (from suffixed form of PIE root *bhel- (3) "to thrive, bloom"). The flower so named for its scent.
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