1570s, via Dutch or German tulpe, French tulipe "a tulip" (16c.), all ultimately from Turkish tülbent "turban," also "gauze, muslin," from Persian dulband "turban;" so called from the fancied resemblance of the flower to a turban.
Introduced from Turkey to Europe, where the earliest known instance of a tulip flowering in cultivation is 1559 in the garden of Johann Heinrich Herwart in Augsburg; popularized in Holland after 1587 by Clusius. The tulip-mania raged in Holland in the 1630s. The full form of the Turkish word is represented in Italian tulipano, Spanish tulipan, but the -an tended to drop in Germanic languages, where it was mistaken for a suffix. Tulip tree (1705), a North American magnolia, so called from its tulip-shaped flowers.
updated on February 20, 2014