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any of numerous cultivated varieties of the clove pink, Dianthus caryophyllus, having long-stalked, fragrant, usually double flowers in a variety of colors: the state flower of Ohio.
pink; light red.
Obsolete. the color of flesh.
having the color carnation.
Contemporary Examples

Justin, a 4-year-old West Highland terrier from Long Island, was having his face hair-sprayed into the shape of a carnation.
Backstage at the 2013 Westminster Dog Show, Won by Banana Joe Isabel Wilkinson February 12, 2013

Historical Examples

There is also something unknowable in every particle of nature, just as there is something invisible in every carnation.
The Positive Outcome of Philosophy Joseph Dietzgen

Lily sits upon the settee by the piano and fastens the carnation in her dress.
The ‘Mind the Paint’ Girl Arthur Pinero

In Major Ellison’s buttonhole there was a carnation and a rosebud backed by a geranium leaf.
Sixes and Sevens O. Henry

No woman ever combined a carnation and a rosebud into a boutonniere.
Sixes and Sevens O. Henry

The others had stopped, baffled in their debate over the carnation and were listening to Raridan.
The Main Chance Meredith Nicholson

The carnation derived its generic name from the latter source.
Birds and Nature, Vol. 12 No. 5 [December 1902] Various

Felicidad looked up and flushed to a carnation color under the ardor of his eyes.
The Wolf Cub Patrick Casey

Its colouring is pink like a carnation in a pale, suffused sort of way.
The Coming of the Fairies Arthur Conan Doyle

He opens all the windows of Paris, and on the streets shows us the sap mounting in carnation in the faces of the girls.
Lippincott’s Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XII, No. 28. July, 1873. Various

Also called clove pink. a Eurasian caryophyllaceous plant, Dianthus caryophyllus, cultivated in many varieties for its white, pink, or red flowers, which have a fragrant scent of cloves
the flower of this plant

a pink or reddish-pink colour
(as adjective): a carnation dress

(often pl) a flesh tint in painting

“Dianthus Caryophyllus,” commonly also called “pink,” herbaceous perennial flowering plant native to southern Europe and abundant in Normandy, 1530s, of uncertain origin. The early forms are confused; perhaps (on evidence of early spellings) it is a corruption of coronation, from the flower’s being used in chaplets or from the toothed crown-like look of the petals.

Or it might be called for its pinkness and derive from Middle French carnation “person’s color or complexion” (15c.), which probably is from Italian dialectal carnagione “flesh color,” from Late Latin carnationem (nominative carnatio) “fleshiness,” from Latin caro “flesh” (see carnage). This carnation had been borrowed separately into English as “color of human flesh” (1530s) and as an adjective meaning “flesh-colored” (1560s; the earliest use of the word in English was to mean “the incarnation of Christ,” mid-14c.). OED points out that not all the flowers are this color.


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