Pronounced: reh-KYUH-zuhnt, adj
Notes: There is another word that we use far more often than this word
The word columbine, as an adjective, means “of or relating to a dove, in innocence, gentleness, color, etc”. As a noun, it can mean:
- a servant girl
- a saucy sweetheart
- a plant of the genus Aquilegia
Background / Comments
Incidentally, the plant meaning is the one I knew. The common root of all of these words is the Latin columbia (dove, pigeon). In Italian, colombina means “a small dove or a guileless woman”. The plant meaning came from the fact that the plant in question looks like five doves when upside down. Columbina is a stock character in commedia dell’arte and is the mistress of Harlequin and gives rise to the other two noun definitions. The adjective meaning is taken from the Latin definition.
The adjective first showed up in the mid-1600s; of the nouns, the plant meaning is the oldest, dating back to the early-1300s. The other two noun meanings are the latest (early 1700s).