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Meaning of the Carnation Flower: Symbolism and Significance

Carnation flower meanings are very inspiring. The Dianthus caryophyllus plant has a lot of history. Its story spans over 2000 years as the plant has grown in popularity. They are known for their flowering blooms. This can take on a wide range of colors and growth traits. 


The Carnation colors include white, yellow, pink, and other interesting variants.  Its flowering blooms also produce a sweet-smelling scent. This scent is often described as mesmerizing to the senses.

What Are Carnations?

Carnations are a species of flowering plants. They come from the Dianthus genus and are members of the Caryophyllaceae family.  Carnations are some of the oldest (if not the oldest) flowers to be cultivated. 

They have their roots tied to ancient Greece and Rome. And were discovered by Theophrastus, an ancient Greek botanist. Theophrastus is also responsible for the increased popularity of Daffodils. 

The use of carnation flowers has increased over the years. They are edible and are used in making relaxing tea. You can also use carnations in treating stomach aches and other health conditions.  

How It Got Its Name?

Carnations are often termed as flowers fit for gods. This is because of the many stories attached to its name. According to some, Carnations get their name from ‘carnis’, a Latin word. It means ‘flesh’ and this is because of how showy the flowers are.  

Others say it means ‘coronation’. This is because, according to Greek traditions, Carnations are used in ceremonial crowns. They are used to decorate such crowns, giving a very divine feel. The actual story behind the common name still remains untold. However, its scientific name Dianthus caryophyllus has two clear stories. 

The first would be that they were named after the Greek god Zeus. In Greece, Zeus means ‘dios’ and flower means ’anthos’ . And considering the scientific name of carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus. It is a certain possibility. 

Another story would be the story of Zeus’ daughter. Diana. According to the myth, Diana, while coming back from a fruitless hunt met a shepherd.  The shepherd was playing a soft tone which angered Diana. This is because she blamed his music for ruining her hunting trip. 

In rage she struck him with an arrow and killed him. She later went on to regret this action. And as a sign of innocence, it was said that red carnations grew where his blood spilled. 

What Does The Carnation Symbolize?

Carnations come in a variety of colors. Each color of carnations has different symbolic meaning. In general, carnations are known to represent the following;

  • Love
  • Devotion
  • Fascination or Captivation 
  • Distinction.

Different Carnation Color Varieties and Their Meanings 

Carnations are known to come in a variety of colors. These colors over time have had different symbolic meanings. Here are some of them. 

Carnation Color Variety Spiritual Meaning 
Red CarnationLove and Affection
Purple CarnationCapriciousness
Pink CarnationGratitude
Yellow CarnationRejection and disappointment
White CarnationGood luck and purity 

Red Carnation Meaning 

Red carnation meaning

The red carnations are a popular color carnation variety. They are easy to grow and care for. Their spiritual meanings are also quite interesting. As with most red flowers, they represent love and affection. 

They make great gifts for a loved one. Whether it’s a romantic partner or a family member. Red carnations show them that you love them. 

Purple Carnation Meaning

Purple carnations are a flower language representation of capriciousness. They are quite mysterious and as such are great for people who enjoy dramatic gifts. They are also easy to maintain both indoors and outdoors. 

Give the purple carnation flower to a family member or friend who loves adventures. And if you’re not quite sure what to give a close friend, purple carnations are great choices. 

Pink Carnation Meaning

The first carnations discovered were pink. They are often seen as the original carnations.  Pink carnations represent gratitude. they are seen as great flowers for telling people how grateful you are for them. 

Pink Carnations make great Mother’s day flowers. They can also be used for other occasions like thanksgiving.  

Yellow Carnation Meaning 

Carnations are often seen as cheerful flowers, but not all. Yellow carnations are often used to show rejection and disappointment. 

They make great apology flowers. Hence meaning to say sorry for something done.  They can also be used for sad occasions to show sympathy. 

White Carnation Meaning 

White carnations are pure varieties of carnation flowers. They represent purity and also luck or good fortune. 

Use them as gifts to people starting a new phase of their life. You couples or even academic graduates can be given white carnations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there orange carnations?

Yes, there are certain variants of carnation flowers with orange coloration. 

What are blue carnations meaning?

Blue carnations are truthful flowers. They also represent peace.

How many carnation varieties exist?

There are close to 300 carnation varieties in existence. 

Are there Black Carnations?

No, black carnations are often a myth. Some say black carnations symbolize death. 

How poisonous are carnations?

Carnations are known to have mildly toxic properties.