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What does rose mean in slang?

What does rose mean in slang?

The word “rose” has a few different meanings and uses in slang. At its most basic, a rose is a flower in the genus Rosa that has historically been a symbol of love and beauty. However, when used in slang, rose takes on some additional meanings related to excellence, secrecy, and more. In this article, we’ll explore the various slang meanings and uses of the word rose.

Meaning Excellence

One of the most common slang meanings of rose is to indicate something or someone that is the best or of the highest excellence. This usage comes from the rose’s status as a beloved flower and cultural symbol of perfection.

For example, you might say:

– Her performance in that play was the rose. (It was excellent.)
– His new book is rose. (It’s very high quality.)
– That was a rose of a dinner. (The dinner was extremely good.)

So in these contexts, saying something is “rose” is similar to saying it’s first-rate, top-notch, or flawless. The rose stands in as a symbol of the very best.

Meaning Secret

In some circles, especially among those involved in illegal activities, rose is used as slang to mean secret or confidential.

This meaning could come from the rose’s layered and complex look, evoking the idea of hidden meanings. Roses also have thorns, which could connect metaphorically to the idea of secrets being sharp, dangerous, or painfu.

For example:

– Keep that issue on the rose. (Keep that issue secret.)
– He’s holding the combination rose. (He knows the secret combination.)
– Is she in the rose? (Is she part of this secret group or operation?)

So saying something is “rose” in these contexts implies it’s sensitive information that shouldn’t be shared openly. It’s an insider way of indicating confidentiality.

Meaning Special or Beloved

Roses are also sometimes used in slang to mean something or someone special, beloved, or cherished.

Again, this goes back to the rose’s symbolic association with love and its status as a prized flower given to those we care about. Calling someone your “rose” is a way of expressing fondness.

For example:

– You’re my rose, honey. (An affectionate term for a romantic partner or spouse)
– This necklace was a rose from my grandmother. (A beloved gift from someone special)
– He’s been her rose since high school. (He’s her special sweetheart.)

So in romantic slang, saying someone or something is your “rose” conveys that they are especially meaningful to you. It’s a poetic way to show love and appreciation.

Other Slang Uses

There are a few other niche slang meanings associated with roses:

– “Rosebud” may refer to the anus, linking to the rose flower visually.

– In theatre slang, “rose” can mean to gather in front of the stage to take a bow at the end of a performance. This comes from the tradition of audiences throwing roses onto the stage to praise actors.

– “Rosie” is slang for the drug Rohypnol, known as a date rape drug. This meaning probably comes from “Rohypnol” sounding similar to “rose.”

So in certain contexts, you may see rose take on these more obscure slang meanings related to sex, drugs, or theater. But they are somewhat rare and less widely known uses of the term in slang.

Origins and History

So where did these slang usages of the term “rose” come from? Here’s some background on the origins:

– The sense of rose meaning “excellent” originated in American slang around the 1930s and became more widespread in the 1950s and 60s. It was likely influenced by the phrase “rose by any other name,” evoking the rose’s association with perfection.

– The meaning of rose as “secret” also has roots in mid 20th century American slang, especially among criminal subcultures by the 1970s where secrecy was key.

– Using rose to mean “beloved” or “special” has a longer history stemming from the Victorian era tradition of giving roses to convey romantic love. The slang usage evolved from this over time.

So while rose has had a consistent slang presence since the mid-1900s, its associations of perfection, secrecy, and love actually have origins tracing much further back in the flower’s history and meaning.

Regional Differences

Some slang meanings of rose appear to be more common in certain regional dialects of English:

Region Common Slang Meaning
Midwest United States “Excellent”
Northeast United States “Secret”
South United States “Beloved”

So while the “excellent” meaning can be heard country-wide, the use of rose to mean “secret” or “beloved” tends to predominate in different regional slang dialects respectively.


In summary, the slang term “rose” carries a diverse range of meanings, from indicating excellence, to secrecy, to love and affection. These varied senses grew out of the rose flower’s historical and cultural symbolism, extending that through modern metaphor and wordplay.

While slang is always evolving, “rose” has established itself as a consistent slang term since the mid-1900s, with certain definitions more prominent in some regions.

The next time you hear rose used in a non-floral context, consider whether it’s conveying that something is first-rate, confidential, cherished – or perhaps the rare other slang meanings. Whatever the case, it ultimately ties back to the rose’s perpetual status as a symbol of beauty, passion, and depth – qualities that translate fluidly into the language of slang.