Pansy Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Don’t let their delicate appearance fool you. Pansies are very easy to grow, and hardier than you might imagine. They also set seed in the unlikeliest of places! Pansies are a hybrid which were created as garden flowers, and you can probably tell from its scientific name – Viola x wittrockiana. 

The garden pansy is part of the Viola genus, which is part of the violet family. They are grown all over the world, for their loveliness, their many cheerful colors, and the options in which you can display them.

While a pansy looks like something you could take at face value, they also have a lot of symbolism attached to such a small flower. 

Read on to discover the meaning behind the pansy.  

What Does ‘Pansy’ Mean?

Are you sitting down for this? Before we go any further, it’s worth mentioning that several common names, like ‘pansy’, ‘violet’, and ‘viola’ can be used to mean different plants, or the same plant. 

Some people use the word ‘pansy’ for the plants in the Viola genus, in the section Melanium, where there are four petals which point to the sky, and only one petal pointing to the ground.

Those flowers usually called ‘violets’ are from the Viola genus, in the …Viola section. Still with me? Good. Those flowers have two petals pointing upward, and three pointing to the earth.  

The word ‘Pansy’ comes from the French word ‘pensée’, which means ‘thought’. The name Viola came into Late Middle English in the mid 1400s, when the flower was used as a remembrance bloom.

There are a few other common names worth a mention. Love in idleness, which sounds curious, signifies a lover that doesn’t have anything else to think about other than the person they love. 

Heart’s-ease, came from St. Euphrasia, and her Greek name means a cheerful mind. This is also where ‘humble violet’ comes from, as she refused to marry and became a nun.

In some parts of the world, the pansy was referred to as ‘stepmother’, in a tradition of telling a tale about a selfish stepmother, while picking off petals to fit the plot. 

What do Pansies Represent?

Like many of the common names for pansy suggest, pansies are used to represent feelings. More often than not, it’s used to symbolize platonic love. 

Pansies are also a way of checking in on someone who’s been doing badly recently. It’s a way of telling them that you’re there for them, while avoiding asking if they’re okay, which they might be very sick of hearing.

They’re often used as ‘get well’ flowers, as the sight of them can lift someone’s mood, even just a little. 

Pansies are also the birth flower for February.

The color of the pansy – or colors, as they often come in three different colors in one flower – also informs the meaning of the flower. 

What do Yellow Pansies Mean?

As yellow is an uplifting, positive color, yellow pansies are given to someone who’s having a tough time. It’s a show of support, and what better way to say it?

What do Purple Pansies Signify?

Purple is often associated with royalty, beauty, and luxury, and that’s also true in a pansy. 

What do Orange Pansies Suggest?

Similar to a yellow pansy, orange pansies signify happiness, optimism, and warmth.

What do Red Pansies Suggest?

Red pansies symbolize romantic love and affection. 

What does a White Pansy Mean?

White pansies symbolize spirituality, and purity.

What do Blue Pansies Represent?

Blue pansies represent loyalty and trust.

What is the Cultural Significance behind the Pansy?

In Victorian times, the pansy symbolized a secret love. The language of flowers was particularly important during this period, as obvious displays of affection were considered taboo, especially if a match hadn’t been agreed. 

In Ancient Greece, pansies were believed to take the rage out of someone.

The pansy is also the symbol of Osaka, in Japan. 

What does a Pansy Tattoo Mean?

As flowers with a delicate appearance, pansy tattoos usually symbolize love and compassion. The meaning can change depending on the color – white is usually a remembrance piece. 

When Should You Give Someone Pansies?

Pansies are a great gift for any occasion. They’re versatile, and carry a lot of symbolism. Because they come in so many colors, there’s one for every reason. 

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