Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical.
low-key Laid-back, subdued, toned-down, understated, purposefully low-profile. Music played in a low key is softer and more muted than that played in a higher one. Use of the term dates from the late 19th or early 20th century.
With the UDA building its barricades, how long can the “low key” phase last. (The Guardian, July, 1972)
a low profile Inconspicuous behavior or policy; an unobtrusive or restrained existence away from the limelight; often in the phrase to keep a low profile ‘to stay out of the public eye.’ Profile in this case symbolizes one’s public image, and low has the sense of not highly visible, nonprotruding—as in low relief.
The Nixon doctrine of “low profile” involvement, in other words a maximum of aid and a minimum of US troops. (The Guardian, August, 1970)
wallflower A woman who does not join in the festivities at a dance or ball, either by choice or because she does not have a partner; by stereotypic implication, a shy or homely woman. In the world of plants, the wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri) is a yellow or orange flower that grows on old walls and buildings. According to a legend recounted by the English poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674), a woman who had long been kept in captivity tried to reach her lover by climbing down a steep wall, but slipped and died. Herrick continues:
Love, in pity of the deed,
And her loving luckless speed,
Turned her to this plant we call Now the “flower of the wall.”
Thus, a girl or woman who sits along a wall at a dance is sometimes called a “wallflower,” likening her to the blossom of the same name.
[He] dances quadrilles with every wallflower in the room. (New Monthly Magazine, 1840)