a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen in which a young woman proves that she is a princess by noticing that there is a pea (=a small round green vegetable) under the pile of mattresses she has been sleeping on. A queen has put the pea under her bed as a test to see if the young woman will feel it, because only a real princess would be so delicate that she would notice a small pea. As a result, the queen allows the young woman to marry her son, a prince.
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
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