nose·​gay ˈnōz-ˌgā How to pronounce nosegay (audio)
: a small bunch of flowers : posy

Did you know?

Nosegay is a homegrown word—that is, it originated in English. 15th-century Middle English speakers joined nose (which meant then what it does today) with gay (which, at the time, meant "ornament"). That makes nosegay an appropriate term for a bunch of flowers, which is indeed an ornament that appeals to the nose. Today, the word nosegay is especially common in the bridal business, where it usually refers to a specific type of bouquet: a round, tight bunch of flowers as opposed to a cascading bouquet or other type of arrangement. Occasionally, the word is used metaphorically for things that somehow resemble a bouquet. For example, a compact collection of enjoyably lighthearted short stories might be called "a nosegay of a book."

Examples of nosegay in a Sentence

a stately procession of bridesmaids holding small nosegays
Recent Examples on the Web Inside, the Queen Consort accepted a traditional nosegay bouquet and processed with King Charles up the nave as the service began. Janine Henni, Peoplemag, 6 Apr. 2023 The Classic brings us quite the bright nosegay of favorites in Medina Spirit, whose hardy Derby win and subsequent drug tribulations literally rocked the sport back on its heels this summer, and his rival Essential Quality. Guy Martin, Forbes, 6 Nov. 2021 Lay flowers across one palm and hold them like a nosegay. Marni Jameson,, 17 Sep. 2021 That looming thunderhead noted, the race does bring a nosegay of talent and some fine old masters at the game, among them, D. Wayne Lukas and Crowded House. Guy Martin, Forbes, 15 May 2021 For her 100th birthday lunch in her elegant Stanford White retirement community in Rye, New York, Simpson sported her later-in-life uniform, with her trademark pearls and a nosegay of fresh flowers worn as a bracelet. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, 7 Jan. 2019 Prince Albert’s grandmother gave Victoria a nosegay containing myrtle. Diana Pearl,, 19 May 2018 Debutantes, who carried nosegays of pink roses tied with a green ribbon, included First Maid Miss Morgan Thompson, Second Maid Miss Daijah Jeanmorie and debutantes Misses Kayla Caldwell, Tia Peck, Paris Vincent, and Michaela Zeno. Sue Strachan,, 5 Apr. 2018 The queen, wearing an electric blue coat and hat trimmed in black fur and holding a nosegay of daffodils, primroses, freesias, rosemary, thyme and ivy leaves, gave each recipient a red and a white purse. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nosegay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from nose nose + gay ornament, literally, something gay, from gay

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nosegay was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near nosegay

Cite this Entry

“Nosegay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


nose·​gay -ˌgā How to pronounce nosegay (audio)
: a small bunch of flowers : posy sense 1

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