nose·​gay | \ ˈnōz-ˌgā How to pronounce nosegay (audio) \

Definition of nosegay

: a small bunch of flowers : posy

Synonyms for nosegay


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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 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 If the idea of a bouquet isn't totally your thing, opt for something small; the smallest clutch of blooms, in industry speak, is called a nosegay. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, 21 June 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nosegay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of nosegay

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nosegay

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

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

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nose for


nose glasses

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Cite this Entry

“Nosegay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2022.

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Britannica English: Translation of nosegay for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nosegay


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