Definition of nosegay
: a small bunch of flowers : posy
nosegay was our Word of the Day on 12/25/2010. Hear the podcast!
Examples of nosegay in a sentence
a stately procession of bridesmaids holding small nosegays
Did You Know?
Nosegay is a homegrown word - that is, it originated in English. Fifteenth-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."
Origin and Etymology of nosegay
Middle English, from nose nose + gay ornament, literally, something gay, from gay
First Known Use: 15th century
NOSEGAY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of nosegay for English Language Learners
: a small bouquet of flowers
Seen and Heard
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