What It Means
: a small bunch of flowers : posy
"On arrival, the Queen was presented with her traditional nosegay of fresh spring flowers…." — Robert Hardman, The Daily Mail (London), 19 Apr. 2019
"Many of the boys also were ordering nosegays or wrist corsages for their dates. 'I just had a group of three boys coming in with pictures on their phones of the girls' dresses,' [Megan] Mitchell said several days before the prom. The boys want the flowers to match the color of the dresses." — Kimberly Fornek, The Chicago Tribune, 6 May 2019
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."
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