nosegay

[nohz-gey]
noun
a small bunch of flowers; bouquet; posy.

Origin:
1375–1425; late Middle English: literally, a gay (obsolete, something pretty; see gay) for the nose (i.e., to smell)

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World English Dictionary
nosegay (ˈnəʊzˌɡeɪ)
 
n
a small bunch of flowers; posy
 
[C15: from nose + archaic gay a toy]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

nosegay
"bunch of flowers," early 15c., from nose + gay.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

nosegay

small, hand-held bouquet popular in mid- 19th-century Victorian England as an accessory carried by fashionable ladies. Composed of mixed flowers and herbs and edged with a paper frill or greens, the arrangement was sometimes inserted into a silver filigree holder. When supplied by an admirer, a nosegay became a vehicle for the floral "language of love"-e.g., a red tulip was a declaration of love; a sprig of dogwood returned by the young lady was a sign of indifference; a variegated pink meant that she rejected her suitor's affection. This variety of bouquet has enjoyed periodic revivals.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
At the corner of my desk stands a common, fragrant bouquet, a nosegay of pencils.
Slender, delicate wild asparagus with tightly clustered tips are pretty enough for a nosegay.
Synonyms
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