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nosegay

[nohz-gey] /ˈnoʊzˌgeɪ/
noun
1.
a small bunch of flowers; bouquet; posy.
Origin
1375-1425
1375-1425; late Middle English: literally, a gay (obsolete, something pretty; see gay) for the nose (i.e., to smell)
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for nose gay

nosegay

/ˈnəʊzˌɡeɪ/
noun
1.
a small bunch of flowers; posy
Word Origin
C15: from nose + archaic gay a toy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for nose gay

nosegay

n.

"bunch of flowers," early 15c., from nose (n.) + gay in an obsolete noun sense of "gay or bright thing."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for nose gay

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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