Definition: a bunch of flowers, a small flower bouquet
Pronunciation: simply as nose+gay
Although nosegays have, in some form, existed from the medieval times, the term was only coined in the 15th century as a compound word made of nose and gay, which then meant ‘ornament’; thus a nosegay is an ornament appealing to the nose or nostril.
Why this word?
Nosegay, to me, is a great piece of history, explaining why a simple tradition such as carrying flowers came about.
Nosegays, the original ornaments, were worn around the women’s head or held close to their bosoms, typically at weddings or other special occasions. True, flowers are beautiful and have the power of complementing women’s appearance. Nowadays, we all have soaps and showers and crèmes and shampoos and hair conditioners, but as you can assume- these are a relatively new invention. In past times, showers were taken in the local rivers, if you had a local river, at summer, as rivers have a tendency of freezing in the winter. If you didn’t have a local river, you had to wait for the winter time, collect rain water and shower than. Either way, you could probably only shower once every few months. If you’re already crumpling your nose, let me add an additional fact- oil and all sorts of grease ware then used to style women’s hair. Now think of the combination- three showers a year alongside to rotting oil in your hair, bad enough? Yes. The word nosegay suddenly received a deeper meaning.
This historical-feminine-stench is the reason to why we carry flower bouquets when we walk down the aisle or put flowers in our hair. Today it’s a nice touch to however we look, then- it was mandatory if we wanted to be able to have a close conversation or to actually marry the guy waiting down the aisle!
By the way, this stench is also the reason to which brides throw their flower bouquets while the catcher is the next bride to be- when a woman holds a bouquet- she is probably the next one to be approached by a man, as she now smells better than the rest!
How to use nosegay in a sentence?
Nosegay is a noun representing a small bouquet of flowers, you can simply use it as such. But if you’re asking me, the history behind this word makes using it much more fun, when used accordingly!
“Honey, did you lose your nosegay..?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you need to take a shower!”
“Wow… Her birthday is coming up real soon. I think we should get her a nosegay, it will be more for us than for her, but I really think we should!”