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Compound of nose +‎ gay.



nosegay (plural nosegays)

  1. A small bunch of fragrant flowers or herbs, tied in a bundle, often presented as a gift on meeting, and originally intended to be put to the nose for the pleasant sensation, or to mask unpleasant odours.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 19, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      At the far end of the houses the head gardener stood waiting for his mistress, and he gave her strips of bass to tie up her nosegay. This she did slowly and laboriously, with knuckly old fingers that shook.
    • 1913, Elizabeth Kimball Kendall, A Wayfarer in China
      Late on this same day the trail crossed a bare, rocky hillside, at one point passing between masses of stone ruins; something like a tower to the right, and on the left a sort of walled enclosure. I had lingered behind to gather a nosegay of the small blue flowers that marked the day's march.
    • 2007 September 11, Donald G. McNeil, Jr., "In India, a Quest to Ease the Pain of the Dying", in The New York Times,
      The 80-year-old Government Opium and Alkaloid Works in Neemuch smells better than it looks. The turfy-chocolaty nosegay of raw opium wafts from hundreds of milk cans.


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