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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip hold nosegays by Rosemary Hughes as they leave Wakefield Cathedral after the 2005 Royal Maundy

A nosegay, tussie-mussie, or posy is a small flower bouquet, typically given as a gift. They have existed in some form since at least medieval times, when they were carried or worn around the head or bodice.[1] Doilies are traditionally used to bind the stems in these arrangements. Alternatively, "posy holders", available in a variety of shapes and materials (although often silver), enable the wearing of these arrangements "at the waist, in the hair, or secured with a brooch".[2]

The term nosegay arose in fifteenth-century Middle English as a combination of nose and gay (the latter then meaning "ornament"). So a nosegay was an ornament that appeals to the nose or nostril.[3]

The term tussie-mussie (also tussy-mussy) comes from the reign of Queen Victoria (1837–1901), when the small bouquets became a popular fashion accessory. Typically, tussie-mussies include floral symbolism from the language of flowers, and therefore may be used to send a message to the recipient.[4] In modern times the term specifically refers to small bouquets in a conical metal holder, or the holder itself, particularly when used at a white wedding.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Head Garlands and Nosegays". Yankee Peddler Festival. May 14, 2008. 
  2. ^ Felbinger, Elaine (May–June 2005). "Tussie Mussies". SUBROSA: The Huntington Rose and Perennial Gardens Newsletter. (42). Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Word of the Day: nosegay". Merriam-Webster Online. December 25, 2010. 
  4. ^ Tussie-Mussies, the Victorian Art of Expressing Yourself in the Language of Flowers. Workman Publishing. 1993. 
  5. ^ "Tussy Mussy Wedding Bouquets". 
  6. ^ "Victorian Tussie Mussie, Bouquet With Meaning". 

External links[edit]

Media related to Flower bouquets at Wikimedia Commons