Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A flower or bunch of flowers; a bouquet.
  • n. Archaic A brief verse or sentimental phrase, especially one inscribed on a trinket.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flower; a bouquet; a nosegay.
  • n. a motto inscribed inside a ring

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A brief poetical sentiment; hence, any brief sentiment, motto, or legend; especially, one inscribed on a ring.
  • n. A flower; a bouquet; a nosegay.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A verse of poetry attached to or inscribed on a ring, knife, or other object; hence, in general, a motto; an epigram; a legend; a short inscription.
  • n. A bunch of flowers, or a single flower; a nosegay; a bouquet.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an arrangement of flowers that is usually given as a present

Etymologies

Alteration of poesy, motto or line of verse (archaic).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Shortening of poesy. The meaning 'motto inscribed inside a ring' is first attested in the early 15th century; the meaning 'flower, bouquet' from the 1570s. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • He talked for the next ten minutes about the bauble, making a humorous translation of its Latin 'posy,' and describing in the same vein the service to a foreign state that had won him the recognition.

    The Convert

  • Mick Jagger, wearing a white skirt, read out some 'posy' for his drummer, Brian Jones, who had recently been drowned (not in the Gulf of Spezia but in his Surrey swimming pool).

    'He Doth Not Sleep'

  • It adds very much to the beauty of a piece of silver to bear such engraving, and it is always well to add a motto, or a "posy," as the bid phrase has it, thus investing the gift with a personal interest, in our absence of armorial bearings.

    Manners and Social Usages

  • Holme beside Newark, the proud stapler who set as a 'posy' in the stained glass windows of his house this motto:

    Medieval People

  • He eyed in turn the kitchen ell, the shed, and the barn, and then gazed out over the "posy" garden, where still bloomed a few late flowers, of which he recognized only the

    The Calico Cat

  • The pleasure of giving the flowers to the urchins who will dog their steps in the street, crying with hungry voices and hungry hearts for a 'posy' will more than pay for the trouble.

    The Making of an American

  • On the top of the mountain sat Apollo with Calliope at his feet, and on either side the remaining Muses, holding lutes or harps, and singing each of them some "posy" or epigram in praise of the queen, which was presented, after it had been sung, written in letters of gold.

    The Reign of Henry the Eighth, Volume 1 (of 3)

  • Out of it would come one Sally, sister of its swarthy tenant, swarthy herself, shady-lipped, sad-voiced, and, bending over her flower-bed, would gather a "posy," as she called it, for the little boy.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works

  • "posy," and "heart" with "part," and cudgelled his brains for images and conceits that would express in some scant measure the charms of pretty Mistress Dorothy Dawe.

    Sea-Dogs All! A Tale of Forest and Sea

  • Much sympathy and a delicate posy of pale yellow primroses from Alexandria, Va.

    Paradis - French Word-A-Day

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