Printable Version
Pronunciation: po-zee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, adjective

Meaning: 1. (Noun) A flower or small nosegay of them. 2. (Noun) A brief sentiment or motto, such as might be written inside a ring. 3. (Adjective) Affected, pretentious.

Notes: posy Today we have two words that are accidental homophones, spelled so nearly alike that they are often confused. The British spell the adjective posey. We have an adjective from the noun, posied, meaning "inscribed with a posy" or "decorated with flowers". We also have a noun for the adjective, posiness, meaning "affectation, pretention".

In Play: The first noun sense of today's word may be heard in expressions like this: "The girls of the village presented the queen with a posy of flowers they picked in a meadow." The adjective sense is reflected here: "Bea Heine went off to Hollywood to become a posey actress who stayed in swank hotels when she returned home."

Word History: Today Dr. Goodword is having a sale: two words for the price of one—and at a most reasonable price at that. The noun sense of today's word is a reduction of poesy "poetry", from the custom of sending a verse with a gift of flowers. Poesy comes from Old French poesie, inherited from Latin poesia "poetry", borrowed from Greek poesis "composition, poetry". The Greek word was the noun from poein "to make, create", from PIE kweino-/kwoino- "make, put together", source also of Sanskrit cinoti "heaps, piles up" and Serbian činiti "to do, make". Posey is the adjective from pose "to assume an attitude or behavior". It comes from the past participle stem of Latin ponere "to put, place", positus, source also of the English borrowings position and posit. By Medieval Latin the participle was postus, whence English post, which Old French reduced further to pose. (Many thanks to Barbara Beeton, a very active Agoran, for suggesting today's two very Good Words.)

Dr. Goodword,

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