There isn't a whole lot of difference between these two in practice. You can talk about a "bunch" of carrots/grapes/bananas/keys/people etc.
"Posy" refers only to flowers, and it's a rather small bunch - like the kind a bridesmaid might hold at a wedding. It's a little "twee", I think, to talk of "posies". If you are male and not a florist, I would advise you not to talk about them at all.
A "bouquet", again, refers to flowers or florists' materials (unless it's used metaphorically). It suggests something larger than a "posy".
Thanks a lot.I think a posy is a very small bunch. Exactly as velisarius has described. I think these days is suggests a level of arrangement that a bunch does not convey, a sort of tidy little 1/2 moon of flowers. Why have you asked us not to use photos, it would be easier!
A bunch of flowers is definitely NOT arranged.
This amused me, because I have just been assailed by an ancient memory of reading about a posy in the classic American novel, Little Women, a memory which must date from well over 40 years ago - so I went to look and my memory serves me well!I can't remember ever hearing anyone in American English use "posy" to mean a small bunch of flowers, just the individual flower sense and then usually in plural. An older person might jocularly refer to the posies growing in the field or something like that.
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott: The text by chapterHere's your posy, Mother! Laurie never forgets that, she said, putting the fresh nosegay in the vase that stood in `Marmee's corner', and was kept supplied by the affectionate boy.
I'm familiar with the word "nosegay" although I don't think I've heard it used in a real conversation that didn't involve a florist or a wedding planner. I'm not familiar with this use of "posy" even though I'm sure I read Little Women about 40 years ago. When you're reading a novel with lots of "antique" language, knowing that "posy" is "flower" is sufficient to not stop and wonder if it means something else in that sentence (especially if you have a book report due the next day). It's not impossible that it could mean that Marmee only asked for a flower, but Laurie brought her a nosegay anyway.I'm not sure how old Myridon is, but I'm 54, and I've never heard "posy" to mean a group of flowers either. (I was about to question your choice of quote, suzi, but I searched first, and I discovered that "nosegay" also refers to more than one flower. I don't think I've ever used "nosegay" before, but if I had, I would have used it wrong; I thought it meant one flower!)
Its use dates back to the 16th C in the UK. There are citations from the late 20thC. I guess words like this are used by those who"need" to use them and go under the radar of people who have no need of these terms - wedding planners being the usual suspects, I agree.a. A small bunch of flowers, freq. for holding in the hand or wearing as an ornament; a nosegay or small bouquet. Also fig.
Well it was a bit of both ... obviously the original use is quite dated now.I thought you were referring to when you read it, not when LMA wrote it!
What I mean is that if you ask for an egg, someone might hand you a full carton of 12 eggs and say "Here's your egg." Handing someone a bouquet satisfies their request for one flower. The sentence doesn't make me think "Hey, that doesn't make sense. I should look up "posy" in the dictionary." Since reading this thread, I now see that "posy" = "nosegay" in the sentence, but it never would have occurred to me that there was a problem with my assumption that "posy" = "one flower."It is not very likely that the Little Women thing has anything to so with a single flower.