Vocab for Homecoming: Corsage


Photo credit: Varin via flickr CC-BY

The air is chill at night and the leaves are turning  red.  Yes, it’s fall, and if you live among teenagers, or if you are one, you also know it’s Homecoming season.  All the talk about spirit days and semi-formal dances prompted a question at our dinner table:  What the heck is a corsage?  (If this question reminds you of a High School Musical song, raise your hand!)  😉

corsage     \ kȯr-ˈsäzh  \ noun, from French, bust, bodice, from Old French, bust, from cors body, from Latin corpus

  • the waist or bodice of a dress
  • an arrangement of flowers worn as a fashion accessory on special occasions

People have worn flowers as accessories for many years.  The ancient Greeks wore flowers at weddings because they believed the pleasant scent of the blooms would ward off evil spirits.  Long ago, the bodice of a woman’s dress was called a corsage, and women typically wore flowers on this part of their clothing.  The French called this small, “wearable” bouquet of blossoms a “bouquet de corsage,” which eventually was shortened to corsage.

In the 1900s, women wore corsages on their shoulder instead of on the bodice of their dresses and usually pinned the flowers on upside down.  The tradition of giving a girl a corsage for a formal dance started in the 20th century.  When a boy picked up a girl for a dance, he would bring a gift for her parents.  Usually, this gift was flowers, and the boy would pull out a blossom  for his date and pin it to her dress.   Recently, with the popularity of spaghetti straps and strapless dresses, the corsage has moved to the wrist.

Thank you ProFlowers.com for this interesting history lesson!

Don’t forget to visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion for the WWW meme!

If you like to learn about the history of words, visit Wondrous Words Wednesday at Bermuda Onion.

If you’re interested in more Homecoming trivia, visit my post on the history of Homecoming.  

Do you have an interesting Homecoming tidbit to share?  Who knows what “boutonniere” means? 

Thanks for stopping by!







Julia Tomiak

I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and Wordsmithstudio.org.


  1. I did not know this! Our homecoming was last weekend, and the wrist corsage is a breeze compared with pinning on that darn boutonniere. Which I can never spell, and have no clue as to the meaning. Going to look it up…okay, that makes sense. And when the boy is not wearing a jacket, the flower will just not stay pinned on a shirt!

    1. Boutonnière comes from the French word for button hole. (I know you looked it up but I figured other readers might want to know.). And I bet it’s impossible to pin on a shirt!

  2. Great post 🙂 I never went to a single dance in middle or high school, so I’ve never worn a corsage. My oldest daughter has gotten them, though, and it’s always a fun moment to photograph.

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