Can you pin a corsage on your corsage?

Jan 18, 2011

Does corsage mean a small bouquet worn by a woman at the waist, on the shoulder, etc, or the the body or waist of a dress; bodice?

Well, it means both, which can be quite confusing.

The word corsage was borrowed into English from French in the 1400s. French 'cors' means 'body'. Adding the suffix -age made it mean 'body shape'.

In the 1800s it came to mean the bodice (the part of the garment in which the body shape was most visible?) and from there it came to mean the bouquet fixed to the bodice.

The word corset is also borrowed from French (cors plus a diminutive ending -et/-ette) so it literally meant 'little body'. Here we are talking 1300  even earlier than the corsage.  Corset was the name for a bodice. And then for a closely fitting inner garment with whalebone stiffening giving a good body shape. So the two words overlap oddly but they had different starting points and they have certainly ended up with different meanings in contemporary English. By the time the corset acquired all that whalebone, no one could mistake it for a corsage.

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

This article was originally posted on our Facebook page.

Join the discussion!

Please sign in to post a comment. Not a member? Join Macquarie Dictionary today!

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post a comment!