AskDefine | Define potpourri

Dictionary Definition



1 a collection containing a variety of sorts of things; "a great assortment of cars was on display"; "he had a variety of disorders"; "a veritable smorgasbord of religions" [syn: assortment, mixture, mixed bag, miscellany, miscellanea, variety, salmagundi, smorgasbord, motley]
2 a musical composition consisting of a series of songs or other musical pieces from various sources [syn: medley, pastiche]
3 a jar of mixed flower petals and spices used as perfume

User Contributed Dictionary

see Potpourri


Alternative spellings


French, meaning "rotten pot."


  1. A collection of various things; an assortment, mixed bag or motley.
  2. An anthology of miscellaneous prose.
  3. A medley of songs or music.
  4. A mixture of dried fragrant plant material, often in a decorative bowl, used to scent a room.


collection of various things
anthology of miscellaneous prose
a medley of songs or music
a mixture of dried fragrant plant material used to scent a room



potpourri (Plural: potpourri's)
  1. several songs strung together (medley)

Extensive Definition

Potpourri is a mixture of dried, naturally fragrant leaves material, used to provide a strong unnatural scent in apartments. It is usually placed in a cold glassen bowl, or wraped in small bags made from elastic fabric.
Naturally scented plants used in traditional potpourri include:
Much modern potpourri consists of any decoratively shaped dried plant material (not necessarily from scented plants) with strong synthetic perfumes (and also often strongly colored dyes) added, with the scent often bearing no relation to the plant material used. Sometimes, items which do not originate from plants are mixed in with the potpourri, to give it bulk and to make it more aesthetically pleasing. It is possible to spray scents onto potpourri, however a fixative is needed so that the scent is absorbed. Generally, orris root is used for this purpose.
Potpourri is used to give the air a pleasant smell. By mixing oils, leaves, or dried flowers to your taste, you make potpourri. When mixed, you need to enclose the mixture in a bottle or jar, and let it sit for a few weeks. Towards the middle of the weeks, the soon to be potpourri may smell rotten. If you wait a little while longer, it will start to smell better, so don't get discouraged or disappointed.
The word potpourri comes from the French word "pot-pourri," which was the French name for a Spanish stew with a wide variety of ingredients called olla podrida. In English, "potpourri" is often used to refer to any collection of miscellaneous or diverse items.
In ceramics manufacturing, a potpourri vase is a vase specifically designed for holding potpourri. In the traditional designs a potpourri container is provided with a pierced fitted lid, through which the scent may slowly diffuse.


potpourri in Bulgarian: Потпури
potpourri in Spanish: Popurrí (flores)
potpourri in Hebrew: פופורי
potpourri in Japanese: ポプリ
potpourri in Dutch: Potpourri (luchtverfrisser)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

all sorts, assemblage, assortment, atomizer, broad spectrum, capriccio, caprice, censer, conglomeration, divertissement, fantasia, fumigator, gallimaufry, hash, hodgepodge, hotchpot, hotchpotch, humoresque, incense burner, incensory, jumble, magpie, mash, medley, melange, mess, mingle-mangle, miscellany, mishmash, mix, mixed bag, odds and ends, odorator, odorizer, olio, olla podrida, omnium-gatherum, parfumoir, pasticcio, pastiche, patchwork, perfumer, pomander, pouncet-box, purse atomizer, romance, romanza, sachet, salad, salmagundi, sauce, scent bag, scent ball, scent bottle, scent box, scenter, scramble, smelling bottle, spray, stew, thurible, vinaigrette, what you will
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