Word of the Day


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a circle of flowers or leaves that you hang up for decoration

Origin and usage

Wreath comes from an Old English word ‘writha’, whose literal meaning is ‘that which is wound around’. It is related to the verb ‘writhe’ and originally referred to something that was wound into a circular shape. The meaning of ‘a circle of flowers or leaves that you hang up for decoration’ dates from the 16th century.


While wreaths are often associated with mourning and commemoration, at this time of year they are a sign of celebration. A wreath on the front door of a house is a sign that the occupants are gearing up for Christmas. The practice of using wreaths during Advent is said to have begun in Lutheran Germany in the 16th century. Wreaths used in this way have candles set around them, one of which is lit every week during the Advent period. The circular shape of the wreath represents eternity, while the evergreen plants traditionally used to make it symbolize the continuation of life beyond the cold winter months.


“Symbolizing eternal hope, the wreath goes ’round and ’round, And where it starts or ends cannot be found.”

Related words

bouquet, posy, spray

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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