[poh-poo-ree, poh-poo-ree]


a mixture of dried petals of roses or other flowers with spices, kept in a jar for their fragrance.
a musical medley.
a collection of miscellaneous literary extracts.
any mixture, especially of unrelated objects, subjects, etc.

Origin of potpourri

1605–15; < French: literally, rotten pot, translation of Spanish olla podrida olla podrida; see pot1, putrid

Synonyms for potpourri

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for potpourri

Historical Examples of potpourri

  • Bushels of their scented petals are yearly cured by me for Potpourri.

    A Garden with House Attached

    Sarah Warner Brooks

  • There were, in fact, chintz-covered settees, and there was potpourri.

    In the Wilderness

    Robert Hichens

  • Amongst his compositions he published six Duos concertants (Op.3 and 4) as well as a Potpourri for two violoncellos.

    The Violoncello and Its History

    Wilhelm Joseph von Wasielewski

  • If the potpourri was at times redolent of the dried flowers of other men's loves, Eleanor was blissfully unaware of it.


    Alice Hegan Rice

  • The best rules gave ambergris as one of the ingredients; this is not really a perfume, but gives the potpourri its staying power.

    Old-Time Gardens

    Alice Morse Earle

British Dictionary definitions for potpourri


noun plural -ris

a collection of mixed flower petals dried and preserved in a pot to scent the air
a collection of unrelated or disparate items; miscellany
a medley of popular tunes
a stew of meat and vegetables

Word Origin for potpourri

C18: from French, literally: rotten pot, translation of Spanish olla podrida miscellany
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for potpourri

also pot-pourri, 1610s, "mixed meats served in a stew," from French pot pourri "stew," literally "rotten pot" (loan-translation of Spanish olla podrida), from pourri, past participle of pourrir "to rot," from Vulgar Latin *putrire, from Latin putrescere "grow rotten" (see putrescent). Notion of "medley" led to meaning "mixture of dried flowers and spices," first recorded in English 1749. Figurative sense (originally in music) of "miscellaneous collection" is recorded from 1855.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper