Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mixture of aromatic substances enclosed in a bag or box as a protection against odor or infection, formerly worn on one's person but now usually placed in a dresser drawer or closet.
  • n. A case, box, or bag for holding this mixture.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixture of aromatic substances, made into a ball and carried as a protection against infection
  • n. An orange, studded with cloves, hung in a wardrobe to provide a sweet smell
  • n. A case in which an aromatic ball was carried
  • n. A perforated container filled with pot-pourri for placing in a wardrobe etc

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A perfume to be carried with one, often in the form of a ball.
  • n. A box to contain such perfume, formerly carried by ladies, as at the end of a chain; -- more properly pomander box.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A perfume-ball, or a mixture of perfumes, formerly carried in the pocket or suspended from the neck or the girdle, especially as an amulet, or to prevent infection in time of plague.
  • n. A hollow ball or round box used for carrying about the person the ball above described, and sometimes pierced with small openings to allow the perfume to escape.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English pomendambre, alteration of Old French pome d'embre, apple of amber, from Medieval Latin pōmum dē ambrā : pōmum, apple, ball (from Latin, fruit) + Latin , of; see de- + ambrā, ablative of ambra, amber; see amber.

Examples

  • Well, you might keep the pomander, which is pure gold engraved with ancient signs and the name of the Shining Dawn, Dahana, in Sanskrit characters.

    The Thing from the Lake

  • The resulting pomander ball was incredibly fragrant and it only took a couple to infuse almost the whole house with a very subtle smell of orange and cloves, a scent that I associate with the holidays as much as eggnog, hot cocoa, wood-burning fireplaces and peppermint candy canes.

    Orange and Clove Snowballs | Baking Bites

  • Its campy as Xena, with an even lower budget, and it would actually be massive fun except for the fact that the director apparently felt the need to compensate for the awesomeness of the power pomander girlz (hey, its set in 1190) by staging the most disturbing rape scene i've seen since Antonia's Line not even 10 minutes into the movie.

    prince of persia

  • The Orange and Clove Snowballs I made recently were cookies that featured the flavors of both orange and clove, chosen because I often made orange pomander balls around the holidays as a child (and still do!) and I really associate the season with the warm, spicy scent combination.

    Make your own Orange Pomander Balls | Baking Bites

  • Usually the craft was orange and clove pomander balls.

    Make your own Orange Pomander Balls | Baking Bites

  • If you have a knitting needle, you can stick a piece of ribbon just underneath the skin, then tie a loop so you can hang the pomander, on a tree or elsewhere.

    Make your own Orange Pomander Balls | Baking Bites

  • Arrows studded his corpse like cloves stuck in a pomander orange.

    THE RIVER KINGS’ ROAD

  • Lady Browne toyed with her pomander ball until he went away.

    Secrets of the Tudor Court

  • A moment later, the pomander ball Lady Browne wore suspended from her waist by a long chain flew upward to strike Tom on the side of the head with a dull thump.

    Secrets of the Tudor Court

  • In 1522, Cardinal Wolsey gave her a gold cross, the Countess of Devon sent two silver flagons; and the princess 'aunt, Mary the French Queen, gave her solid gold pomander.

    From Heads of Household to Heads of State: The Preaccession Households of Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, 1516-1558

Comments

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  • (noun) - (1) A perfume-box, round vessel pierced with holes for containing perfumes. From French pomme d'ambre, an apple of amber.

    --Hensleigh Wedgwood's Dictionary of English Etymology, 1878

    (2) This term was applied both to a ball composed of perfumes and to the case used for carrying them about the person. Pomanders were carried either in the pocket or suspended from the neck or girdle, and were sometimes looked upon as amulets, sometimes as an efficient means of preventing infection. An old recipe for making them directs a mixture of carefully prepared garden soil, labdanum, benzoin, storax, ambergris, civet and musk. These, when well incorporated, are warrented "to make you smell as sweet as my lady's dog, if your breath be not too valiant."

    --John Phin's Shakespeare Cyclopædia and Glossary, 1902

    January 26, 2018

  • "In a similar but more exhaustive investigative report in the aftermath of the Black Death, the medical faculty of the University of Paris recommended carrying around sweet-smelling ingredients in what were called 'ambergris apples' (pommes d'ambre, the origin of the English word 'pomander'). These were openwork metal balls that could be filled with various combinations of aromatics that varied according to recipe, availability, and budget. They were portable and so could accompany the bearer around the dangerous infested streets, an advantage over medical incense.

    "The University of Paris 'house blend' for pomanders calls for storax, myrrh, aloe wood, ambergris, mace, and sandalwood. Some pomander recipes involve dozens of ingredients producing a complex combination of aromas. As is often the case, however, the highest level of prestige (and presumed efficacy) was in the form of quiet and expensive simplicity. The king and queen of France, according to the Paris doctors, should carry lumps of pure ambergris in their pomanders."

    Paul Freedman, Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 2008),64

    November 28, 2017

  • "One of the most esteemed defenses (against plague) was the pomander, from Old French pome d'embre or apple of amber, a lump of amber or ambergris aromatized with a mixture of spices so as 'to be worne against foule stinkyng aire,' as one authority phrased it. At the time of the great fourteenth-century outbreak of the Black Death, a pomander generally consisted of a soft, resinous substance--wax was the most common--bound together, studded, or sprinkled with spices, and enclosed within a portable metal or china container worn around the neck or attached to a belt or wrist. Simpler variants of the same were made from a hollowed-out piece of fruit. One popular seventeenth-century remedy was 'a good Sivill Orenge stuck with cloves,' long considered a defense against the pestilence but now downgraded to a folksy form of air freshener."

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 179

    December 2, 2016

  • Citation at sedge.

    November 13, 2008