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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

A Word A Day — pomander

Good morning, Netizens...

December 10, 2012

Word of the Day

  • pomander
  • audio pronunciation
  • \POH-man-der\


: a mixture of aromatic substances enclosed in a perforated bag or box and used to scent clothes and linens or formerly carried as a guard against infection; also : a clove-studded orange or apple used for the same purposes
: a box or hollow fruit-shaped ball for holding pomander

Tuck a homemade pomander in a gift basket to lend it that wonderful holiday aroma.

"Apple pomanders are still much used to scent linen closets and store with furs to prevent moths." — From an article by Ellen Probert Williamson in the Roane County News (Kingston, Tennessee), October 1, 2012


In earlier times, there was more at stake in the use of an "apple of amber" (the literal meaning of Anglo-French "pomme de ambre," modified to "pomander" in Middle English) than the addition of holiday spirit. Pomanders were used to offset foul odors and were also believed to protect against disease. Early pomanders were usually mixtures of fragrant spices, herbs, etc. in small metal containers, and they were often worn on chains, as jewelry, around the neck or at the waist. Today, we no longer believe pomanders ward off infections, but we still like nice-smelling things, and the word "pomander" survives to name the modern version of this aromatic, decorative object.

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.