bawd a complicated word of uncertain history. First attested late 15c., "lewd person" (of either sex; since c.1700 applied only to women), probably from baude-strote "procurer of prostitutes" (mid-14c.), which may be from M.E. bawde (adj.) "merry, joyous," from O.Fr. baud "gay, licentious" (from Frankish bald "bold"). It would not be the first time a word meaning "joyous" had taken on a sexual sense. The sense evolution shading from "bold" to "lewd" is not difficult; Cf. O.Fr. baudise "ardor, joy, elation, act of boldness, presumption;" baudie "elation, high spirits," fole baudie "bawdry, shamelessness." The O.Fr. word also is the source of Fr. baudet "donkey," in Picardy dialect "loose woman." The second element in baude-strote would be trot "one who runs errands," or Germanic *strutt (see STRUT (Cf. strut)). But OED doubts all this. There was an O.Fr. baudestrote, baudetrot of the same meaning (13c.), and this may be the direct source of M.E. baude-strote. The obsolete word bronstrops "procuress," frequently found in Middleton's comedies, probably is an alteration of baude-strote.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • bawd´i|ly — bawd|y «B dee», adjective, bawd|i|er, bawd|i|est, noun. –adj. not decent; lewd; obscene. SYNONYM(S): indecent, unchaste. –n …   Useful english dictionary

  • bawd|y — «B dee», adjective, bawd|i|er, bawd|i|est, noun. –adj. not decent; lewd; obscene. SYNONYM(S): indecent, unchaste. –n …   Useful english dictionary

  • bawd — bawd·i·ly; bawd·i·ness; bawd·ry; bawd; …   English syllables

  • Bawd — Bawd, n. [OE. baude, OF. balt, baut, baude, bold, merry, perh. fr. OHG. bald bold; or fr. Celtic, cf. W. baw dirt. Cf. {Bold}, {Bawdry}.] A person who keeps a house of prostitution, or procures women for a lewd purpose; a procurer or procuress; a …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bawd — Bawd, v. i. To procure women for lewd purposes. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bawd|ry — «B dree», noun. 1. obscenity; lewdness. 2. Archaic. the practice or occupation of a bawd. 3. Obsolete. unchastity; fornication …   Useful english dictionary

  • bawd — /bawd/, n. 1. a woman who maintains a brothel; madam. 2. a prostitute. 3. Archaic. a procuress. [1325 75; ME bawde, n. use of MF baude, fem. of baud jolly, dissolute < WGmc; cf. OE bald BOLD] * * * …   Universalium

  • bawd — [bôd] n. [ME baude, lewd person < ? OFr baud, merry, licentious (< Frank bald, bold) > Fr baudet, donkey, also (in Picardy) loose woman] 1. Literary a person, now esp. a woman, who keeps a brothel; madam 2. Rare a prostitute …   English World dictionary

  • bawd — /bɔd/ (say bawd) noun 1. Archaic a procuress. 2. Archaic a female prostitute. 3. Obsolete a pimp. {Middle English bawde, ? from French baud merry, bold, of Germanic origin; compare Old English bald bold} …   Australian-English dictionary

  • bawd — /bod/ One who procures opportunities for persons of opposite sexes to cohabit in an illicit manner; who may be, while exercising the trade of a bawd, perfectly innocent of committing in his or her own proper person the crime either of adultery or …   Black's law dictionary

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