(b)owdacious (1837)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Apr 29 20:52:48 UTC 2005

An interesting find from Early American Newspapers...

1837 _New-Bedford Mercury_ 21 Apr. 4/4 A very happy man he'd ha' been,
Sir, in the possession o' that 'ere ingine, and two more lovely infants,
besides, if it hadn't been for his wife who was a most bowdacious wixin.

This is reprinted from Dickens' _Pickwick Papers_, but Dickens originally
had "owdacious" (or "ow-dacious", as it appears in the OED cite).  So it's
a typo, albeit a telling one, since it suggests a link was made between
"owdacious" and "bowdacious" (attested from 1843 in HDAS, though earlier
cites exist for the adverb).  Seems obvious enough, though "owdacious" is
not mentioned in the OED or HDAS entries as a possible source for

This also raises the question of whether the first syllable of
"bowdacious" was originally pronounced /baU-/ ("bough") rather than /boU-/

--Ben Zimmer

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