Bawd



a woman who maintains a brothel; madam.
a prostitute.
Archaic. a procuress.
Historical Examples

What can be more inconsistent than to see a bawd at the sign of the Angel, or a tailor at the Lion?
The History of Signboards Jacob Larwood

What, have I been bawd to his designs, his property only, a baiting place?
The Comedies of William Congreve William Congreve

In the former case the bawd was the principal, in the latter the women.
The History of Prostitution William W. Sanger

A bawd of eleven years continuance, may it please your honour.
Measure for Measure William Shakespeare

O’Kayo the bawd came out to ascertain the cause of the brawl.
The Yotsuya Kwaidan or O’Iwa Inari James S. De Benneville

He cannot plead his estimation with you; he hath been a bawd.
Measure for Measure William Shakespeare

Wells, though acquitted of the felony, was punished as a bawd.
The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.II. Tobias Smollett

Also, he spreads easy-money all along the sporting pike from baseball to the bawd.
Criminal Types V. M. Masten

bawd prior to 1700 was a term applied to men as well asand, indeed, more frequently thanto women.
The Fatal Dowry Philip Massinger

No highwayman liveth but could learn jolly tricks of a bawd.
Wilderness of Spring Edgar Pangborn

noun (archaic)
a person who runs a brothel, esp a woman
a prostitute
n.

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 Middle English bawde (adj.) “merry, joyous,” from Old French baud “gay, licentious” (from Frankish bald “bold” or some such Germanic source). 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. Old French baudise “ardor, joy, elation, act of boldness, presumption;” baudie “elation, high spirits,” fole baudie “bawdry, shamelessness.” The Old French word also is the source of French 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). But OED doubts all this. There was an Old French baudestrote, baudetrot of the same meaning (13c.), and this may be the direct source of Middle English baude-strote. The obsolete word bronstrops “procuress,” frequently found in Middleton’s comedies, probably is an alteration of baude-strote.

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    indecent; lewd; obscene: another of his bawdy stories. coarse or indecent talk or writing; bawdry; bawdiness: a collection of Elizabethan bawdy. adjective bawdier, bawdiest (of language, plays, etc) containing references to sex, esp to be humorous noun obscenity or eroticism, esp in writing or drama adj. late 14c., “soiled, dirty, filthy,” from bawd + -y […]



  • Bawdiness

    indecent; lewd; obscene: another of his bawdy stories. coarse or indecent talk or writing; bawdry; bawdiness: a collection of Elizabethan bawdy. Contemporary Examples The show is roughly at the same level of raunchiness—or even its tamer sister, bawdiness—as a mid-rent gay club. And The Escort of The Year Is… Backstage at The Sex Oscars Scott […]

  • Bawdry

    Archaic. lewdness; obscenity; bawdiness. Obsolete. the business of a prostitute. illicit intercourse; fornication. Historical Examples It is also noteworthy that, for the period, the bawdry is “cut” to the lowest limit. Early English Dramatists–Recently Recovered “Lost” Tudor Plays with some others Various He was primed with the letter-accounts; he made her dot her amorous I’s […]



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