wow·​ser | \ ˈwau̇-zər How to pronounce wowser (audio) \

Definition of wowser

chiefly Australia
: an obtrusively puritanical person

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Wowser is a delightful word with an interesting background, though its ultimate origin is unknown. The word first appeared in print in 1899, in the Australian journal Truth, and was instantly popular in Australia. It spread to New Zealand, where it remains in use, and then eventually arrived in England, possibly brought by the Australian troops who served there during World War I. The American writer and editor H. L. Mencken liked "wowser" and attempted to introduce it in the United States. He used the word frequently in American Mercury, the literary magazine he edited. Despite Mencken's efforts the term never truly caught on in American English, though it is used occasionally.

Examples of wowser in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Now, a wowser is commonly someone who looks to crack down on enjoyment. Michelle Elias, New York Times, "Has Australia Imagined its Relaxed Identity?," 27 Feb. 2020 SoftBank’s Vision Fund found another startup to back but this one’s a real bow wowser. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "Data Sheet—Why Jeff Bezos Just Might Crack the Health Care Challenge," 31 Jan. 2018 There are gifts that are practical, gifts that are functional, and then there are gifts that are just… wowsers, that’s beautiful. Carley Knobloch, USA TODAY, "20 gift ideas that are perfect for stylish techies," 12 Dec. 2017 There were nearly $11,000 worth of nifty options on the tester, ranging from a wowser sound system to a heated steering wheel. Al Haas,, "Not just a pretty face, this new Lincoln MKZ," 4 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wowser.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wowser

1899, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wowser

origin unknown

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The first known use of wowser was in 1899

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Cite this Entry

“Wowser.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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