Definition of wowser
: an obtrusively puritanical person
wowser was our Word of the Day on 08/14/2013. Hear the podcast!
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of wowser
First Known Use: 1899
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up wowser? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).