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dowse1

[dous]
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verb (used with or without object), dowsed, dows·ing, noun
  1. douse.
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dowse2

[douz]
verb (used without object), dowsed, dows·ing.
  1. to search for underground supplies of water, metal, etc., by the use of a divining rod.
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verb (used with object), dowsed, dows·ing.
  1. to search for (as water) by or as if by dowsing.
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Origin of dowse2

First recorded in 1685–95; orig. dial. (SW England); origin obscure
Can be confuseddouse dowse

douse

or dowse

[dous]
verb (used with object), doused, dous·ing.
  1. to plunge into water or the like; drench: She doused the clothes in soapy water.
  2. to splash or throw water or other liquid on: The children doused each other with the hose.
  3. to extinguish: She quickly doused the candle's flame with her fingertips.
  4. Informal. to remove; doff.
  5. Nautical.
    1. to lower or take in (a sail, mast, or the like) suddenly.
    2. to slacken (a line) suddenly.
    3. to stow quickly.
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verb (used without object), doused, dous·ing.
  1. to plunge or be plunged into a liquid.
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noun
  1. British Dialect. a stroke or blow.
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Origin of douse

First recorded in 1590–1600; origin uncertain
Can be confuseddouse dowse
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dowse

Historical Examples

  • In the rooms of that society is preserved the Dowse Library.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 16, No. 97, November, 1865

    Various

  • Sing out when you're in bed, and I'll come and dowse the lights.

    Shining Ferry

    Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

  • "You are not going to Mr. and Mrs. Dowse, Violet," said he promptly.

    The Galaxy

    Various

  • And there's a pail of water and soap there by the doorway; it will do you no harm to dowse with it.

    The Pioneers

    Katharine Susannah Prichard

  • "Dowse that, Billy, and bear a hand and be quiet," said Crennell.

    The Deemster

    Hall Caine


British Dictionary definitions for dowse

dowse1

verb, noun
  1. a variant spelling of douse 1
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Derived Formsdowser, noun

dowse2

verb
  1. (intr) to search for underground water, minerals, etc, using a divining rod; divine
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Derived Formsdowser, noun

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin

douse1

dowse

verb
  1. to plunge or be plunged into water or some other liquid; duck
  2. (tr) to drench with water, esp in order to wash or clean
  3. (tr) to put out (a light, candle, etc)
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noun
  1. an immersion
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Derived Formsdouser or dowser, noun

Word Origin

C16: perhaps related to obsolete douse to strike, of obscure origin

douse2

verb (tr)
  1. nautical to lower (sail) quickly
  2. archaic to strike or beat
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noun
  1. archaic a blow
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Word Origin

C16: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to douse 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dowse

v.

1690s, a south England dialect word, of uncertain origin, said to have been introduced to Devon by German miners in Elizabethan times. Related: Dowsed; dowsing.

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douse

v.

1550s, "to strike, punch," which is perhaps from Middle Dutch dossen "beat forcefully" or a similar Low German word.

Meaning "to strike a sail in haste" is recorded from 1620s; that of "to extinguish (a light)" is from 1785; perhaps influenced by dout (1520s), an obsolete contraction of do out (cf. doff, don). OED regards the meaning "to plunge into water, to throw water over" (c.1600) as a separate word, of unknown origin, though admitting there may be a connection of some sort. Related: Doused; dousing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper