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bawd

[bawd]
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noun
  1. a woman who maintains a brothel; madam.
  2. a prostitute.
  3. Archaic. a procuress.
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Origin of bawd

1325–75; Middle English bawde, noun use of Middle French baude, feminine of baud jolly, dissolute < West Germanic; compare Old English bald bold
Can be confusedbaud bawd
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bawd

Historical Examples

  • What, have I been bawd to his designs, his property only, a baiting place?

    The Comedies of William Congreve

    William Congreve

  • The heroine is Celestina, a bawd who helped them out of their troubles.

    Folkways

    William Graham Sumner

  • His soul is the bawd to his body, and those that assist him in this nature the nearest to it.

  • He cannot plead his estimation with you; he hath been a bawd.

    Measure for Measure

    William Shakespeare

  • A bawd of eleven years continuance, may it please your honour.

    Measure for Measure

    William Shakespeare


British Dictionary definitions for bawd

bawd

noun archaic
  1. a person who runs a brothel, esp a woman
  2. a prostitute
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Word Origin

C14: shortened from Old French baudetrot, from baude feminine of baud merry + trot one who runs errands; compare Old High German bald bold
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 bawd

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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper