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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Bawd \Bawd\, n. [OE. baude, OF. balt, baut, baude, bold, merry, perh. fr. OHG. bald bold; or fr. Celtic, cf. W. baw dirt. Cf. Bold, Bawdry.] A person who keeps a house of prostitution, or procures women for a lewd purpose; a procurer or procuress; a lewd person; -- usually applied to a woman.


Bawd \Bawd\, v. i. To procure women for lewd purposes.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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; compare 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."\n

\nThe 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.

  1. (context obsolete English) joyous; riotously gay. n. 1 (context now archaic or historical English) A person who keeps a house of prostitution, or procures women for prostitution; a procurer, a madame. 2 A lewd person. v

  2. (context archaic English) To procure women for lewd purposes.


n. a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money [syn: prostitute, cocotte, whore, harlot, tart, cyprian, fancy woman, working girl, sporting lady, lady of pleasure, woman of the street]

Usage examples of "bawd".

So he returned with all speed to the play but, when I followed a few paces behind, I saw him in conversation with the whore or bawd he had called Marion.

So we entered, I making way for Marion, who gave the old bawd a curtsey as we crossed the threshold.

The old bawd hurried off, and Marion made a small motion with her hand as if to plead with me.

The bawd and one of the tapsters were knocked over as she and the Green Girl rushed out of the house.

Blue Girl had finally lost patience with the bawd and stepped inside to strike her.

Blue Girl, however, sensing that something was up, abandoned the bawd and rushed round to the back of the house.

He stood up and strode toward the bawd, ignoring the shouts and ribald comments.

Rene and his men to tend to the horses and themselves at a stable nearby, he went into the tavern, which was known to every cutpurse and bawd in London.

I knew the place: it was a brothel-house or place of disorder for bawds and whores which had more clients than Westminster Hall and more diseases than Newgate.

So I let them go and, turning away, walked through the crowd of bawds who were listening keenly in the next room.

Round the corner was another street which seemed much calmer, although again I was deceived, for this Drury Lane was accounted one of the most vile and dangerous in the city, full of bawds and cutthroats.

In the center of the barracks he found his key man, the obvious barracks bully, a monster of a man, naked, hairless, fondling two bawds and being fed whiskey by sycophants.

But in the barracks he screamed and wept again, and as Foyle led him down the long room, the naked bawds swept up armfuls of dirty clothes and shook them before his eyes.

Or, he is the Faustus, That casteth figures and can conjure, cures Plagues, piles, and pox, by the ephemerides, And holds intelligence with all the bawds And midwives of three shires: while you send in -- Captain!

His out thrust hand soon garnered the other three from the bawds, but of whatever treasures Edward Landis had sought to protect there was no evidence at all.