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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English bawde, baude, noun form of Old French baud (bold, lively, jolly, gay), from Old Low Frankish *bald (bold, proud), from Proto-Germanic *balþaz (strong, bold), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (to inflate, swell). Cognate with Old High German bald (bold, bright), Old English beald (bold, brave, confident, strong). More at bold.



bawd (plural bawds)

  1. (now archaic or historical) A person who keeps a house of prostitution, or procures women for prostitution; a procurer, a madame.
    • 1717, Ned Ward, British Wonders:
      As Whores decay'd and past their Labours, / Turn Bawds, and so assist their Neighbours.
    • 2012, Faramerz Dabhoiwala, The Origins of Sex, Penguin 2013, p. 76:
      Compared with their opponents, bawds and their associates increasingly had deeper pockets and greater confidence in manipulating the law.
  2. A lewd person.

Derived terms[edit]


bawd (comparative more bawd, superlative most bawd)

  1. (obsolete) Joyous; riotously gay.


bawd (third-person singular simple present bawds, present participle bawding, simple past and past participle bawded)

  1. (archaic) To procure women for lewd purposes.




From Middle Welsh mawd < Proto-Celtic *mā-to- < Proto-Indo-European *mē-. Compare Breton meud and Cornish meusva.


bawd m (plural bodiau)

  1. thumb
  2. big toe
  3. (of a crab or lobster) claw
  4. hoof
  5. (in slate quarrying) a flaw or crack in the slate
  6. a bar projecting from rock face to which ropes are attached
  7. (of a railway or tramway) points, turnouts


Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
bawd fawd mawd unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.