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18th-century Great Britain. From a character in John Gay's 1714 poem The Shepherd's Week. (This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium. Particularly: “I presume there is a connection with blowsy?”)


blowsabella (plural blowsabellas)

  1. (obsolete) A rural woman; a country wench.
    • 1864, Kent, Charles, “Edmund Waller—The Court Poet”, in Footprints on the Road[1], page 211:
      So ridiculous was Waller's second wife in the eyes of Johnson, even with Tetty, his own red-faced Blowsabella, vividly surviving in his remembrance!
    • 1869, Lawrence, George Alfred, Sans Merci, or, Kestrels and falcons[2], page 29:
      Before his beard was grey, he took to wife the offspring of one of his own tenants; a buxom Blousalinda, who outlived all his brutality, and buried him at last, more decently than he deserved; though she professed herself heart-broken before the honeymoon had waned.
    • 1888, Oliphant, Margaret; Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, The Second Son[3], Macmillan and Company, page 216:
      This was no Blowsabella, this was no buxom, forward, romping girl, to meet with a reward for her folly.
  2. (obsolete, by extension) A hot-tempered, unjustifiably angry woman, usually stereotyped as a red-haired Irish maidservant.
  3. (obsolete, by extension) A disheveled woman; a slattern.
    • 1850, Gardiner, Marguerite, Country Quarters[4], volume 1, page 145:
      "I declare I have not been able to get a single glance in the glass, and I am sure I shall look a regular Blouzabella," remarked a sparkling brunette.
  4. (obsolete, by extension) A promiscuous woman or prostitute.
    • 1923, Smith, Cicely Fox, Sailor Town Days[5], page 137:
      It is the way of the world. It is just as well Polly is faithless. If it were otherwise, she would very likely break her heart for him.¶ And deep down in his muddled mind he knows that stately ship as the symbol of his first love, a love more cruel in her way than this poor Blowsabella of Paradise Street, a love whose gifts are hardship, and cold, and peril in great waters—yet to whom, while breath is in his body, he will continually return.