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See also: bowwow and bow wow


Alternative forms[edit]





  1. Representing the sound of a dog barking.
    • 1610–1611, William Shakespeare, “The Tempest”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene ii], page 5, column 1:
      Harke, harke, bowgh wawgh: the watch-Dogges barke, bowgh-wawgh.
    • 1593, Gabriel Harvey, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse, London: [] Iohn Wolfe, OCLC 165778203; republished as John Payne Collier, editor, Pierces Supererogation: Or A New Prayse of the Old Asse. A Preparative to Certaine Larger Discourses, Intituled Nashes S. Fame (Miscellaneous Tracts. Temp. Eliz. & Jac. I; no. 8), [London: [s.n.], 1870], OCLC 23963073, page 181:
      She [] hath ſtiled him with an immortall penne, the bawewawe of ſchollars, the tutt of gentlemen, the tee-heegh of gentlewomen, the phy of citizens, the blurt of Courtiers, the poogh of good letters, the faph of good manners, and the whoop-hooe of good boyes in London ſtreetes.
    • c. 1610-11, William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act I, Scene ii[1]:
      Come unto these yellow sands,
      And then take hands:
      Courtsied when you have, and kiss'd
      The wild waves whist,
      Foot it featly here and there,
      And sweet sprites bear
      The burthen. Hark, hark!
      [Burthen, dispersedly] Bow-wow.
      The watch dogs bark.
      [Burthen, dispersedly] Bow-wow.
      Hark, hark! I hear
      The strain of strutting Chanticleer
      Cry cock a diddle dow.
      [Burthen, dispersedly] Cock a diddle dow.



bow-wow (plural bow-wows)

  1. The sound of a dog barking.
    • 1864, Bessie Rayner Parkes, “Fontainebleau” in Good Words, Volume 5, p. 224,[2]
      [] a chorus of quadruped, white and brown,
      Bark’d affirmative, “gone to town,”
      With affable bursts of French bow-wow;
      (As part of the family they knew how!)
    • 1911, Zane Grey, The Young Lion Hunter, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, Chapter 6, p. 63,[3]
      We neared a hollow where Prince barked eagerly. Curley answered, and likewise Queen. Mux’s short, angry bow-wow showed that he was in line.
  2. (humorous or childish) A dog.
    • 1902, Theodore Roosevelt, letter to Kermit Roosevelt dated 13 October, 1902, in Joseph Bucklin Bishop (editor), Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to His Children, New York: Scribner, 1919, p. 36,[4]
      Gem is really a very nice small bow-wow, but Mother found that in this case possession was less attractive than pursuit.
    • 1953, Ogden Nash, “The Pushover” in You Can’t Get There From Here, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., p. 56,[5]
      My grandchild, who, when walking, wobbles,
      Calls dogs Bow-wows, and turkeys, Gobbles.
      Today I called a cow Moo-moo;
      She’s got me talking that way too.
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bow-wow (not comparable)

  1. (dated, informal, of language) Grandiose.
    • 1785, James Boswell, The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, London: Charles Dilly, p. 8,[6]
      Lord Pembroke said once to me at Wilton, with a happy pleasantry, and some truth, that “Dr. Johnson’s sayings would not appear so extraordinary were it not for his bow-wow way;” but I admit the truth of this only on some occasions.
    • 1826, Walter Scott, Diary entry for 14 March, 1826, in The Complete Works of Sir Walter Scott; with a Biography, New York: Conner & Cooke, 1833, Volume 7, Chapter 68, p. 475,[7]
      Miss Austen [] had a talent for describing the involvements, and feelings, and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The Big Bow-wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch, which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting, from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to me.