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From UK dialect. In the pro-temperance sense, Australian from early 1900s.

John Norton, an early enemy of wowsers (temperance sense), claimed it to be an acronym for "We Only Want Social Evils Remedied", but that is likely a folk etymology.

A story has it that gospellers in the streets of Clunes, Victoria in the 1870s were called rousers but one of the town councillors had a speech impediment and couldn't pronounce his "R"s, thus giving wowser. (Reference: Bill Wannan, Australian Folklore, Lansdowne Press, 1970, reprint 1979 →ISBN, under "Wowser", page 568.)


  • IPA(key): /ˈwaʊzə(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊzə(ɹ)


wowser (plural wowsers)

  1. (obsolete) A lout or similar disruptive person.
  2. (Australia, New Zealand, derogatory) One with strong moral views against excessive consumption of alcohol, gambling, pornography, etc., who seeks to promulgate those views.
    • 1950, Neville Shute, A Town Like Alice, London: The Reprint Society, 1952, Chapter 9, p. 259,[1]
      “I’d like to come with you one day up to the top end,” she said. “I suppose it’ll have to be after we’re married.”
      He grinned. “Plenty of wowsers back in Willstown to talk about it, if you came before.”
    • 1996, Janette Turner Hospital, Oyster, Virago Press, paperback edition, page 65
      As for the rest, the pay is not bad, coming as it does from the pockets of the three local warlords who hired me: two graziers, one of whom is also a terrible wowser (everyone calls him 'Mr Prophet', though I call him - privately, of course - Mr Brimstone, or Old Blood-and-Thunderguts); the third is the owner of the pub.
    • 1999, Anna E. Blainey, The prohibition and total abstinence movement in Australia, 1880 - 1910, Robert Dare (editor), Food, Power and Community, page 142,
      When they have paid attention to temperance advocates they have tended to dismiss them as ‘wowsers’ or ‘puritans’ intent on suppressing pleasure.
    • 2010, Robert Cettl, Offensive to a Reasonable Adult: Film Censorship and Classification in 'Secular' Australia, page 43,
      Quite simply, to a wowser, adults should not be allowed to see, hear and read as they wished, but should only be allowed to see hear and read that which fully conforms to Australia's Christian heritage [] .
  3. Alternative form of wowzer


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