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Definition: dealing with sex in a way that is meant to be funny. Dirty.

Pronunciation: BO-dei

Synonyms: obscene, blue, coarse


This word has a very complex history. Middle English bawde meant merry or joyous, while the French baud of the same time meat gay and licentious yet both served in the sexual manner in everyday speech. In the late 15th century bawd came to represent a lewd person, initially referring to both sexes yet as of 1700 and on, this word is only found referring to women, probably from baude-strote meaning a procurer of prostitutes.

Although Merriam-Webster’s definition is the first one given above, dealing with sex in a funny way, I don’t know (and no one else seems to either) where it came from.

Why this word?

How many times in your adolescence have you found yourself in a private, or even intimate situation, involving this or another degree of naked bodies, shooting embraced remarks about whatever it is that’s going on? How many times have you encountered a bewildered mother, gaping and grinning at her kid’s adult questions? How many times did you find yourself making very stupid and inappropriate jokes when a movie you were watching with your parents turned out less innocent than planned?

When I came around this word the first thing I told myself was “Oh my God! Can’t believe there’s a word for it!”

But, as the definition line tells us- there’s another meaning to the word, which is- dirty. There’s clearly a connection (even if nowadays largely obscure) between sexuality and dirt and seems it lingered into the very bones of the English language. The 1785 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue describes a bawdy basket as carrying “carry pins, tape, ballads and obscene books to sell”.

Now you get to choose how you’d like to use the word!

How to use the word bawdy in a sentence?

Bawdy is an adjective describing a funny sexual reference or something that’s somewhat dirty…

“I don’t want to hear that bawdy talk from you- you are only 15 and sex is not a matter to joke about”!

“You wouldn’t believe the bawdy remarks my mom came out with when we were watching Eyes Wide Open… She was so embarrassed!”


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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