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Pronunciation Sound Clip

wowser (WOU-zuhr) noun

A person regarded as excessively puritanical; a killjoy.


Being or relating to a wowser.

[Of obscure origin. One theory attributes the term to dialectal wow (to howl). Also, according to a popular unsubstantiated story, the term is an acronym of We Only Want Social Evils Remedied, a slogan invented by John Norton, eccentric owner of Truth newspaper.]

"Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral became a hand-clapping hillbilly heaven and a minister many call a wowser led the singing of A Pub With No Beer. There could be no greater metaphor for the influence of Slim Dusty than the fact that the congregation of St Andrew's - from the Prime Minister to the pall bearers - could sing as one, without a script."
Sydney Morning Herald; Sep 26, 2003.

"Forget that relaxing glass of wine, unless you want the neo-wowsers screaming 'bad role model.' There is a certain type of person ever present in Australian life, devising ways to deny pleasure to the rest of the population. In Norman Lindsay's day wowsers were churchgoers purse-lipped about nudity. But now that the churches are empty and their moral restraints cast aside, today's wowsers have had to find fresh fun to eradicate, like alcohol, cigarettes, Big Macs, vanilla Coke, cars and air-conditioning."
Miranda Devine; Served Along With Any Fun: A Dose of Guilt; Sydney Morning Herald; Aug 21, 2003.

This week's theme: words originating in Australia.


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