Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bow-wow n.

[plays on lit. and sl. uses of SE dog]

1. (UK juv.) a dog.

[UK]N. Ward London Terraefilius III 19: A Set of Hoit-Boys [...] lead you on [...] as the Bag-pipes do the Bears, when they March in State to Hockley-in-the-hole, in order to engage their Bawwaw Adversaries.
[Scot]Scots Mag. 1 Jan. 11/2: What is that? — bow-wow (for the dog).
[UK] ‘A Favorite Song’ Parsley’s Lyric Repository 59: My dear Fidel, My little bow-wow.
[UK]Kentish Gaz. 3 May 2/1: Tax on Dogs [...] a large and respectable meeting of the lap-eared species was held at the Bow-wow tavern.
[UK]Derby Mercury 8 Mar. 3/1: Should Duncan or jervis [...] but once get a glance at this mighty bow-wow, they would [...] soon kick up a row.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Chester Courant 13 Sept. 4/1: As Towzer’s the Lap-dog of Mother Johanna [...] No wonder at last we should hear of a Pup [signed] Bow-Wow.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 8 Dec. 4/3: A Bow-Wow Miser — a Russian Merchant immensely rich [...] placed his security in the possession of a tremendous large and fierce dog.
[UK]Birmingham Jrnl 26 Jan. 4/1: He vastly prefers his own little bow-wows.
[Scot]Perthshire Courier 5 Dec. 4/4: As his intereting prototype observed of himself, he is ‘going fast to the bow-wows’.
[UK]Bell’s New Wkly Messenger 13 Nov. 6/1: Bow-Wow Soup — One day a mandarin sent him a very savoury stew [...] Anstruther gave an inquistive look [...] pointing to the stew [...] The servant [...] replied, ‘Bow, wow, wow’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 31 Oct. 2/2: Peeeler spare that dog! / Touch not my poor bow-wow.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 241: There is a brown dog [who] is generally known in the rents as the Bow-wow.
[UK]C. Reade Hard Cash I 85: ‘Goose Greece!’ barked Sampson, loud, clear and sharp as an irritated watch-dog; but this bow-wow vented, he was silent as abruptly.
[UK]G.A. Sala in Living London (1883) Oct. 462: ‘Oh, little dog Diamond! [...] what have you done?’ Sir Isaac Newton is said to have said when his faithful but careless ‘bow-wow’ overturned a lighted taper.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 8 May 7/1: There should only be one B in Busses. [...] there are at least six others B’s you ought never to find in them —that is to say Bags, Boxes, Bundles, Bow-wows, Babies and Big fat people.
[Aus]J.S. Borlase Blue Cap, the Bushranger 32/2: Fido de sweetest lilly bow-wow.
[US]A. Trumble Mott Street Poker Club 16: ‘You no sabbee bow-wow?’.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘Tottie’ Dagonet Ditties 127: Then a bow-wow by her side, / Who till then had stood and tried / A ‘Jenny Lee’ to banish, / Which was on his ‘Jonah’s whale,’ / Gave a hydrophobic bark.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 21: One of the little toy bow-wows that women love to pat.
[US]Ade ‘The Fable of [...] the Canny Commercial Salesman’ in True Bills 115: He [...] was told that the entire Works, Government and all, was going to the Bow wows.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 10 Apr. 3rd sect. 17/8: Come along, old chap, throw physic to the bow-wows, and let’s forget there are such things as landlord, rate-collectors, toothache, mumps, and humps in the world.
[UK]B. Albert [perf.] ‘Artful Alliterations’ 🎵 But the dog license man to the Chinaman ran / Said, ‘Chung, you must license you bow-wow’.
Jim Jam jems Feb. 2: [headline] He’s Gone to the Bow-Wows!
[UK]W. Holtby Anderby Wold (1981) 162: Fancy calling feet ‘tootsies’ and dogs ‘bow-wows’.
[US]J.T. Farrell ‘Looking ’Em Over’ in Short Stories (1937) 40: ‘Oh, daddy, buy me a bow wow!’ he said half-aloud.
[UK]N. Mitford Pigeon Pie 138: Bring your Bow-wow, your Puss-puss, your Dickie-bird.
[US]B. Rose 23 Aug. [synd. col.] The country is going to the bow-wows [W&F].
[UK]B. Kops Dream of Peter Mann Act II: Now do I have to blow my whistle for my two-legged bow-wows?
[US]T. Berger Who is Teddy Villanova? 106: It’s a bitch [...] That’s standard English designation for a female bowwow.
[US]A. Maupin Further Tales of the City (1984) 59: Care for a darling bow-wow?

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[UK]‘Paul Pry’ Oddities of London Life I 112: ‘I’d adwise you, ’cause you looks so werry honest and so werry respectable, to take pity on the poor dumb dog and go and buy it a ha’porth of wittles.’ Vell, my lord, you see I naterally complied vith his demand, and vos valking avay vith it for to look for a prime bit of bowwow grub.
[UK]A. Wright diary 7 Mar. Muddy France (1988) 4: I was woken up by Sgt Henderson of the ‘Bow Wow’ voice at 1 am.

3. (US) a native of Boston, Massachusetts [play on sense 1].

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.

4. (also bow-wow coat) a heavy, shaggy greatcoat, popular among fans of the Prize Ring [play on sense 2].

[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 98: He is a rough great-coat, every hair of which stands on end [...] and known in sporting circles, I believe, from its resemblance to the outer envelope of a shaggy dog, as a ‘bow-wow coat.’.

5. f. the dog’s barking.

(a) nonsense.

W. Cowper Beau’s Reply in Milford Poetical Works (1934) line 21: [said by a dog] Let my obedience then excuse / My disobedience now, / Nor some reproof yourself refuse / From your aggrieved Bow-wow!
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry II vi: And for experience all should pay, that Billy will allow, / And as for conscience that of old we know is all bow wow .
[UK]J. Galt Lawrie Todd I Pt I 45: Declaring [...] that he should not bring any of his dirty Irish blackguards into his house, with a great deal of other bow-wow.
[UK] ‘’Arry at a Political Pic-Nic’ in Punch 11 Oct. 180/1: The patter’s all bow-wow, of course.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Sincerest Form of Flattery’ in Punch 20 Sept. 144/2: These jossers [...] / Who himitate ’Arry’s few letters with weekly slapdabs of bow-wow.

(b) (UK/US black) a gun [it ‘barks’; play on barker n.1 (4)].

[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 272: Sam [...] seeing the Captain was disposed to take no denial from Clarinde, lodged the contents of his bow-wow in the shoulder of the Captain, who stumbled and fell to the ground.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 76: Gun—Bow-wow.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]50 Cent ‘Wanksta’ 🎵 When you play me close, fa’ sho, I’ma pop my heat, / Niggas say they gon murda 50, how We ridin round wit guns the size, of Lil’ Bow Wow.

(c) (mainly Ind.) a lover [who ‘yaps’].

[Scot]Chambers’s Journal 12 Mar. 173: Mrs. Brittomart was one of those who never tolerated a bow-wow – a species of animal well known in India – and never went to the hills as a ‘grass-widow’ .
A.G. Shiell Year in India 135: To your veteran bowwow there is nothing in the world so distasteful as a ‘spin,’ and he deigns to follow only at a matron’s heel.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Mohawks II 157: My wife has a whole kennel of puppies perpetually sprawling at her feet [...] of whom Bolingbroke is chief bow-wow, now that her old admirer, Chesterfield, is at the Hague.
[Edith Cuthell] Indian Idylls 105: I had only listened with half an ear to Mrs. Crabtree’s spiteful stories of the doings at naughty Nynee, during the last season, when the immaculate Mrs. Ingledene was supposed, after the fashion of grass-widows in the hills, to have taken to herself a ‘bow-wow’.
[Ind]Civil & Milit. Gaz. (Lahore) 9 Nov. 4/1: [T]he following thoroughly trained ‘bow-wows’ are open to engagements for the winter season in the plains [...] ‘Masher’ by ‘Hill Captain’ out of ‘Simla,’ a showy animal, very fast, trained in Cavalry school [...] for performances see Court Guide or Police News. Rs. 1,000. _ Ill—Dark Hebrew Bow-wow ‘Plantaganet’, by ‘Moses’ out of ‘Delilah’ by ‘Uncle’ out of ‘Aunt,’ a good punter, very clever and fast, full of blood and fashion.
F.J. Fraser in Belgravia Dec. 32: Is there not a supreme vulgarity in the prevailing desire of our small-minded Anglo-Indian ‘Society’ to couple every married woman’s name with that of some man not her husband? Take, for example, the slang expression ‘bow-wow’! You may hear it everywhere, yea, even on Mount Olympus (Simla) itself, where the tin gods and goddesses are established for one half of every year.

6. cheap sausage-meat, thus a sausage [play on sense 2; note dog n.2 (7)].

[UK]Satirist (London) 14 Oct. 330/3: A ram’s kidney [...] two jemmies (sheep’s heads) [and] a considerable quantity of coarse beef called by the sausage-makers ‘bow-wow’.
[UK]‘Epistle from Joe Muggins’s Dog’ in Era (London) 26 Dec. 3/4: I like good: living. A Yorkshire pie, a basket of game [...] I arn’t perticklar, from a pound of bow-wows to a-baron-of beef.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 24: bow-wow, n. Sausage.
[US]C. M’Govern ‘Soldier Sl.’ in Sarjint Larry an’ Frinds n.p.: bow-wow—Vienna Sausage.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

7. an ugly woman [play on dog n.2 (8)].

[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 198: I believe you have taken a few bow-wows to the drive-in in your lifetime.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 70: Dog is often the second member of a compound or phrase: [...] As with many slang words for animals, dog and its spinoffs often have sexual implications. A bowser, bow-wow, or mud puppy is an ‘ugly female’.

In compounds

bow-wow mutton (n.)

dog’s flesh; rotten meat.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[Ire]Waterford Mail 13 July 3/4: One of them there sort of chaps wot as wends that ’ere sort of grub called bow-wow mutton —I mean them ’ere coveys called piemen.
[UK]Morn. Post 15 Sept. 4/2: My pies are made of very best Southdown mutton; it is very hard that ’cause here be some bow-wow muttoners about the streets that these gemmen are to pick me out, and call me a bow-wow dealer.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
Sporting Rev. Jan. 32: ‘Come, draw it mild, for I’m blow’d if I’ve a deuce in the vorld; von’t a mag do?’ ‘Nonsense; twopence,’ replies the rather irritated collector. ‘Take it out in bow-wow mutton,’ says the dog’s-meat man.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 252: If you’re hungry, you can be certain of not chewing ‘bow-wow mutton’ (dogs’ meat).
[UK]Era (London) 26 Dec. 5/3: Humourous impersonations of [...] a Bow-Wow Pie Shop.
Pall Mall Mag. 33 436: So I betook me to the Star and Windmill, where they keepe good pot and table (no Bow-Wow mutton) .
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
bow-wow pie (n.) (also bow-wow, bow-wow chow)

second-rate meat, supposedly (and sometimes actually) disguised dog (or cat) flesh, as used in catering, spec. meat pies.

Life and Political Opinions of the Late Sam House 18: here he treated as many as chose to partake of what they call ‘Bow wow Pie’ a coarse kind of pastry and beef.
G. Cartwright Jrnl Transactions and Events 213: Captain Scott and I had determined to have a bow-wow-pie for dinner to-day, and I was actually going out to kill the Whelps.
[Scot]F. PLace Autobiog. (1972) 228: Two very large stalls were set up for the sale of ‘Bow Wow Pie’.
[Ind]Asiatic Jrnl & Mthly Register 27 51: I was not aware that a ‘bow-wow pie’ was of the number, though I may have eaten of it unconsciously.
[UK]Morn. Post 15 Sept. 4/2: They says to me ‘Are they bow-wow pies? [...] Vy, there was a pieman before the Lord Mayor the other day, and it was proved that all the mutton-pies sold in Lunnon streets was made of cats and dogs’.
[UK]J.A. Hardwick ‘My Wonderful Nose’ in Prince of Wales’ Own Song Book 90: They make ‘Epping sausages, genuine’ [...] And bow-wow and pussey cat cheap pies.
[UK]Hereford Jrnl 1 Jan. 9/5: A Chinese saloon has just been opened in San Francisco. The bill of fare is as follows: [...] bow-wow soup, 12 cents; roasted bow-wow, 18 cents; bow-wow pie, 6 cents.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 28 Dec. 6/1: From time immemorial it has been the habit of the funny boarder to remark ‘Bow, wow, wow!’ or ‘Meouw!’ when he was confronted by the steaming dish of boiled Frankfurter, fried fricadella [etc].
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 77: The astonishing part of it all was that so many workers partook in this bow-wow chow on a daily basis.
bow-wow shop (n.) [SE shop; ‘so called because the servant barks and the master bites’ (Grose)]

1. a second-hand clothes shop in London’s Monmouth Street, the city’s old-clothes centre through to 19C.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Bow-wow Shop. A Salesman[’s] shop in Monmouth-street; he was rig’d at a Bow-wow Shop. see Barker. Called Bow-wow Shop because the Servant Barks, and the Master Bites.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 8 Dec. n.p.: Hardisty [...] stigmatised Mr Brickwood’s office as the ‘barking’ and the ‘bow-wow shop’.


bow-wow tea (n.) [? Wuyi, i.e. Wuyi Mountains, Fujian; orig. used of the first teas imported to Euope in 17C, later generic for Oolongs and Lapsangs]

Bohea tea.

‘Paul Pry’ Oddities London Life I 159: Mrs. Biddy having adjourned to a neighbouring chandler’s shop for ‘an ounce of the best mix’d Bow-wow tea’.

In phrases

go bowwow (v.)

(US) to lose emotional control [? play on barking adj. (1)].

[US]‘John Eagle’ Hoodlums (2021) 118: ‘My friend goes bowwow on these’ [i.e. marijuana cigarettes].