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 0-7018-1309-1, under "Wowser", page 568.)
wowser (plural wowsers)
- (Australia, New Zealand) A person with a strong moral views for temperance, abstinence, etc, and who promotes them generally or in particular seeks to impose them on other people.
- (obsolete) A lout or similar disruptive person.
- person with strong moral views
- 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.