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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu May 08, 2008 11:40 pm

• moxie •

Pronunciation: mahk-si • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)

Meaning: Self-confident willpower, backbone, unbridled courage. This word is a New England regionalism for chutzpah, gumption, brashness, or just plain pluck.

Notes: English has a fairly wide array of regional terms for "brashness", as you can see from the Meaning of today's Good Word. The meaning of moxie came from the commercial name of a soft drink that was very popular from the 1890s to the 1930s because of its purported restorative powers. It was guaranteed to cure "loss of manhood, paralysis and softening of the brain", not to mention alcoholism. If you are tired of gumption, chutzpah and gall, try this funny little word for a change.

In Play: Courage, of course, is courage, but moxie is courage that makes you smile, courage that occurs where you least expect it: "Where did Neil Downe ever get the moxie to tell his wife he wasn't going to clean her room any more?" You can, however, use the same word in negative sentences in reference to the lack of even ordinary courage: "Randy Fellowe has been dating Marian Kind for six years but doesn't have the moxie to ask her to marry him."

Word History: Today's good word is what is called a commonization of the name of popular soft drink around the turn of the 19th century. The original name of the soft drink probably came from an Algonquin Indian word maski "black water", since various locations, such as Moxie Falls and Moxie Lake bear the same name. Moxie was originally a very bitter nostrum (patent medicine) marketed by Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine. The primary ingredients were extract of gentian root and wintergreen. In 1884, impressed by the growing popularity of soft drinks, Dr. Thompson decided to convert his nostrum into the drink whose name we celebrate today. (We are so happy that Janice Ramey had the moxie to send us today's Good Word.)
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Postby Perry » Sat May 10, 2008 8:10 pm

I wonder what was in the soft drink version of Moxie. (After all, Coca Cola once contained cocaine.)
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Postby Stargzer » Sun May 11, 2008 1:34 am

"Moxie For Mine: More About Moxie the Drink" wrote:Moxie was made in Lowell, Massachusetts by Doctor Augustin Thompson's Moxie Nerve Food Company and was originally introduced into apothecary shops in 1876 as a "nostrum", which meant that it was stronger than a tonic and thus would be taken one spoonful at a time. It was first sold as a carbonated drink in 1884. It is interesting to note that Moxie was later also the first carbonated beverage to offer a sugar-free version.

The cure-all medicinal claims made on the original Moxie labels were quite incredible indeed:

Contains not a drop of Medicine, Poison, Stimulant or Alcohol. But is a simple sugarcane-like plant grown near the Equator and farther south, was lately accidentally discovered by Lieut. Moxie and has proved itself to be the only harmless nerve food known that can recover brain and nervous exhaustion, loss of manhood, imbecility and helplessness. It has recovered paralysis, softening of the brain, locomotor ataxia, and insanity when caused by nervous exhaustion. It gives a durable solid strength, makes you eat voraciously, takes away the tired, sleepy, listless feeling like magic, removes fatigue from mental and physical over work at once, will not interfere with action of vegetable medicines.

Moxie's main ingredient, gentian root, gives it a strong medicinal smell and flavor. Gentian is supposed to help digestion and soothe the stomach. The drink is also said to contain wintergreen and it used to contain sassafras before its use in food products was outlawed in the 1960's. Most people say that Moxie is an acquired taste, indeed one of the advertising slogans of old for the drink was "LEARN To Drink Moxie". Free Moxie Lollipops were given out to children to acquaint them with the taste. Even though the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act prevented the company from making any unsubstantiated claims, in some places still today Moxie is taken as a tonic when one feels under the weather.

Wikipedia wrote:Also popular are amari, which is the Italian word for bitters. These include Campari, Suze, Byrrh and Cinzano. Bitter herbs like gentian, quinine, artichoke leaves, dandelion, or angelica stimulate the gallbladder to release bile, which aids in the breakdown of food and proper elimination. Alcohol enhances the effects of these herbs.

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Postby sluggo » Sun May 11, 2008 10:15 am

Thanks, Barkeep!
--set 'em up again...
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