Printable Version
Pronunciation: hoy-dn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: High-spirited, loud girl; a rude cut-up of a girl or woman.

Notes: Having provided you with a word to refer to an awkward boy, it is only fair to discuss a word referring to a girl of similar character. A hoyden, however, is different from a hobbledehoy, despite the vague similarity in the words. A hoyden is always high-spirited if a bit crude, while a hobbledehoy is merely awkward and nave, and could be quite quiet. Today's word may also be used as an adjective meaning "high-spirited" or a verb meaning "to behave in a high-spirited way". However, the adjective with the full meaning of the noun is hoydenish. The quality itself is hoydenhood.

In Play: We have all met irrepressible girls with scant sense of propriety, focused on boisterous frivolity at all times. Sometimes they are appreciated, "The little hoyden brightens up any party." They can be disruptive, however, "She is about as welcome in my home as a hoyden in a convent."

Word History: The origin of today's word is quite obscure. It apparently is a corruption of a derivation from the archaic dialectal verb hoit "to indulge in obstreperous revelry". The participle of this verb, hoiting, was often used as a noun referring to an awkward, unruly girl. Hoyden could be a reduction of this participle, a speculation supported by its alternative spelling: hoiden. However, the trail ends with hoit, for its origins are unknown.

Dr. Goodword,

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