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frowy adj1

Also sp froughy, frowey[frough, frow brittle, fragile]chiefly New England

1 Esp of wood: spongy, brittle; inferior.


  • 1816 Pickering Vocab. 97, Froughy . . is in very common use in many parts of New England. . . It is doubtless a corruption of Frough. . . Frough; loose, spungy; Frough wood; brittle.” Ray’s North Country Words.
  • 1857 (1949) Thoreau Jrl. 10.14 MA, A lumberer called some timber “frowy.”
  • 1889 (1971) Farmer Americanisms 255, Froughty [sic—prob erroneous for froughy].—Spongy, brittle, or, in fact, applied to anything that is of inferior quality. A North of England provincialism, and colloquial in New England.

2 Rancid; spoiled; musty, foul-smelling.

  • 1848 Bartlett Americanisms 150, Frough. Froughy. . . Froughy butter,’ is rancid butter. [Froughy] . . is in common use in many parts of New England.
  • 1866 Stowe Little Foxes 253 NEng, Mrs. Dayton is a decent housekeeper, and so her bread be not sour, her butter not frowy.
  • 1913 DN 4.4 ME, Frowy. . . Partly decomposed and ill-smelling.
  • 1916 DN 4.302 CT, MI, MA, Frowy. . . Rancid.
  • 1932 DN 6.283 CT, Frowy plate. “One with grease under the glaze; when it is warm you can smell it.”
  • 1941 LANE Map 306, Meat that has begun to decay or ‘go bad’. . . 1 inf, ceMA, Frowy, mother’s term for spoiled sausage meat or for salt pork beginning to smell; 1 inf, swMA, Frowy, of pork.
  • Ibid, 12 infs, chiefly swNEng, Frowy [of rancid butter].
  • 1943 AN&Q 3.7/2 NEng (as of c1925), Frowey (spoiled).
  • 1959 VT Hist. new ser 27.136, Frowey. . . Rancid, as in lard or butter. Rare. Washington; Windsor.
  • 1965 Needham–Mussey Country Things 135 VT, One time he come out in the morning, and the air was frowy with skunk, and he said it smelled like an automobile had been by.
  • 1973 Allen LAUM 1.287 nwIA (as of c1950), Frowy, recorded once . . is a . . reflection of a New England minor variation. . . Its range of meaning seems to include both that of rancid and that of spoiled.