What does ‘blowsily’ mean?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: blowsily…

I’ve always enjoyed the word blowsy and assumed it referred to a messy, gregarious woman with unkempt hair. But when I encountered it in the very fine novel The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith, I finally decided to look it up in a dictionary.

Here’s how Smith used the word:

Mrs. Streek, standing blowsily in her pristine display kitchen cannot be summoned from her wordless blue funk. 

And here’s what the dictionary has to say:

A blowsy woman is rather fat and looks untidy, often with badly fitting clothes.

News of the word’s meaning seems to have escaped my usual photo source (Bigstock photos), however. When I typed the word blowsy (and its alternative spelling, blowsy) into its search engine, the service kicked up dozens of photos of what I would call “babes,” messy hair notwithstanding. Instead, I had to go looking for a photo of Molly Weasley (Julie Walters) from the Harry Potter movie series.

The origin of the term dates back to the early 17th century: from the obsolete word blows, meaning ‘beggar’s female companion.’ The origin is unknown.