What does ‘mauzy’ mean?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

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: mauzy…

When I travel, I like to read a book set in the place I’m travelling to. My husband and I spent two weeks in Newfoundland this summer — the easternmost point of Canada — so, while there, I read a book by the lauded Newfoundland writer Michael Crummy. Titled The Wreckage, the book did me the favour of giving me a terrific word of the week: the adjective mauzy. Here is how Crummy used it:

She disliked large groups, the mauzy whiff of them, how they made it impossible to isolate any individual smell.

I had no idea what the word meant, and neither my online dictionary nor my hardcover book version could tell me. I knew it was an unusual word, however, because my autocorrect kept trying to render it as gauzy. (Sometimes I find autocorrect profoundly irritating.)

I searched further and wider and eventually came across a definition on the website of Rattling Books, a Newfoundland-based audiobook publisher.

Quoting the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, the site told me that mauzy (which is also spelled maus(e)y, and mauzy) means “damp and warm, muggy, close; foggy.” We certainly found Newfoundland to be extremely mauzy when we were there but I like the way Crummy applies the word to something other than weather.

The photo at the top of this post, by the way, is one I took myself, showing the desolate but beautiful landscape of Newfoundland. What a magnificent province!