In Reply to: Boston Fishwife posted by David on June 27, 2008 at 08:28:
: What is a Boston Fishwife and when did it first appear? I've heard it in 1776 Franklin to Adams.
A fishwife was a woman who sold fish in the market or in the street (the word "wife" here has its original Old English sense of "woman"). Fishwives were for centuries proverbial for their raucously foul language (e.g. "swear like a fishwife"), so much so that the name of the main fish market in London, Billingsgate, has been a synonym for loud crude abuse since the early 17th century. I suspect that the writer of "1776" just tagged on "Boston" to give a good old English term of abuse a auitably American flavour. (VSD)