Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Brown Bess

 Brown, Jones, and Robinson.Brown Bill. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Brown Bess
 
means brown barrel. The barrels were browned to keep them from rusting. (Dutch, bus, a gun-barrel; Low German, büsse; Swedish, byssa. Our arquebus, blunderbuss.) In 1808 a process of browning was introduced, but this has, of course, nothing to do with the distinctive epithet. Probably Bess is a companion word to Bill. (See below.)   1
 


 Brown, Jones, and Robinson.Brown Bill. 

 
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