Take me to the river, Chaunse me in the water...
July 3, 2010 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a vernacular American English word! Chaunse, shawnse, shaunse, etc...

Beloved MeFites! I have recently encountered a word used in a conversation by an older gentleman that I'm trying to track down. As soon as he used it, it sparked a dim memory of having heard it numerous times in my early childhood. The word is pronounced, essentially, "shawns".

It was used in the following sentence: "I took the blinds off the window and washed them in the bathtub. Just /shawnsd/ them down in the water several times and they came up good as new."

The word is onomatopoetic, I believe, for rinsing or dunking into water. I have a dim recollection of hearing this word used when I was a very small boy growing up in Georgia. My Google-fu is strong, but I have not been able to find the word and am not sure of the orthography (even if there is a standardized orthography for the word). Can anyone shed some light on this? Bonus points if you can find an attestation in literature.

My linguist's spidey sense is tingling! Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by darkstar to Writing & Language (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by grapesaresour at 2:12 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hmm...that's close. The word I recall is quite distinctive, though it's possible it's a local variation of souse. But I don't think it's souse, exactly.
posted by darkstar at 2:31 PM on July 3, 2010

sloshed maybe.
posted by Babblesort at 3:12 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could it be a portmanteau of 'swish' and 'wash' = swaush?
posted by cobaltnine at 3:37 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sloshed with a southern accent and dentures? Imagine Sean Connery saying it. I just schloshed the curtainsh in the kitchen shink.
posted by zippy at 4:01 PM on July 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

For what it's worth, here's the most complex query I have every typed, selecting for phrases that end in "them down with water" and eliminating successively every popular non-shawnsed option. I hit a 32 word limit, and after a few iterations of the maximum query, Google thinks I'm an automated system.

Look upon my Google-Fu, ye mighty, and despair.
posted by zippy at 4:23 PM on July 3, 2010 [5 favorites]

A little further north, when I lived in Bawlmer*, people said "rinched" or "rinshed". Maybe related?

*Charm City to its Chamber of Commerce, Mobtown to Union troops, Baltimore to the rest of the world.
posted by Quietgal at 5:06 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

The closest I could find is "chounse," which apparently means to shake something out (as referred to in this article - if you don't have access to it in JSTOR you can get a little snippet on Google). It also seems to be in the Dictionary of American Regional English, but, alas, I don't have access to that right now.

It makes a sort of sense to me to say that you shook something down in water to rinse it out.
posted by Madame Psychosis at 8:29 PM on July 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Shower? As in "I showered/showers them down?"
posted by zippy at 8:30 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by I_Love_Bananas at 9:14 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Swashed, sloshed, soused, sparged, or sluiced might work, under the influence of some Georgian accents. Or we might have a new one for Roget's.
posted by xndr at 9:17 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

The word /shawnsd/, from the context of the sentence appears to be a light action. Something instant, or uninvolved. So easy that doing this action to dirty blinds a couple times gets them clean.

How about "jaunce" (prance, frolic)? I can imagine that jauncing something in the water would be akin to moving it around the water in a light, prancing way. It fits the feeling of the above.

As for the change in the first sound, I think the change of the voiced 'j' to the unvoiced 'sh' is common. And coming from an older gentleman, it might sound like an 'sh' anyhow.
posted by hanoixan at 10:44 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

My God, Madame Psychosis! I believe you've done it! I do believethat's the word I remember hearing used when I was a wee lad. Well done!

Thank you and thanks to all of you for your efforts!
posted by darkstar at 5:10 AM on July 4, 2010

chounse appears on page 668 of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus.


3. to cause to move in a quick, jerky manner...
synonyms: jiggle, joggle
related: bounce, chounse, jounce; jostle; rattle; jerk

(Thanks, Google!)
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:38 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by darkstar at 10:32 PM on July 4, 2010

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