I first heard of Moxie two weeks ago. It was in a dialogue between elderly Mrs. Strauss and the Jimmy McGill, the protagonist of Netflix’s Better Call Saul (Season 1 Episode 5).
Mrs. Strauss : “Moxie is in such short supply these days.“
Jimmy McGill : “I pride myself on my Moxie.”
What is Moxie?
Not able to interpret the meaning of the word from the context, I set Netflix on pause, and search the word on the internet.
According to online Merriam-Webster, moxie has three meanings:
2. Courage and determination
Recalling the precedent sentence spoken by Mrs Strauss, “I knew I’d like you when I saw how you saved the poor man on the television,” moxie in this context would most likely refer to “courage and determination”
Judging a word by its look and sound
I am surprised to learn that the meaning of this word is opposite of what I expected.
I thought moxie was likely related to something fluffy, feathery, dreamy. It was a guess that was not based on the context, but rather on how the word rolls smoothly off my tongue and how innocuous the word looks. MO.XIE. To me, the word sounds and looks the complete opposite of words with a ‘oomph’ such as hard, task, strong, determination. These pronunciation of these words sound harsh in my ears.
If Moxie were a person, it would be a young girl with a pony tail secured by a baby-blue ribbon, in a white pinafore with pink trimmings, and a pair of Mary Jane shoes.
You must be thinking I’m going bonkers.
The word first appeared in 1876. Dr. Augustin Thompson from Massachusetts, USA patented a medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food” which contained an extract from a rare plant. The medicine was supposed to help with the treatment for “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia”.
Over the next few years, Dr. Thompson transformed the medicine to a beverage by adding soda water. Soon after, he was selling the beverage to the mass market as soda fountain syrup. Today, Moxie is the oldest bottled soft drink in the US.