I thought “moxie” was Yiddish for brave and daring. That shows what I know, but a little research shows where it came from, and it’s a truly fascinating story.
“Moxie is a brand of carbonated beverage that was among the first mass-produced soft drinks in the United States. It continues to be regionally popular today. It is produced by the Moxie Beverage Company of Bedford, New Hampshire, which (through several levels of wholly owned subsidiaries) is part of the Kirin Holdings Company of Tokyo, Japan. As a result of widespread brand advertising, the brand name has become the word “moxie” in the English language, meaning “courage, daring, or spirit”.
You can read all about it here. It’s worth taking the time.
Moxie originated as a patent medicine called “Moxie Nerve Food”, which was created around 1876 by Dr. Augustin Thompson in Lowell, Massachusetts. Thompson claimed that it contained an extract from a rare, unnamed South American plant, which is now known to be gentian root. Moxie, he claimed, was especially effective against “paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia“.
Thompson claimed that he named the beverage after a Lieutenant Moxie, a purported friend of his, who he claimed had discovered the plant and used it as a panacea, and the company he created continued to promulgate legendary stories about the word’s origin. It likely derives from an Abenaki word that means “dark water” and which is found in lake and river names in Maine, where Thompson was born and raised.
Where did I get that idea? I think from the movies. It seems to be a word characters placed in New York say. Out west we say, “Spunk.”