E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A long, stout knife, carried by hunters in the Western States of America. So called from Colonel James Bowie, one of the most daring characters of the States. Born in Logan, co. Kentucky. A bowie knife has a horn handle, and the curved blade is 15 in. long, and 1 1/4 wide at the hilt. (Bowie to rhyme with showy.)