The term booby meaning a stupid person dates to about 1599. From Patient Grissil, a comedic play written 1599-1603:
Then, mage a pooby fool of Sir Owen, indeed. God’s plude, shall!
It probably comes from the Spanish bobo, also meaning a foolish or stupid person, as well as being the name of the type of bird—which are slow, stupid, and easy to kill. It is sometimes suggested that it comes from the German bube, which is sometimes used in the same sense, but the Lower German form, which would be closer to English, is boeve or boef, which makes the connection implausible.1Read the rest of the article...
Copyright 1997-2017, by David Wilton