Boo
Posted: 09 April 2014 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve heard people use this word to mean their girlfriend or boyfriend for a few years now and I was wondering how old that usage is but I’m not finding it in any of the usual places, so I checked Urban Dictionary just for fun and found this:

boo is a term that is derived from the French word “beau” meaning beautiful. In 18th century England it meant an admirer, usually male. It made it’s way into Afro-Caribbean language perhaps through the French colonization of some Caribbean islands.

Now meaning girl or boyfriend.

So has “boo” been in use in the African-Caribbean or possibly the African-American communities for many years?

I have to admit this entry seems like folk etymology, but I don’t really know, so I’m asking.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Earliest cite in OED is 1988. Here’s the entry.

boo, n.3

Etymology:  Origin uncertain; perhaps an alteration of beau n.

U.S. slang (orig. in African-American usage).

Esp among teenagers: a girlfriend or boyfriend. Also as a form of address.

1988 Washington Post 22 Dec. d5/2 Lionel R. Harris is my boyfriend. Lewis shot my Boo and it was not self-defense.

I’m sure the specialist dics could take it beyond that.

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Posted: 09 April 2014 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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That OED entry is pretty recent (2005). I haven’t found anything to add to it. It’s not HDAS or DARE, which both predate the OED entry. Green’s Dictionary of Slang, which is later, has it, but the citations are newer, but that work suggests it might be from “baby.”

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Posted: 10 April 2014 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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that work suggests it might be from “baby.”

“Boo” from “baby”?  Boo!

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Posted: 10 April 2014 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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“Boo” from “baby”?  Boo!

Baby - baboo - boo

as per sweet baboo, Peanuts cartoon 1977. 
Well, it’s near ;-)

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Posted: 10 April 2014 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Not sure how iconic Peanuts is with the African-American community, but I can see your point.

Sweet_Babboo.jpg

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Posted: 10 April 2014 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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In 18th century England it meant an admirer, usually male.

This is of course true of beau. But is it true of boo? I’m not convinced.

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Posted: 11 April 2014 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Not necessarily direct from Peanuts, but such soft alliterative sounds are common i.e. “baby boo”.  So perhaps arose separately. But pure speculation.

As to beau, unless the use of “boo” had been around for a long time, wouldn’t this imply some more recent influence from the Caribbean?

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