jamboree
Posted: 04 October 2017 10:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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OED’s first citation is 1868, no etymology given. The earliest I could find in Google Books (snippet view only) is in a public document from Massachusetts of an “apple jamboree” in 1835.  Can anyone shed any light on the origin of jamboree?

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Posted: 04 October 2017 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It seems the origin is unknown.

From the American Heritage Dictionary.

1. A noisy celebration.
2. A large assembly, often international, especially of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
3. A mass gathering or assembly, as of a political party or association.
[Origin unknown.]

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Posted: 04 October 2017 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The word is reminiscent of charivari or its corruption shivaree, meaning a cacophony of sounds, also of unknown origin and dating back to the Middle Ages. I’ve seen speculation that jamboree is formed on the model of shivaree using jam (as in tightly packed) as the first element, although needless to say there is no evidence for this at all. Baden-Powell did a lot to popularize the word; he thought it had an African origin but again without the slightest evidence.

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Posted: 05 October 2017 03:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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n.
1866, represented as typical of American English, perhaps from jam (n.) on pattern of shivaree [Barnhart]. For the second element, Weekley suggests French bourree, a kind of rustic dance. Klein thinks the whole thing is of Hindu origin (but he credits its introduction to English, mistakenly, to Kipling). Boy Scouts use is from 1920. Noted earlier as a term in cribbage:

Jamboree signifies the combination of the five highest cards, as, for example, the two Bowers [jacks], Ace, King, and Queen of trumps in one hand, which entitles the holder to count sixteen points. The holder of such a hand, simply announces the fact, as no play is necessary; but should he play the hand as a Jambone, he can count only eight points, whereas he could count sixteen if he played it, or announced it as a Jamboree. ["The American Hoyle,” New York, 1864]

source: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=jamboree

In short, many guesses, no proof.

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Posted: 05 October 2017 04:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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To expand on cuchuflete, “jamboree” was a term used in euchre from at least 1862.  The Boston Evening Transcript of of April 30, 1862 has an advertisement for “Euchre and its Laws” including chapters on “Lap, Slam, Jambone and Jamboree.” This book seems not to have made its way to Google Books, but there are copies available on the secondary market. 

Beyond that, the word pops up as a nonsense word, e.g. in a nonsense poem in the Washington Evening Star of August 30, 1865, where it is rhymed with “tweedledee.”

The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph of July 7, 1866 has a story about a group of men who drank too much on the Fourth, characterizing them as “On a Jamboree.”

Thereafter it seems to be used to mean generally a celebration, perhaps raucous but not necessarily drunken.  Presumably this is how the Boy Scouts picked it up.

Not, sadly, that any of this tells us about its origin.

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Posted: 05 October 2017 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The earliest I could find in Google Books (snippet view only) is in a public document from Massachusetts of an “apple jamboree” in 1835.

Alas, that’s not from 1835 (you can tell by the typeface and the reference to “railroad stations")—that’s presumably the date when the periodical was founded.  One has to be very careful with dates on Google Books.

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Posted: 05 October 2017 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Total speculation dept:

Possibly because the Scouting usage carries the sense of a recurring celebratory event, I’ve long associated it in my mind with jubilee.  That may have contributed somewhat to the development of its senses, but doesn’t appear to be a plausible origin.

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Posted: 05 October 2017 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Because the ending of the word is so unusual, the notion that it was formed by some portmanteau involving corroboree is appealing. Corroboree is an Anglicization of a word from an Australian aboriginal language called Dharuk, spoken in the Sydney region (possibly influenced, at least in spelling, by the existing word corroborate). It originally referred to a ritual performance of song and dance, but more broadly means a boisterous social gathering. The first entry in the OED is from 1793. I couldn’t guess where the “jam” part comes in. A jam-packed corroboree? A leggy corroboree full of jambs?

Silly idea:
I note that there is another aboriginal word, junba, meaning basically the same thing as corroboree. Junba comes from a different language in another part of the country. It is not a word that has taken hold in English, and I can’t find any reference to it being used in English before 1968, but if I was in the business of fake etymologies I’d suggest jamboree formed as a portmanteau of junba/corroboree.

Funny that ElizaD should find that ref to “apple jamboree”, because during my search in the OED for other words starting with jamb, I found the word jambo, which is means “rose-apple”.

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Posted: 09 October 2017 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The Thai word for rose apple is champoo which sounds a bit like jambo so it may be a corruption of an Asian word. The sound is more chompoo to my ears but you see both in English transliteration though usually chompoo. LH can check the Thai phonetics again - ชมพู่.  Sii champoo or rose-apple colour is the Thai for pink though there are other colours of other varieties in google images.

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Posted: 09 October 2017 04:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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What on earth might a Thai word for rose apple have to do with jamboree?

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Posted: 10 October 2017 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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OP Tipping - 05 October 2017 08:19 AM

Funny that ElizaD should find that ref to “apple jamboree”, because during my search in the OED for other words starting with jamb, I found the word jambo, which is means “rose-apple”.

“Jambo” in Swahili is a greeting, BTW.

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Posted: 10 October 2017 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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donkeyhotay - 10 October 2017 06:43 AM

“Jambo” in Swahili is a greeting, BTW.

Couldn’t resist looking this up.  Seems it can also mean affair, occurrence.
Good job someone was careful with the spelling as “Jamba” means “to fart”

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Posted: 10 October 2017 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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steve_g - 10 October 2017 08:10 AM

donkeyhotay - 10 October 2017 06:43 AM
“Jambo” in Swahili is a greeting, BTW.

Couldn’t resist looking this up.  Seems it can also mean affair, occurrence.
Good job someone was careful with the spelling as “Jamba” means “to fart”

That’s all well and good, but it is also the nickname of my old home town football team Hibernian of Edinburgh’s big rivals, Heart of Midlothian, or Hearts.

They lurv the Swahili angle, inappropriate as it is. Gotta be some benefit with such a bizarre nickname I guess.

My Dad was a Hearts fan and told me it was from Hearts -> rhyming slang à la London Jam Tarts (yeah, that was right) -> Jambos. To continue the rhyming ‘no one knows’ (gives the pronunciation).

Well, youse all did mention ‘jambo’ as a morpheme here so sorry and all that...!

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