Singer Beyoncé Knowles has claimed to have coined the word bootylicious in her 2001 song of that title. The word means “sexually desirable, having a very attractive and shapely buttocks.” Her claim is quite false; by the time the song was released the word had been in use for almost a decade—since Knowles was in elementary school.
Snoop Doggy Dog is the first one known to have used the word. He uses it in the 1992 song he recorded with Dr. Dre, titled “Fuck Wit Dre Day,” where he disses his fellow rapper by calling his lyrics bootylicious, meaning “bad, weak”:
Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn’t vicious
And them rhymes you were kickin’ were quite bootylicious.
The sexual sense used by Beyoncé is recorded as early as 1994, in an article in Idaho’s Lewiston Morning Tribune on new slang terms. The word is, obviously, a combination of booty + -licous, as in delicious.
The root word booty has several sexually related senses, which can be traced back to African American slang of the 1920s. The first sense is that of the rump, which probably comes from the even older slang word botty, an alteration of bottom that dates to at least 1874. Booty can also refer to sexual intercourse and the female genitals, a development that parallels that of ass, as in “I’m going to get me some booty/ass.” The infamous booty call, that late night visit for the purpose of sex, dates to at least 1993, when it appears as the title of a song by the rap duo Duice.
Remember, just because someone claims to have coined a term, doesn’t make the claim true, no matter how famous they may be. Even most first citations in the Oxford English Dictionary aren’t coinages by the person credited. That person is usually the just the first we know to have written it down.
“bootylicious,” “booty, n.3,” Oxford English Dictionary, third edition.
“botty, n.,” Oxford English Dictionary, second edition.
Copyright 1997-2016, by David Wilton