[Ads-l] That boody

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 31 05:35:06 UTC 2015

During lunch, the teachers talked about how the definition of the Latin
word _praeda_, which means “plunder or booty,” causes students to laugh
hysterically (cf. a more recent meaning of “booty”).

time and space


Yeah, right. Some may remember a time when I was wasting ADS-L space in a
futile attempt prevent precisely this lame, ignorant,  fucked-up - uh,
*erroneous* - it's-clearly-the-case pswaydo-"etymology" from becoming fixed
in literature, not to mention becoming fixed in *the* literature. Of
course, as is always the case, it was already a lost cause, given that a
*black* reviewer in the NYT BR had *already* taken a black author, Stanley
Crouch to task for trying to re-introduce the spelling, "boody," into the
mainstream by using the spelling, _boody_, in his work. Hopefully, he did
this because he was fully aware that there is no etymological connection
between standard-English "booty" and BE "boody." Unfortunately, it's very
easy to find a gazillion instances of real, live colored folk using the
emphatic pronunciations, "boo[t]y," "boo-TEE," and "boo-TAY!"

If I had first come across these data - three surface forms with [t] v.
only one such form, "boody," with a [d] that is arguably a flapped /t/, in
fact, and not a surface reflex of /d/ by any means - only some time - or
should that be "sometime"? - after I had spent at least a quarter studying
_Sound Pattern of English_, the conclusion that the BE "word" is nothing
more than a mere semantic extension of the *real* word, standard "booty,"
would be inescapably "obvious," given the clarity of the phonological

But, in my case, I've know "boody" since not only long before the
publication of SPE, but also long - in child-years - before I was aware of
the existence of "booty." For me, a "semantic extension of _booty_" is
impossible nonsense, a possibility only to someone who has not spent a
lifetime surrounded by the word. IMO, there is even evidence found among
non-native speakers of BE that militates against the assumption of an
etymological relationship or any other connection between "boody" and

Does anyone else recall Cheech & Chong's magnificent magnum opus,
"Basketball Jones"? ("My bastitball. is lak a *bastitball*. to. me!") If
so, can you recall the name of Tyrone Shoelace's coach? His name is
"Ahmgwana Kikboodi," When asked for his game-plan, he answers, "I'm g[oU]na
kick *boody*."

Clearly, one can kick *boody*, but you can *not* kick booty.

Unprintable Ozark Folksongs and Folklore: Roll me in your arms
Vance Randolph, ‎Gershon Legman - 1992 - Page 297

80.  She Keeps Her Boody Clean

I got another girl.
She's lank an' lean.
I like this girl because
She keeps her boody clean
She keeps her boody clean.--

A. Sung as above by Mr.T.K., Pineville, Missouri, August 3, 1927. He says
it is a Negro song. (On word _boody_, see endnote below.)

B. Vance Randolph states: ...

    The word _boody_, as meaning the genital organs (once of men, but now
apparently only of women) is an Elizabethan survival in the U.S. south, now
mostly among Negroes, of the word _body_, used euphemistically,, as in
Shakespeare's _Romeo and Juliet_ (1597) act II, scene v, line 42, where the
Nurse is commenting to Juliet on Romeo's attributes as a man: "Well, you
have made a simple choice; you know not how to choose a man. Romeo! no, not
he; though his face be better than any man's, yet his leg exceeds all
men's; and for a hand and a foot, and a body, though they be not to be
talked on, yet they are past compare." ... Note the apologetic or
apotropaic interjection, "though they are [sic] not to be talked on. Under
the slightly modified spelling of "booty," [the only genuinely-black
spellings that I know of are "boodie, boo-dee," in ulder and younger
versions of the song-title, "Boodie Green"/"Boo-Dee Green" ("the craziest
dance you've ever seen"), for instance, and boody"; this last spelling has
been blessed through its use by the white author, Carl Van Vechten in his
1926 novel, _Nigger Heaven_] the word is still used widely in a sexual
sense: _to get some [boody]_ ... meaning sexual intercourse. ...

You know what? Research merely in Google reveals a sufficient number of
instances of my favored spelling, _boody_, in the relevant sense, that I'm
not going to put any more effort into justifying it.

Apropos of nothing, both _Boody_ and _Doody_ are relatively un-rare as
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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