Jazz, boogie, etc.

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Nov 2 19:27:34 UTC 2003

> > which says that 'boogie-woogie' was used by Southern blacks in the 19th
> > century to mean "secondary syphilis."
> >
> > I can't find this meaning in the OED, nor in RHDAS.  Is it in DARE?  Where
> > do they get this idea?
> >
>It is in HDAS -- see the 1942 Zora Neale Hurston citation in the noun entry.

Apparently Hurston said this ... but has this assertion any merit?

One can find on the Web a purported connection between the word "jitterbug"
and "secondary syphilis" too. Is one of these associations an error for the
other? Is either association supported by any evidence?

AFAIK, secondary syphilis is characterized by rash and lymph node
enlargement; it's tertiary syphilis which may produce locomotor ataxia etc.
possibly resulting in 'jittering'. Does "boogie-woogie" or "jitterbug"
summon up an image of a skin rash or swollen lymph nodes?

-- Doug Wilson

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