Fiji zigaboo

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Mar 30 02:27:09 UTC 2007

>The HDAS files show a number of _zigaboos_ from the 1920s on as an exact
>synonym of "jigaboo."  The ex. are notably Southern, far more than
>"jigaboo." "Zigaboo" (occas. shortened to "zig") is no longer common.
>   The alteration of  / J ~ z / has always stfruck me as unusual and
> interesting.  Does it suggest a / Z / in the etymon ?  In some dialect of
> Italian or another immigrant language ?

Cf. "jillion"/"zillion".

Maybe it's sort of arbitrary.

"Jigaboo" looks like an alteration of "bugaboo" and I speculate that's all
it was in the 1911 song title ... although one can also postulate an
intentional -- probably not explicit -- evocation of "jig[walk]".

There were other songs along the same line, one called (IIRC) "The Boogie
Boo Man".

In the 1920's "jigaboo" in the racial sense could have been a fanciful
elaboration of "jig[walk]" ... perhaps suggested by the song.

One can imagine a development of "zigaboo" < "zig" < "zigane" = "gypsy"
modeled on "jigaboo" < "jig" ... but I really really doubt it.

I suspect "zigaboo" < "jigaboo"; no exact explanation is obvious to me however.

And where did "jigwalk" come from?

-- Doug Wilson

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