boo (interj. 1800, v. 1833)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Apr 9 05:01:14 UTC 2009

My latest Word Routes column is on the origins of booing:

Following up this interview on WNYC's Soundcheck:

Here are early cites I mention in the column:

* "boo" (interj.)

1800 Maria Edgeworth _Castle Rackrent_ 76 Oh, boo! boo! (says I,
making light of it, to see what he would go on to next).
[Footnote: "Boo! Boo! an exclamation equivalent to Pshaw! or Nonsense."]

* "boo" (v. intr.)

1833 _The Kaleidoscope_ (Eton College) 25 Mar. 177 The whole school
raised a yell, booing, hissing, and scraping feet.

* "boo" (v. trans.)

1833 _The Kaleidoscope_ (Eton College) 25 Mar. 177 _At last_ get into
upper school twenty-five minutes past seven -- questioned by master --
boo'd, laughed at, shinned in getting a seat.

The last two quotes are in a republished diary of an Eton boy dated
"September 182-".

Someone familiar with Etonian sources can probably antedate these.
There are a number of secondary references to booing directed at Eton
headmaster John Keate taking place as early as 1810.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list