bonfire (n.) Look up bonfire at
1550s, from Middle English banefire (late 15c.), originally a fire in which bones were burned. See bone (n.) + fire (n.).
bong (n.) Look up bong at
"water pipe for marijuana," 1960s, U.S. slang, said to have been introduced by Vietnam War veterans, said to be from Thai baung, literally "cylindrical wooden tube."
bongo (n.) Look up bongo at
1920, from American Spanish (West Indies, especially Cuba), from a word of West African origin, such as Lokele (Zaire) boungu.
bonhomie (n.) Look up bonhomie at
"good nature," 1803, from French bonhomie "good nature, easy temper," from bonhomme "good man" (with unusual loss of -m-), from bon "good" (see bon) + homme "man," from Latin homo (see homunculus).
Boniface Look up Boniface at
"innkeeper," from Will Boniface, character in George Farquhar's comedy "The Beaux' Stratagem" (1707).
Contrary to the common opinion, this name derives not from Latin bonifacius 'well-doer,' but from bonifatius, from bonum 'good' and fatum 'fate.' The change to Bonifacius was due to pronunciation and from this was deduced a false etymology. Bonifatius is frequent on Latin inscriptions. Bonifacius is found only twice and these late (Thesaurus) ["Dictionary of English Surnames"]
bonito (n.) Look up bonito at
type of sea fish, 1590s, from Spanish bonito, probably literally "the good one," diminutive of bueno "good," from Latin bonus (see bene-).
bonjour Look up bonjour at
French, literally "good day," from bon "good," from Latin bonus (see bene-) + jour (see journey (n.)).
bonk (v.) Look up bonk at
"to hit," 1931, probably of imitative origin; 1975 in sense of "have sexual intercourse with." Related: Bonked; bonking.
bonkers (adj.) Look up bonkers at
"crazy," 1957, British slang, perhaps from earlier naval slang meaning "slightly drunk" (1948), from notion of a thump ("bonk") on the head.
bonnet (n.) Look up bonnet at
late 14c., Scottish bonat "brimless hat for men," from Old French bonet, short for chapel de bonet, from bonet (12c., Modern French bonnet) "kind of cloth used as a headdress," from Medieval Latin bonitum "material for hats," perhaps a shortening of Late Latin abonnis "a kind of cap" (7c.), which is perhaps from a Germanic source.
bonny (adj.) Look up bonny at
1540s, of unknown origin, apparently from Old French bon, bone "good" (see bon).
bonnyclabber (n.) Look up bonnyclabber at
1620s (in shortened form clabber), from Modern Irish bainne "milk" (from Middle Irish banne "drop," also, rarely, "milk"; cognate with Sanskrit bindu- "drop") + claba "thick." Compare Irish and Gaelic clabar "mud," which sometimes has made its way into English (Yeats, etc.).
bonsai Look up bonsai at
1914, from Japanese bon "basin, pot" + sai "to plant."
bonus (n.) Look up bonus at
1773, "Stock Exchange Latin" [Weekley], from Latin bonus "good" (adj.); see bene-. The correct noun form would be bonum. In U.S. history the bonus army was tens of thousands of World War I veterans and followers who marched on Washington, D.C., in 1932 demanding early redemption of their service bonus certificates (which carried a maximum value of $625).
bony (adj.) Look up bony at
late 14c., from bone (n.) + -y (2).
boo Look up boo at
expression meant to startle, early 15c., boh, "A combination of consonant and vowel especially fitted to produce a loud and startling sound" [OED, which compares Latin boare, Greek boaein "to cry aloud, roar, shout."]; as an expression of disapproval, 1801 (n.), 1816 (v.); hence, the verb meaning "shower someone with boos" (1893).

Booing was common late 19c. among London theater audiences and at British political events; In Italy, Parma opera-goers were notorious boo-birds, but the custom seems to have been little-known in America till c. 1910.

To say boo "open one's mouth, speak," originally was to say boo to a goose.
To be able to say Bo! to a goose is to be not quite destitute of courage, to have an inkling of spirit, and was probably in the first instance used of children. A little boy who comes across some geese suddenly will find himself hissed at immediately, and a great demonstration of defiance made by them, but if he can pluck up heart to cry 'bo!' loudly and advance upon them, they will retire defeated. The word 'bo' is clearly selected for the sake of the explosiveness of its first letter and the openness and loudness of its vowel. [Walter W. Skeat, "Cry Bo to a Goose, "Notes and Queries," 4th series vi Sept. 10, 1870]
boo-boo (n.) Look up boo-boo at
"mistake," 1954, apparently a reduplication of boob, which had acquired a secondary sense of "foolish mistake" (1934).
boo-hoo Look up boo-hoo at
also boohoo, 1520s, originally of laughter or weeping (now only of weeping); see boo.
boo-ya Look up boo-ya at
also booyah, exclamation used in various situations, first attested c. 1990 in hip-hop slang.
boob (n.) Look up boob at
"stupid person," 1909, American English slang, perhaps from booby.
boob tube (n.) Look up boob tube at
"television set," U.S. slang, by 1965, from boob "stupid person" + slang tube (n.) "television, television programming," because the sets really did have vacuum tubes in them once upon a time.
boobs (n.) Look up boobs at
"breasts," 1929, U.S. slang, probably from much older term boobies (late 17c.), related to 17c. bubby; perhaps ultimately from Latin puppa, literally "little girl," hence, in child-talk, "breast." Or else it is a natural formation in English (compare French poupe "teat," German dialectal Bubbi, etc.).
booby (n.) Look up booby at
1590s, from Spanish bobo "stupid person, slow bird" (used of various ungainly seabirds), probably from Latin balbus "stammering," from an imitative root (see barbarian).

Booby prize is by 1883: an object of little value given to the loser of a game; booby trap is 1850, originally a schoolboy prank; the more lethal sense developed during World War I.
At the end of every session the dominie had the satirical custom of presenting his tawse as a "booby-prize" to some idle or stupid lout whom he picked out as meriting this distinction so that next time they met he might start fresh and fair with new pair for a new set of classes. [Ascott R. Hope, "Dumps," "Young England" magazine, 1883]
boodle (n.) Look up boodle at
1833, "crowd;" 1858, "phony money," especially "graft money," actual or potential (1883), both American English slang, either or both based on bundle, or from Dutch boedel "property."
booger (n.) Look up booger at
"nasal mucus," by 1890s; earlier bugger. Also boogie.
boogie (v.) Look up boogie at
originally "dance to boogie music," a late 1960s style of rock music based on blues chords, from earlier boogie, a style of blues (1941, also as a verb), short for boogie-woogie (1928), a reduplication of boogie (1917), which meant "rent party" in American English slang. A song title, "That Syncopated Boogie-boo," appears in a copyright listing from 1912.
book (n.) Look up book at
Old English boc "book, writing, written document," traditionally from Proto-Germanic *bokiz "beech" (cognates: German Buch "book" Buche "beech;" see beech), the notion being of beechwood tablets on which runes were inscribed, but it may be from the tree itself (people still carve initials in them). The Old English word originally meant any written document. Latin and Sanskrit also have words for "writing" that are based on tree names ("birch" and "ash," respectively). Meaning "libretto of an opera" is from 1768. A betting book is from 1856.
book (v.) Look up book at
Old English bocian "to grant or assign by charter," from book (n.). Meaning "to enter into a book, record" is early 13c. Meaning "to enter for a seat or place, issue (railway) tickets" is from 1841; "to engage a performer as a guest" is from 1872. U.S. student slang meaning "to depart hastily, go fast" is by early 1980s, of uncertain signification. Related: Booked; booking.
bookbinder (n.) Look up bookbinder at
late 14c, from book (n.) + binder. Related: Bookbindery.
bookcase (n.) Look up bookcase at
1726, from book (n.) + case (n.2). An Old English word for this was bocfodder.
bookie (n.) Look up bookie at
1885, colloquial shortening of bookmaker in the wagering sense.
bookish (adj.) Look up bookish at
1560s, "literary," from book (n.) + -ish. In sense of "overly studious" it is recorded from 1590s. Related: Bookishly; bookishness.
bookkeeper (n.) Look up bookkeeper at
also book-keeper, 1550s, from book (n.) + keeper. A rare English word with three consecutive double letters. Related: Bookkeeping, which is from 1680s in the sense "the work of keeping account books;" book-keep (v.) is a back-formation from 1886.
booklet (n.) Look up booklet at
1859, from book (n.) + diminutive ending -let.
bookmaker (n.) Look up bookmaker at
also book-maker, 1510s, "printer and binder of books," from book (n.) + agent noun from make (v.). The wagering sense is from 1862. Related: Book-making (late 15c., betting sense 1824).
bookmark (n.) Look up bookmark at
also book-mark, 1840, from book (n.) + mark (n.1). Bookmarker is older (1838). As a verb, by 1900. Related: Bookmarked; bookmarking.
bookstore (n.) Look up bookstore at
1763, from book (n.) + store (n.).
bookworm (n.) Look up bookworm at
1590s (of people), 1855 of insects or maggots; there is no single species known by this name, which is applied to the anolium beetle, silverfishes, and book lice. See book (n.) + worm (n.).
Boolean (adj.) Look up Boolean at
in reference to abstract algebraic systems, 1851, named for George Boole (1815-1864), English mathematician. The surname is a variant of Bull.
boom (v.) Look up boom at
mid-15c., earliest use was for bees and wasps, probably echoic of humming. The meaning "make a loud noise" is 15c. Compare bomb. Meaning "to burst into prosperity" (of places, businesses, etc.) is 1871, American English. Related: Boomed; booming. Boom box first attested 1978.
boom (n.1) Look up boom at
"long pole," 1540s, from Scottish boun, borrowed from Dutch boom "tree, pole, beam," from a Middle Dutch word analogous to Old English beam (see beam (n.)).
boom (n.2) Look up boom at
in the business sense, 1873, sometimes said to be from boom (n.1), from the nautical meaning "a long spar run out to extend the foot of a sail" -- a ship "booming" being one in full sail. But it could just as well be from boom (v.) on the notion of "suddenness."
boomerang (n.) Look up boomerang at
1827, adapted from an extinct Aboriginal languages of New South Wales, Australia. Another variant, perhaps, was wo-mur-rang (1798).
boomerang (v.) Look up boomerang at
1880, from boomerang (n.).
boon (n.) Look up boon at
late 12c., bone "petition," from Old Norse bon "a petition, prayer," from Proto-Germanic *boniz (cognates: Old English ben "prayer, petition," bannan "to summon;" see ban).
boon (adj.) Look up boon at
in boon companion (1560s), only real survival of Middle English boon "good" (early 14c.), from Old French bon (see bon).
boondocks (n.) Look up boondocks at
1910s, from Tagalog bundok "mountain." Adopted by occupying American soldiers in the Philippines for "remote and wild place." Reinforced or re-adopted during World War II. Hence, also boondockers "shoes suited for rough terrain," originally (1944) U.S. services slang word for field boots.
boondoggle (n.) Look up boondoggle at
1935, American English, of uncertain origin, popularized during the New Deal as a contemptuous word for make-work projects for the unemployed. Said to have been a pioneer word for "gadget;" it also was by 1932 a Boy Scout term for a kind of woven braid.
boonies (n.) Look up boonies at
colloquial shortening of boondocks; by 1964, originally among U.S. troops in Vietnam War (in reference to the rural areas of the country, as opposed to Saigon).
boor (n.) Look up boor at
13c., from Old French bovier "herdsman," from Latin bovis, genitive of bos "cow, ox." Re-introduced 16c. from Dutch boer, from Middle Dutch gheboer "fellow dweller," from Proto-Germanic *buram "dweller," especially "farmer," from PIE *bhu-, from root *bheue- (see be). Original meaning was "peasant farmer" (compare German Bauer, Dutch boer, Danish bonde), and in English it was at first applied to agricultural laborers in or from other lands, as opposed to the native yeoman; negative connotation attested by 1560s (in boorish), from notion of clownish rustics. Related: Boorishness.