"to dry or roast on a gridiron," 1660s, from the source of barbecue (n.). Related: Barbecued; barbecuing.
1690s, "framework for grilling meat, fish, etc.," from American Spanish barbacoa, from Arawakan (Haiti) barbakoa "framework of sticks set upon posts," the raised wooden structure the West Indians used to either sleep on or cure meat.
The sense of "outdoor feast of roasted meat or fish as a social entertainment" is from 1733; the modern popular noun sense of "grill for cooking over an open fire" is from 1931.
"piratical rover on the Spanish coast," 1680s; earlier "one who roasts meat on a boucan" (1660s), from French boucanier "a pirate; a curer of wild meats, a user of a boucan," a native grill for roasting meat, from Tupi mukem (rendered in Portuguese as moquem c. 1587): "initial b and m are interchangeable in the Tupi language" [Klein]. The Haitian variant, barbacoa, became barbecue.
Originally used of French settlers working as woodsmen and hunters of wild hogs and cattle in the Spanish West Indies, they became a lawless and piratical set after being driven from their trade by Spanish authorities. Boucan/buccan itself is attested in English from 1610s as a noun, c. 1600 as a verb.