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.
boorish (adj.) Look up boorish at
1560s, from boor (n.) + -ish. Related: Boorishly; boorishness.
boost (v.) Look up boost at
1815, literal and figurative, American English, of unknown origin. Related: Boosted; boosting. As a noun by 1825.
booster (n.) Look up booster at
1890, "one who boosts" something, agent noun from boost (v.). Electrical sense is recorded from 1894. Young child's booster chair is attested under that name from 1960.
boot (n.1) Look up boot at
footwear, early 14c., from Old French bote "boot" (12c.), with corresponding words in Provençal and Spanish, of unknown origin, perhaps from a Germanic source. Originally for riding boots only. An old Dorsetshire word for "half-boots" was skilty-boots [Halliwell, Wright].
boot (n.2) Look up boot at
"profit, use," Old English bot "help, relief, advantage; atonement," literally "a making better," from Proto-Germanic *boto (see better (adj.)). Compare German Buße "penance, atonement," Gothic botha "advantage." Now mostly in phrase to boot (Old English to bote).
boot (v.2) Look up boot at
"start up a computer," 1975, from bootstrap (v.), a 1958 derived verb from bootstrap (n.) in the computer sense.
boot (v.1) Look up boot at
"to kick," 1877, American English, from boot (n.1). Generalized sense of "eject, kick out" is from 1880. Related: Booted; booting.
boot camp (n.) Look up boot camp at
by 1941, U.S. Marines slang, said to be from boot (n.) as slang for "recruit," which supposedly dates from the Spanish-American War and is a synecdoche from boots, leggings worn by U.S. sailors.
boot-licker (n.) Look up boot-licker at
also bootlicker, "toady, servile follower," 1846, from boot (n.1) + agent noun from lick (v.). Foot-licker in the same sense is from 1610s.
booth (n.) Look up booth at
mid-12c., from Old Danish boþ "temporary dwelling," from East Norse *boa "to dwell," from Proto-Germanic *bowan-, from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow" (see be). See also bound (adj.2). Compare German Bude "booth, stall," Middle Dutch boode, Lithuanian butas "house," Old Irish both "hut," Bohemian bouda, Polish buda, some probably borrowed from East Norse, some formed from the PIE root.
bootleg (n.) Look up bootleg at
"leg of a boot," 1630s, from boot (n.1) + leg (n.). As an adjective in reference to illegal iquor, 1889, American English slang, from the trick of concealing a flask of liquor down the leg of a high boot. Before that the bootleg was the place to secret knives and pistols.
bootlegger (n.) Look up bootlegger at
1889, from bootleg (q.v.).
bootlegging (n.) Look up bootlegging at
also boot-legging, 1890, from bootleg (q.v.).
bootless (adj.2) Look up bootless at
late Old English botleas "unpardonable, not to be atoned for, without help or remedy," from boot (n.2) + -less. Meaning "useless, unprofitable" is from early 15c.
bootless (adj.1) Look up bootless at
"lacking boots," late 14c., from boot (n.1) + -less.
bootstrap (n.) Look up bootstrap at
also boot-strap, tab or loop at the back of the top of a men's boot, which the wearer hooked a finger through to pull the boots on, 1870, from boot (n.) + strap (n.).

Circa 1900, to pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps was used figuratively of an impossible task (Among the "practical questions" at the end of chapter one of Steele's "Popular Physics" schoolbook (1888) is, "30. Why can not a man lift himself by pulling up on his boot-straps?"). By 1916 its meaning expanded to include "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort." The meaning "fixed sequence of instructions to load the operating system of a computer" (1953) is from the notion of the first-loaded program pulling itself, and the rest, up by the bootstrap.
booty (n.) Look up booty at
"plunder, gain, profit," mid-15c., from Old French butin "booty" (14c.), from a Germanic source akin to Middle Low German bute "exchange." Influenced in form and sense by boot (n.2) and in form by nouns ending in -y. Meaning "female body considered as a sex object" is 1920s, black slang.
bootylicious (adj.) Look up bootylicious at
by 1998, hip-hop slang, from booty + ending from delicious.
booze (n.) Look up booze at
by 1821, perhaps 1714; probably originally as a verb, "to drink a lot" (1768), variant of Middle English bouse (c. 1300), from Middle Dutch busen "to drink heavily," related to Middle High German bus (intransitive) "to swell, inflate," of unknown origin. The noun reinforced by name of Philadelphia distiller E.G. Booz. Johnson's dictionary has rambooze "A drink made of wine, ale, eggs and sugar in winter time; or of wine, milk, sugar and rose-water in the summer time." In New Zealand from c.World War II, a drinking binge was a boozeroo.
boozy (adj.) Look up boozy at
"inebriated," 1719, from booze + -y (2). It was one of Benjamin Franklin's 225 synonyms for "drunk" published in 1722. Related: Boozily; booziness.
bop (n.) Look up bop at
1948, shortening of bebop or rebop; as a verb, "play bop music, play (a song) in a bop style," from 1948. It soon came to mean "do any sort of dance to pop music" (1956). Related: Bopped; bopping.

The musical movement had its own lingo, which was in vogue in U.S. early 1950s. "Life" magazine [Sept. 29, 1952] listed examples of bop talk: crazy "new, wonderful, wildly exciting;" gone (adj.) "the tops--superlative of crazy;" cool (adj.) "tasty, pretty;" goof "to blow a wrong note or make a mistake;" hipster "modern version of hepcat;" dig "to understand, appreciate the subtleties of;" stoned "drunk, captivated, ecstatic, sent out of this world;" flip (v.) "to react enthusiastically." [Life Sept. 29, 1952]
borage (n.) Look up borage at
flowering plant used in salads, mid-13c., from Anglo-French, Old French borage (13c., Modern French bourrache), from Medieval Latin borrago. Klein says this is ultimately from Arabic abu arak, literally "the father of sweat," so called by Arab physicians for its effect on humans. But OED says it's from Latin borra "rough hair, short wool," in reference to the texture of the foliage.
borax (n.) Look up borax at
late 14c., from Anglo-French boras, from Medieval Latin baurach, from Arabic buraq, applied by the Arabs to various substances used as fluxes, probably from Persian burah. Originally obtained in Europe from the bed of salt lakes in Tibet.
borborygmi (n.) Look up borborygmi at
also borborygmus, 17c., from Latin borborigmus, from Greek borborygmos, from borboryzein "to have a rumbling in the bowels," imitative.
Bordeaux Look up Bordeaux at
1560s, type of wine imported from the city in southwestern France. Its name is Roman Burdigala (1c.), perhaps from a Celtic or pre-Celtic source the sense of which has been lost.
bordello (n.) Look up bordello at
c. 1300, bordel "house of prostitution," from Old French bordel "small hut, cabin; brothel" (12c.), diminutive of borde "hut made of planks," from Frankish *bord "wooden board" or some other Germanic source related to board (n.1). The modern form is a result of the French word being borrowed by Italian then passed back to French with a suffix and re-borrowed into English in its current form by 1590s.
border (n.) Look up border at
mid-14c., from Old French bordure "seam, edge of a shield, border," from Frankish *bord or a similar Germanic source (compare Old English bord "side;" see board (n.2)). The geopolitical sense first attested 1530s, in Scottish (replacing earlier march), from The Borders, name of the district adjoining the boundary between England and Scotland.
border (v.) Look up border at
c. 1400, "to put a border on;" 1640s as "to lie on the border of," from border (n.). Related: Bordered; bordering.
borderline (n.) Look up borderline at
1869, "strip of land along a frontier," from border (n.) + line (n.). As an adjective meaning "verging on" it is attested from 1907, originally in medical jargon.
bore (v.1) Look up bore at
Old English borian "to bore through, perforate," from bor "auger," from Proto-Germanic *buron (cognates: Old Norse bora, Swedish borra, Old High German boron, Middle Dutch boren, German bohren), from PIE root *bher- (2) "to cut with a sharp point, pierce, bore" (cognates: Greek pharao "I plow," Latin forare "to bore, pierce," Old Church Slavonic barjo "to strike, fight," Albanian brime "hole").

The meaning "diameter of a tube" is first recorded 1570s; hence figurative slang full bore (1936) "at maximum speed," from notion of unchoked carburetor on an engine. Sense of "be tiresome or dull" first attested 1768, a vogue word c. 1780-81 according to Grose (1785); possibly a figurative extension of "to move forward slowly and persistently," as a boring tool does.
bore (v.2) Look up bore at
past tense of bear (v.).
bore (n.) Look up bore at
thing which causes ennui or annoyance, 1778; of persons by 1812; from bore (v.1).
The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. [Voltaire, "Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme," 1738]
boreal (adj.) Look up boreal at
"northern," late 15c., from Latin borealis, from boreas "north wind," from Greek Boreas, name of the god of the north wind, which is of unknown origin, perhaps related to words in Balto-Slavic for "mountain" and "forest."
borealis Look up borealis at
shortening of aurora borealis (q.v.).
bored (adj.) Look up bored at
1823, past participle adjective from bore (v.) in the figurative sense.
Society is now one polished horde,
Formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.
[Byron, "Don Juan," 1823]
boredom (n.) Look up boredom at
"state of being bored," 1852, from bore (v.1) + -dom. It also has been employed in a sense "bores as a class" (1883) and "practice of being a bore" (1864, a sense properly belonging to boreism, 1833).
borg (n.) Look up borg at
fictional hostile alien hive-race in the "Star Trek" series, noted for "assimilating" defeated rivals, first introduced in "The Next Generation" TV series (debut fall 1987). Their catchphrase is "resistance is futile."
boring (adj.) Look up boring at
mid-15c., "action of piercing," from bore (v.). From 1853 in reference to animals that bore; 1840 in the sense "wearying, causing ennui."
Boris Look up Boris at
Slavic masc. proper name, literally "fight," from Slavic root *bor- "to fight, overcome" (see bore (v.)).
bork (v.) Look up bork at
1987, "to discredit a candidate for some position by savaging his or her career and beliefs," from name of U.S. jurist Robert H. Bork (1927-2012), whose Supreme Court nomination in 1987 was rejected after an intense counter-campaign.
born Look up born at
Old English boren, alternative past participle of beran (see bear (v.)). Distinction between born and borne is 17c.
born-again (adj.) Look up born-again at
of Protestant Christians, by 1920, based on John iii:3. Used in figurative (non-religious) sense by 1977.
borne Look up borne at
past participle of bear (v.).
Borneo Look up Borneo at
large island in Indonesia, from Portuguese alteration of Brunei, which is today the name of a sultanate on the island. This is Hindi and probably ultimately from Sanskrit bhumi "land, region."
boron (n.) Look up boron at
1812, from borax + ending abstracted unetymologically from carbon (it resembles carbon). Originally called boracium by Humphrey Davy because it was drawn from boracic acid. Related: Boric.
borough (n.) Look up borough at
Old English burg, burh "a dwelling or dwellings within a fortified enclosure," from Proto-Germanic *burgs "hill fort, fortress" (cognates: Old Frisian burg "castle," Old Norse borg "wall, castle," Old High German burg, buruc "fortified place, citadel," German Burg "castle," Gothic baurgs "city"), from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills, hill forts, fortified elevations (source also of Old English beorg "hill;" see barrow (n.2)).

In German and Old Norse, chiefly as "fortress, castle;" in Gothic, "town, civic community." Meaning shifted in Middle English from "fortress," to "fortified town," to simply "town" (especially one possessing municipal organization or sending representatives to Parliament). In U.S. (originally Pennsylvania, 1718) often an incorporated town; in Alaska, however, it is the equivalent of a county. The Scottish form is burgh. The Old English dative singular byrig survives in many place names as -bury.
borrow (v.) Look up borrow at
Old English borgian "to lend, be surety for," from Proto-Germanic *borg "pledge" (cognates: Old English borg "pledge, security, bail, debt," Old Norse borga "to become bail for, guarantee," Middle Dutch borghen "to protect, guarantee," Old High German boragen "to beware of," German borgen "to borrow; to lend"), from PIE root *bhergh- (1) "to hide, protect" (see bury). Sense shifted in Old English to "borrow," apparently on the notion of collateral deposited as security for something borrowed. Related: Borrowed; borrowing.