bone (v.2) Look up bone at
especially in bone up "study," 1880s student slang, probably from "Bohn's Classical Library," a popular series in higher education published by German-born English publisher Henry George Bohn (1796-1884) as part of a broad series of "libraries" he issued from 1846, totaling 766 volumes, continued after 1864 by G. Bell & Sons. The other guess is that it is an allusion to knuckle-bones and has the same figurative sense as the verbal phrase knuckle down "get to work."
bone (v.1) Look up bone at
"remove the bones of," late 15c., from bone (n.). Related: Boned; boning.
bone (n.) Look up bone at
Old English ban "bone, tusk, hard animal tissue forming the substance of the skeleton; one of the parts which make up the skeleton," from Proto-Germanic *bainam (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon ben, Old Norse bein, Danish ben, German Bein). Absent in Gothic, with no cognates outside Germanic (the common PIE root is *ost-); the Norse, Dutch, and German cognates also mean "shank of the leg," and this is the main meaning in Modern German, but English seems never to have had this sense.

To work (one's) fingers to the bone is from 1835. To have a bone to pick (1560s) is an image from dogs struggling to crack or gnaw a bone; bone of contention (1560s) is from two dogs fighting over a bone; the images seem to have become somewhat merged. Also see bones. Bone-china, which is mixed with bone-dust, is from 1903. Bone-shaker (1874) was an old name for the early type of bicycle, before the adoption of rubber tires, etc.
bone-fish (n.) Look up bone-fish at
also bonefish, 1734, from bone (n.) + fish (n.).
bonehead (n.) Look up bonehead at
"stupid person," 1908, from bone (n.) + head (n.). Compare blockhead, meathead. Bone-headed is from 1903.
boneless (adj.) Look up boneless at
late Old English, from bone (n.) + -less.
boner (n.) Look up boner at
"blunder," 1912, baseball slang, probably from bonehead. Meaning "erect penis" is 1950s, from earlier bone-on (1940s), probably a variation (with connecting notion of "hardness") of hard-on (1893).
bones (n.) Look up bones at
late Old English, "the bony structure of the body; bones of the body collectively," plural of bone (n.). Extended sense "basic outline or framework" (of a plot, etc.) is from 1888. As a colloquial way to say "dice," it is attested from late 14c. (dice anciently were made from the knucklebones of animals). As a nickname for "a surgeon," it dates to 1887, short for sawbones. Figurative make bones about "be unable to swallow" (mid-15c.) refers to fish bones found in soup, etc. To feel something in (one's) bones "have a presentiment" is 1867, American English. From 1590s as "pieces of bone or ivory struck or rattled to accompany music," hence the nickname Bones for one of the end-men in a minstrel ensemble.
boneyard (n.) Look up boneyard at
also bone-yard, 1854, from bone (n.) + yard (n.1).
bonfire (n.) Look up bonfire at
1550s, from Middle English banefire (late 15c.), "a fire in which bones are burned." See bone (n.) + fire (n.). Original sense obsolete and forgotten by 18c.; as "large open-air fire for public amusement or celebration," from late 15c. From 17c. as "large fire from any material,"
bong (n.2) 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."
bong (n.1) Look up bong at
bell-sound, 1924, imitative.
bongo (n.) Look up bongo at
"one of a pair of attached small drums held between the knees and played with the fingers," 1920, from American Spanish (West Indies, especially Cuba), from a word of West African origin, such as Lokele (Zaire) boungu. Related: Bongos.
bonhomie (n.) Look up bonhomie at
"frank and simple 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 "man" (see homunculus). The native equivalent is goodman. Bonhomme "member of an order of begging friars" is from 1620s.
Boniface Look up Boniface at
masc. proper name. Saint Boniface (c. 675-754) was an Anglo-Saxon missionary to the continental Germanic peoples.
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"]
Meaning "innkeeper" (by 1803) is from Will Boniface, character in George Farquhar's comedy "The Beaux' Stratagem" (1707).
bonito (n.) Look up bonito at
type of large, tropical sea-fish, 1590s, from Spanish bonito, probably literally "the good one," diminutive of bueno "good," from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus).
bonjour (interj.) Look up bonjour at
1570s, French, literally "good day," from bon "good," from Latin bonus "good" (see bonus) + jour "day" (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. As a noun from 1938; in the sexual sense by 1984.
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 "soft, 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, bonetum "material for hats," perhaps a shortening of Late Latin abonnis "a kind of cap" (7c.), which is perhaps from a Germanic source.

As a form of head-covering worn by women out-of-doors, late 15c. As a type of mechanical covering device, 1862.
bonny (adj.) Look up bonny at
"pleasing, good-looking," "a gen. Scottish epithet of appreciation" [OED], but often used ironically, 1540s, of unknown origin; presumably from Old French bon, bone "good" (see bon). Related: Bonnily; bonniness.
bonnyclabber (n.) Look up bonnyclabber at
also bonny-clabber, "clotted or coagulated soured milk," 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.).
bonobo (n.) Look up bonobo at
pygmy chimpanzee, 1954, from a native name.
bonsai (n.) Look up bonsai at
"intentionally dwarfed potted tree," 1914, from Japanese bon "basin, pot" + sai "to plant."
bonus (n.) Look up bonus at
"money or other benefit given as a premium or extra pay to reward or encourage work," 1773, "Stock Exchange Latin" [Weekley], meant as "a good thing," from Latin bonus "good" (adj.), perhaps originally "useful, efficient, working," from Proto-Italic *dw-eno- "good," probably a suffixed form of PIE root *deu- (2) "to do, perform; show favor." The correct noun form would be bonum. Specifically as "extra dividend paid to shareholders from surplus profits" from 1808. 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, at the height of the Great Depression, demanding early redemption of their service bonus certificates (which carried a maximum value of $625).
bony (adj.) Look up bony at
"of, like, or full of bones," late 14c., from bone (n.) + -y (2). Related: Boniness.
boo (interj.) Look up boo at
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, 1884 (n.); hence, the verb meaning "shower (someone) with boos" (1885).

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 before 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 "stupid person," which had acquired a secondary sense of "foolish mistake" (1934). In 1930s it was the nickname of Philadelphia gangster Max "Boo-Boo" Hoff.
boo-hoo (interj.) Look up boo-hoo at
also boohoo, 1520s, originally of laughter or noisy weeping (now only of weeping); see boo. As a verb from 1838.
boo-ya (interj.) 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 a shortening of booby. For the "woman's breast" sense, see boobs. Mencken seems to have coined booboisie (1922).
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;" the original sets had vacuum tubes in them.
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
"stupid person," 1590s, from Spanish bobo "stupid person," also used of various ungainly seabirds, probably from Latin balbus "stammering," from an imitative root (see barbarian).

Specific sense "dunce in a school class" is by 1825. Booby prize "object of little value given to the loser of a game," is by 1883:
At the end of every session the dominie had the satirical custom of presenting his tawse [a corporal punishment implement used for educational discipline] 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]
Booby trap is by 1850, originally a schoolboy prank; the more lethal sense developed during World War I. Booby-hatch "wooden framework used to cover the after-hatch on merchant vessels" is from 1840; as "insane asylum" by 1936.
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 (n.), or from Dutch boedel "property, riches," which is from Proto-Germanic *bothla, from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow."
booger (n.) Look up booger at
"nasal mucus," by 1890s; earlier bugger. Also boogie.
boogie (v.) Look up boogie at
1974 as "dance to boogie music," a late 1960s style of rock music based on blues chords; earlier it was the name of a style of blues (1941, also as a verb), short for boogie-woogie (1928), a rhyming reduplication of the noun boogie (1917), which meant "rent party" in American English slang. A song title, "That Syncopated Boogie-boo," appears in a copyright listing from 1912. As a derogatory term for "black person" by 1923.
book (n.) Look up book at
Old English boc "book, writing, written document," generally referred (despite phonetic difficulties) to Proto-Germanic *bokiz "beech" (source also of 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).

Latin and Sanskrit also have words for "writing" that are based on tree names ("birch" and "ash," respectively). And compare French livre "book," from Latin librum, originally "the inner bark of trees" (see library).
The use of books or written charters was introduced in Anglo-Saxon times by the ecclesiastics, as affording more permanent and satisfactory evidence of a grant or conveyance of land than the symbolical or actual delivery of possession before witnesses, which was the method then in vogue. [Century Dictionary]
The Old English word originally meant any written document. The sense gradually narrowed by early Middle English to "a written work covering many pages fastened together and bound," also "a literary composition" in any form, of however many volumes. Later also "bound pages," whether written on or not. In 19c. it also could mean "a magazine;" in 20c. a telephone directory. From c. 1200 as "a main subdivision of a larger work." Meaning "libretto of an opera" is from 1768. A betting book "record of bets made" is from 1812. Meaning "sum of criminal charges" is from 1926, hence slang phrase throw the book at (1932). Book of Life "the roll of those chosen for eternal life" is from mid-14c. Book of the month is from 1933. To do something by the book "according to the rules" is from 1590s.
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 register a name 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 1977, of uncertain signification. Related: Booked; booking.
book-burning (n.) Look up book-burning at
"mass destruction by fire of published material deemed obscene, corrupting, etc.," 1850, from book (n.) + verbal noun from burn (v.). As an adjective, it is attested from 1726 (in John Toland, who was a victim of it).
What an irreparable destruction of History, what a deplorable extinction of arts and inventions, what an unspeakable detriment to Learning, what a dishonor upon human understanding, has the cowardly proceeding of the ignorant or rather of the interested against unarm'd monuments at all times occasion'd! And yet this Book-burning and Letter-murdring humor, tho far from being commanded by Christ, has prevail'd in Christianity from the beginning .... [John Toland, "The History of the Druids," 1726]
book-end (n.) Look up book-end at
"prop for keeping books in position," 1907, from book (n.) + end (n.).
book-plate (n.) Look up book-plate at
"label indicating ownership, pasted in or on a book," 1791, from book (n.) + plate (n.).
bookbinder (n.) Look up bookbinder at
"one whose occupation is the binding of books," late 14c, from book (n.) + binder. Related: Bookbindery.
bookcase (n.) Look up bookcase at
also book-case, "case with shelves for holding books," 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, "given to reading, fond of books," from book (n.) + -ish. From 1590s in the sense of "overly studious, acquainted with books only." Related: Bookishly; bookishness.
bookkeeper (n.) Look up bookkeeper at
also book-keeper, "person who keeps accounts, one whose occupation is to make a formal balanced record of pecuniary transactions in account-books," 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
"a small book," 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 "professional bettor" is from 1862. Related: Book-making (late 15c., betting sense 1824).
bookmark (n.) Look up bookmark at
also book-mark, "ribbon or other device placed between the pages of a book to mark a place," 1840, from book (n.) + mark (n.1). Bookmarker is older (1838). As a verb, by 1900. Related: Bookmarked; bookmarking.