A word for a fool which was introduced to English from Spanish (bobo=fool) at the beginning of the seventeenth century. A booby is the kind of man who would be caught out by a booby-trap, but the term is often used jokingly, to imply mild silliness rather than stupidity. In The Country Girls, by Edna O’Brien, ‘booby’ is used as an endearment rather than an insult. In Vanity Fair, by Thackeray, Rebecca calls her husband ‘you old booby’ in a playful way, but the reader knows that she really does consider Rawdon to be an ignorant fool. In the USA, although expressions like ‘Dooby-trap’ and ‘booby hatch’ (an insane asylum) are used, ‘booby’ has tended to become ‘boob’. It is used as a synonym for sucker, someone who is too trusting. ‘You poor boob’ is used by a man to his friend in Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. There may be some confusion with ‘boob’ meaning woman’s breast, though ‘boob’ in that sense was earlier ‘bub’, earlier still ‘bubby’. A boob also has the slang meaning of a mistake, perhaps one made by a booby. See also Cry-baby.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

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  • Booby — Boo by (b[=oo] b[y^]), n.; pl. {Boobies} ( b[i^]z). [Sp. bobo dunce, idiot; cf. L. balbus stammering, E. barbarous.] [1913 Webster] 1. A dunce; a stupid fellow. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) (a) A swimming bird ({Sula fiber} or {Sula sula})… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • booby — 1590s, from Sp. bobo stupid person, slow bird (used of various ungainly seabirds), probably from L. balbus stammering (like barbarian, from an imitative root, Cf. Czech blblati to stammer, Skt. balbala karoti he stammers ). Booby prize is 1883,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Booby — Boo by (b[=oo] b[y^]), a. Having the characteristics of a booby; stupid. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • booby — Ⅰ. booby [1] ► NOUN (pl. boobies) 1) informal a stupid person. 2) a large tropical seabird of the gannet family. ORIGIN probably from Spanish bobo, from Latin balbus stammering . Ⅱ. booby …   English terms dictionary

  • Booby — Booby, Insel, s. Bubi …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • booby — [bo͞o′bē] n. pl. boobies [prob. < Sp bobo, stupid < L balbus, stammering < IE echoic base * bal bal ] 1. a stupid or foolish person; nitwit 2. any of a genus (Sula, family Sulidae) of pelecaniform birds that dive and feed on fish of warm …   English World dictionary

  • Booby — pp semi protected|small=yesTaxobox name = Booby image caption = Blue footed Booby displaying by raising a foot image width = 240px regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Pelecaniformes familia = Sulidae genus = Sula genus… …   Wikipedia

  • booby — n. (pl. ies) 1 a stupid or childish person. 2 a small gannet of the genus Sula. Phrases and idioms: booby hatch esp. US sl. a mental hospital. booby prize a prize given to the least successful competitor in any contest. booby trap 1 a trap… …   Useful english dictionary

  • booby — booby1 boobyish, adj. /booh bee/, n., pl. boobies. 1. a stupid person; dunce. 2. a gannet of the genus Sula, having a bright bill, bright feet, or both: some are endangered. [1590 1600; earlier pooby, appar. b. poop to befool (now obs.) and BABY; …   Universalium

  • booby —    a mentally ill person    Literally, a fool. Usually in a phrase such as booby hatch or hutch, an institution for the insane:     A year later the bride was in the booby hatch. (Sohmer, 1988)     Check the booby hutches... for escapees.… …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

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