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[boo] /bu/
(used to express contempt or disapprobation or to startle or frighten).
noun, plural boos.
an exclamation of contempt or disapproval:
a loud boo from the bleachers.
verb (used without object), booed, booing.
to cry boo in derision.
verb (used with object), booed, booing.
to show disapproval of by booing.
Origin of boo1
First recorded in 1810-20; expressive formation Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for booed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I meant speaking to them, but they booed and hissed at me, like geese.

    The Hero of Garside School

    J. Harwood Panting
  • We had the curious experience of being "booed" on the first night.

    The Story of My Life Ellen Terry
  • I understand now what the one clapping pair of hands must mean to the actor who is booed by all the rest of the audience.

    The Dop Doctor

    Clotilde Inez Mary Graves
  • I was really the hero, but the printing devil had made a slip, so instead of applauding you booed.

    Paul Kelver Jerome Klapka, AKA Jerome K. Jerome
  • Finally, he is hissed and booed and, after he has made a dumb speech of farewell, the curtain is rung down.

    Seeing Things at Night Heywood Broun
British Dictionary definitions for booed


an exclamation uttered to startle or surprise someone, esp a child
a shout uttered to express disgust, dissatisfaction, or contempt, esp at a theatrical production, political meeting, etc
would not say boo to a goose, is extremely timid or diffident
verb boos, booing, booed
to shout "boo" at (someone or something), esp as an expression of disgust, dissatisfaction, or disapproval: to boo the actors
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for booed


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]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for booed

boo 1


Excellent; remarkable: Something that used to be known as the cat's whiskers is now called ''deadly boo'' (1950s+)


Marijuana or another narcotic: I got over there and she lays this dynamite boo on me, I mean super shit (1930s+ Jazz musicians)

Related Terms


[noun sense said to be fr black English jabooby, ''marijuana, so called because it induces a state of fear or anxiety,'' of unknown origin; but possibly fr Budda, ''marijuana'']

boo 2


  1. An exclamation of disapproval, the equivalent of a hiss (1890s+)
  2. A supposedly frightening exclamation, such as a ghost might give: She jumped out of the closet and hollered ''Boo!'' (1940s+)


: Next time at bat he was roundly booed

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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