Origin of boo

First recorded in 1810–20; expressive formation


[boo, boh]


Slang. marijuana.

Origin of boo

First recorded in 1955–60; of uncertain origin
Also called boo grass.



noun Slang.

one's boyfriend or girlfriend.

Origin of boo

1985–90; possibly an alteration of French beau boyfriend, admirer
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for boo

heckle, jeer, holler, hoot, hiss, raspberry, catcall

Examples from the Web for boo

Contemporary Examples of boo

Historical Examples of boo

  • And you look now as if somebody's ghost had riz and hollered 'Boo!'

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • He dashed up noisily from the underbrush, swung his arms, and shouted, “Boo!”

    The Boy Settlers

    Noah Brooks

  • Our sleigh tumbled on one side or the other, upsetting before we could say "Boo!"

  • In the daytime she has a weakness for picture hats, and she can't say boo to a goose.'

    The Explorer

    W. Somerset Maugham

  • But this time Miss Wayne never said 'boo,' when I couldn't hold in any longer.

    Heart of Gold

    Ruth Alberta Brown

British Dictionary definitions for boo



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 or booed

to shout "boo" at (someone or something), esp as an expression of disgust, dissatisfaction, or disapprovalto 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

Word Origin and History for boo

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