Origin of boo

First recorded in 1810–20; expressive formation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for booed

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

Examples from the Web for booed

Contemporary Examples of booed

Historical Examples of booed

  • 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.

  • 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.

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 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 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