[kal-uh-boos, kal-uh-boos]

noun Slang.

jail; prison; lockup.

Origin of calaboose

1785–95, Americanism; (< North American F) < Spanish calabozo dungeon, of obscure origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for calaboose

Historical Examples of calaboose

  • They left him in the calaboose with whatever reflections were his.

    Trail's End

    George W. Ogden

  • What are you going to do with that old brigand you've got locked in the calaboose?

    Trail's End

    George W. Ogden

  • Do you know how the man came to be burned up in the calaboose?'

    Life On The Mississippi, Complete

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • When we got to the calaboose, he unlocked the door and started to put us in.

    Mitch Miller

    Edgar Lee Masters

  • A Mormon police report is headed, One drunk at the calaboose.

    Greater Britain

    Charles Wentworth Dilke

British Dictionary definitions for calaboose



US informal a prison; jail

Word Origin for calaboose

C18: from Creole French, from Spanish calabozo dungeon, of unknown origin
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 calaboose

"prison," 1792, American English, from Louisiana French calabouse, from Spanish calabozo "dungeon," probably from Vulgar Latin *calafodium, from pre-Roman *cala "protected place, den" + Latin fodere "to dig" (see fossil).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper