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a blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)
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  • IPA(key): /ˈbuːbi/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːbi

Etymology 1[edit]

17th century. From Spanish bobo, from Latin balbus (stammering).


booby (plural boobies)

  1. A stupid person.
    • 1773, Oliver Goldsmith, She Stoops to Conquer, Act I, [1]
      The daughter is said to be well-bred and beautiful; the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother's apron-string.
    • 1854, Henry David Thoreau, Walden, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1910, Chapter I, p. 74, [2]
      As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.
    • 1942, Emily Carr, The Book of Small, "How Lizzie Was Shamed Right Through," [3]
      She knotted our ribbons very tightly so that we should not lose them,—they pulled the little hairs under our curls and made us "ooch" and wriggle. Then Dede gave us little smacks and called us boobies.
  2. Any of various large tropical seabirds from the genera Sula and Papasula in the gannet family Sulidae, traditionally considered to be stupid.
    • 1638 Herbert, Sir Thomas Some years travels into divers parts of Asia and Afrique
      At which time, ſome Boobyes, weary of flight, made our Ship their pearch, an animall ſo ſimple as ſuffers any to take her without feare, as if a ſtupid ſenſe made her careleſſe of danger...
    • 1839, Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, Chapter I, [4]
      We found on St. Paul's only two kinds of birds—the booby and the noddy. The former is a species of gannet, and the latter a tern. Both are of a tame and stupid disposition, and are so unaccustomed to visitors, that I could have killed any number of them with my geological hammer.
  3. In the game of croquet, a ball that has not passed through the first wicket.
    • 1863, Mayne Reid, Croquet, London: C.J. Skeet, p. 33, [5]
      A booby may displace another booby or a bridged ball by roquet, ricochet, or concussion.
Derived terms[edit]


booby (third-person singular simple present boobies, present participle boobying, simple past and past participle boobied)

  1. (rare, intransitive) To behave stupidly; to act like a booby.
    • 1824 Washington Irving, "Proclamation", Salmagundi volume 1:
      Who lounge and who loot, and who booby about, / No knowledge within, and no manners without;
  2. (transitive) To install a booby trap on or at (something); to attack (someone) with a booby trap.
    • 1976 "Weekly Almanac", Jet volume 22, page 44:
      Self Boobied. Donald E. Campbell of Merritt Island, Fla., accidentally tripped on one of the shotgun shell booby traps he had installed

Etymology 2[edit]

From the earlier form bubby.


booby (plural boobies)

  1. (colloquial) A woman’s breast.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:breast
    • 1934, Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, Grove Press, published 1961:
      At ten o’clock she was lying on the divan with her boobies in her hands.
    • 1968, “Ain't Got No, I Got Life”, in 'Nuff Said!, performed by Nina Simone:
      Got my neck, got my boobies / Got my heart, got my soul / Got my back, I got my sex
    • 2008, Richard Uhlig, Boy Minus Girl:
      She is beyond hot: her long, black, curly hair cascades around her naked boobies!
Derived terms[edit]
  • Sranan Tongo: bobi (or from bubby)