Where Did the Term "Booze" Come From?

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The origin of the word “booze” is often mistakenly credited to E. C. Booz, who was a distiller in the United States in the 19th century. But the first references to the word “booze,” meaning “alcoholic drink,” appear in the English language around the 14th century as “bouse.” The spelling we use today didn’t appear until the 17th century.

The word “booze” itself appears to have Germanic origins, though which specific word it came from is still a little bit of a mystery. The three main words often cited are more or less cousins of each other, and are very similar in meaning and spelling. One of the words came from the Old High German “bausen,” which meant “bulge or billow.” This, in turn, was a cousin of the Dutch word “búsen,” which meant “to drink excessively” or “to get drunk.” The Old Dutch language also has a similar word, “buise,” which translates to “drinking vessel.” It is thought that the English word “bouse,” which later became “booze,” has its origins in one or more of those three words, with most scholars leaning towards it coming from the Dutch word “búsen.”

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December 27, 2012 - 4:30am
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