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According to etymonline the word booty is used to describe the female form as a sex object. It says the word is black slang from the 1920s. The definition is placed in the entry for booty meaning treasure.

My understanding is that booty means buttocks, as explained at dictionary.com.

Which slang meaning came first? Buttocks or the female form as a sex object? Also, can anyone explain the jump from treasure to buttocks?

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Of course, if pronounced as written, it refers to stolen treasure. If pronounced as 'boo-tay', that is some treasure. Cf. 'naked': nay-kid vs nehkkid. – Mitch Jan 2 '13 at 18:03
The origin of the word BOOTY means "treasure taken/stolen by use of force" either in war or as a criminal act of theft/piracy. It is something forcefully taken from another person to the harm/pillaging of that person and their property. You can work the rest out for yourself but I know that it is a demeaning term for a woman. In every other use it always refers to stolen property. – user117353 Apr 16 '15 at 3:28
This is not sourced in any way, but I wondered if it was related to the boot (trunk) of a car. To my mind, this may have come from British or West Indian English. Again, this is my own baseless speculation. But there it is. – user186911 2 days ago
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sex Slang (2007) by Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor says:

booty; bootie noun

1. the buttocks US, 1928

  • He's Cyndi Lauper's boyfriend, so no skin search. Cyndi ouldn't want us looking up his boodie. - James Elroy, Suicide Hill 1986

2. the vagina US, 1925

  • I've got a body as well as a booty. - Partlet, Booty Snatchers 1979

(The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (2007) by Eric Partridge, Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor gives a subset of this same definition.)

The OED expands on these same two definitions, but with a wider gap in earliest use:

1. Sexual intercourse; a person (esp. a woman) regarded as an object of sexual ambition or desire. Also (occas.): the female genitals. Cf. ass n.2 1b [sexual gratification. Also, a woman or women, regarded as an object affording this.].

1926 C. Van Vechten Nigger Heaven ii. iii. 215 Now..that you've gone white, do you really want..pinks for boody?


2. The buttocks.
Prob. the earlier sense, esp. given the similar sense development of ass n.2, pussy n. 3, etc.

1959 F. L. Brown Trumbull Park 363 Getting kicked in the booty would be mighty discouraging too.

Their etymology is:

Probably an altered form of botty n.; compare batty n.2 Perhaps influenced (especially in sense 1) by booty n.1 [Plunder, gain, etc.]

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The OED suggests that, in this sense, booty might be a variant of botty, which in turn is a reduced form of bottom. If so, the fact that it has the same spelling as the word meaning ‘plunder’ is a coincidence.

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Even if originally the booty/treasure link was just coincidence, that must surely be what people have in mind when they say "shake your booty maker". It's invariably used in the context of flaunting that (attractive, potentially monetisable) asset. – FumbleFingers Jan 2 '13 at 16:13
@FumbleFingers: I have never heard 'booty maker' as a thing, so it is surprising to me to see so many google hits. What about a maker of the 'booty' kind is so special? Does it make booties? (Like baby booties, little knit socks for babies?) There's a baby shower coming up and I don't want to make a faux pas. – Mitch Jan 2 '13 at 18:10
A variant of botty seems unlikely if the origin is in AAVE. AmE doesn't use that word as far as I can tell. – Kit Z. Fox Jan 7 '13 at 13:07

The term booty (buttocks, bottom, whatever) used (usually in the collective sense) to refer to a woman or women in general as sexual objects is a form of synecdoche:

A figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a part (as the law for police officer), the specific for the general (as cutthroat for assassin), the general for the specific (as thief for pickpocket), or the material for the thing made from it (as steel for sword).

It's the equivalent of referring to ass or pussy as a stand-in for woman-as-sexual-object. You hear this usage all the time.

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The British refer to a car's trunk as the boot. The OED entry for boot is "3 British An enclosed space at the back of a car for carrying luggage or other goods."

In the car designs of the early 1900s onward, the attractive boots of cars did remind one of bums, human or other animal such as horses.

A related term is "dicky" which the OED states is "2 dated, chiefly British A folding outside seat at the back of a vehicle."

It didn't take a very old schoolboy to put 2 and 2 together. They wouldn't learn the term misogyny for several more years.

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I can see how you have extrapolated from car parts to human parts, taking a schoolboy as the vector, but how do you get the British-English uses to hop the pond to become primarily US slang, which has only lately come back to Blighty through the medium of popular music? – Spagirl Jul 14 at 16:38

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