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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

3 Answers 3

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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?

And:

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 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 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
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@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. –  KitFox Jan 7 '13 at 13:07

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