A party pooper is defined as:

a person who refuses to join in the fun of a party; broadly : one who refuses to go along with everyone else

(From MW)

I'm interested to know about the origin of this term and the person who first coined it.

Any idea?

  • Etymonline gives 1951 American as the origin but no other details unfortunately. Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 18:38
  • "Every party needs a pooper, that's why we invited you! Party pooper! party pooper!" Alas, that's all I can remember. But as used in the 60s the term usually referred to someone who was a "wet blanket" and whose presence deadened the party, or one member in a group out and about who repeatedly did not want to take part in proposed activities.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 12:38
  • There was also the connotation that someone who does not like fun and detests others having any form of fun. I have sometimes heard the phrase "Spoil Sport " used to describe a party pooper.
    – Autistic
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 4:28

6 Answers 6


Wentworth & Flexner, Dictionary of American Slang (1960) actually gives two definition of party pooper:

party pooper[;] party-pooper n. 1 The first person or couple to leave a party; fig., one who causes the end of a party or good time. Wide student use since before c1945. --> 2 One who so lacks vitality, interest, or personality that his presence is a detriment to the enjoyment of others; a killjoy; a wet blanket. Not common. [Example from 1956 omitted.]

Wentworth & Flexner defines the related terms pooped and pooped out as follows:

pooped adj. Exhausted, fatigued, etc. [Example from 1942 omitted.] Since c1930. Not now as common as "beat" or "bushed" among students and young adults.

pooped out = pooped; bushed. [Example from 1939 omitted.] Archaic and child use.

These entries suggest that the first "party poopers" weren't people who were unpleasant to be around; they were people who, by leaving a party, caused (or were blamed for causing) the party to start breaking up, as other attendees began thinking about whether they should go home, too. The first people to depart figuratively take the wind out of the party: By being tired ("pooped") themselves, they effectively tire or deflate the rest of the party, too.

As for the etymological source of poop in the sense of "tire out," Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) doesn't hazard a suggestion, but Robert Hendrickson, The Facts on File Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1997) has this:

pooped out. Anyone pooped out or all pooped feels something like the 19th-century seamen who used the expression pooped to indicate what happened when they were caught on the poop or aft deck of a ship when a wave crashed down and washed over them.

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    Interesting that pooped out was considered archaic and less common than bushed in 1960; nowadays the former is back to being reasonably common, whereas I have personally never even heard the latter. Commented Jul 16, 2019 at 9:39

The oldest reliable reference I've found (so far) is on Page 4, left-hand column of "Linden Bark" (the newspaper of Lindenwood University), May 15 1945.

8-- Some party poop just looked at her watch and found out how late it is getting

This does suggest that it originated in student slang int he US, as has been stated elsewhere.


There are two possible etymologies I can think of.

In nautical terms, to be "pooped" is to be overwhelmed by an unexpected wave from a vessel's stern, or poop deck; this can be catastrophic for many types of vessel. So to "poop" a party might mean to overwhelm and destroy it.

In common parlance, around the 1950s when the term emerged, "pooped" also meant "tired out" or "worn out." So a "party pooper" might mean someone who wears out or exhausts a party.


Full Definition of PARTY POOPER

:a person who refuses to join in the fun of a party; broadly : one who refuses to go along with everyone else.

First Known Use: 1954 Related to PARTY POOPER

Source: Merrian Webster

It looks like it was first used in US in 1954. All I Have found.


My thought and personal experience is...the one who has to leave a party or get together early... Literally my hubby because he has to poop and doesn't want to drop a bomb in someone else's home. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Happens quite frequently too... I'm sure he's not the only one.

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    Any thoughts on the origin of the nautical term "poop deck"?
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Jul 22, 2018 at 2:11
  • Poop deck is from the Latin puppis, meaning the stern of a boat. Unsure if that is connected with the other meaning of poop, something which comes out of a person's stern, but I doubt it (etymonline.com suggests poop in a scatological sense might be onomatopoeia).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 8:28

Wasn't there something about the court of Richard the 2nd and people openly defecating at his parties? Possibly the plague causing one to lose control over their bowels?

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    Welcome to ELU. It seems your answer has been formatted as a question.
    – Good A.M.
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 22:33
  • @TestShoot have you done any research to confirm this? Please share that.
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 0:25
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    Poop slang for feces, is dated 1735, which is much earlier than I would have guessed but also much later than Richard II (1367 – 1400)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 5:51