14

Recently, the following entry included in a page from a 1983 yearbook for a high school in the metropolitan Washington, D.C., area has gained considerable notoriety in U.S. politics:

Judge — Have You Boofed Yet?

Two major U.S. slang dictionaries—J. E. Lighter, Random House Historical Dictionary of Slang (1994) and Robert Chapman & Barbara Ann Kipfer, Dictionary of American Slang, third edition (1995) and fourth edition (2007)—have no entry for boof.

Pamela Munro, Slang U: The Official Dictionary of College Slang (1989), however, has entries for boofa and boofed:

boofa stupid person, loser, dork (pronounced {búfə}, like "boo" plus "fa" as in "sofa") | Jimmy's such a boofa! All he does is waste time playing with his Rubik's cube; he doesn't even speak!

boofed puffed out, bouffant (usually, of a hairdo; pronounced {búft}—rhymes with "poofed") | After she got a perm, Jan's hair was totally boofed. {[from] bouffant, perhaps influenced by poofed}

And Jonathon Green, Slang Dictionary (2008) has several potentially relevant entries:

boof n. {unknown} {2000s} (US prison) contraband hidden in the rectum.

boofa n. (also boofer) {BOOFHEAD n. (1) ["Lincolnshire dial. {1940s+} (orig. Aus[tralian]) a fool, an idiot, a simpleton"] or BUTTFUCKER n. ["one who engages in anal intercourse"]} {1970s+} (US) a fool, an incompetent.

boofed (out) adj. {S[tandard] E[nglish] bouffant} {1980s+} (US campus) puffed out, usu. of hair.

I have three questions:

  1. What is the earliest published instance of boof as a verb?

  2. What did boof as a verb originally mean?

  3. What source word or words (if any) is it derived from?

  • 1
    As for the phrase “Have you boofed yet?” The New Yorker reported that high school boys usually refer to the term when talking about the “practice of anally ingesting alcohol or drugs.” According to Urban Dictionary, “boofed” might also refer to getting high from smoking weed. ibtimes.com/… – user067531 Sep 28 '18 at 20:53
  • trends.google.com/trends/… see the spike! – Mari-Lou A Sep 29 '18 at 20:53
  • There are all sorts of words peculiar to particular schools. And only those who attended those schools can attest to that. For instance, one school I attended in the very late sixties, used: just pick it. I am sure no other school used that. Try googling it. You probably won't find it. – Lambie Oct 2 '18 at 18:49
  • @Mari-LouA: Your answer (which I've upvoted) compiles material from at least four cited sources and ties the excerpted material together with your own commentary. In my view, the result doesn't come anywhere near being what I would call "a cut-and-paste job"—much less plagiarism. It is also relevant that you edited out less relevant portions of the original Vox article, which I take to be a major editorial step forward from mere cut-and-paste. – Sven Yargs Oct 4 '18 at 6:29
  • Thank you, however, the commentary was not in the first draft, it was added later. On the other hand, this did not deter Knowtell who reposted her accusation. – Mari-Lou A Oct 4 '18 at 6:34
10

An Elephind newspaper database search turns up five matches for boofed as a past-tense verb during the period April 1983 to June 1987, at two university newspapers: the Stanford [California] Daily and the [Houston, Texas] Rice Thresher. Here they are, in chronological order.

From Tim Grieve, "Draw Is Over: The Wait Begins," a story about the annual student housing draw at Stanford University, in the Stanford [California] Daily (April 26, 1983):

Manual Morales, an unguaranteed junior and a self-described "victim of the draw," is a new member of the 14,000-cumulative-draw-number club.

Not surprisingly, Morales has some criticism for the draw system.

"Well, there are too many problems with it, like returning residence priority. Either you're really set for three years or you're boofed."

From Troy Eid, "Fall Housing Assignments Posted," in the Stanford [California] Daily (May 10, 1983):

"I'll be lucky to live in a doorway somewhere," said [Manuell] Morales of his present unassigned status. "It's really impractical for me to live off-campus. I don't have transportation."

"We were boofed royally," said Augie Martinez, a junior who drew 1732. "We were shooting for a six-person suite, but it looks like we don't have a chance."

From "Two More Softballers Protest Stroh's Ruling," a letter to the editor in the [Houston, Texas] Rice Thresher (May 18, 1984):

Let it be known that the real men's intramural champions are the Stroh's Pros (due credit goes to the Wombats). If Joe's Garage can live with the fact that they backed into the finals by a candy-ass maneuver, then so be it. The rest of us have more pride in ourselves. We have played intramural sports for four years, and unfortunately, our last game left a sour taste in our mouths. ... However, if Joe's wants to be known as the pansies of the league, that's fine. We know in our minds who really won the game.

P.S. Stroh's Pros 9. Joe's Garage 7

Someone call a proctologist, we've just been boofed.

From Jim Humes, "Mr. Owlook Says," No Undie-Munching Skinheads," in the [Houston, Texas] Rice Thresher (March 20, 1987):

Okay, let's talk some basketball. You know, hoops, roundball, like air-flying-Jordan. We're talking about the NCAA tournament here. ... I entered [a betting pool] this year planning to go with the seeds and pick just the right number of upsets to give me that intangible in my corner. But who ever heard of Austin Peay? I mean, jeez-o-Pete, come on. Illinois must have been playing with their hands in their pants or something. And Xavier kind of boofed me up, too. But the big momma of them all has to be Wyoming.

And from a headline in the Stanford [California] Daily (June 3, 1987):

Senate Approves Rock Concert in the Summer: But Then the University Boofed It. Thanks.

All five of these instances of boofed make sense if we read the word boofed as figuratively meaning "screwed" (in a sexual sense). Some or all of them do not make sense if we read the word boofed as meaning "puffed out like a bouffant hairdo," or "ingested alcohol or drugs anally," or "became extremely drunk," or "landed a kayak with the boat bottom flat to the river after free-falling over a waterfall," or "farted." The allusion, in the May 1984 Rice Thresher letter to the editor, to calling a proctologist suggests (figurative) anal intercourse. But none of the other examples imply that (or any other) specific form of sexual intercourse.

Another noteworthy aspect of these five instances is that the first three (from 1983–1984) are framed as passive constructions ("you're boofed," "We were boofed royally," and "we've just been boofed"), whereas the last two (both from 1987) are framed in active voice ("boofed me up" and "boofed it"). Of the definitions suggested above, only "screwed" works well in the context of both the active and the passive constructions recorded here. A later meaning of boof—"to steal"—works in some active and passive constructions, but when we replace boofed with stole or stolen in the examples from the 1980s, most of the resulting sentences don't make sense.

  • I thought someone would find the kayaking reference - now I wonder whether that's connected (IME its probably onomatopoeia) – Chris H Oct 2 '18 at 7:20
  • On the anecdotal personal experience front, I note that I attended undergraduate college in Annapolis, Maryland (about 30 miles from Washington, D.C.), from 1972 to 1976 and law school in Austin, Texas, from 1977 to 1980, and I can't recall ever having heard anyone use the slang term boof, boofed, or boofing during those years. – Sven Yargs Oct 2 '18 at 16:15
  • Some of the boofs used as verbs sound very close to the meaning of goof as a verb. – Lambie Oct 2 '18 at 18:51
8

I could have summarised the article below but it's late and I would have made a poor job out of it.

The Vox article, written by Alex Abad-Santos, briefly outlines the history of boof :

The history of the word boof, explained

There’s certainly no shortage of entries for “boof” on Urban Dictionary, the website that frequently comes up in internet search results for anyone Googling the term. But the key to the etymological puzzle behind the word is knowing how it was used in the 1980s, when Kavanaugh and Judge included it in their yearbook entries. And most of the available evidence seems to point toward it being a slang term for anal sex.

One of the most concrete examples of it being used, though in a different context, is in the cult classic movie Teen Wolf. The movie was released in 1985, a couple of years after Kavanaugh and Judge wrote their yearbook entries. In it, Scott (Michael J. Fox) has two love interests, the blonde dream girl Pamela Wells (Lorie Griffin) and the brunette girl next door, Lisa “Boof” Marconi (Susan Ursitti).

[…]

To some who were familiar with the term at the time, boof was slang for anal sex, hence the shock over Teen Wolf’s Boof.

There’s also another, totally different instance of “boof” being used in the 1980s. In 1981, two years before Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry, a man named John Paul Bonser was born. Bonser would grow up to become a professional baseball pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and the Oakland A’s. If the name John Paul Bonser doesn’t ring a bell even to baseball fans, it’s because he legally changed his name to Boof Bonser in 2001.

Bonser has said that his mother gave him the nickname when he was a child but never explained what it meant. “I don’t really want to know why, to be honest with you,” he told the New York Time in 2006. “I guess I had no reason to go up and ask her. I just left it at that.”

[…] in that message board conversation about Teen Wolf, a user who self-identified as being from the East Coast provided a corroborating account that “boof” grew out of “Bu-Fu (pronounced boo-foo), which was in turn short for butt fuck.”

[…] Today, the slang version of the term has mutated slightly. It still involves one’s rear end, but it now appears to mean ingesting alcohol or drug through one’s butt. A simple search on Reddit, Quora, Urban Dictionary, or Twitter confirms as much (and yields multiple tips and tricks for doing it).

Vox Sep 27, 2018

1983

In the cult movie, Risky Business, Joel, played by Tom Cruise, tells his friend Barry that…

Joel: Boffing and fucking are the same thing.
Barry: They are?
Joel: Ha-ha-ha. Yeah. What did you think it was?
Barry: I thought it was something else. You sure on this?
Joel: I'm positive.

Risky Business was considered on the best movies of 1983, it was acclaimed by critics and the public alike. Roger Ebert said at the time it was “one of the smartest, funniest, most perceptive satires in a long time”. The romantic comedy movie earned an impressive $63.5 million at the box office.

To get an idea as to how successful and popular Risky Business was, we can compare it with two box office hits of the same year, The Big Chill ($56,399,659) and Scarface ($65.9 million). I'd wager that the movie earned a cult following among American teenagers, especially high schoolers, the movie was responsible for launching Tom Cruise's career.

In search of “boff”

Oxford Dictionaries define boff as

North American (informal)
1. Have sexual intercourse with (someone).

It seems to be imitative of blow, punch; an onomatopoeic word similar to ‘bonk’,‘pow’ and ‘whack’ found in comic books and related to the term hit. In fact, the idiom to hit on someone means to be sexually attracted to a person. According to New Collegiate Dictionary 2001, the first recorded usage of bof (but it's unclear whether it refers to blow = hit or sexual intercourse) is from 1937

The term boff […] This gentle-sounding word, with its suggestions of 'puff', 'buff' and 'buffer', next appeared as a convenient euphemism employed in US TV series, such as Soap, of the late 1970s and 1980s, where verisimilitude would demand a more brusque alternative. It is unclear whether the word is American or British in origin or a simultaneous coinage. It may derive from its nursery sense of 'to hit'.

Reference: Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

Admittedly this is only speculation, and the term used in the movie was boffing but its morphological and semantic similarities with boofing should not be dismissed hurriedly.

Update on “boof” 10/10/2018

The controversy on the true meaning of boof continues online. This time an article from the Quartz, offers the following insight which was sorely missing in the Vox article.

Before quoting the relevant excerpt, I should explain I do not have a subscription to the OED (The Oxford English Dictionary).

According to the OED, a boof [in its original form] is “a blow that makes a sound like a rapid, brief movement of air.” The onomatopoeic word’s first known appearance in the English language, as the OED tells it, is an 1825 reference in the Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language.

Although unrelated to the modern slang meaning of "boof", its original significance is remarkably similar to that of “boff” mentioned by the New Collegiate Dictionary.

4

I grew up in Chicago, was in high school from 1981-1985. "Boof" was widely used by some males I knew to describe anal sex (I always assumed from bu+fu). I recall hearing it used that way prior to high school, and certainly throughout high school.

4

According to the following source the use of the expression Bu-Fu in the song Valey Girl by Frank Zappa in 1982, (understood as the acronym of Bu(tt) Fu(cker))helped popolarize the term, which was later spelled “boof”.

It's really sad

(Valley girl)

Like my English teacher

He's like

(Valley girl)

He's like Mr. Bu-Fu

2

As a somewhat younger teenager in that wider Maryland/DC area .. Howard Stern was the disc jockey for WWDC (DC101) around that time (81-82) which a lot of the teens would listen to and reference - (our bus driver used to have it on the radio in the mornings when i was in jr high school) .. I seem to recall "boofing" as being a masked reference to masturbation or ejaculation with the term coming from the sound one might make from "jerking off" (if i recall correctly - Stern used to shake a sealed yogurt container on the air to get a similar sound and would talk of "habeldegoo-habeldegee" as references to sex since much of the profanity couldn't be stated explicitly but could be implied pretty easily.) As a "jock" in the 80s and later a "frat-boy" - I would suspect that Kavanaugh and his friends should be pretty well versed in that early 80s contextual slang, and his high school yearbook would reflect the use of this term.

  • If there is one screen personality I absolutely loath it is that idiot. But your story is useful. – Lambie Oct 2 '18 at 18:52
  • @jon my vague recollection of the time is that "habeldegoo" was something that The Greaseman would use; he took over directly after Stern left, and was on the air from August 1982 to 1993, according to Wikipedia's WWDC page. – Hellion Oct 2 '18 at 19:01
  • Hi, jon. I found this response especially interesting because it suggests a popularizing source for the term in the D.C. area in the early 1980s. However, in a Google Books search of various excerpts of books by or about Stern, I don't find any instances of boof/boofed/boofing. It would be great if someone familiar with and willing to investigate the Stern audio corpus could turn up some contemporaneous (early 1980s) instances of his usage of the term. But I think that's asking an awful lot of any reasonable person. – Sven Yargs Oct 2 '18 at 19:05
  • ah yes .. the Greaseman came after Stern was fired .. so much of that time runs together and I too have a distaste for both of them (as a teen i was often embarrassed for laughing or being intrigued by their humor - i learned far too much from the radio) .. but the larger point is that much of the culture in that area was likely influenced by DC 101 (WWDC - 101.1FM) and 98 Rock (WIYY - 97.9FM) in the early 80s - both of which would have been accessible in Bethesda and the likely source for "rock" .. the rise of the "shock jocks" and their crude humor probably has some part in the origin here – jon Oct 3 '18 at 2:54
0

I was a kid of the 1980s. I was in sports much like the Judge was. We used the word "Boofed" totally different then I have seen any of these examples. In basketball when someone was hit on the head with the ball especially if they didn't see it coming we would say "Aw man, you totally got Boofed" or if someone fared in another's face we would say "dude, he boofed you" or "you've been Boofed". This case is the first time I have ever known it to mean anything different then that. Words in the 80s especially slang words were not used like they are now. They didn't always have a particular meaning. Today you have the internet, a dictionary right in your hands for all words including slang words. If we heard a slang word on a show or MTV or something we couldn't just go look it up to find its meaning. No, what we did was we used it where we thought it sounded right. Sometimes it caught on. Other times it didn't and was dropped. I use to say "bet" in the place of "your right" or "that's right". In my group of friends it caught on and we all said it. Outside of our group it didn't mean the same thing. I really believe this whole thing is a matter of people today not understanding this and or conveniently forgetting what slag was really like back then.

  • 2
    Just to make sure, is " fared" a typo for "farted"? An interesting and pertinent answer, if only there was a way to verify it. We desperately need a time travelling machine! – Mari-Lou A Oct 2 '18 at 5:14
0

When I was growing up and I’m 50 now, we frequently referred to farting as boofing. My stepfather would kiddingly call me The Boofer whenever I let one rip. I was born in 1967 and have spent my entire life in Massachusetts. Hate to say it people, expressions take on different meanings and it doesn’t mean they are wrong.

Another good example is the term Sweathogs from Welcome Back, Kotter. My boss told me 30 years ago that a sweat hog when he went to school, was a girl who liked giving oral. Yet it was used in every episode of a prime time comedy.

  • 1
    Welcome Silk1967. English language and usage Stack Exchange is for establishing concise answers to English language and usage questions. See the questions at the bottom. This does not answer any of those. – user22542 Oct 1 '18 at 17:49
  • I think it makes a useful point. Words change according to the school or environment. So, it useful to know that. And many times only those who have heard it can define it as used in their surroundings. – Lambie Oct 2 '18 at 18:46
-1

Graduated HS in 1982. Words like "Boofed" and "Bonked" and "Boffed" were used indiscriminately and interchangeably to mean everything from being hit by a ball (Man, I got boofed in the head in gym today), to playing a wrong note on one's instrument (Mark boofed the high note in "Conquistador" at practice today) to just generally messing something up (Majorly boofed the math test today) .... As noted above, there was no "Urban Dictionary" or Social Media to allow slang terms to become nationalized, hence slang terms had local meanings, often VERY different from place to place.

  • 1
    Interesting, another user who professes to have been a teenager in the early 1980s but it still doesn't answer the question as to the origins of "boof" in slang and how it was used as a verb. The OP specifically asks: 1. What is the earliest published instance of boof as a verb? and 2. What did boof as a verb originally mean? – Mari-Lou A Oct 2 '18 at 14:44
  • I am upvoting all these personal experiences. They themselves are a valid source and show how words have different meanings in different schools/places. Usually, you hear a word and then ape it. – Lambie Oct 2 '18 at 18:48

protected by MetaEd Oct 3 '18 at 16:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.