Crying Wolof about beer

Here’s a real howler: The word “booze” comes from the Nubian “boosa,” a type of strong beer. No, it doesn’t, no matter how many unreliable sources perpetuate it.

The Middle English Dictionary dates the verb booze to ca1325. The Oxford English Dictionary concurs and marks it as apparently from Middle Dutch. There’s a German verb, bausen, with the same meaning. OED ultimately suggests booze is “directly related to buise a large drinking-vessel.”

Rule: Never attribute to exotics what is best credited to your neighbors.

Posted April 24, 2006

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