Jun 29, 2013

Wordology, Booze

As we approach the July 4 Holiday, I thought a bit of drinking history might be interesting. The first references to the word “booze” meaning “alcoholic drink” in English appeared around the 14th century, though it was originally spelled 'bouse'. The spelling, as it is today, didn't appear until around the 17th century.

The word 'booze' appears to have Germanic origins, though which specific word it came from is still a little bit of a mystery. The three main words often cited are more or less all cousins of each other and are very similar in meaning and spelling. One of the words came from the Old High German 'bausen', which meant “bulge or billow”. This was a cousin of the Dutch word 'búsen', which meant “to drink excessively” or “to get drunk”. The Old Dutch language also has a similar word 'buise', which translates to “drinking vessel”.

It is thought that the word “bouse” in English, which later became “booze”, has its origins in one or more of those three words, with most scholars leaning towards it coming from the Dutch word 'búsen'.

The origin of the word “booze” does not come from E. C. Booz, a 19th century distiller in the United States.

Archeological evidence suggest that the earliest known purposefully fermented drink, beer, was made around 10,000 BC.

Native American tribes had numerous forms of alcoholic beverages they brewed, long before the “white man” came to the Americas.

The Greek followers of Dionysus believed intoxication brought them closer to their god. Some current imbibers still believe this.

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