Etymology of "boo"?

According to TVTropes

Thanks to Snopes, I’ve learned to be suspicious of such etymologies, and shouting “boo” in particular seems unlikely, but I thought I’d ask. And there’s no better place to ask than here.

The OED says it comes from “bo.”

So there are similar constructions in Latin and Greek.

Latin boare and Greek βοάω both mean to cry aloud (usually a loud sound).

Incidentally, this verb is likely the source for the noun bos - “ox/bull”–from which the English word “bovine” is derived. I never really thought cows were that scary:-)

You should meet my sister in law.

It seems highly likely that the combination of sounds in “boo” is chosen specifically to be loud and startling (how about bang! and bah!) which would make it a possible candidate for this thread: Are there any universal vocal exclamations? - Factual Questions - Straight Dope Message Board

It probably also means that the above etymology is mostly wrong,and that Boh derived most of his fearsomeness from the pronunciation of his name :slight_smile:

Not that I am an expert on Norse mythology, but I’d shamelessly say total BS.

I figured that was the case.

I thought it came from authentic ghost vocabulary.

Pre-domestication, they were quite impressive - just look up the aurochs. Bulls are used in imagery throughout the ancient Middle East, often alongside lions and eagles. Wildebeest are not exactly the same as pre-domesticated cattle, but are probably a decent example

While I think the onomatopoeia explanation, I wanted to add this tidbit of etymological history:

From Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Captain Grose, published 1811

TvTropes’s idea is that, since they aren’t trying to be a serious source of information, it’s okay if something false gets mentioned. Someone smarter will come along and fix it.

If you edit there, pop up and say hi. I’m BigT there, as well. I wanted to make it feel like a name, so everywhere I signed up for at that time, I used that name.

It’s also an easy word for babies to say.

Well, the word Barbarian is famously derived from how Greeks would mockingly imitate the sounds of foreign tongues (“echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners”) - bar bar bar bar…those ancient Greeks, they kill me.

Anyway, if “bar bar” were go-to nonsense syllables back in the day, it doesn’t take much to see how “boo” would end up being a way to make a startling sound…

My $.02