I like to have a special theme for Halloween, the time for ghouls, ghosts and other things that sneak up behind you and yell, "Boo!" What could be more appropriate than a theme of 'boo' words? Some even have a meaning that is appropriately chilling for Halloween. For example:
bugaboo – 1. a bogeyman to frighten children. 2a. a recurring or persistent problem; 2b. a subject of anxious (and typically excessive) concern
– Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2005
sense 2a: Every once in a while I thought I was catching on to the art of writing a news story, yet, even when I felt I might be getting the hang of it in terms of speed and efficiency, the top still seemed so terribly far away. Efficiency was my special bugaboo.
– Katharine Graham, Personal History
sense 2b: Everybody can't be as competent as you, my dear. We must help the others. It's the moral duty of intellectual leaders. What I mean is we ought to lose that bugaboo of being scared of the word compulsion . It's not compulsion when it's for a good cause.
–Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
sense 2a? 2b? … security has long been a bugaboo for wireless information in the financial services arena …
– Michael Sisk, Bank Technology News, Oct. 2005
Your children have grown, and the last has finally left the home and off to college. It is bittersweet, but you have adjusted to having the TV available, to the car at your free disposal, to evenings free from worry when it is late and a child is still out, and to the delicious absence of popular "music"! These joys are now part of your settled life-style.
And then, at Halloween, there appears at your door the most horrifying monster imaginable.
boomerang kid – a young person past high-school age who, after college or a period of independence, returns to live in the parental home
. . .beyond the relief from bills, mortgage and rentals, moving back under the parental roof offers the boomerang kid an emotional connection …
– Cristina Odone, The Observer, March 24, 2002 (edited)
Great theme! I wish I would have thought about it for Wordcraftjr.
Well, we had a son who came back for a year or so, and I completely enjoyed having him home. I think it all depends.
There's still plenty of time, Kalleh. Do it next week! You can even borrow words, right? Easy!
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
Folks overly joyous in their Halloween activities may find themselves in the calaboose.
calaboose – a jail
[from Sp. calabozo "dungeon ", via Louisiana French. Chiefly S & W U.S.]
– Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
Boomslangs often hide in trees. Makes you a bit nervous about walking under trees as you trick or treat, doesn't it? But most of you can relax: the boomslang is native to southern Africa. By the way, according to J.K. Rowling, shredded boomslang skin is one of the key ingredients of the complicated Polyjuice Poison.
I bet Martha Stewart had wished she knew about "calaboose." Doesn't it sound a lot more classy to say "calaboose" than "jail" or "prison?"
I took CW's suggestion and have been doing the "boo" theme on Wordcraftjr (not that they ever read the word-of-the-day threads!). I found this word:
boohai - an out of the way, remote or non-existent place; often in "up the boohai" to mean lost, or "up the boohai shooting pukakas" meaning lost, possibly in the head. (Tsuwm's Dictionary) Has anyone heard of that before?
Two delicious terms, coined by H.L. Mencken, which deserve much greater currency:
booboisie – the general public – implies that its members are stupid, uncultured boobs inferior to the speaker
[blend of boob and bourgeoisie]
– Timothy P. Carney, Human Events, July 1, 2002
[Bill Clinton] has continued to sell both the elites and the Booboisie the incredible line that diddling employees … is a matter to be adjudicated not by the public or the legal authorities, but by his wife.
– Thomas W. Hazlett, Reason, Nov. 1998
Consider the civil servant (there's an oxymoron!) Have you suffered from the governmental bureaucrat who gums up the works with such infuriating laziness or incompetence that one wonders if it might be malicious? Wouldn't boobocrat be a fine term for such a one?
– Steven Kelman, Commentary, Feb. 1969
From [Andrew] Sullivan & Co. 's perspective, Bush's public courting of the … fundamentalist boobocracy suggests a want of taste. Sullivan can't come out and say that, so he is contenting himself by being pessimistic and snippy from the sidelines.
– Jay Currie, The American Spectator, Feb. 11, 2004
I was about to say "Surely you mean Hallowe'en", but a quick google seems to suggest I'm somewhat out of date on this one.
Welcome to Wordcraft, Trevor!
I see that Dictionary.com has both spellings of "Halloween," with and without the apostrophe. Why the apostrophe?
Our final boo-word provides a transition to our next theme, for it is a toponym – that is, a word derived from a place-name.
boot hill – a graveyard, esp. one whose occupants died in a violent fight (but note 2nd quote)
– Frederick J. Kroesen, From Cheyenne to Comanche, Army, May 2005
It was only a matter of time before Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's shoot-to-kill policy came home to haunt him. … policemen under pressure will turn quickly from constable to cowboy. An innocent man dead on a tube train floor with his head shot away while Britain's top policeman furiously tries to stop anyone asking why. That is Boot Hill justice and has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting freedom.
– Richard Stott, Sunday Mirror, Aug. 8, 2005
In early Dodge City not many folk died peaceably of natural causes, in their beds and bedclothes. Those who came to reside in local cemetery had often died in gunfights – that is, fully dressed, "with their boots on". The cemetery thus became known as "boot hill", and the name spread to other wild-west towns.
By the way, Dodge City was the setting of the long-running TV show Gunsmoke.