• booboisie •
Pronunciation: bub-wah-zee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: The class of all boobs, nitwits, dimwits, pinheads, dunces, simpletons, ninnies, dunderheads, nincompoops, blockheads, numskulls, dumb bunnies, not to mention silly geese. (Why do we have so many words for the same thing?)
Notes: Since H. L. Mencken coined this word, boob has taken on a risqué meaning that has all but overpowered its original sense. Still, booboisie remains in all the dictionaries as does boob in its original sense. Seldom do humorous coinages like this one stick in the language, but Mencken created a lexical jewel here that isn't likely to go away.
In Play: Since none of the subscribers to the daily Good Word belong to the booboisie, we can discuss this word without fear of affronting anyone: "It is easy to blame the booboisie for all the world's troubles, but it is not difficult to find smart people behind many of them." The term is pejorative, though, and is used only to cast aspersion somewhere: "Now that Ed Ward, III has his PhD, he tries to avoid anyone he considers a member of the booboisie."
Word History: Today's Good Word is an invention of the journalist H. L. Mencken, who railed against the booboisie in much of his writing. He created this word by blending boob with bourgeosie, a popular term used by socialist philosophers of the day. Boob is a shortening of booby, the origin of which is in question. Some think it comes from Spanish bobo "fool", while others think it related to German Bube "boy, scoundrel". The German word is the origin of the English word bub, but its spelling is too recent to serve as an origin of booby. By the way, the word did not come from the name of the now extinct bird: that bird was called a booby because it was so stupid as to sit still while being captured.