Why is it called Booze?

If you Google the origin of the word booze a number of explanations and origins come up. None of which I consider to be as interesting as the one I have heard.

The most common origin ascribes the word to either the Dutch or German word busen ‘to drink to excess’ or ‘to carouse’.

One of the most persistent “booze myths” traces the word to a Mr. Booz, a mid 19th century distiller from the Philadelphia area. Some say it comes from the Middle English word (circa 1300) ‘bouse’ meaning to drink.

One of my favorites is based on a promoter who promised free beer to anyone who came to one of his events. His name? Mr. Booz.

The one that makes the most sense to me (and didn’t come from google) is that its origin is said to go back to World War I and a contingent of ‘doughboys’ the nickname given to the American Expeditionary Force that took part in the war. These troops were in a southwestern French town with no alcohol to consume except for the local wine. The town was Buzet… as in Buzet Wine…as in “what’s this here booze?”

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3 comments

  1. I don’t know the origin of the word booze, but I know for a fact that Busen in German does not mean to drink to excess or to carouse.

    Busen is “breast”, as in “Boob”

  2. You’re right. But, this is what I got from wikipedia:
    Booze, meaning ‘alcoholic drink, esp. hard liquor’, was originally a verb–bousen in Middle English–meaning ‘to drink alcoholic liquor, esp. to get drunk’, and it is a direct borrowing from Middle Dutch búsen (I’m using the accent for a length mark here), which meant ‘to drink to excess’. The Dutch word is related to Middle High German búsen ‘to carouse; revel’, but the ultimate origin of these words is unknown.

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