Exhibition explores etymology of booze

17th April, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt

A new exhibition by the British Council reveals the etymology of common English words that originated overseas, including “booze”.

origin-of-booze

The word booze comes from the medieval Dutch verb būsen, which means “to drink to excess”

Called The English Effect, it explores “the impact and value of the English language” with three zones, the last of which highlights English words which are sourced from other languages.

The top ten most common of such words features in this section, with “booze” coming in at number two behind “dollar”.

According to the British Council, booze was once spelt bouse and comes from the medieval Dutch verb būsen, which means “to drink to excess”.

The word first appeared in medieval English, but it is found more frequently in the 1500s, when it was used by “thieves and beggars”. It then gradually spread to general slang and colloquial use.

Meanwhile, the word “dollar” originates from the German Taler, a coin first minted in 1519 from silver mined in Joachimsthal.

Dollar occurs in English from the mid-1500s, referring to various silver coins used in the British colonies in North America at the time of the War of Independence. The word was later adopted as the US currency in 1785.

“It’s fascinating to look at how many of the words we use today have overseas roots, and what this says about the UK’s cultural ties with the world throughout history,” said Mark Robson, director of English at the British Council.

There are of course many other drink-related words in the English language which originated from abroad but don’t feature in the exhibition, and the drinks business has put together a selection of these over the following pages (and would welcome further suggestions).

The English Effect is open now and runs until 30 June this year. It is held at the British Council’s headquarters at 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN – between Trafalgar Square and the Mall.

The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm, and Saturday between 10am and 12pm. Admission is free.

Following its three months in London, the exhibition will embark on a tour of British Council centres around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Sales Account Manager

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Marylebone Sales Manager

Philglas & Swiggot
Marylebone, London, UK

Area Sales Manager

Bon Coeur Fine Wines
North England, UK

Procurement Assistant – Wine

Adnams PLC
Southwold, UK

Account Manager Central London

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Brand Ambassador

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

National Business Development Manager

Speciality Drinks Ltd
London, UK

Marketing Assistant

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Marketing Manager

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Regional Sales Manager – Scotland

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager – London On-Trade

Bancroft Wines
London, UK

Customer Service & Sales Support Executive

Jascots Wine Merchants
London, UK

Market Insight Analyst

Conviviality PLC
London, UK

Technical Manager

Enotria&Coe
Park Royal, London, GB

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

Deadline : 25th August 2017

Global Chardonnay Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2017

Deadline : 1st September 2017

Click to view more

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

The Global Organic Masters 2017

The drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Organic Masters

The Drinks Business Awards 2017

Now in its 15th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters 2017

the drinks business Hong Kong announces its first year of The Asian Cabernet Sauvignon Masters.

Click to view more