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Your email address will not be published.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 *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Customer Service Executive

Speciality Brands Ltd
London, UK

London On Trade Business Development Manager

Wine Source UK Ltd
London, UK

Business Development Executives / Senior Business Development Executives

Amathus Drinks PLC
Opportunities in London, Home Counties, Scotland and Sussex, GB

3 x Full Time Brand Ambassadors for fast growing award-winning distillery

The Lakes Distillery Company Limited
Newcastle head office and nationwide, UK

Brand Ambassador – Santa Rita Estates

Santa Rita Estates
London or Hertfordshire but with flexibility to travel, UK

Sales Executive - Wine and Spirits Awards

The Drinks Business
Central London, UK

On-Trade Channel Manager

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Trade Marketing Analyst

Delegat Europe (UK)
London, GB

Key Account Executive

Delegat Europe Limited (UK)
London / Midlands, GB

Senior National Account Manager

Conviviality
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 31st March 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

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

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more