Why do ghosts say, “boo?” Let’s talk about the history of the word boo, and is it supposed to scare us mere mortals, or not?
According to the slate.com author, Forrest Wickman, the first appearance in print of the word boo occurred in 1738 written by Gilbert Crokatt who defined it as, “a word that’s used in the north of Scotland to frighten crying children.” Before anyone feels offended that the Scotts use to try to frighten crying children, we should remember that until recently children were meant to be seen, not heard. The world was harsh, and fear was often used to make children behave. I was a child in the 1970’s and ’80’s when fear was still a common means of discipline. We survived it, I’m sure the Scottish children did too. Wickman states that variations of the word boo such as bo and boh, have appeared in books 500 years ago. Since boo is monosyllabic it can be said quickly, and with the “B” at the beginning, it can also be said loudly, and with force. This makes the word perfect in the English language for startling someone, especially a child.
Now I have yet to encounter a Ghost. Oh please, let it happen soon. I have, of course, encountered many children dressed in a white sheet saying, “boooooooooooh” on Halloween. Usually, they are trying to be scary in a cute way. When someone on stage is booed it means that the audience is displeased with either the performance or with what is being said. I like to think that if I ever meet a ghost that says “boooo” that the ghost is displeased with the lack of excitement and entertainment value in my life. At least that way I won’t wet my pants!
Modern slang now uses the word boo as a pet name meaning boyfriend or girlfriend. Nothing scary there, I hope.
Watch below for another theory on the why ghosts say “Boo”. I would love to read your comments on this or any other post.
Cheers! I mean BOOOOOOOO