If you live in the same world I do, you’ve probably heard someone use the slang word Boo as a pet name for their significant other.
Maybe you heard it on social media, in a TV show, or even as a pet name for you. If so, you might be wondering what exactly it means and where it comes from, and I’m here to give you the answer.
What Does Boo Mean?
If someone calls you Boo, they’re not trying to give you a jump scare, whether it is Halloween or not. That’s a different kind of boo. The boo we are talking about means beautiful.
When Boo is used as a pet name in a relationship, it is meant as a term of endearment that can replace most commonly-used pet names, such as Babe, Honey, or Sweetheart.
It means that you care deeply for the person or even love them, and that they bring joy to your life. However, it can be used in a few different ways.
For example, if your relationship is very new and you are not sure if you can call the person your girlfriend or boyfriend yet, you can use boo as a less formal way of describing them – “My boo will meet us at the restaurant.”
Or, if you are tired of typing out the long-winded words boyfriend or girlfriend every time you tell someone about them over text, typing just 3 letters is much quicker and still gets the point across – “I can’t wait for you to meet my new boo!”
Although Boo is normally meant as a cute pet name for your significant other, that’s not its only use. Some family members use the term to refer to each other, as well – meaning that you could call your sibling, your best friend, your spouse, or even your child Boo.
After all, if it means beautiful, there’s no reason why you can’t call anyone you’re close to by that name.
Where Does Boo Come From?
There are a few schools of thought about where the word boo comes from in this context, and some have more merit than others. Let’s take a look at them.
Some people think that the term boo might have originally been a shortened version of the phrase, booty call, which refers to calling someone up for sex. It’s not impossible that this is where it comes from, but its connotations are far more innocent now, and there are more likely roots for it.
Beautiful in French
In French, the word “beau” means beautiful, which tracks with the current meaning of the word boo, but “beau” was used in the 1700s (and still is today in some places) to refer to a male admirer or suitor.
For example, if a woman was being courted by a man and she was seen without him at a ball, you might ask her, “Where is your beau tonight?”
It is believed that the word gained popularity, slowly changing into the cute pet name we know today, from the time when France began to colonize the Caribbean Islands.
The Caribbeans were a popular destination for slave traders at the time, and there was a large Afro-Caribbean population there who were uneducated and preferred to use simple words and slang. It’s possible that the word began with them.
Beautiful in English
Still in keeping with the slavery of earlier centuries, it’s also possible that the word came directly from English as a shortened version of our word for beautiful.
There are records of people of African descent changing the word beautiful to booful, whether out of difficulty pronouncing the original word or because they simply preferred the sound of the shorter version.
We will likely never know which of these theories is correct, if any, but the term’s history is less important than its current use.
How Do You Use Boo in a Relationship?
If you like the word boo and you think it is a cute pet name that will suit your significant other, there’s nothing stopping you from using it. Simply swap it out for other terms of endearment you usually use, like babe or angel.
There is one instance in which you should not use the word as a nickname for your partner, which is if they don’t like it. No matter how cute it sounds to you, if your SO is not a fan of it, then rather choose something more suited to them.
Always remember that although boo is most commonly used in romantic relationships, it is not limited to them.
If you are very close to a friend or family member and want to express the happiness they bring to your life, you can use boo as a platonic nickname, as well.
What Words Mean the Same as Boo?
The word that has the most similar meaning to boo is probably babe – it expresses how special the person is to you and that you are committed to them.
Babe is also not limited to romantic relationships, often being used by girls to express their love for their best friends.
Another word that is similar to boo is BAE. BAE stands for Before Anyone Else (the A could also stand for All or Anything), meaning that this person is first in your life.
However, it is also used as a slang term for a boyfriend or girlfriend and is often used to describe more casual relationships. For example, you could say, “You will meet my new BAE at the party tonight.”
In general, BAE is used in texts and social media, while boo is more commonly used in real life. BAE is also a much newer term, reaching back about 10 years, while boo goes back much further, possibly as far as 300 years.
The word boo is used in relationships to express love and admiration for someone.
Although it is commonly used in romantic relationships, it can also be used between close friends and family members. It can be used to informally describe a new relationship, or simply as a way to type boyfriend or girlfriend more quickly.
The word means beautiful, and most likely comes from either the French word for beautiful, beau, which could have evolved into boo, or from the English word beautiful, which may have been pronounced by slaves of African descent as booful.
You can use the word boo to replace most pet names in a relationship, as long as your partner doesn’t mind it. Words that are most similar to boo are babe and BAE, the latter of which means Before Anyone Else and is more commonly used in texting and social media, while boo has more real-life uses.