Booze, meaning an alcoholic drink, is a barroom term not found in the vocabulary of the genteel. Yet for centuries it enjoyed credentials that made it, in one form or another, a commonplace word in the English language. With time, however, it degenerated into slang, so much so that in the sixteenth century it was regarded as thieves’ cant. Its level of acceptance has risen since then, but not enough to enter literary circles.
Those who believe that booze is an eponym for E. G. Booz, a Philadelphia distiller who purveyed whiskey in a bottle bearing his name and shaped like a log cabin, are behind the times. During the 1840 presidential campaign, the bottle was widely distributed to impress people that William Henry Harrison, the successful Whig candidate (Tippecanoe and Tyler, too) had been born in a log cabin. The full imprint on this bottle was «Booz’s Log Cabin Whiskey».
Booze traces back to Middle English bousen, to carouse, to guzzle liquor, or to drink to excess. The term has been given various forms (Edmund Spencer in 1590 in The Faerie Queen spoke of a «boozing can»). Some etymologists attribute its origin to the Hindustani Booza, drink; others to the Turkish boza, a kind of liquor favored by gypsies.
The confusion concerning this word even extends to the correct provenance of the log-shaped bottle of Harrison’s campaign. Some say it did not come from the Philadelphia distiller but from E. S. Booz of Kentucky. The ploy with the log cabin bottle did so well that Daniel Webster was wont to say, «I wish I had been born in a log cabin». It certainly didn't harm the candidacy of Abraham Lincoln.
In any event, booze, with a lower-case b, has a fixed place in the English language.


The Beaux’ Stratagem was the title of a play written in 1707 by the Irish comic dramatist George Farquhar (1678-1707). In that play an innkeeper was called Boniface, Latin for «do good», because it was believed that Pope Boniface VI, whose reign in 896 of only fifteen days, promised an indulgence for anyone who would drink to his health. This may have been the reason an innkeeper in the play was called Boniface. During the early times of stagecoach travel, the innkeeper was likely to greet guests at his door to welcome them. The word Boniface was given the innkeeper, and it stuck. The word applies equally well to proprietors of nightclubs, hotels, or restaurants.
Many practices of times gone by are no longer respected. Even though an innkeeper may not greet his guests with warm hospitality, the name for an innkeeper has remained. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer extends the meaning of boniface to include any sleek, well-mannered, jolly landlord.


Three fine European cities have become eponyms for common American edibles. Bologna, a gastronomic center in northern Italy, has been credited with many delectable dishes that have spread throughout the world; Venus’s navel, better known as tortellini, is served in the best of European and American restaurants. But the eponymous food that has made the city famous is the sausage. This everyday meat was called bologna and was so ubiquitous that the city of its origin was on everyone’s lips. The name of the sausage has been corrupted to «baloney», and the name has received other usages. An ordinary way of expressing disbelief is to say, «You’re full of baloney». «Baloney» has become the equivalent of nonsense. The phrase proliferated during the early ‘30s, and it may
have had its genesis in a jingle: «Dress it in silks and make it look phoney, / No matter how thin you slice it, it’s still baloney».
The frankfurter is a sausage originally made in Frankfurt, Germany. During World War I, the American soldiers called this snack a «victory steak», but in America, where it found a warm home, the frankfurter received a new name: «hot dog». The name giver was T. A. Dorgan, «Tad», the most prominent sports cartoonist of the era. According to H. L. Mencken, the first person to heat the roll, and add mustard and relish, was Harry Stevens, concessionaire at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants. The hot dog has become America’s basic food delight at a baseball game. According to William Morris, the hot dog in the Midwest is called a Coney Island, and it is piled high with all kinds of culinary treats, but it has ketchup. Ketchup is unheard of on Coney Island, New York; there the hot dog is drenched with mustard. From Laurence J. Peter, Quotations for Our Time (1977), has come the warmest tribute to a hot dog: «The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it».
The meat pattie known as the hamburger originated in the city of Hamburg, Germany. In the early days in the United States, chopped beef was known as hamburger steak and was served like any other steak. With time, hamburger steak degenerated from the estate of a steak to the level of a sandwich. It then became known as hamburger, the biggest selling fast-food item, in America. The National Restaurant Association reported that ninety percent of all table service restaurants offer the hamburger and that the hamburger is America’s number one choice for eating away from home. Over five billion hamburgers were purchased or sold in 1995.


Be careful of those who think they know the etymology of bogus. The dictionary defines bogus as counterfeit or spurious. No matter how you consider it, that which is bogus is a fake. The prestigious Oxford English Dictionary backs an ex-Vermonter’s story of a machine that made counterfeit coins that was dubbed a «bogus» in Ohio in 1827; and then connects it with tantrabogus, a Vermont word for bogeyman. Or did it derive from a Scots-gypsy word for counterfeit — boghus? H. L. Mencken surmised that bogus might be of French origin, possibly coming from bagasse or bogue. Another opinion appeared in the Boston Daily Courier on June 12, 1857: «The word bogus, we believe, is a corruption of the name of one Borghese, a very corrupt individual, who, twenty years ago, did a tremendous business in the way of supplying the great west, and portions of the southwest, with a vast amount of counterfeit bills, and bills of fictitious banks, which never had an existence out of the forgetive brain of him, the said Borghese. The western people who are rather rapid in their talk, when excited, soon fell into the habit of shortening the Norman name of Borghese to the more handy name of Bogus, and his bills and all other bills of like character were universally styled bogus currency».
It might be that among these conjectures is the real thing — the genuine bogus.


The great British statesman Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) was born into a wealthy family in Lancashire, England. He attended Harrow School and Oxford University. In 1812 he was appointed chief secretary for Ireland. There he established the Irish Constabulary, which the Irish first nicknamed Orange Peel, for his support of the Protestant «Orangemen» and then peelers after the secretary’s surname. In 1829, as home secretary, Peel created the Metropolitan Police. The common nickname for
London policemen became bobby, after Peel’s given name, and it has been in use ever since.
Peel became Britain’s prime minister in 1834 and again in 1841. He abolished capital punishment for petty crimes and was responsible for the enactment of the Catholic Emancipation Bill (1829), which allowed Catholics to sit in Parliament. He lost office in 1849. The following year he was thrown from a horse in a freak accident; he died two days later.


Belinda Blurb was a fictional character who appeared on the dust jacket of a book written by Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) titled Are You a Bromide? Her name has been immortalized by its acceptance into the English language and by an entry in recent English dictionaries.
The publisher of the book, B. W. Huebish, in the summer 1937 issue of the publication Colophon, to report the history of the word blurb, wrote, in part: «It is the custom of publishers to present copies of a conspicuous current book to booksellers attending the annual dinner of their trade association, and as this little book was in its heyday when the meeting took place I gave it to 500 guests. These copies were differentiated from the regular edition by the addition of a comic bookplate drawn by the author and by a special jacket which he devised. It was the common practice to print the picture of a damsel — languishing, heroic, or coquettish — on the jacket of every novel, so Burgess lifted from a Lydia Pinkham or tooth-powder advertisement the portrait of a sickly sweet young woman, painted in some gleaming teeth, and otherwise enhanced her pulchritude, and placed her in the center of the jacket. His accompanying text was some nonsense about ‘Miss Belinda Blurb’, and thus the term supplied a real need and became a fixture in our language».
Burgess was born in Boston, attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in the late 1800s moved to San Francisco. After a stint at teaching at Berkeley, he became an associate editor of The Wave, a society paper. He was a prolific writer, known for a briskly satirical style, as exemplified by the titles of some of his books. Aside from Are You a Bromide? (1906) he wrote Why Men Hate Women (1927) and Look Eleven Years Younger (1937), and several other books in the same vein.
Burgess, in 1895, wrote a four-liner that plagued him all the rest of his life. His whimsical quatrain — «I never saw a Purple Cow, /I never hope to see one; /But I can tell you anyhow, /I’d rather see than be one» — was gleefully shouted at him wherever he went. In retaliation, in 1914, Burgess wrote this rebuttal — «Ah, yes I wrote the Purple Cow, /I’m sorry now, I wrote it! /But I can tell you anyhow /I’ll kill you if you quote it!»


The expression bluestocking took root in the mid-eighteenth century after a botanist and sometime poet, Benjamin Stillingfleet, wore blue silk stockings when attending a gathering of women who had decided to forgo card playing for literary pursuits and invite learned such as Samuel Johnson, Horace Walpole, and David Garrick to lecture before them. The usual stockings worn by men to such an affair — in fact it was de rigueur to wear them — were black. Stillingfleet had no black silk stockings. He was told to come anyway, and he wore blue stockings. The stockings have bestowed on members of this coterie the sobriquet «Bluestocking Society». It was, of course, a derisive expression because for women to acquire learning was regarded as ungraceful.
Today a bluestocking is, to borrow a statement from Rousseau, «a woman who will remain a spinster as long as there are sensible men on earth». Rousseau, of course, had never heard of the feminist movement or the attraction of sensible men to erudite women.


The eponym Bluebeard, a noun meaning «a man who successively marries and murders several wives» is the main character in Charles Per- rault’s story Barbe Bleue, published in Contes du Temps (1697). The adjective bluebeard means «not to enter or be explored», as in the bluebeard room in the house. The character Bluebeard was a murderous tyrant, a habitual wifekiller. Today he might be called a serial wifekiller.
Fatima, a pretty young woman, married the sinister Bluebeard against her brothers’ wishes. Before leaving on a business trip, Bluebeard gave his new wife the keys to his castle, but forbade her to open a certain door. Curiosity got the best of her, and she disobeyed her husband’s warning. There she found the bodies of Bluebeard’s six former wives hung up like beef. On Bluebeard’s return, he spotted a drop of blood on one of the keys, which told him of his wife’s disobedience. Bluebeard was preparing to make Fatima number seven when her brothers rushed in and bestowed on Bluebeard the fate he had intended for their sister.
In Brittany, a real-life Bluebeard, French General Gilles de Retz, the Marquis de Laval, was burned at the stake for his crimes in 1440. This sadistic creature murdered six of his seven wives, but whether de Retz was the historical source for Perrault’s Bluebeard has never been attested.
Perrault’s Contes du Temps contains «Sleeping Beauty», «Red Riding Hood», «Puss in Boots», and other famous fairy tales collected from various sources.


Bloomers were designed, in 1850, by Mrs. Elizabeth Smith Miller, who also was the first to wear them. But this garment got its biggest impetus and its name from Amelia Bloomer, who dressed frequently in this attire and was its most consistent advocate.
Amelia Bloomer (1818-1894), born Amelia Jenks in Homer, New York, was the editor of a journal in Seneca, New York, titled The Lily, the house organ of the Seneca Falls Ladies’ Temperance Society. Amelia had always been something of a maverick. For example, she had the word obey omitted from her marriage vows when she married Dexter C. Bloomer in 1840. When Amelia learned about the costume that ultimately memorialized her, she wrote about it in The Lily and described it as «sanitary attire».
In 1849, in New York, Amelia introduced this attire by wearing it at the lectures she gave and on other occasions, despite the derision of many onlookers. Amelia wrote that the upper part of the costume should follow the wearer’s taste, but below «we would have a skirt reaching down to nearly half way between the knee and the ankle, and not made quite so full as is the present fashion. Underneath this skirt, trousers moderately full (in fair, mild weather) coming down to the ankle (not instep) and there gathered in with an elastic band. ... For winter, also wet weather, the trousers also full, but coming down into a boot, which shall rise some three or four inches at least above the ankle».
Mrs. Bloomer’s fashion was charged with immodesty. She rebutted with, «If delicacy requires that the skirt be long, why do ladies, a dozen times a day, commit the indelicacy of raising their dresses, which have already been sweeping the side-walks, to prevent their dragging in the mud of the streets? Surely a few spots of mud added to the refuse of the side-walks, on the hem of their garment, are not to be compared to the charge of indelicacy to which the display they make might subject them!»
The garment stirred a hubbub, with sides taking strong viewpoints. Some ministers forbade their congregations to wear bloomers in church. One cited Deuteronomy 22:5 to show that women are forbidden to wear men’s clothing. Bloomer’s quick retort was, «Really, there was no distinction in the fig leaves worn by Adam and Eve».


Back in 1905, a French psychologist named Alfred Binet (1857-1911) began a critical method of determining mental age versus actual age. As the director of the laboratory of psychology and physiology at the Sorbonne, he worked in association with Theodore Simon, and the tests that were invented bore the names of both men. The tests for measuring intelligence, called the Binet-Simon Scale, were designed for children ages
three to twelve, and they have formed the basis for much of the scholastic intelligence testing done in Europe and America for nine decades.
The score of 150 is accepted as that of a genius and below 70 as an indication of mental deficiency. According to historical researchers the intelligence score of John Stuart Mill, who learned Greek at age three, was «over 200».
Binet was a pioneering figure in modern psychological research. Among his writings are Psychology of Reasoning (1886) and Alterations of Personality (1892). Since Binet’s death, the tests have been revised several times.