Times Calls Out Spitzer’s Boo on Use of “Boo”

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Buried in the New York Timesouting of “Kristen”—a.k.a Ashley Alexandra Dupré—a.k.a. Eliot Spitzer’s boo—comes this strange line:

On [Dupré’s MySpace] Web page was a recording of what she described as her latest track, “What We Want,” an amateurish, hip-hop inflected rhythm and blues tune that asks, “Can you handle me, boy?” and used some dated slang, calling someone her “boo.”

Now, to pick apart this less than charitable and, frankly, catty article would take quite a while. But for now, let’s address the linguistic issue here. Opinion at MoJo tends toward “boo” being not only current, but timeless. Urban Dictionary traces the origins of “boo” all the way back to the adoption of the French “beau” at the time of Caribbean colonization. Fast forward a couple of centuries and Tupac deployed “boo” in “It Ain’t Easy” off his 1995 Me Against the World album. A full decade later, the term was still in use, as Usher’s “My Boo” (feat. Alicia Keys) won a Grammy for best R&B performance in 2005 (see below). The next year, Brooke Valentine sang “He can call me his boo / But he call me dope girl, cuz I got that oooh.” So it’s pretty clear “boo” is here to stay. But did anyone really trust the Times as an arbiter of slang?

—Justin Elliott

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