Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A stupid fellow; a dull or foolish person; a lubber.
  • noun The pupil at the foot of a class; the dunce of the class or of the school.
  • noun In progressive euchre, the player who has failed most conspicuously in the game.
  • noun The name of various species of brown and white gannets, birds of the family Sulidœ, genus Sula.
  • noun In New England, a hack on runners; a sleigh kept for hire.
  • Of or pertaining to a booby or boobies; foolish; stupid.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A dunce; a stupid fellow.
  • noun A swimming bird (Sula fiber or Sula sula) related to the common gannet, and found in the West Indies, nesting on the bare rocks. It is so called on account of its apparent stupidity -- unafraid of men, it allows itself to be caught by a simple and undisguised approach. The name is also sometimes applied to other species of gannets; as, Sula piscator, the red-footed booby; and Sula nebouxii, the blue-footed booby.
  • noun A species of penguin of the antarctic seas.
  • noun (Naut.), [Colloq.] an insane asylum.
  • noun [Local, U. S.] a carriage body put upon sleigh runners.
  • noun a clumsy covered carriage or seat, used in the eastern part of England.
  • noun an award for the poorest performance in a competition; hence, metaphorically, the recognition of a strikingly inferior or incompetent performance.
  • noun any concealed device causing surprise or injury when a usually harmless object is touched; -- in military operations, typically containing an explosive charge.
  • adjective Having the characteristics of a booby; stupid.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun slang a woman’s breast
  • noun A stupid person.
  • noun by extension Any of various large tropical seabirds from the genera Sula and Papasula in the gannet family Sulidae, traditionally considered to be stupid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun small tropical gannet having a bright bill or bright feet or both
  • noun an ignorant or foolish person

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Variant of the earlier bubby. The shortened term boob is a further development from this.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

17th Century. Spanish bobo, from Latin balbus ("stammering").

Examples

Comments

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  • ... the son an awkward booby, reared up and spoiled at his mother’s apron-string.

    Goldsmith, She Stoops, I

    January 8, 2007

  • But there were some boobies and bumpkins there, who, by their intense greenness, must have come from the heart and centre of all verdure.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 13

    July 24, 2008

  • Railroad telegraphers' term for the interrogative "Who will pay brokerage?" --US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906

    January 21, 2013

  • "The booby received its mocking name, so it was said, from the English sailors who thought it so stupid that they could stand on the deck and extend their arms as perches and the boobies would alight. The sailors wrung their necks."

    Tim Severin, In Search of Robinson Crusoe (2003)

    October 30, 2015

  • I used to travel to work on a fast boat called the Sula sula, i.e. red-footed booby.

    October 31, 2015