Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person regarded as stupid.
  • n. Any of several tropical sea birds of the genus Sula, resembling and related to the gannets.
  • n. Vulgar Slang A woman's breast.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the characteristics of a booby; stupid.
  • n. A dunce; a stupid fellow.
  • n.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A species of penguin of the antarctic seas.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

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

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Probably Spanish bobo, from Latin balbus, stammering.
Perhaps alteration of obsolete English bubby.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

Examples

Comments

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

    October 31, 2015

  • "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

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

    January 21, 2013

  • 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

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

    Goldsmith, She Stoops, I

    January 8, 2007