Sunday, October 03, 2004


First the NYT's "On Language" column covered Snoop Dogg and the "izzle" phenomenon.

Now, it's language maven James Kilpatrick's turn. His column this week is on the inclusion of "bootylicious" in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Kilpatrick was flummoxed, so he found out more.

And where do you think the word's origin led him? Straight to Snoop. He first used it in a song in 1992 that most people my age are familiar with: "Fuck Wit Dre Day," with Dr. Dre. He says: "Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn't vicious/And them rhymes you were kickin' were quite bootylicious."

But the meaning there, "bad" or "weak," is now obsolete. By Kilpatrick's next example, in a Idaho paper on new slang in 1994, "bootylicious" was being used in its present sense, to describe someone as sexy, someone with a nice ass. This is how it's being used in the Destiny's Child song with the same title in 2001.

Kilpatrick talked to the OED's Jesse Sheidlower to figure out how the word's addition to the OED came about.
Sheidlower's team rounded up 25 examples of "bootylicious" in print, the minimum number required for Oxford's consideration. Other citations came from Vanity Fair, People magazine, Newsweek, Variety and the Washington Post. He wrote:

"I could easily get far more, and from even a more varied (yet mainstream) range of publications, if I went to Nexis or ProQuest or some other database. Of course, none of this means that `bootylicious' is a `good' word, or that you should be using it, or anything like that. It just means that it's certainly common enough that it would pass the inclusion policies of most dictionaries, and certainly for OED."
And there you have it.

>Bootylicious? C'mon! [Charlotte Observer]
>My favorite headline of the night [A Capital Idea]
>What's the origin of izzle? It's eezy [International Herald Tribune]
>The origin of the izzle [A Capital Idea]


At 1:42 PM, October 05, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't think that commentator is terribly well-informed:

'A critic for Usenet Newsgroup said Mr. Dogg's rhymes "are quite bootylicious."'

"A critic for Usenet Newsgroup"??? The phrase came a song in which Mr. Dogg rapped, not usenet. Typical mistake I guess for an English purist

At 3:12 PM, October 05, 2004, Blogger Nicole said...

I puzzled over that comment, too. I was hoping that Kilpatrick found a separate commentary on the song, in which someone called Snoop Dogg's rhymes "bootylicious," too.

Then again, that might be too generous.

At 5:58 PM, November 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am quite spectacularly bootylicious, are you?


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