Date: Tue, 31 Jan 1995 08:53:26 CDT


Subject: Beaucoup pre-WWII

I thought some members of ADS might be interested in early English

uses of beaucoup/bookoo. All of the following examples are from Peter

Tamony's files:

Lansing Warren and Robert A. Donaldson, Compendium of Foreign

Phrases, 1918. Beaucoup = much, many, good. The major and most

necessary part of an American's French vocabulary.

Ware, Passing English. Boko = A huge nose. Corruption of

beaucoup. Said to be descended from the time of Grimaldi who would

observe while "joey-ing", C'est beaucoup, tapping his nose. . . .

Brophy and Partridge, Songs and Slang of the British Soldier,

1914-1918 (London: 2nd edition, 1930), p. 210. Boko = Tommyese for

French beaucoup. Also pre- and post-war general slang for nose.

H. C. Witwer, The Leather Pushers (New York: 1920), p. 55. "She's

a beaucoup looker all right, but beautiful the same way them marble

statues is."

Ibid., p. 3. "Me and Cockeyed Egan was tourin' . . . with a stable

of battlers, pickin' up beaucoup sugar by havin' 'em fight each other

over the short routes."

Gang World (March 1931), p. 20. "Yeah. Listen. There's boocoo

coke an' opium here, too. If you know anybody in the narcotic squad

interested in an honest-to-Gawd bargain, fetch them along."

Underworld Magazine (March 1931), p. 101. "Lemons is the only

friend I've got in this burg--an' he owes me boocoo jack."

Variety (June 9, 1931), p. 11. "Newspapers biting their teeth for

fear the rest of the exhibs follow, which, if they do, will mean a

tremendous slash in the ad money for the theatres. Figuring the six

dailies in town, the cut over a period of time runs into beaucoup


Fraser and Gibbons, Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, 1925.

Beaucoup = Plenty of. The French word was adopted as an everyday

expression in the War; e.g., "There were beaucoup cigarettes. There

was beaucoup beer," etc.

Maitland, 1891. Boko = the nose.

Mary P. Keeley, "A.E.F. English," American Speech, vol. 5 (June

1030), p. 382. Bookoo (beaucoup) = Abundance.

(Song title) Beau Koo Jack. Hughes Panassie, translated by Lyle

and Eleanor Dowling, Hot Jazz, The Guide to Swing Music (New York: M.

Witmark and Sons, 1936), p. 301. And Charles Delaunay, Hot

Discography (Paris: Hot Jazz, 1938). {From these notes it appears

that this song was recorded by Earl Hines and His Orchestra on the

Blue Bird B7040, and Victor V38043 labels; and Louis Armstrong on the

OK 8680 and Vocalion 3085 labels.

Randy Roberts

University of Missouri-Columbia