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OED's word of the day

is bootylicious, first documented in 1994. Now I understand meaning #2, "Esp. of a woman, often with reference to the buttocks: sexually attractive, sexy; shapely." But what about meaning #1: "Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare"? Is it really an insult for a rapper to tell another rapper that his rhymes were bootylicious? The statements it gives in context seem ambiguous to me. Can someone who knows something about rap clue me in on this?

Daniel Chapman (mail):
You're asking the wroooooong crowd...
11.28.2006 5:12pm
Ted Frank (www):
I don't know that it's the wrong crowd; VC readers have a diverse set of experiences, and Michelle Boardman used to post paeans to rap lyrics back when she was an eligible VC contributor.
11.28.2006 5:18pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm never surprised at the range of knowledge on this site... but always shocked at how bad people are at picking up humor.

Obviously that statement was made tongue-in-cheek...
11.28.2006 5:26pm
noone:
Possibly the only use was by Snoop Dog in "Dre Day" on Dr. Dre's epic album "The Chronic."


Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn' t vicious,

and those rhymes you were kickin' was quite bootylicious
11.28.2006 5:29pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Oh I see, that's good evidence. The OED only quoted the second line, but together with the first it makes sense.
11.28.2006 5:32pm
kipp (mail):
Consider that booty is another term for ass (it's also another term for pirate treasure, but I digress). Just as ass can be used in a positive descriptor - "She has one fine-ass boyfriend..." - ass can also be used negatively: "...but her ex-boyfriend was a total ass hat." Thus, bootylicious can be used to mean an excess of positive booty or an excess of negative booty. In addition, "booty" by itself is already used to mean low-quality - "I think we should pick a different bar, that one can be kinda' booty."
11.28.2006 5:37pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Oooh, excess of negative booty. I see.
11.28.2006 5:44pm
Dave!:
I think noone got it right, i.e. "you rap like ass". :)
I think it's also a (subtle) misogynistic slam, too, common in hip-hop, i.e. "you rap like a girl".
11.28.2006 5:44pm
lucia (mail) (www):
Rappers creating new words? Why can't they use just stick to callipyginous? When will the horror end?
11.28.2006 6:03pm
CEB:
Dave!,
My guess (I stopped listening to rap in about 1987) is that it means something more specific, viz. "You rap like J.Lo."
11.28.2006 6:22pm
tmittz:
From Urban Dictionary:

1. adj- term actually first coined by Snoop (Doggy) Dogg in the song "Dre Day" (Dr. Dre's 1992 "The Chronic") Meaning,lackuster, laughable or just simply terrible.

2. adj- term coined again (and often mistakenly credited to being created by) Beyonce' Knowles, in the song titled "Bootylicious"( in the Destiny's Child 2001 "Survivor"). This usage means: Voluptuous, curvy, physically very appealling, in regards to a woman's figure.

1- "Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn't vicious, and those rhymes you were kickin' was quite bootylicious"

2- "...My body's too bootylicious..."


It's very rare that I hear anyone use it in the context Snoop used back in the day. From my experience, it's pretty much only used in the positive way.
11.28.2006 6:26pm
Shangui (mail):
Consider that booty is another term for ass (it's also another term for pirate treasure, but I digress).

Indeed. To quote the Beastie Boys:

Professor, what's another word for pirate treasure?
I think it's booty, boot boot booty
That's what it is...
11.28.2006 6:39pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
"Booty" is also a synonym for "dirty", although I haven't heard is used this way in a while.

As in:

"That bathroom in the club was booty."

or

"Damn, your ex-girlfriend was one booty-ass ho."
11.28.2006 6:50pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Hmm, for some reason I have the association that to call another rapper's lyrics bootylicious is to imply they are sorta girly, and kinda pop rather than being hardcore, i.e., the way someone who really likes REM might diss on britney spears music.

Could just be total BS though.
11.28.2006 7:00pm
navillus:
Noone is correct. The entire song "Dre Day" was a battle rap by Snoop and Dre targeting Easy-E. Dr. Dre and Easy-E were both members of N.W.A. until they had a falling out. Needless to say, there was no love lost between the two. You can look at the rest of the lyrics of "Dre Day," and calling Easy's lyrics 'bootylicious' is one of the nicer insults.
11.28.2006 7:26pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Hmm, for some reason I have the association that to call another rapper's lyrics bootylicious is to imply they are sorta girly, and kinda pop rather than being hardcore, i.e., the way someone who really likes REM might diss on britney spears music.

It depends on the audience, some would say that REM is too girly, or too mainstream, or too commercialized.

I also sort of get the feeling that Snoop was just looking for a word that rhymed, since bootylicious is usually used as a positive term for women. But who knows.
11.28.2006 7:26pm
DiverDan (mail):
Why was it necessary to coin a new, and apparently ambiguous, word, when English already has a perfectly good word in Callipygian?
11.28.2006 7:40pm
Can't find a good name:
I believe that Snoop Dogg's verse of "Dre Day" in which he uses the term "bootylicious" is actually directed primarily against rapper Tim Dog (Eazy-E is criticized in a different part of the song).

By the way, the OED should date "bootylicious" to 1992 given that "Dre Day" was first released on an album that year.
11.28.2006 7:51pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It's a perfectly cromulent word.

(I can't believe I'm the first to say this.)
11.28.2006 8:16pm
jos:

Why was it necessary to coin a new, and apparently ambiguous, word, when English already has a perfectly good word in Callipygian?


come on. do you have any familiarity with English? (or with rap? it's hard to rhyme callipygian)
11.28.2006 8:54pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
I'd have to stoop to digress to pirate booty, and I'll have none of it.
11.28.2006 8:59pm
Shawn Levasseur (mail) (www):
"Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare"

Probably because the term "bootylicious" has become a cliche, so overused and dated that even the OED has it as its word of the day, that it's used sarcastically used to call one's lyrics as also being stale or sounding like a guy who just learned some street slang. (see Ice, Vanilla)
11.28.2006 8:59pm
liberty (mail) (www):
The "licious" part of bootylicious I always took to mean "delicious," so its a little odd (though certainly not impossible) for it to directly translate into "you sing like ass." The interpretation of "you like like a chick" makes a lot of sense.
11.28.2006 8:59pm
MM (mail):

come on. do you have any familiarity with English? (or with rap? it's hard to rhyme callipygian)



Yeah, you're pretty much stuck with your next verse ending in "...river that's all Stygian"
11.28.2006 9:03pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
To poison a pigeon / (It just takes a smidgen)...
11.28.2006 9:46pm
godfodder (mail):
MM:
Or, you can realize that "callipygian" is the perfect word to end your rap on! I mean, is there anything more to say after you've said "callipygian"? Well...actually... you probably wouldn't be allowed to say anything more after "callipygian," your career in rap being over and all.
11.28.2006 9:48pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"To poison a pigeon / (It just takes a smidgen)..."

That one's a keeper. Best post all week, surely.
11.28.2006 9:54pm
Matt L. (mail):
"Callipygian" is barely English; it's a Greek composite just like "bootylicious" is a slang composite.

Snoop's line may be the only documented use of sense 1, but it's an enormously influential usage, in one of the very greatest rap singles of all time -- a song that also introduced the word "be-yotch" (phonetic) to the national lexicon. And, not to offend the VC's delicate sensibilities, but the title of the song is not "Dre Day." It's "Fuck Wit Dre Day."

And that's my contribution for tonight.
11.28.2006 10:06pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Speaking of composites, I oppose homosexuals, automobiles, and television.
11.28.2006 10:11pm
CEB:

I oppose homosexuals, automobiles, and television.


What about smell-o-vision?
11.28.2006 10:17pm
Ahmed (mail):
I know the answer!!!

There is a very lame song out there called Bootylicious by Destiny's Child. I'm sure you already know this. PErhpas you didn't know that this particular song is particularly awful.

If someone came up to you after you gave a guest lecture at Yale and told you your speech was very 'George Bush' you'd probably take it as an insult. IF someone told you your latest blog post was very 'Greenwald,' likewise.

So if I go up to Ludacris and tell him his new albuim is pretty 'Bootylicious,' he would thank me for my frank critique.
11.28.2006 10:36pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
that it's used sarcastically used to call one's lyrics as also being stale or sounding like a guy who just learned some street slang. (see Ice, Vanilla)

Uhh, with the exception of Federline and clones, when a white guy uses slang its generally for the humor in the awkwardness of a white guy using slang.
11.28.2006 11:41pm
anonVCfan:
ttmittz has it right. One of Snoop Dogg's verses on "Fuck Wit' Dre Day"


Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn't vicious
And them rhymes you were kickin were quite bootylicious
You get with Doggy Dogg oh is he crazy?
With ya mama and your daddy hollin' Bay-Bee
So won't they let you know
That if you fuck with Dre nigga you're fuckin wit Death Row
And I ain't even slangin them thangs
I'm hollin' one-eight-seven with my dick in yo mouth, beeyatch
11.29.2006 6:31am
lucia (mail) (www):
"Callipygian" is barely English; it's a Greek composite just like "bootylicious" is a slang composite.


Am I going to have to delve into the great the "correct term" should be "Laser Doppler Velocimetry" vs "Laser Doppler Anemometry" debate? Velocimetry: How can we pollute Englilsh with a Greek/Latin composite. The HORROR! Anemometry: How can we call it a wind meter, when it's first main successful use is measuring velocity in water? The HORROR!
11.29.2006 9:52am
Falafalafocus (mail):

Why was it necessary to coin a new, and apparently ambiguous, word, when English already has a perfectly good word in Callipygian?



come on. do you have any familiarity with English? (or with rap? it's hard to rhyme callipygian)



This whole line of argument makes no sense. We are talking about Snoop Dogg, the man who coined the phrase "shizzle", for crying out loud!
11.29.2006 10:02am
Aaron:
AS for "shizzle":

There was (and is) a linguistical construction, similar to pig latin, whereby the syllable "iz" was added to the middle of words. This was done to frustrate law-enforcement attempts to surveill drug-dealers. It's hard to get someone for trafficing in "cizaine", "crizack", or "dizope". Snoop merely popularized this construction, or one of its many modifications (he appears to drop the end off of common words, such that people can still comprehend, hence "shizzle" for the word "sure"). Other variants on this style include "izn" (e.g. "shiznit"), "ilzn" (e.g. "dilznick"), and "illy".
11.29.2006 10:24am
Jr HS Parent (mail):

"Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare"


Rare is synonymous with bad and weak - Inferior and undesirable? Or rather the use of Boodylicious in that negative context is highly unusual?
11.29.2006 11:47am
sweeney (mail):
blockquote>
"Of rap lyrics: bad, weak. rare"

Rare is synonymous with bad and weak - Inferior and undesirable? Or rather the use of Boodylicious in that negative context is highly unusual?



Though note, in Ireland, rare means both bad and good:

for example, "He is a rare bastard", meaning he is a very bad man

or "we had a rare time" meaning we had an excellent time.

but note that "we had a rare night" can mean both "we had a good night" and "we had a very strange night", but rarely, if at all, "we had a bad night".


11.29.2006 12:09pm
bmullins (mail):

There was (and is) a linguistical construction, similar to pig latin, whereby the syllable "iz" was added to the middle of words. This was done to frustrate law-enforcement attempts to surveill drug-dealers. It's hard to get someone for trafficing in "cizaine", "crizack", or "dizope". Snoop merely popularized this construction, or one of its many modifications (he appears to drop the end off of common words, such that people can still comprehend, hence "shizzle" for the word "sure"). Other variants on this style include "izn" (e.g. "shiznit"), "ilzn" (e.g. "dilznick"), and "illy".


The "iz" infix goes way back before rap/hip-hop, particularly in carny slang (its use was called Cazarny, Ciazarn, or Z-latin, after pig-latin). See "Carnival Talk," Louise M. Ackerman _American Speech 35:4, 1960 (available on JSTOR?).


The first rap/hip-hop example is probably "Double Dutch Bus" (Frankie Smith, 1981). When Murry the K (NY disc jockey) used this "dialect" on the air in the 1960's, it was called Meazurry.

Search the archives of the American Dialect Society's email list:
http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?S1=ads-l
for "bootylicious" to find a discussion of its origins.
11.29.2006 12:36pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Jr HS Parent &sweeney: The word "rare" isn't part of the definition, it's a notation that the usage is rare.
11.29.2006 2:11pm
John Tabin (mail) (www):
navillus: Actually, "Dre Day" disses three rappers; the first verse is about Eazy-E, but the rapper that Snoop refers to as bootylicious is Tim Dog (hence the bark/bite line), who was a New York battle rapper who was best known for dissing the whole West Coast rap scene with "F--k Compton." The third verse is about Luke of 2 Live Crew (who had been known as Luke Skyywalker before George Lucas's lawyers made a fuss).
11.29.2006 7:37pm
A-ro (mail):
I'm pretty sure that Snoop used "bootylicious" rather than just "booty" because it rhymed with "vicious" and he thought we (as hip-hop consumers familiar with the negative adjective "booty") would still know what he meant.

In this context the -licious part of bootylicious doesn't add any meaning, unlike, say, the -tacular in craptacular, which elevates "crap" to mean "spectacularly crap." In fact, as "liberty" pointed out above, -licious just confuses things here. But Snoop has (perhaps misplaced) confidence in us.
11.30.2006 11:35am