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booby-hutch, n.

Forms:  see booby n.1   and hutch n.(Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Apparently formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: booby n.1, hutch n.
Etymology: Apparently < booby n.1 + hutch n.
The semantic motivation of this compound (and booby hatch n.) is unclear. Perhaps the first element shows a different word of unknown origin (compare buggy n.1   and bogie n., both of uncertain etymology).
With senses 2   and 4   compare earlier booby hatch n. 1   and 2.

 a. A small, light, horse-drawn carriage or buggy; (also occasionally, with disparaging overtones) any flimsy or badly-made vehicle (cf. sense 3). Now rare.

1700   Epist. to R. Blackmore 6   Whose show of Honour signifies as much As Citt's confin'd within a Booby-Hutch.
1720   Weekly Jrnl. 4 June 1623/2   Not a Raw bon'd Jade, or a Booby-Hutch in City and Suburbs but will be hacked out to City Apprentices.
1818   H. More Hist. Mr. Fanton in Stories Middle Ranks Society (1830) I. 10   All that multitude of coaches, chariots, chaises, vis-a-vis, booby-hutches, sulkies, etc.
1892   County Gentleman 5 Mar. 319/2   Driving to the meet in the unwonted luxury of a booby-hutch.
1914   Express (Adelaide) 22 Jan. 5/1   The [police] van was waiting, and he grumbled about having to ride in ‘a blooming booby-hutch like that’, and demanded a taxi.
1935   Times 5 Aug. 13/6   Fashions came to us by the travelling salesman, who drove his own ‘booby hutch’ with specimens in it.
1984   Carriage Jrnl. 21 27/2   In common speech the Coburg was sometimes referred to as a booby-hutch, and it may be that the name crossed the Atlantic and was given to the enclosed sleigh.

1700—1984(Hide quotations)


 b. U.S. A horse-drawn sleigh of a type particularly used in New England, having an enclosed body like that of a coach or brougham; = booby hut n. at booby n.1 Compounds 2. rare (now hist.).Booby hut is the more common term.

1766   Boston Gaz. 29 Dec.   A very neat Booby-hutch to be sold cheap for Cash.
1946   E. Sedgwick Happy Profession vi. 80   I had driven out from Boston in one of those ancient sleighs known, I know not why, as ‘booby-hutches’.
1995   Carriage Jrnl. 33 106/1   An enclosed carriage body suspended by leather braces on sleigh runners, it was known as a Booby-Hut, a Booby-Hutch, or as a Boston Booby.

1766—1995(Hide quotations)


 2. Nautical. A removable cover or small companion (companion n.2 1) over a hatchway which allows people access to a lower deck or compartment but which is not large enough to be used for cargo. Hence also: a small cabin on the deck of a vessel, or a compartment below the deck. Cf. booby hatch n. 1, booby house n. 1. Now rare.

1821   Courier 3 May   Two of the crew were picked up by a fishing boat, having saved themselves in a booby hutch.
1826   Newcastle Mag. Sept. 404/1   A burr is a sort of large barge or lighter... It is pulled by oars, and has at the stern a little cabin or booby hutch erected that a man can lie or sit and eat in.
1828   Times 25 Jan.   Part of a booby-hutch, and sundry other pieces of wreck, have been washed ashore.
1836   T. Hook Gilbert Gurney III. vi. 293   The cabin he had so chosen was the ‘starboard booby-hutch’.
1892   B. F. S. Baden-Powell In Savage Isles xi. 374   I lay and gasped on the booby-hutch.
1936   F. D. Davison Caribbean Interlude ii. 10   As we went about our duties we soon got the run of the ship..the pantry, the kitchen, the engineers' mess, the printer's booby hutch, the freezing-chamber, the engine-room companionway.

1821—1936(Hide quotations)


 3. colloq. Any box, compartment, stall, or similar structure, esp. one considered to be insubstantial or badly made. Now rare (chiefly Eng. regional).

1830   W. Watts Yahoo p. xviii   One Yahoo..will envy another who has obtained permission from the master of the puppet-show, to paint a fool's bauble on the pannels of his booby-hutch.
1832   Boston Investigator 6 July   While you sit in the booby hutch at church or chapel.
1894   Middlesex Courier 14 Sept. 2/5   The itinerant coffee vendor of the stalls in our various highways is apt to be looked upon as anything but affluent, and certainly the exterior of the ‘booby-hutch’ and the surroundings do not inspire one with any ideas of wealth.
1900   Yorks. Herald 3 Mar. 15/6   When we shift camp I usually make what we call a booby hutch, that is a bit of a shelter for the night time to sleep in, made of brushwood.
1995   J. M. Sims-Kimbrey Wodds & Doggerybaw: Lincs. Dial. Dict. 34/2   Booby-'utch, any badly made or badly designed container, from a small box or a rabbit hutch to a modern house.

1830—1995(Hide quotations)

 4. slang (orig. U.S.).

 a. A place of incarceration; a lock-up; a cell. Cf. booby n.1 5, booby hatch n. 2a. Now rare.

1889   A. Barrère & C. G. Leland Dict. Slang I. 161/1   Booby-hutch (thieves), the police-station.
1913   Truth (Sydney) 23 Feb. 12/6   The conduct of these youths..would disgrace a contingent of escapees from the Booby Hutch of old Berrima.
1922   Boston Post 12 Dec. 17/5   I won't let yuh Take me to the booby hutch.
1938   F. D. Sharpe Sharpe of Flying Squad 329   Booby or Booby Hutch, the cell.

1889—1938(Hide quotations)


 b. A psychiatric hospital or home, an asylum for the mentally ill; = booby hatch n. 2b. rare.

1914   J. W. Beckman Touchstone 52   The sixth sense has to be justified by the other five, or you are likely to land in the booby-hutch.
1941   Terre Haute (Indiana) Sat. Spectator 1 Feb. 4/2   Mr. Kennedy, rhetorically, herds tens of millions of Americans..into the booby-hutch.
2001   Ashtabula (Ohio) Star Beacon 6 Apr. b1/4   They'd take me to the booby hutch.

1914—2001(Hide quotations)


This entry has been updated (OED Third Edition, September 2018).