Calabooses, digging and beds

A photo of a Calaboose

I came across the word calaboose in a book I read recently and as I couldn’t work out its meaning from the context I had to look it up. I also like the sound of it, so thought I’d write about it.

A calaboose is an informal American term for a prison or jail. It comes from the Spanish calabozo (dungeon), according to the Collins English Dictionary.

Calabozo possibly comes from the Late Latin *calafodium, from fodiō (I dig, bury), which comes from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰod- (plot, patch of ground) from *bʰedʰ- (to pierce, dig).

This is also the root of the English word bed, via the Proto-Germanic badją (lair, grave, bed), the Welsh word bedd (grave), via the Proto-Celtic *bedo- (grave, ditch), and related words in other, mainly Germanic, languages.

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language, Latin, Proto-Indo-European, Spanish, Words and phrases.

One Response to Calabooses, digging and beds

  1. Jim M. says:

    This word, quite poetically used by the late Chuck Berry in “No Particular Place to Go,” just turned up as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day with more information.

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