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.
One thought on “Calabooses, digging and beds”
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.