Booby Prize : Phrases
A prize given to make fun of the loser in a contest or game.
A Booby is a type of gannet. Boobies has also been used as a slang term for breasts since around 1935. This booby is neither of those. The word has been used to mean dunce since at least the 17th century and that's the 'booby' of 'booby prize'.
The phrase originated in the USA. The earliest reference to it that I can find is from the Indiana newspaper The Fort Wayne Sunday Gazette, 1885:
"Friday evening, Mrs. Morganthaler pleasantly entertained her friends with progressive euchre. [a form of card game]
... Mrs. Frank Welling and Willis Maier carried off the 'booby' prize, leather medals."
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