'outcry, clamour' (Modern English boast)


No entirely convincing etymology has been proposed for ME bost and its related v. (TGD and GDS both give its source as uknown). (1) Kluge (followed by Bj.) suggests an origin in an OE *bosettan, relating *bos- to the root of OHG bōsi ‘worthless’ (Ger böse), which is itself usually explained as descended from the same PGmc *baus- as Norw baus (and cp. further e.g. MLG bös(e), MDu boos, bose, OE and OFris bās(a)). Most have since rejected Kluge's reconstructed OE v., but some connection with this etymological family is sometimes maintained (eg. Pokorny I.101 and (tentatively)  Lloyd and Lühr). If this is so, then such an OE *bos- must be derived from the zero-grade of the *baus- root, i.e. a PGmc *bus-, which is sometimes believed to be otherwise attested in OIcel busilkinna ?’woman with round cheeks’ (so Torp s.v. Baus, Heid.) and Norw bos(s), OSw bos ‘chaff, piece of straw’ (so Torp s.v. Bos, Tamm, Lloyd and Lühr). (2) The most plausible source for the vocalism of ME bost is a Romance word in -ost (with later lengthening of /o/ in English) (OED), and there is a suitable AN n. bost ‘boasting, ostentation’ (ODEE, MED). This n. has in turn been derived from Gmc., citing Scandinavian forms from the group described in (1), e.g. Norw baus (MED) or directly from ON bausta (cp. OIcel bausta ‘to push (at), strike, thrash’) (Luick, for an AN bǫst). The evidence for such an AN n. is tenuous, however: it is recorded only once by AND (followed by DEAF), from Le Tretiz by Walter de Bibbesworth (c. 1250), and may thus be better accounted for as a loan from ME (thus AND).

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *bus-

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1) cp. busilkinna ?’woman with round cheeks’
(ONP )

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Norw bos(s), OSw bos

OE Cognate

(1)  *bos-

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Widespread and common in literature after c. 1300; it is found slightly earlier as a personal name element ((1246) Sus.RS 10).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1448, Cl 179, 1450, 1712


MED bōst (n.) , OED boast (n.1) , HTOED , ODEE boast, Dance bost, Bj. 75–6; (1) Mag. bausa, Torp NnEO ƀaus; ƀos, Tamm ƀoss, Orel *ƀausaz, Kroonen *bausa-, Heid. bausa-, Lloyd and Lühr II. bōsi (adj.); (2) AND bost, DEAF bost (s.)