How Boogaloo Started Meaning “Drunk”

One of the great things about slang is how it picks up on and reflects the individual cultures that created it. Since every culture on earth gets drunk, you’ll find that much of the vernacular is composed of works describing that state of inebriation. If you find yourself drunk, you can find yourself a hangover cure in Key West that’s just a phone call away.

In the U.K., the term “boogaloo” is a slang term meaning completely wasted. In most of the rest of the world, the term refers to several genres of music mostly associated with Latin dance music. In the U.K., however, the term may have originated as a synonym for drunk due to the influence of Ringo Starr and his hit “Back Off Boogaloo”.

While some have interpreted the song as a direct attack on Paul McCartney and his style of music, which Starr openly criticized, Starr himself said that the main inspiration for the song game from glam rock musician Marc Bolan. Bolan, Ringo said, was prone to using the term “boogaloo” in a variety of different ways, often as a playful insult. It bears noting that these two interpretations are not, in fact, mutually exclusive.

Examining the Lyrics to Back Off Boogaloo for Clues

The lyrics to “Back Off Boogaloo” lends credence to this interpretation. While the term itself may have never been intended to mean “drunk”, you can easily see why some would have begun using it that way. Have a look:

Wake up, meathead

Don’t pretend that you are dead

Get yourself up off the cart

Get yourself together now

And give me something tasty

Everything you try to do

You know it sure sounds wasted

In the U.K., as in most places, you can occasionally find passed out individuals strewn about the public walkways. It is no great surprise, then, that the term “boogaloo” would become slang in the same general area that produced Ringo Starr, Marc Bolan, and Paul McCartney.

“Boogaloo” is Easy to Say

It’s fairly apparent that “boogaloo” is an easy word to say, and perhaps even fun when you have been drinking. Compare this with the other traditional terms, including drunk, intoxicated, and inebriated, and it’s clear that “boogaloo” likely rolls off the tongue with much more ease.

The U.K. is World-Renowned for Cool Slang

Boogaloo is clearly one of the premier contributions to English slang. But there are a number of other contributions that the U.K. has made that are worth noting here. These include gems like:

  • Bollocksed. In the U.K., if you’re “bollocksed”, you have likely had a bit too much to drink.
  • Pissed. In the U.S., if you’re pissed, that means you’re angry. In the U.K, if you’re pissed, that means you might be drunk.

There are a number of terms littering the U.K. lexicon as synonyms for drunk. These terms often are playful insults, just like boogaloo.

U.K. Alcohol Consumption Statistics

The U.K. has some surprising statistics when it comes to alcohol consumption. By and large, the majority of first-world countries have seen major spikes in their population’s drinking habits. But the U.K. hasn’t. Instead, there has been a 16% drop in the amount of alcohol consumption since 2004. In addition, while the age group most impacted by alcoholism in the states is 35-54, in the U.K. the mortality rates are greatest for those between 55 and 64.  

While alcoholism tends to hit impoverished classes the most, in the U.K., lower earners tend to drink less than those who earn more. To be sure, 77% of the highest earners reporting having at least one drink over the past two weeks while only 45% of lower wage earners reported the same. This could be related to taxes on alcohol purchases or the higher cost of alcohol in the U.K.

The Hangover Hospital Has the Cure for Boogalooed Blokes

While not every U.K. slang word for drunk roughly translates into a playful (or not so playful) insult, there is a tendency to conflate those two concepts. A full survey of U.K. slang is outside the scope of this article, however.

If you find yourself boogaloo-ed in the Key West area, the hangover paramedics at the Hangover Hospital can get you back on your feet in about 45 minutes. Our concoction attacks several of the common causes of hangover symptoms and will help you rise to drink another day. Give us a call. We deliver.

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