Day 085: We’ve Been Spelling It Wrong This Whole Time

When I was a kid, there were a lot of things that I assumed to be true. I thought that the hole in the back of my TV was an emergency entryway for the little people inside the TV, whereas they would normally get into the TV via wire. I thought that my beloved cat, Tuffy, ran away to be a mechanic. He worked next to the Nintendo doctor that my NES was being fixed at. I thought Anfernee Hardaway and Penny Hardaway were brothers that both played on the Orlando Magic. I was wrong about a whole lot of things.

But most importantly, for the first 14 years of my life, I thought the nickname for a woman’s chest was “bubes”. The cutesy way of spelling it would be “bubies”. Until then, whenever I saw “boob” in writing, I assumed that they were spelling it the rad way, which was common in the 90’s. Like replacing an S with a Z or a C with a K. I also knew there was a disconnect from breasts and idiots. A booby trap has nothing to do with your chest. Boobs and Bubes are two different things, much like Pairs and Pears. This made sense to me.

And you know what? It still makes sense to me.

To this day, I still firmly believe that they should be spelled “Bubes”. It’s phonetically correct. The television is not nicknamed, “The Boob Toob”. Why is one word -oob and the other is -ube. The latter is much more commonly used. I feel like we’ve been spelling it wrong this whole time. To further prove my point, I did a Scrabble dictionary search for “?ube” and came up with this list:


Conversely, a search for “?oob” garnered:


It’s clear that if we followed the rules of the English language, we would come up with “bubes”. So how in the hell did we come up with “boobs”? After a quick origin search, I discovered that the word was formulated in the 16th Century, derived from “bobo”, the Spanish word for dunce. So it originated as an idiot. It makes sense that a nickname for a dunce would be spelled in a stupid manner. That seems totally reasonable. It wasn’t until 1934 when Henry Miller decided to use that words to describe a woman’s breasts. In “The Tropic of Cancer”, he wrote:

She was lying on the divan with her boobies in her hands.

I can’t believe this was considered a classy sentence at one point. It sounds like a 13 year old trying to write erotica. But this is the first written example of boobs as breasts. It was most likely said out loud before that, because I doubt Henry Miller made it up himself. But the man had the power to change history and he chose not to. Instead, he chose to insult the female anatomy by referring to breasts as idiots. He could have stood up for them and spelled it “bubes” so that they wouldn’t have the same connotation. “Boobs” and “Bubes” could have been two different words, but they’re not. And it’s literally all Henry Miller’s fault.

I say fuck Henry Miller. I may not write the word often, but when I do, I’m going to spell it “bubes”. Breasts are magnificent parts of the female body. They provide life, nourishment and entertainment. They should not be ridiculed and compared to a dunce. It’s already established that two words that sound exactly the same can be spelled differently. Then why not bubes?

Just some fude for thought.

– TeeCoZee