Monday, August 10, 2015

The Bazoo Story

One of those websites full of trivia came up with a list of outmoded slang words from the trash bin of popular culture. Among them were such gems as spizzerinctum (1920, “high spirits”), ginchy (1950, “excellent”) and “bazoo,” which these experts said was a 1940 word for “mouth.”

Bazoo goes much further back than that. In 1892 Walt Whitman, in his essay collectioin November Boughs, refers to a Missouri newspaper called the Sedalia Bazoo. It had been established in 1870s. There were also newspapers known as the Bazoo in Elmira, New York, from 1877; in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, from 1888; and in Batesville, Arkansas, as far back as 1862 (although the Arkansas paper was spelled Bazzoo, with two z’s). 

Webster’s New Internationa Dictionary is not brave enough to come up with an etymology for bazoo, but it does provide three possible meanings: a “kazoo,” “loud boastful talk,” and a “person’s mouth.”

Bazoo has other possible meanings, of varying degrees of propriety. Richard A. Spears in his Slang and Euphemism Dictionary offers two more meanings: a “jeer,” synonymous with “raspberry,” and a euphemistic term for female genitalia. Spears also relates bazoo to wazoo, which he says can mean the “mouth” or “any unnamed anatomical area that can be tantalizingly hinted about”—most frequently the lowest portion of the alimentary canal. Another online dictionary insists bazoo refers to a person’s buttocks.

The Urban Dictionary thinks bazoo is a slang term for a substandard motor car that elicits rude comments. Bazoo is also a dance band from Thailand, known for an album called Phee Faa Party. In a children’s book called Ride the Blue Bazoo by Laurie B. Clifford, the bazoo is modified moped.

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou is known for the copious verses that spew from his bazoo—located at whichever end of his anatomy seems most appropriate.
            The wizened Wazir of Waziristan
            Has wizards up the wazoo,
            Who play bezique in a boozy bazaar           
            To the tune of a Kwanzaa kazoo.
            They’re bizarre and berserk, like a buzzing bazooka,
            Or some Byzantine bozo’s bazoo. 

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