Discover Prompts: Day 14 – “Book”

Today is Earth Day, April 22. I’m a bit behind on Discover Prompts. This entry is for the word “book.”

I spent most of my life pursuing advanced degrees in English literature, English language, and linguistics, as well as teaching college English.

So books are like basic building blocks in my life. I read every day. I feel them between my fingers. I speed through words on my Kindle. I browse catalogs for new ones. I dream of the books I’ll never get to write.

But for this entry, I want to focus on the use of the word “book” as a verb, as in, “Let’s book!” Or “Let’s book it!”

You can “book” a flight, “book” an entertainer for a gig, you can even “book end” a discussion. But it’s “book it” that fascinates me. Zora Neal Hurston uses the phrase “bookity-book” in her writing from the 1930s, meaning to run away quickly. So “book it” could derive from that and was fashionable in the 1970s.

But “book it” may also be related to “boogie” as in “Let’s Boogie!” which could mean “let’s dance” but also “let’s get out of here.” “Boogity Boogity” is a catch phrase of Darrel Waltrip who used it to colorfully announce the start of NASCAR races. Waltrip borrowed it from the famous ’70s song “The Streak” in which Ray Stevens says “Boogity Boogity Boogity.”

As with many slang phrases, the word got shortened and we were left with “Book it” meaning to depart quickly.

Let’s put a bookmark in this discussion and bring it up another time. Right now, I’ve got to book.

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