Definition of boba
: bubble tea Usually when you find something solid and chewy in your drink, it's time to call for the waiter. But that's what boba drinks are all about. They're a concoction of either tea or juice combined with milk, fruit syrup, ice and—the surprise—small marbles of tapioca. More than one person has likened drinking boba to finding a Gummi Bear in your smoothie. But these drinks, in flavors like sour plum and kumquat-lemon and sipped through an extra-wide straw, are the latest fad beverage on the West Coast. — Jeffrey Ressner, Time, 5 Feb. 2001 The restaurant, which served boba, smoothies, frozen yogurt, desserts and vegan-friendly food, closed in late September … — Gary T. Mills, Times-Union (Jacksonville, Florida), 20 Oct. 2011
Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:
- More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
- Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
- Advanced search features
- Ad free!
Origin and Etymology of boba
borrowed from Chinese (Beijing) bōbà, name for the large tapioca balls found in the tea, perhaps literally, “large breasts, large-breasted woman” ◆The form bōbà is alleged to be Taiwanese colloquial or slang for “large breasts” or a “large-breasted woman.” The character combination in this sense can easily be documented in World Wide Web documents, but it is uncertain if the source of the spoken word is Taiwanese Mandarin, Min Chinese, or something else entirely; it is also unclear if the designation for the tapioca balls is an independent expressive/associative coinage or a derived meaning. The claim that bōbà is a Sinicization of English bubble seems unlikely.
First Known Use: 2000
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up boba? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).