noun boo·ga·loo \ ¦bü-gə-¦lü \
variants: or less commonly bugalú

Definition of boogaloo

: a genre of Latino popular music of especially New York in the 1960s influenced by soul and rhythm and blues
  • More crucial to the fate of boogaloo, however, was the rise of Puerto Rican cultural nationalism and the contemporaneous emergence of salsa, a music that, unlike boogaloo, was deeply rooted in Spanish Caribbean musical traditions.
  • —Deborah Pacini HernandezOye Como Va!2010
; also : a dance performed to boogaloo music
  • The boogaloo is, or was, one of the thousand dances the land was full of in the 1960s …
  • —Luc SanteNew York Review of Books17 July 2003


intransitive verb, boogalooed; boogalooing; boogaloos
    • “Business ain't too bad, ain't too bad,” Leery said, then glanced toward the other room where Jane Wayne and The Bad Czech were waxing nostalgic and trying to boogaloo.
    • —Joseph WambaughThe Delta Star1983
    • You can dance on the 4th if you want to, of course—as long as it's outside. You just can't boogaloo in the rotunda. Is that so much to ask?
    • —James LileksNational Review20 June 2011

There's more!

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!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Origin and Etymology of boogaloo

perhaps from boog(ie) + -aloo, as in1hullabaloo,crackaloo
Note: Recorded as the name of a dance in 1966, as in the August 11 issue of Jet (vol. 30, no. 18, p. 63): “Most hip Gothamites now trying to get rhythmic understanding between arms, legs and sacroiliac in order to get in on the Boogaloo dance craze.” The word figures in a number of single and album titles released in 1966 and 1967, as “The Boogaloo Party” by the Flamingos (advertised in the January 22, 1966, issue of Billboard), “Ow! Boogaloo” by Wayne Logiudice (advertised in the July 9, 1966, issue), “Latin Boogaloo” by the Pete Rodriguez Conjunto (advertised in the October 15, 1966, issue), Johnny Colon’s Boogaloo Blues (Cotique Records), and Jala Jala y Boogaloo by Richie Ray and Bobby Cruz (Alegre Records). Note that Boogaloo was a stage name of the performer and songwriter Kent Harris (born 1930) in the 1950’s; a single containing the Harris songs “Cops and Robbers” and “Clothes Line (Wrap It Up),” performed by “Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew,” is advertised in the October 20, 1956, issue of Billboard.

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up boogaloo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


to make fruitful or productive

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!