boo·​ga·​loo ¦bü-gə-¦lü How to pronounce boogaloo (audio)
variants or less commonly bugalú
: 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 Hernandez, Oye 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 Sante, New York Review of Books, 17 July 2003
boogaloo 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 Wambaugh, The Delta Star, 1983
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 Lileks, National Review, 20 June 2011

Word History


perhaps from boog(ie) + -aloo, as in hullabaloo entry 1, 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.

First Known Use

1966, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of boogaloo was in 1966

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Dictionary Entries Near boogaloo

Cite this Entry

“Boogaloo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

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