Our history books are full of them.
Why do we call breasts “boobs”?
It’s a silly word — boobs — but somehow, over the ages, it’s become one of the most common, recognizable ways to refer to a woman’s breasts. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only one.
“Boobs” are just one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of slang terms that men and women have used to describe a woman’s breasts. (Or to use a gross modern term — her “chesticles.”)
According to The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, the term “boobs” probably showed up around the late 1600s. Renowned slang lexicographer Jonathon Green believes that "boobs" derives from the word “bubbies,” which has its root in the Latin phrase bibere, which means “to drink.” Over time, bubbies became boobies, which eventually ended up as boobs.
Which, as we mentioned is a little childish, but it’s considerably better than a LOT of other terms that men, in particular, have used when speaking about breasts. (Boobs sounds much gentler than something like “sweater meat.”)
But language experts can trace nicknames for breasts all the way back to the early 1500s. One of the earliest recorded slang terms for breasts were “paps.” So that means we have over 500 years of boob nicknames in recorded history. That’s just insane. (It also reminds us that we need way more nicknames for man boobs.)
To honor that fine tradition, we decided to go back and collect a list of some of the more memorable (or downright strange) historical nicknames for breasts. These come from various sources — mostly notably, Green’s Encyclopedia of Slang, The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, and the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
(You can find a cool interactive timeline of many of these terms here.)
While lexicographers like Green admit that not all of these terms were commonly used, they all appeared in print, in scripts, in newspapers, online — somewhere in the public record.
Here are 100 actual nicknames that (primarily) men have given boobs over the past half millennium, starting from the 1500s all the way to the modern era.
(We’ve bolded some particular favorites along the way.)
The Milk Shop
The Upper Works
Baby's public house
Bag of snakes
Big brown eyes
Cats and kitties
Lumps of temptations
Lewis and Whitties
The Upper Deck
East and West
Mods and rockers
Two puppies fighting in a bag