The Online Etymology Dictionary offers this about the term:
"mistake," 1954, apparently a reduplication of boob, which had
acquired a secondary sense of "foolish mistake" (1934).
However, my copy of American Slang by Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D., offers
an earlier date:
"1. n. fr. early 1900s A dollar
2. n. Any error or misstep, esp. one with embarrassing consequences; faux pas."
[The dollar reference may stem from bourgeois-bohème - see below)
Another reference to a French origin comes from About.com:
"Bobo - Mot du Jour - French Word of the Day
un bobo (informal, baby language) - boo boo, owie, wound
Maman, j'ai un bobo ! - Mama, I have a boo boo.
Bobo is also an abbreviation for "un bourgeois-bohème," [shortened:
"bo bo" - meaning is middle-class man Bohemian] but this term is
Translating "bobo" at babelfish, the French definition returned was "sore."
http://babelfish.altavista.com and please read the etymology of the
French "bobo" at http://www.wordspy.com/words/bobo.asp as you may find
I also located a mention online from Cassell?s Dictionary of Slang:
"BOO [1990s] (U.S. Black): a sweetheart, a loved one [? from BABY, a
term of affection or general address (between men and women and men
and men) originating among Blacks in the 1960s and still in use]"
Regarding the Black connection, I found a reference among the results
referencing an article "Unacknowledged African Origins of U.S. English
Usage: 'Origin Unknown' and Other Peculiar Etymologies" by Fern L.
Johnson at http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/app/home/contribution.asp?wasp=f9a4e75c5d314f6d804752fbd6955c65&referrer=parent&backto=issue,2,4;journal,12,30;linkingpublicationresults,1:101828,1
but the article is in a subscriiption database and I wasn't able to
view it or the booboo relation. This article synopsis also referenced
to Bantu Language Influence.
Another interesting reference points to possible Puerto Rican origins:
"In their monumental collection of Puerto Rican folklore, Mason and
Espinosa printed several versions of the same tale. Juan Booboo, a
popular character in Puerto Rican tales, can be traced to the Spanish
picaresque tales of ?Pedro de Urdemales?. In another Spanish colony,
the Philippines, there is another Juan, who is just as silly and dumb
as Juan Booboo and many of their tales are exactly the same or very
similar to the Puerto Rican versions. In the Philippines, however, the
tales are traced to Indonesia, India, and Ceylon. Could it be possible
that the Juan Booboo tales have come around full circle and reached
their point of origin?"
The "silly and dumb" reference to this character named Booboo could
indicate another origin of the slang booboo. The article gives an
"early 20th century" reference and states "Professor Aurelio M.
Espinosa spent seven months in Spain (June 1920-January 1921)
researching the roots of the tales told in Spanish America."
So, the term appears to harken back to --at least-- the early 1900s.
Thank you for the opportunity to research this interesting question -
I love etymology, and I hope the info I've provided is helpful to you.
Should any links not function properly, please request a
clarification before rating my answer as I'll be happy to respond.
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