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goo·ber (gbər)
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n.
Chiefly Southern US
1. See peanut.
2. A yokel; a bumpkin.
3. A foolish or silly person.
4. A gob of phlegm.

[Of Bantu origin; akin to Kongo or Kimbundu n-guba.]

Word History: Most Southerners recognize the terms goober and goober pea as other names for the peanut. Goober originates among the Bantu languages and is akin to the word meaning "peanut" in the Kongo and Kimbundu languages, n-guba. This regionalism is one of a small stock of words that entered American English from the languages spoken by the Africans who were enslaved and brought to the Americas during the 1600s and 1700s. Many of these words of African origin have to do with foods. Gumbo, for example, is also of Bantu originit is related to such words as Tshiluba ki-ngumbo, "okra." (In some regional varieties of English in the South, gumbo can still mean simply "okra" in addition to "thick okra stew.") Yam originates among the languages of West Africa, and it may be akin to Wolof ñam, meaning "food" and "to eat" or to Bambara ñambu, "manioc." The English word cooter probably comes from the Mande languagesthe Bambara and Malinke word for a turtle, for example, is kuta. Cooter is still used in South Carolina, Georgia, and the Gulf states to denote the edible freshwater turtle of the genus Chrysemys and, by extension, other turtles and tortoises.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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