A genre of jazz, from its days as a dance music (it put "boogie" in our lexicon); a style of jazz (and blues) piano that dates back to the 30's, but is also part of the foundations of rock and roll - think not only of the pianists in 50's-derived rock styles, but also of Chuck Berry-derived guitar riffs, like the alternating open-fifth/open-sixth (and sometimes a seventh), in emulation of the pianist's left hand; the opening riff of "Johnny B. Goode" emulates the right hand.

In the South, probably around the late 19th and early 20th century, "boogie-woogie" was also used by African-Americans as a slang term to refer to a case of syphilis.

As with many slang words, the etymology of boogie-woogie is difficult, if not impossible to trace. There is a Bantu word, mbuki-mvuki, that may very well be the linguistic ancestor of boogie-woogie.

Mbuki-mvuki means to take all one's clothes off in order to better be able to dance. Now doesn't that sound just like boogie-woogie?

Source: Rheingold, Howard, They Have a Word for It, 1988, Jeffrey Tarcher Inc, Los Angeles.

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