What is the origin of the word poop?

There was not a great deal found on this topic, which is weird since the word has so much influence on our culture. However, it looks like etymologist expert Eric Partidge covered this word briefly in this book, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. According to Partridge the word poop was formed from the Middle English word poupen or popen. Poupen originally meant “fart”. This word was used for the word fart because apparently that is how farts sounded in the 1800’s.

Our diets must have changed so much since then because I have never heard a fart sound like “poupen”. If we had to name farts today based on sound I might choose, “bbbmaaerrrfhhhh….ppzztff!”

Poop Word OriginApparently we later adopted the word for poop around 1900. A moment in history we should celebrate every year.

However, before reading up on the subject, here at NTG we decided to take our own guess at how the word came about and realized it is very hard to determine where a word comes from. Perhaps someone was trying to pee and accidentally soiled themselves. Afterwards they proclaimed, “I had to pee and…oops”. They took the P from p and the oops from the accident and the word poop was formed! Seriously, we got nothing, it was tough. Any other ideas?

2 thoughts on “What is the origin of the word poop?”

  1. Sailing ships of old had large crews of men who of course had to go to the bathroom. The makeshift toilets were at the back of the ship ( the poop deck ) so the excrement could be washed away as the ship sailed away. If a sailor had to go to the bathroom he would ask permission from the officer on deck to be excused from his post to go to the poop deck or ,moreso he had to “take a poop”.

  2. The explanation is actually quite simple. The word poop is introduced in american english by the Dutch in the periode of New Netherland (17 th century) and later. The same happened with many other (hundreds of) words like: boss, candy, coleslaw, cookie, dyke, decoy, hoople, loiter, sleigh, snoop, snack, stoop, winkel, et cetera. In Dutch the word ‘poep’ (noun ‘poep’ and verb ‘poepen’) has the same pronounciation. It means fart aswell as excrement. It was first attested in the Dutch language in 1599 and is probably a onomatopoeia.

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