If you have not been following along, there is currently a row in the U.K. regarding some number (greater than one) of drinks parties Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave at 10 Downing Street, in defiance of Covid regulations.
The repeated use of the adjective “boozy” to describe them made me wonder if the term (also recently popular in the U.S.) is a NOOB. The answer appears to be yes.
I’ll point out, first, that a lot of dictionaries have some catching up to do with regard to “boozy.” The OED, Merriam-Webster.com, Lexico.com, and Dictionary.com all define it as a quality of a person: as Dictonary.com has it, “drunken; intoxicated; addicted to liquor.” But virtually all the examples that site has hoovered from the web use one of two related newer meanings:
Those new meanings are, first, an alcohol-driven event or experience (like Johnson’s parties) and, second, as a 2007 Urban Dictionary definition puts it: “referring to any item, substance, or food that has had booze added or applied to it, thereby greatly enhancing its appeal and/or taste. ‘Damn Gina! That’s some kickass boozy Pecan pie you done whipped up for me.'”
By the way, my daughter, an editor at a food magazine, informs me that this second “boozy” has become such a cliche that no one at her publication would deign to use it.
The first example of non-personal “boozy” I’ve found is from the House of Lords in 1976, when the Earl of Selkirk said: “I am asking for something which is quite small: that people should be given a little notice before a boozy festival takes place: I am not against boozy festivals from time to time; but the neighbours are entitled to a measure of protection.” (Interestingly, Lord Kirkhill responded, “My Lords, I do not want to prolong this matter but I do not know what the noble Earl means by “boozy festival.”)
As for NOOB-ness, looking at Google Books data from roughly 1975 on, “boozy” has consistently been roughly twice as commonly used in the U.K. as in the U.S.
But the Americans might catch up, as not all of our journalists are as scrupulous as my daughter and her colleagues. The New York Times, for example, has used “boozy” seven times since December 1, 2021, referring to, among other things, a revel, chats, a retirement, and two different cakes, including a Roumanian one served at a Brooklyn bakery that I am determined to try: “Spongy, creamy, fruity, boozy, the tiny savarin covers most all of the dessert food groups.”