The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Boche

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BOCHE, a name employed with the signification German, especially German soldier, by the Allies in France in 1914-17, and given currency everywhere through the widely published descriptions of the campaigns of the European War. It came to express war-engendered hatred of the Teutons, but is nevertheless not a war-creation. On the contrary, for many years before the war it had been (first in the form Alboche) a familiar part of the Parisian popular vocabulary. Alboche may be called a “telescope word,” like autobus (auto-mobile and omni-bus joined in a single word of convenient brevity). By analogous telescoping the Parisians made Alboche out of Allemand, the French word for German, and caboche, slang or cant for “head” (Low Latin boscia). It was speedily shortened to boche or Boche, and is a striking example of onomatopœia, the very sound of the word expressing French estimates of the invaders' character and giving to that one syllable vitality that is independent of etymological association. Consult Paris Figaro (10 April 1915); London Spectator (4 Sept. 1915); Literary Digest (New York, 6 Nov. 1915, p. 1012).