The Bobbasheely Business

The AP reports that the Dictionary of American Regional English, a multivolume, comprehensive reference text that has been in the works since the mid-60s, is nearing completion. According to the story, the fifth volume (“S-Z”) should be published next year, thanks to a $295,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Joan Houston Hall, current editor of the project, tells the AP that once the final volume is finished, the next step will be to get the book online. Hall’s favorite word out the batch? Bobbasheely, a Gulf Coast word meaning good friend, or to hang out with a friend; she notes that William Faulkner used it in one of his novels, though the story doesn’t mention which one. Turns out Faulkner preferred the verb definition. It appears in 1962’s The Reivers in this sentence: “You and Sweet Thing bobbasheely on back to the hotel now, and me and Uncle Remus and Lord Flaunteroy will mosey along.”

Hall inherited the project in 2000, after the death of the dictionary’s first editor, Frederic Cassidy. His headstone reads, “On to Z!”

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