‘the whole boodle’: meaning and origin



The American-English phrase the whole boodle means the whole group or set of people, animals or things.—Synonyms: the whole caboodle and the whole box and dice.




Here, the noun boodle designates a number of people, animals or things grouped together or considered collectively by the speaker or writer—as in the following passage from The Booke of Honour. Or, Five Decads of Epistles of Honour (London: Printed by Augustine Matthewes, and John Norton, 1625), by Francis Markham (1565-1627):

Questionlesse, there are most infallible Reasons, why extraordinary respect should be giuen to this place of Embassador, both in regard of their election, being men curiously and carefully chosen out (from all the Buddle, and masse of great ones) for their aprooued wisedome, and experience; as also, for their Trust and Fidelitie, in making good of all those hopes and presages, which it shall please the Prince to fixe vnto their vertues.

In Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Languages (Amsterdam University Press, 2009), Nicoline van der Sijs explains that the noun boodle is:

From Dutch boedel, meaning “estate, property,” also “a large quantity” (today the word is only used in the latter meaning in the contracted form boel); borrowed in the seventeenth century and still commonly used in slang. […]
The word boedel was found in American English in the late seventeenth century in the archaic meaning of “property, goods, effects,” which is exactly the meaning it has in Dutch and it is also spelled the same way as in Dutch; the quote comes from Craigie *:
1699 Elisabeth … hath the boedel of Jan Verbeek, deceased, in hands.
In the nineteenth century, the slang expression the whole boodle emerged, which corresponds to modern Dutch de hele boel, or de hele boedel in the olden days and dialects.

* Craigie, William A. & James R. Hulbert (1938-1944), A Dictionary of American English on Historical Principles, Chicago.




These are the earliest occurrences of the phrase the whole boodle that I have found, in chronological order:

1-: From the Editor’s New Year’s Address to the Patrons of the New-Hampshire Patriot, published in the New-Hampshire Patriot (Concord, New Hampshire) of Tuesday 4th January 1814:

The Junto defeated, from Concord retreated,
The Governor too with his old cock up hat,
While the loud execration of both State and nation,
Pursu’d the whole boodle on this side and that.

2 & 3-: From two letters that ‘Joe Strickland’ purportedly wrote from New York City to his uncle Ben in Vermont:

2-: From a letter published in the New-Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire) of Friday 3rd August 1827:

Lovin Unkle Ben—Yeu mus’nt take no moar ov Jakub’s [Barker] Red munny, kase he’s got intu a darn kind ov a Snarl, un I expect it wil awl go tu pot in a heep. I kant tell you hou tis, not awl on’t, only i kno that a Parsle ov loryers got hold on im un tha kat hawld im at a grate rate.—He had awl kreashun at him at wonse. Furst tha tried tu dround him in the Moris Kanaul, but he got out, un jumbt intu the Lyphe un Phire, un lik’d tu hev burnt tu deth—then he dug under ground un got intu the Phulton banck, un turnd out the hol boodle ov um, got awl the munny, un then lafft at um, the loryers awl the tyme drivin at him, but tha kud’nt get hold on him—he waz jist like Padda’s Phlee, kase when tha put their finger on him he was’nt there.

3-: From a letter published in the Salem Gazette (Salem, Massachusetts) of Tuesday 6th May 1828:

By the grate Mogul ses I, jist git me evry Turky in Urop, un i’ll be darned if I dont swaller the whole boodle ov um at won simpel meel, for i’me as hungry as a church yard.

4-: From the Ohio Monitor (Columbus, Ohio) of Saturday 10th May 1828:

What admirable special pleaders are the whole boodle of these advocates!!

5-: From The National Advocate (New York City, New York) of Saturday 1st November 1828:

Noah, who for personal motives, is now so strong for “regular nominations,” found it convenient to back out from the “regular nomination” of Judge Rochester for Governor: for which the Republican General Committee declared, and published it, that he was unworthy of the confidence of the Republican party. Stephen Allen was one of the committee which reported the resolution. But Noah, Allen, and the whole “boodle of them” are now pulling together again at the same rope.

6-: From a letter that ‘Joe Strickland’ purportedly wrote from New York City to his uncle Ben in Vermont, published in the New-York Enquirer (New York City, New York) of Monday 23rd February 1829:

The first place I look’t at waz bostown un then Harford, thare waz the hol boodle ov the konvenshun fokes.

7-: From the Ohio Monitor (Columbus, Ohio) of Wednesday 23rd December 1829:

Unless he is disposed to justify Thomas L. McKenny for spunging the treasury of $7,400 for six months pretended service; to approbate James Barbour, then Secretary of War, for commanding a scrupulous Comptroller to allow it; Old Ebony for sanctioning it, with a small exception; and the whole boodle of the coalition for all the treasury robbery of the past reign, it would be better for our unsuspecting friend not to play second fiddle, in beslavering this profligate.

8-: From North American Steam-Boat, a short story originally published in the New-York Monthly Review, and republished in several newspapers—for example in the Providence Patriot (Providence, Rhode Island) of Wednesday 11th August 1830:

‘You’ll see a fight when we go ashore.’ ‘A fight,’ said I, astonished at the fellow’s look. ‘As sure as a gun,’ he replied. ‘I hope not.’ ‘Oh but you will though! that are chap from the back-parts, the Ten’see boy, he swears he’ll whip the capun, and that are ’tother chap (pointing to the raw-boned black-haired man,) if they meddle with his cub, they’d better look out, I rather guess; he comes from down East; he’s one o’ them are crooked sticks, ’twon lay still.’ ‘I don’t understand you’—‘warped with hoop-poles, and filled with oven wood; better look out afore they mad him;’ (talking very fast and looking at my watch-fob all the time.) ‘Why so?’ ‘Why if they ryle his blood about right, he’ll whop the whole boodle on um—that’s why so.’