a boo-boo is....

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nemo eve walle

Senior Member
Collins defines boo-boo as: N-COUNT Boo-boo is a child's word for a cut or other minor injury.
Big perplexity! ''Boo-boo'' is a countable noun, but the explanation doesn't have an article, I think it should be like this:
A boo-boo is a child's word for a cut or other minor injury.
  • Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    To answer your question, dictionary entries are often abbreviated in this way. I would not expect to find an article before a head-word noun, as that would take up space unnecessarily.
    Incidentally, in British English I do not recognise the definition of 'boo-boo' as a child's word for a cut or injury. To me a boo-boo is always an embarrassing mistake, as in Webster's # 2 below:

    1: a usually trivial injury (as a bruise or scratch) —used especially by or of a child

    2: mistake, blunder

    For example, I might say "I called her by the wrong name - it was a really bad boo-boo".


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    You need to distinguish between the thing and the word. Even allowing for the fact that dictionaries tend to omit articles (as elwintee says), it would still be incorrect (or at least highly questionable) to write "A boo-boo is a child's word for..", because the word is "boo-boo", not "a boo-boo".
    You could say "A boo-boo is a mistake or injury", because here you would be defining the thing.


    Senior Member
    I'm a bit surprised at Collins' entry because although boo-boo is baby-talk for a cut or abrasion, it is also baby-talk for "error," and I'm pretty sure that is the way it is used most often. Either way, though, it's still countable, and either way, Collins doesn't have to use the article, and for the reason others have stated.
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