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Booing is an act of showing displeasure for someone or something, generally an entertainer, by loudly yelling boo! (and holding the "oo" sound) or making other noises of disparagement, such as hissing. People may make hand signs at the entertainer, such as the thumbs down sign. If spectators particularly dislike the performance they may also accompany booing by throwing objects (traditionally rotten fruit and vegetables) onstage, though the objects may not be meant to physically hurt the performer.

This practice has in recent times come under criticism. The opinion is often expressed that to boo a bad performance is unkind and demonstrates a lack of sophistication. However, the counterargument goes that the combination of booing and applause help keep the quality of public performance high, by emotionally rewarding the good and punishing the bad.[1] Some baseball players who have been booed have stated that booing "spooked" or "bothered" them or their teammates, and that it "affected their performance". Another player stated concerning booing, "It hurts" and another stated, "It frustrates me when the crowd boos".[2][3][4]


  • Adam Goodes who played for the Sydney Swans in the Australian Football League was repeatedly and loudly booed by opposition fans during the 2015 AFL season at most of the matches whenever he touched the ball. During a match against Carlton, during the AFL's annual Indigenous Round, after he kicked a goal, he celebrated the goal by provoking the Carlton fans by performing an Indigenous war dance in which he mimed throwing a spear in their direction. Afterwards, Goodes claimed that the dance was based on the one he learned from the under-16s indigenous team the Flying Boomerangs, and that it was intended as an expression of indigenous pride during Indigenous Round, not with the intention of offending and intimidating the crowd. The booing escalated after the war dance.
  • In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, booing is officially not permitted; Erskine May states: "Members must not disturb a Member who is speaking by hissing, chanting, clapping, booing, exclamations or other interruption."[5] Nevertheless, jeering and heckling are somewhat common during Prime Minister's Questions.[6]
  • In sports, booing by fans is quite common. They may boo particularly-hated players on the opposing team, or any opposing player when there is an intense rivalry between the teams.[7] Unsportsmanlike behavior is also booed, such as intentionally hitting home team batters in baseball or diving in association football or basketball (where it is a technical foul). Booing of referees or umpires after an unpopular ruling is also common. Booing of expelled players after receiving a second yellow card or a direct red card is also common for many reasons. In professional sports, one's own home team, players or coach may be booed due to a poor performance or season.[8][9]
  • In traditional British pantomime, "the villain will generally include some abuse of the audience to stimulate hissing and booing" while the fairy and other protagonists are cheered.[10]
  • Although rare, in the performing arts, opera remains one of the arts where booing remains, if not common, customary as merited.[11][12][13] In orchestral music, booing is usually restricted to the premiere of a new work.
  • Rarer still is for motion pictures to be booed at their openings, and this is usually confined to film festivals when the production team is present.[14]
  • During professional wrestling matches, most heels traditionally receive boos from the audience as the villain. Ability to infuriate audiences and draw "heat" (negative reactions such as boos and jeers) are considered essential skills for heel performers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mark A. (October 8, 2008). "To boo or not to boo?". BBC. 
  2. ^ Aaron Gleeman (October 19, 2012). "Yankee Stadium boos "spooked a lot of guys" according to anonymous Yankee". NBC Sports: Hardball Talk. 
  3. ^ Peter Botte (October 14, 2012). "Yankees' Nick Swisher says fans blamed him for Derek Jeter's injury after he misplayed ball in right field during Saturday's ALCS Game". New York Daily News. It hurts. Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I've been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro. We're not going to go out like this. We’re going to go to Detroit and give everything we’ve got. 
  4. ^ Mark A. (October 8, 2008). "To boo or not to boo?". BBC. It just frustrates me when the crowd boo England, who is that going to help? It just heaps more pressure on the players and gives us even less of a chance of scoring 
  5. ^ Brian Wheeler, Why are MPs banned from clapping?, BBC (May 28, 2015).
  6. ^ Justin Parkinson, Is Prime Minister's Questions really getting worse?, BBC News (February 18, 2014).
  7. ^ Anthony Witrado (July 9, 2012). "Home Run Derby 2012: Fans' treatment of Robinson Cano strengthens case for changes". Sporting News. Kansas City fans mercilessly booed New York Yankees second baseman and American League captain Robinson Cano on Monday night, cheering with passion every time he made an out and even louder when he was shut out in the contest at Kauffman Stadium. 
  8. ^ Peter Botte (July 7, 2008). "Derek Jeter hears the boos during Thursday's loss to Red Sox". NY Daily News. 
  9. ^ Peter Botte (March 11, 2012). "Boo birds serenade Knicks in loss to 76ers". New York Daily News. Carmelo Anthony heard noticeable boos during pre-game introductions, but Mike D'Antoni and the rest of the Knicks deservedly felt the crowd’s wrath, too, for the ugliness that transpired thereafter Sunday afternoon at the Garden. The negativity got so bad late in the Knicks' fifth straight loss, portions of the crowd chanted "Fire D'Antoni"—the natural progression from the boos that poured down from the stands through much of the second half. 
  10. ^ Millie Taylor, British Pantomime Performance (Intellect Ltd 2007), pp. 127-28.
  11. ^ Michael Cooper (July 16, 2015). "The Boos in the Balcony, and Their Targets". NY Times. 
  12. ^ "Nude rape scene booed by Royal Opera House audience". BBC News. June 30, 2015. 
  13. ^ Anthony Tommasini (February 24, 2010). "At the Met, a Hun Who Struggles to Conquer His Doubts". New York Times. During the ovations Mr. Audi and his designers received a loud round of boos from a segment of the audience, which seemed to miff Mr. Muti. 
  14. ^ Richard Corliss (May 20, 2014). "Review: Ryan Gosling’s Lost River: Crazy Like a Rat". Time. First came the boos, like an owl symphony, or a cattle crescendo. Then, a smattering of defiant applause. Then, the boos again. The antiphonal response could have gone on all afternoon, with catcalls winning in a landslide, but the critics had other movies to see. 

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