Posted by Rod van Ausdall on August 30, 2002
In Reply to: Re: Booby hatch?? posted by ESC on August 28, 2002
: : ok, thats a good one - who - where - when started that one?
: BOOBY HATCH - "'Booby,' for 'a dunce, a nimcompoop,' is recorded in English as far back as 1599, probably deriving from the Spanish 'boho,' 'a fool,' which in turn, may come from the Latin 'balbus,' 'stammering.'.'Booby hatch,' for an insane asylum, may have its beginnings in the 'booby hatch,' a police wagon used to carry criminals to jail. This term can be traced back to 1776 ." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
On board ships there are hatches which are large and easily entered - as opposed to a hatch which is small and more difficult to enter. These large hatches are called booby hatches.
Inasmuch as many many terms stem from the British Navy, I nominate this one also in the sense a booby hatch is easily entered by a land lubber or other person unfamiliar with vesels.