Circa 1935 as nonsense word, circa 1960 in programming sense.
Originated circa 1935 as nonsense word in Smokey Stover comic strip (1935-73) by Bill Holman (from which also foo fighter). Holman states that his usage was from seeing “foo" on the base of a jade Chinese figurine in Chinatown, San Francisco, meaning “good luck", presumably a transliteration of the fu character ç¦ (fÃº, “fortune, happiness, prosperity"), and figurines of the trio of eponymous male "star gods" FÃº, LÃ¹, ShÃ²u are common in Chinese communities. Meaning influenced by fooey, fool, and feh. Used throughout the comic strip's run, with later uses in the 1930s include The Daffy Doc (1938) and Pogo.
In computing usage, popularized by the Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC), whose 1959 Dictionary of the TMRC Language, had an entry similar to the following, parodying the mantra Om mani padme hum (replacing om with foo):
Related also to foobar, which is presumably derived from foo rather than the reverse.
- Expression of disappointment or disgust.
- Oh foo - the cake burnt!
- (slang) fool, foolish person.
Abbreviation of fool (“foolish person").
- (slang) Alternative spelling of foo (short form of fool)