The defiance in 2010 by two middle school female students in Easton, Pennsylvania, has led to a legal battle all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court on the use of a word to mean the female breast.

The students, Brianna Hawk, 15, and Kayla Martinez, 14, wore bracelets to promote breast cancer awareness. The bracelets contain the words I (heart) boobies. The two challenged their school's ban all the way to a U.S. appeals court and won.

However, the Easton Area School District is not giving up its fight and argument that the bracelets have sexual undertones that could result in disruption in the classroom and elevated the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Medical terminology generally uses the word breast to refer to the mammary glands, while boobs is considered a slang for that anatomical part often used in an informal way or in more pornographic context.

Green's Dictionary of Slang, published by lexicographer Jonathan Green, has 212 synonyms for the female breasts with some dating back to the 1600s. However, being in that dictionary confirms that boobs is not only one of the alternative terms for the breast but is a slang word.

Other terms listed include chugs, wallopies, grapefruits, zoomers, zogs, cajooblies, paps, apples, globes and lily white balls.

Boobs were initially bubby which was used the first time in 1680. Mr Green said the term could have come from the Latin word bibere which means to drink. He also theorised that it could be descriptive of the sound of a baby feeding from the breast of the mother. He added the word had became booby by the 1800s.

The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is backing the school in the legal battle, stating that while "one meaning [of 'I (heart) boobies!'] is innocuous and simply promotes breast cancer awareness ... [a]nother reasonable meaning has a sexual interpretation" that could not be proper in a middle school setting which could lead to a hostile environment.

The board added, "The fact that this kind of language may hold little shock value outside of school does not mean that educators can simply permit such a manner of expression."

Mr Green pointed out that if the female breast has more than 200 synonyms, the vagina has even more at 1,200. However, he insisted it is difficult to say is a word is lewd or not since that standard differs according to the eyes of the reader or ears of the hearer.


Another argument that the school could perhaps use in its favour is that no medical book or journal refers to cancer of the mammary glands as boobs cancer. Rather, the generally accepted and perhaps politically correct term has always been breast cancer.

On a lighter tone, most groceries or restaurants use the term chicken breast and not chicken boobs to refer the white meat part of the avian meat that is healthier than the legs or wings.