In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates was defeated in a friendly fight by his friend, professor Renmark, and he was astonished by the fighting skill of this quiet educated professor

Oh, I say, Renny, that wasn’t fair. That was a kick.”

“No, it wasn’t. It is merely a little French touch. I learned it in Paris. They do kick there, you know; and it is good to know how to use your feet as well as your fists if you are set on by three, as I was one night in the Latin Quarter.”

Yates sat up.

“Look here, Renmark; when were you in Paris?”

“Several times.”

Yates gazed at him for a few moments, then said:

“Renny, you improve on acquaintance. I never saw a Bool-var in my life. You must teach me that little kick.

What does a "Bool-var" mean here?

  • 22
    I saw the title of the question and thought it meant "Boolean variable", but the year disabused me of that notion Mar 1, 2021 at 11:11
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    @CopperKettle Since boolean variables are named after George Boole, who established boolean logic in 1847, and died December 1864, 30 years before In the Midst of Alarms was published, and seeing that lady Ada Lovelace wrote what is now regarded as the first computer program (note the variables in the photo!) in 1842, your disabusement can now be disabused! Mar 1, 2021 at 18:53
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    ...although it was my first thought as well! Guess boolean variables weren't in common use by the man in the street in Paris in the 1890s though 😃 Mar 1, 2021 at 19:03
  • @ReversedEngineer They're not in common use by the man in the street in Paris (or anywhere else) today! Sure, I know a lot of us here are programmers, so of course we all know that term, but average folks probably don't. Mar 2, 2021 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


The spelling "Bool-var" is an attempt to render the French pronunciation of boulevard, in which the 'e' in the middle and the 'd' at the end are silent: /bul.vaʁ/ (in IPA). In the English pronunciation, the 'e' and the 'd' are not silent: /ˈbuː.ləˌvɑːd/ or /ˈbʊləvɑɹd/.

There are many well-known boulevards in Paris, such as the Boulevard Haussmann and the Boulevard des Italiens.

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