booby hatch

Booby prize

A booby prize is a joke prize usually given in recognition of a terrible performance or last-place finish. A person who scores last, for example, may get a booby prize such as a worthless coin. Booby prizes are sometimes humorously and jokingly coveted as an object of pride.

Booby prizes, however, may not be given just to those who just have a terrible performance. At times, booby prizes can be given to all participants of a competition except for the first, or top three placers.


The word "boob" stems from the Spanish bobo meaning stupid, which in turn came from the Latin balbus meaning stammering; the word booby to mean dunce appeared in 1599.

Booby-prize literally means "idiot's prize". The OED dates this usage to 1893. Booby trap and booby hatch are related terms.


  • An award is given annually for Mr. Irrelevant, the professional American football player each year who is selected last in the NFL draft.
  • A Red Lantern is given to the cyclist who finishes last in the Tour de France.
  • A wooden spoon is a common booby prize which is awarded in such sports as Rugby Union, Rowing and in particular to the bottom team on the ladder in AFL (Australian Football League).
  • The anthropomorphic Dusty Bin was given as a booby prize in the TV game show 3-2-1.
  • Sometimes, if a player does not receive the correct ticket in the "Tombola" game on Neopets, there are "booby prizes" given to the player.
  • A number of game shows have used their own terminology to describe booby prizes, won by contestants who had made either a poor decision or an unlucky choice. On Let's Make a Deal, booby prizes were called "zonks," while the Chuck Barris-produced The New Treasure Hunt called these items "klunks."

In addition, at least one game on The Price Is RightAny Number — offers a booby prize-of-sorts for a losing contestant: a cash prize of less than $10 for revealing the three numbers in the piggy bank prize's blanks (before completing the price of either one of the two more desirable prizes).

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