Patrick from Bolton Landing, New York, visited a kazoo factory and museum in Beauford, South Carolina, which led him to wonder about the name of this buzzing musical instrument. The etymology is uncertain, but we do know that it’s also been called a gazoo, and that it was preceded by a similar instrument called a mirliton or unit flute. In the late 1800s when the word kazoo first appeared, there were several similar-sounding words for “fool” or “stupid person,” including gazook, gazabo, gazebo, and gazoo. These might have influenced the development of the name of an instrument that makes a silly sound. This is part of a complete episode.

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