A person who combines affluence and a successful career with a preference for countercultural ideas and artifacts.
"Bobos talk like hippies but walk like yuppies, decrying materialism while indulging in all manner of luxuries."
Victoria Loe Hicks, "Vision of the future," The Dallas Morning News, March 19, 2001
And this isn't just a matter of fashion accessories. If you investigate people's attitudes toward sex, morality, leisure time and work, it's getting harder and harder to separate the anti-establishment renegade from the pro-establishment company man. Most of us have rebel attitudes and conformist-success attitudes mixed together. The people who dominate the new Wayne and the rest of our national culture are both bourgeois and bohemian. Or to take the first two letters of those words, they are Bobos.
—David Brooks, "Why Bobos Rule," Newsweek, April 3, 2000
This word is a blend of the phrase bourgeois bohemian, which has been in the language for a long time, although it has usually been wielded as a mild insult. The shortened form is the invention of journalist David Brooks, who described this species in a more positive (although still often comical) light in his book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (Simon & Schuster, May 2000). Brooks also used the term in an April 3, 2000 Newsweek article titled, "Why Bobos Rule."
This book received a decent amount of press when it was published, so I wondered if bobo would find a place in the lexicon and, if it did, how long it would take. So I went in search of articles that use bobo but don't mention either Brooks or his book. Well, I can report that bobo certainly has found a cozy little linguistic nook to curl up in because I easily found dozens of citations that use the word without reference to its origins. Surprisingly, the first ones began even before the book was published (the citation below is almost certainly a reference to Brooks' Newsweek article):
"Costanoa staffer Jeff Brown says a name has been coined for those who like to be outdoors but in luxurious surroundings. 'I read about them the other day. They are called "bobos," which stands for bourgeois bohemians. At first I didn't like the term because it sounded like clowns, but I know exactly the type. They have bohemian-style environmental tendencies but also successful careers.'"
Jennifer Wolcott, "Luxury camping doesn't have to be an oxymoron," The Christian Science Monitor, April 25, 2000