The origin of this word comes from the island of Hispaniola, modern-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The natives there had a method of drying meat over open fires on a framework of sticks. This framework of sticks was called barbacoa in their language, which the Spanish adopted. This framework of sticks was also used by Europeans as a raised platform to sleep on, presumably to avoid snakes and of course without a fire underneath. Later of course, it was used as a grid upon which to broil or roast meat over an open fire. Its first appearance in English is c.1691 from Aphra Benn the dramatist when she wrote, “Let’s barbicu this fat rogue.” This figurative use of the word proves it was in use long before this. Do not fall for the often encountered origin that barbecue derives from the French barbe à queue which means from beard to tail indicating how one cooks a whole animal e.g. a pig or sheep over the coals. This is a lovely story but is pure folk etymology.