In Bokeh: What it is and isn’t, Ross (Vox) says that although “bokeh” is the Japanese word for blurry, before this useful term degenerates into just another name for “blurry” we should take a stand to preserve its specific technical meaning:
Bokeh refers to the subjective quality of the blur. Is it “jangly” and busy-looking, or creamy and smooth? Do out-of-focus highlights have odd, distracting shapes, or are they unobtrusive circles? Does the blurred area seem to “swirl” around the center of the photo in arcs? These are some of the factors which might be mentioned as aspects of the bokeh for a particular lens. And these may be the reasons why a serious bokeh geek would chose one particular lens over a different brand with otherwise identical specs.
The word “bokeh” officially entered the English language in 1997, in an issue of the magazine Photo Techniques—whose editor Mike Johnston decided to add the final ‘h’ to make the pronunciation less ambiguous. He tells the story here, and includes some interesting photos showing different subjective effects in various blurred backgrounds.