No one knows for sure, but the most likely birthplace of the ‘barbecue; is the island of Hispaniola (home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Back in the 17th century, European settlers discovered natives cooking food on top of a frame of wooden sticks, which they called a ’barbicoa.‘ (The first reference to ‘barbecue’ dates from 1733, in the journal of a citizen of Salem, Massachusetts.)
Most folks have accepted ‘barbicoa’ as the most likely origin of ‘barbecue’, but there are a couple of other theories (which you can judge for yourself!). Some trace the origin of this word to the French phrase ‘barbe a queue,’ meaning ‘from head to tail’ (such as pig would appear on a spit). An even less likely story is that a pub advertised its ‘bar-beer-cue’ pig in the late 18th century (meaning customers could drink beer, play pool, and eat a roasted pig at the same time!).