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Alternative forms[edit]


boss +‎ man. First used in the late 1940s, though the usage of "boss" by itself as a form of contempt or to show that one is on their guard dates back to 1552. Term seems to have originally been a pejorative term for a local official.


  • (US, New England): IPA(key): /bɔsmæn/
  • (file)


bossman (plural bossmen)

  1. (colloquial) A male boss; an employer.
    • 2004, quoted in Laurie Kroshus Medina, Negotiating Economic Development:
      Valerie nodded her head and added, "The workers don't back you up. They want to cooperate when they don't see the bossman, but as they see the bossman, they get frightened. []
  2. (vocative, colloquial) Term of address for an unfamiliar, possibly distrusted man.
    Synonyms: buddy, friend
    You should watch what you say, bossman.
    I don't know what to tell you, bossman.
  3. (vocative, colloquial) Term of address for a man who appears stalwart or dauntless.
    You really showed them, bossman. What's your name?
    Hey, bossman. It's been a while since you last passed through here. Are there any new goings-on?

See also[edit]