boy

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See also: Boy

English[edit]

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Painting of a boy (c. 1811)
Two Arab boys (c. 1910)

Alternative forms[edit]

  • boi (Jamaican English)

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English boy, boye ‎(servant, commoner, knave, boy), from Old English *bōia ‎(boy), from Proto-Germanic *bōjô ‎(younger brother, young male relation), from Proto-Germanic *bō- ‎(brother, close male relation), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰā-, *bʰāt- ‎(father, elder brother, brother). Cognate with Scots boy ‎(boy), West Frisian boai ‎(boy), Middle Dutch boi, booi ‎(boy), Low German Boi ‎(boy), and probably to the Old English proper name Bōia. Also related to West Flemish boe ‎(brother), Norwegian dialectal boa ‎(brother), Dutch boef ‎(rogue, knave), German Bube ("boy; knave; jack"; > English bub), Icelandic bófi ‎(rogue, crook, bandit, knave). See also bully.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

boy ‎(plural boys)

  1. A young male, [from 15th c.] particularly
    1. A male child or teenager, as distinguished from infants or adults.
      • 1876, Frances Eliza Millett Notley, The Kiddle-a-Wink, "A Tale of Love", p. 169:
        "He is not quite a baby, Alfred," said Ellen, "though he is only a big stupid boy. We have made him miserable enough. Let us leave him alone."
  2. (diminutive) A male child: a son of any age.
    • Walter Scott
      My only boy fell by the side of great Dundee.
  3. (affectionate, diminutive) A male of any age, particularly one rather younger than the speaker. [from 17th c.]
  4. (obsolete) A male of low station, (especially as pejorative) a worthless male, a wretch; a mean and dishonest male, a knave. [14th-17th c.]
  5. (now rare and usually offensive outside some Commonwealth nations) A male servant, slave, assistant, or employee, [from 14th c.] particularly:
    • c. 1300, King Horn, line 1075:
      þe boye hit scholde abugge; Horn þreu him ouer þe brigge.
    • 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, i, 37:
      ‘Why does he go out and pinch all his dogs in person? He's an administrator, isn't he? Wouldn't he hire a boy or something?’
      ‘We call them “staff”,’ Roger replies.
    1. A younger such worker.
      • 1721, Penelope Aubin, The Life of Madam de Beaumount, ii, 36:
        I resolved to continue in the Cave, with my two Servants, my Maid, and a Boy, whom I had brought from France.
    2. (historical or offensive) A non-white male servant regardless of age, [from 17th c.] particularly as a form of address.
      • 1625, W. Hawkins in Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, Vol. I, iii, vii, 211:
        My Boy Stephen Grauener.
      • 1834, Edward Markham, New Zealand or Recollections of It, 72:
        They picked out two of the strongest of the Boys (as they call the Men) about the place.
      • 1876, Ebenezer Thorne, The Queen of the Colonies, or, Queensland as I Knew It, 58:
        The blacks who work on a station or farm are always, like the blacks in the Southern States, called boys.
      • 1907 May 13, N.Y. Evening Post, 6:
        [In Shanghai,] The register clerk assigns you to a room, and instead of ‘Front!’ he shouts ‘Boy!’
      • 1960 February 5, Northern Territory News, 5/5:
        Aborigine Wally... described himself as ‘number one boy’ at the station.
    3. (obsolete) A male camp follower.
  6. (now offensive) Any non-white male, regardless of age. [from 19th c.]
    • 1812, Anne Plumptre translating Hinrich Lichtenstein, Travels in Southern Africa, in the Years 1803, 1804, 1805, and 1806, Vol. I, i, viii, 119:
      A Hottentot... expects to be called by his name if addressed by any one who knows it; and by those to whom it is not known he expects to be called Hottentot... or boy.
    • 1888, Louis Diston Powles, Land of Pink Pearl, or Recollections of Life in the Bahamas, 66:
      Every darky, however old, is a boy.
    • 1973 September 8, Black Panther, 7/2:
      [In Alabama,] Guards still use the term ‘boy’ to refer to Black prisoners.
    • 1979, Bert Newton and Mohammed Ali, The Logie Awards:
      BN: [repeating a catchphrase] I like the boy.
      MA: [to hostile audience] Hold it, hold it, hold it. Easy. Did you say ‘Roy’ or ‘boy’?
      BN: ‘I like the boy’. There's nothing wrong with saying that... Hang on, hang on, hang on... I'll change religion, I'll do anything for ya, I don't bloody care... What's wrong with saying that? ‘I like the boy’?
      MA: Boy...
      BN: I mean, I like the man. I'm sorry, Muhammad.
  7. (in affectionate address) A male animal, especially a male dog. [from 15th c.]
    C'mere, boy! Good boy! Who's a good boy?
  8. (historical, military) A former low rank of various armed services; a holder of this rank.
    • 1841 May 6, Times in London, 5/4:
      Wounded... 1 Boy, 1st class, severely.
    • 1963 April 30, Times in London, 16/2:
      He joined the Navy as a boy second class in 1898.
  9. (US, slang) Heroin. [from 20th c.]

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Interjection[edit]

boy

  1. Exclamation of surprise, pleasure or longing.
    Boy, that was close!
    Boy, that tastes good!
    Boy, I wish I could go to Canada!

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

boy ‎(third-person singular simple present boys, present participle boying, simple past and past participle boyed)

  1. to use the word boy to refer to someone
    Don't boy me!
  2. (transitive) to act as a boy (in allusion to the former practice of boys acting women's parts on the stage)
    • Shakespeare
      I shall see some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967

Statistics[edit]

Most common English words before 1923: five · need · met · #395: boy · c. · strong · dead

Anagrams[edit]


Cebuano[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From English boy.

Noun[edit]

boy

  1. houseboy, errand boy

Synonyms[edit]


Dutch[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from English boy.

Noun[edit]

boy m ‎(plural boys, diminutive boytje n)

  1. a male domestic servant, especially colored in a colony

See also[edit]


French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from English boy.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

boy m ‎(plural boys)

  1. (now historical, offensive) boy (non-white male servant)
    • 1930, André Malraux, La Voie royale:
      Claude allait l'ouvrir mais le ton sur lequel le délégué appelait son boy lui fit lever la tête : l'auto attendait, bleue sous l'ampoule de la porte; le boy, qui s'était écarté – en voyant arriver le délégué sans doute – se rapprochait, hésitant.

External links[edit]


Italian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from English boy.

Noun[edit]

boy m ‎(inv)

  1. a male ballet dancer
  2. a bellboy (in a hotel)

Ladino[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowing from Turkish boy ‎(stature, size).

Noun[edit]

boy m ‎(Latin spelling)

  1. age, size

Portuguese[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Shortening of office boy, from English office boy.

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

boy m (plural boys)

  1. office boy
  2. (Brazil, slang) a young, upper-class male
Synonyms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Noun[edit]

boy m (plural boys)

  1. Obsolete spelling of boi

Sranan Tongo[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From English boy.

Noun[edit]

boy

  1. boy

Turkish[edit]

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Please see the discussion on Requests for cleanup(+) or the talk page for more information and remove this template after the problem has been dealt with.

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old Turkic bod, from Proto-Turkic *bod. See archaic bodur ‎(stout, short).

Noun[edit]

boy ‎(definite accusative {{{1}}}, plural {{{2}}})

  1. stature
    Boyun ne kadar?‎ ― How tall are you? (lit. "How much is your stature?")
  2. size
    küçük boy‎ ― small size
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old Turkic bod, from Proto-Turkic *bod.

Noun[edit]

boy ‎(definite accusative {{{1}}}, plural {{{2}}})

  1. tribe, clan
    eski Türk boyları tarihi‎ ― history of ancient Turkish clans
Declension[edit]