Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A male child.
  • n. A son: his youngest boy.
  • n. Often Offensive A man, especially a young man.
  • n. Informal A man socializing in a group of men: a night out with the boys.
  • n. Offensive A male servant or employee.
  • interj. Used to express mild astonishment, elation, or disgust: Oh boy—what a surprise!

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Male servant.
  • interj. Exclamation of surprise, pleasure or longing.
  • v. To use the word boy to refer to someone.
  • v. To act as a boy (in allusion to the former practice of boys acting women's parts on the stage).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A male child, from birth to the age of puberty; a lad; hence, a son.
  • n. In various countries, a male servant, laborer, or slave of a native or inferior race; also, any man of such a race; -- considered derogatory by those so called, and now seldom used.
  • transitive v. To act as a boy; -- in allusion to the former practice of boys acting women's parts on the stage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To treat as a boy, or as something belonging to or befitting a boy.
  • To act or represent in the manner of a boy: in allusion to the acting by boys of women's parts on the stage.
  • n. A male child, from birth to full growth, but especially from the end of infancy to the beginning of youth: also applied to a young man, implying immaturity, want of vigor or judgment, etc.
  • n. In familiar or playful use (usually in the plural), a grown man regarded as one of the younger members of a family, as an intimate friend or associate, or as having in any respect a boyish relation or character.
  • n. Specifically, in the United States— In the South, especially before the abolition of slavery, a negro man.
  • n. An unscrupulous local politician, especially in a large city; one of the managers or subordinates of the “machine” of a party in local politics and elections: as, a ticket not acceptable to the boys.
  • n. A young servant; a page: as, “boys, grooms, and lackeys,”
  • n. [Supposed by some to be “a corruption of Hind. bhaiee, a servant”; but the Hind. word, prop. bhāī, means ‘brother,’ and boy in this use is merely the E. word. Cf. boy.] In India and the treaty-ports of China and Japan, etc., a native male servant, especially a personal servant; a butler or waiter, house-boy, office-boy, etc., as distinguished from a coolie or porter: in common use among foreigners.
  • n. Old boy, a familiar name for the devil.
  • n. Roaring boys. See roaring.
  • n. In India, as far north as the Nerbudda river, a palankin-bearer. Yule and Burnell, Anglo-Ind. Glossary.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a male human offspring
  • n. (ethnic slur) offensive and disparaging term for Black man
  • n. a friendly informal reference to a grown man
  • n. a youthful male person

Etymologies

Middle English boi, possibly from Old French embuié, servant, past participle of embuier, to fetter.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"), Eastern Frisian boi ("boy, young gentleman"), 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 dialectal Bube ("boy, lad, knave"), Icelandic bófi ("rogue, crook, bandit, knave"). See also bully. (Wiktionary)

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