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boy

Line breaks: boy
Pronunciation: /bɔɪ
 
/

Definition of boy in English:

noun

1A male child or youth: a four-year-old boy the survey showed that both boys and girls smoked regularly
More example sentences
  • It trades on facile ideas about city and country, youth and age, boys and girls.
  • There were old and young people, little boys and girls, teenagers and babies in prams.
  • The council is now made up of six boys and girls, all teenagers.
Synonyms
lad, schoolboy, child, little one, young one, youngster, youth, young man, young fellow, young adult, young person, teenager, adolescent, juvenile, minor, junior;
stripling, fledgling, whippersnapper;
Scottish & Northern English bairn, wean, laddie
British informal sprog
North American informal rug rat
Australian/New Zealand informal ankle-biter
derogatory brat, chit, urchin, guttersnipe
1.1A person’s son: she put her little boy to bed
More example sentences
  • One night as I was tucking the boys into bed, I noticed how much longer their legs seemed since our arrival.
  • Instead of cajoling the boys into bed around 8pm, Garfield now makes sure both are tucked up by 6.30.
  • She tucked the boys into their beds, read them a story and sat with them till they fell asleep.
1.2 [with modifier] A male child or young man who does a specified job: a delivery boy
More example sentences
  • Opperman initially worked as a bicycle messenger and telegram boy.
  • She stood at the front door watching the delivery boy hop back on his bicycle and peddle away.
  • He is busy juggling being a pizza delivery boy, a physics student and a superhero.
2 [usually with adjective] A man, especially a young or relatively young one: I was the new boy at the office
More example sentences
  • Like the late Nick Drake, local boy Summers seems too fragile a creature to last very long on this planet.
  • It is not hard to see why local boy Steinbeck loved this place despite his depiction of the harshness meted out to some.
  • It will be fantastic for the young kids in Keighley to see a local boy playing in rugby league's showpiece.
2.1 (boys) informal Men who mix socially or who belong to a particular group, team, or profession: he wants to stay one of the boys our boys have finished bombing
More example sentences
  • Mincing up to the two new boys on the team and asking, ‘Have you killed before?’ might seem a little abrupt.
  • As photographs emerged of British soldiers torturing prisoners - not our dear British boys!
  • Good, experienced players were omitted from the World Cup squad and the new boys didn't deliver.
2.2 dated A friendly form of address from one man to another, especially from an older man to a young man: my dear boy, don’t say another word!
More example sentences
  • My dear boy - in England some of still have a drink or two at lunch even on a working day.
  • Pentheus, my dear boy, some cruel insanity-jealousy perhaps has warped your mind.
  • Wheels of fate have already begun to turn my dear boy, ones that can no longer be stopped.
2.3 dated , offensive (Often used as a form of address) a black male servant or worker.
2.4A form of address to a male dog: down boy!
More example sentences
  • Bad dog! Down boy!
  • So during arrests he'd be yelling "Down boy! Down boy!" at the dog and journalists wrote about how hard the officer tried to get the dog off the criminal.
  • Sit! Good Boy!

exclamation

informal Back to top  
Used to express strong feelings, especially of excitement or admiration: oh boy, that’s wonderful!
More example sentences
  • We managed to clean up before we called for help so as not to look conspicuous but, boy!
  • Freddy vs Jason is the battle you've been waiting to see and, boy, does it raise the bar on excitement!
  • A bitter and biting December day in Balerno is no place for niceties and, boy, did these two teams not show us any niceties.

Origin

Middle English (denoting a male servant): of unknown origin.

More
  • A boy was originally ‘a male servant’; the origin is obscure. It is apparently identical to East Frisian boy ‘young gentleman’ and may be identical to Dutch boef ‘knave’. Although boy is used positively and indulgently in phrases such as that's the boy and one of the boys, the connotation of lower status persisted alongside this in its use as a form of address for summoning and giving orders to slaves or servants. This negative association has connections with the phrase good ole boy used to refer to a white male of the southern US portrayed as believing in simple pleasures, but with deep social and racial prejudices ( 1982 S. B. Flexner Listening to America 286: ‘A loyal southerner, with all the charm and prejudice the term conveys, has been widely called a good ole boy since the mid-1960s’). See also toy

Phrases

boys in blue

1
informal Policemen; the police: two dozen boys in blue arrive in full riot gear
More example sentences
  • Villagers are ready to step in to the boots of the boys in blue at a Bradford police station which was closed to the public for 30 years.
  • Hopefully the boys in blue and the plainclothes detectives will get things more under control.
  • Having experienced what life is like with the boys in blue, Councillor Ali will next be on ‘duty’ on 15 August when he joins a watch at Rochdale Fire Station.

boys will be boys

2
Used to express the view that mischievous or childish behaviour is typical of boys or young men and should not cause surprise when it occurs.
Example sentences
  • I thought Halloween was over but boys will be boys and he was gathering fireworks up.
  • Robert really does seem to be saying that speed limits should only be enforced in a very few places, and… elsewhere… well… boys will be boys.
  • Biology, it seems, is why boys will be boys, and why women would do well to get over it and stop demanding that they learn to talk about their inner landscapes.

the big boys

3
The most powerful and successful men or organizations: smaller supermarket chains are ganging together to beat the big boys at their own game
More example sentences
  • But one trend is clear: smaller retailers are suffering while the big boys are doing fine.
  • Somebody described hotels like ours as pilot fish for the big boys.
  • It also doesn't hurt that the big boys at Miramax are blowing their horns in support of the movie either.

that's my boy (or girl)!

4
Used as an expression of encouragement or admiration: Papa beamed, "That’s my boy!" Thorn gave me an approving look. "That’s my girl!"
More example sentences
  • A voice from overhead was heard saying, 'That's my boy!'!
  • Tall, lean, all in black, that's my boy!
  • Papa beamed, "That's my boy!"

Definition of boy in:

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