[baws, bos]
  1. a person who employs or superintends workers; manager.
  2. a politician who controls the party organization, as in a particular district.
  3. a person who makes decisions, exercises authority, dominates, etc.: My grandfather was the boss in his family.
verb (used with object)
  1. to be master of or over; manage; direct; control.
  2. to order about, especially in an arrogant manner.
verb (used without object)
  1. to be boss.
  2. to be too domineering and authoritative.
  1. chief; master.
  2. Slang. first-rate.

Origin of boss

1640–50, Americanism; < Dutch baas master, foreman

Synonyms for boss


[baws, bos]
  1. Botany, Zoology. a protuberance or roundish excrescence on the body or on some organ of an animal or plant.
  2. Geology. a knoblike mass of rock, especially an outcrop of igneous or metamorphic rock.
  3. an ornamental protuberance of metal, ivory, etc.; stud.
  4. Architecture.
    1. an ornamental, knoblike projection, as a carved keystone at the intersection of ogives.
    2. a stone roughly formed and set in place for later carving.
  5. Bookbinding. one of several pieces of brass or other metal inset into the cover of a book to protect the corners or edges or for decoration.
  6. Machinery. a small projection on a casting or forging.
  7. Nautical. a projecting part in a ship's hull, or in one frame of a hull, fitting around a propeller shaft.
verb (used with object)
  1. to ornament with bosses.
  2. to emboss.
  3. (in plumbing) to hammer (sheet metal, as lead) to conform to an irregular surface.

Origin of boss

1250–1300; Middle English boce < Anglo-French: lump, growth, boil; Old French < Vulgar Latin *bottia, of uncertain origin Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bossed

Contemporary Examples of bossed

  • A sudden switch may see you in charge of those who previously bossed you.

    The Daily Beast logo
    What the Stars Hold for Your Week

    Starsky + Cox

    June 19, 2011

  • Joey bossed me around a lot and one of the ways of doing that was to get her way through flattering me.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How I Found My Voice

    Carly Simon

    June 7, 2009

Historical Examples of bossed

  • He'd bossed them and taught them until they felt capable and glamorous and proud.

    Pariah Planet

    Murray Leinster

  • She bossed me around a good deal, but I didn't mind bein' bossed by her.

    The Woman-Haters

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The greatest Empire that the world ever saw to be bossed by a party of priests!

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • "I never was so bossed in my life——" a sudden strength came into his voice.

  • I worked with some mates first, and then I bossed a mine down Grass Valley.

    Picked up at Sea

    J.C. Hutcheson

British Dictionary definitions for bossed


  1. a person in charge of or employing others
  2. mainly US a professional politician who controls a party machine or political organization, often using devious or illegal methods
  1. to employ, supervise, or be in charge of
  2. (usually foll by around or about) to be domineering or overbearing towards (others)
  1. slang excellent; finea boss hand at carpentry; that's boss!

Word Origin for boss

C19: from Dutch baas master; probably related to Old High German basa aunt, Frisian baes master


  1. a knob, stud, or other circular rounded protuberance, esp an ornamental one on a vault, a ceiling, or a shield
  2. biology any of various protuberances or swellings in plants and animals
    1. an area of increased thickness, usually cylindrical, that strengthens or provides room for a locating device on a shaft, hub of a wheel, etc
    2. a similar projection around a hole in a casting or fabricated component
  3. an exposed rounded mass of igneous or metamorphic rock, esp the uppermost part of an underlying batholith
verb (tr)
  1. to ornament with bosses; emboss

Word Origin for boss

C13: from Old French boce, from Vulgar Latin bottia (unattested); related to Italian bozza metal knob, swelling




noun plural bosses or bossies
  1. a calf or cow

Word Origin for boss

C19: from dialect buss calf, perhaps ultimately from Latin bōs cow, ox


n acronym for (formerly)
  1. Bureau of State Security; a branch of the South African security police
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bossed



"overseer," 1640s, American English, from Dutch baas "a master," Middle Dutch baes, of obscure origin. If original sense was "uncle," perhaps it is related to Old High German basa "aunt," but some sources discount this theory. The Dutch form baas is attested in English from 1620s as the standard title of a Dutch ship's captain. The word's popularity in U.S. may reflect egalitarian avoidance of master (n.) as well as the need to distinguish slave from free labor. The slang adjective meaning "excellent" is recorded in 1880s, revived, apparently independently, in teen and jazz slang in 1950s.



"protuberance, button," c.1300, from Old French boce "a hump, swelling, tumor" (12c., Modern French bosse), from either Frankish *botija or Vulgar Latin *bottia, both of uncertain origin.



1856, from boss (n.1). Related: Bossed; bossing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bossed in Medicine


  1. A circumscribed rounded swelling; a protuberance.
  2. The prominence of a kyphosis or humpback.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.