interjection Also oh, boy.

an exclamation of wonder, approval, etc., or of displeasure or contempt.

Nearby words

  1. boxing ring,
  2. boxroom,
  3. boxthorn,
  4. boxwood,
  5. boxy,
  6. boy band,
  7. boy racer,
  8. boy scout,
  9. boy scouts,
  10. boy scouts of america

Origin of boy

1250–1300; Middle English boy(e), perhaps after Old English Bōia man's name; cognate with Frisian boi young man; akin to Old English bōfa, Old Norse bōfi, Old High German Buobo man's name (German Bube knave, (dial.) boy, lad)

Can be confusedboy buoy

Usage note

During the slavery and Jim Crow eras, white southerners would use the term boy to refer to or address a black adult male, implying that black people were inferior. In the meaning “native male servant,” boy was originally used in colonial territories and in the ports of China, Japan, etc., through which trade with foreign countries was permitted by special treaty. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for boy

British Dictionary definitions for boy



a male child; lad; youth
a man regarded as immature or inexperiencedhe's just a boy when it comes to dealing with women
informal a group of men, esp a group of friends
usually derogatory (esp in former colonial territories) a Black person or native male servant of any age
Australian a jockey or apprentice
short for boyfriend
boys will be boys youthful indiscretion or exuberance must be expected and tolerated
jobs for the boys informal appointment of one's supporters to posts, without reference to their qualifications or ability
the boy Irish informal the right tool for a particular taskthat's the boy to cut it


an exclamation of surprise, pleasure, contempt, etcboy, is he going to be sorry!

Word Origin for boy

C13 (in the sense: male servant; C14: young male): of uncertain origin; perhaps from Anglo-French abuié fettered (unattested), from Latin boia fetter

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 boy


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with boy


In addition to the idiom beginning with boys

  • boys will be boys

also see:

  • fair-haired boy
  • mama's boy
  • separate the men from the boys
  • whipping boy
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.