See more synonyms for doughboy on
  1. Informal. an American infantryman, especially in World War I.
  2. a rounded mass of dough, boiled or steamed as a dumpling or deep-fried and served as a hot bread.

Origin of doughboy

1675–85; dough + boy; sense “infantryman,” from mid-1860s, is obscurely derived; two plausible, but unsubstantiated claims: doughboy orig. referred to the globular brass buttons on infantry uniforms, likened to the pastry; dough referred to a clay used to clean the white uniform belts Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for doughboy

doughboys, serviceperson

Examples from the Web for doughboy

Historical Examples of doughboy

  • This story was from the lips of a doughboy whose home was in Philadelphia.

    The Fight for the Argonne

    William Benjamin West

  • But if a doughboy could not or would not pay, no questions were asked.

  • "Yes, sir, we certainly did see some aeroplanes," said a doughboy.

    The A.E.F.

    Heywood Broun

  • The doughboy was afraid it was going to be some more nurses and doctors.

    The A.E.F.

    Heywood Broun

  • I was in a base hospital one day when a doughboy came in all gory about the head.

    The A.E.F.

    Heywood Broun

British Dictionary definitions for doughboy


  1. US informal an infantryman, esp in World War I
  2. dough that is boiled or steamed as a dumpling
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 doughboy

"U.S. soldier," 1864, American English, said to have been in oral use from 1854, or from the Mexican-American War (1847), it is perhaps from resemblance of big buttons on old uniforms to a sort of biscuit of that name (1680s), but there are various other conjectures.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper