Fictional Characters dictionary


or ponyboy [poh-nee boi]

Who is Ponyboy?

Ponyboy Curtis is the main character and narrator of S.E. Hinton’s classic 1967 novel, The Outsiders. He is also the main character of the 1983 film adaptation, where he was played by C. Thomas Howell.

Within the BDSM community, ponyboy refers to a man who role-plays as a horse or pony for a dominant partner.

Where does Ponyboy come from?


Author S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders in her teens, inspired by the gang violence at her high school in Oklahoma. As her narrator, Ponyboy becomes the most familiar character to the reader—and remains emblematic of the book and its themes. His real name is Ponyboy, making him even more distinctive and memorable. A teenage orphan and member of the working-class gang the Greasers, Ponyboy goes on a journey of sobering experience that helps him mature as a person.

Ponyboy’s coming-of-age is represented by perhaps the most famous quote from the book: “Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.” Spoken to Ponyboy by a dying friend, the quote is a reference to a line in a Robert Frost poem the boys read together, “nothing gold can stay,” transformed into “stay gold” as a reminder for Ponyboy to hold onto his moral courage and personal strength. “Stay gold, Ponyboy” has since become a meme in the 2000s, and variations are still a popular reference in art and commercial design.

Although the 1967 novel was popular, the 1983 film adaptation made Ponyboy a much-better known character in pop culture. The movie featured several up-and-coming stars, including Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, and C. Thomas Howell as Ponyboy.

Outside of the book and movie meaning of Ponyboy, the BDSM meaning of ponyboy refers to a man who dresses, moves, or otherwise imitates a pony during sexual role-play. The female equivalent is called a ponygirl. While some trace sexual-animal role-play to ancient myths where gods take the forms of animals when having intercourse with humans (e.g., Zeus as a swan or bull), contemporary references to animal role-play come in erotic pulp magazines of the early 20th century. Artist John Willie is known in particular for his erotic illustrations of ponygirls during the 1940s. The term ponyboy itself is evidenced since the 1980s. Ponyboys generally play the submissive role in a BDSM encounter, and during both sexual and non-sexual play when they may allow their partners to groom or feed them. They may pull carts or wear harnesses, and they sometimes might use a special sex toy with a horse tail.

Examples of Ponyboy

@redtail, March, 2018
Marsha Durant took a step back and inspected her ponyboy. He had to look exactly right. There must be no blemishes, no imperfections to mar the impression they would make together.
hall2226, "The Perfect Ride" (, September, 2014
Life is messy, bruising, but also full of intoxicating adventures. Which might explain why I still love reading The Outsiders — a book that I first came to love as a kid — and why so many others are still reading it five decades after it was first published in 1967. Set in the 1960s, S.E. Hinton’s gritty coming-of-age story follows the greasers — narrator Ponyboy Curtis, his protective older brothers Sodapop and Darry, their skittish friend Johnny, arch-cool bad boy Dallas, and their other low-class gang pals — as they navigate teenage angst and class warfare in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Brandon Tensley, Pacific Standard, April, 2017

Who uses Ponyboy?

Ponyboy Curtis is an enduring character who is well-known in pop culture. His name may be referenced in regard to film history, young-adult literature, or in discussion of gang violence and childhood tragedy. As the sympathetic and nostalgic hero of a coming-of-age story, artists and entrepreneurs have chosen Ponyboy as the name for songs, bars, and professional pseudonyms. The “Stay gold, Ponyboy” meme is used to express solidarity or comfort to a vulnerable person.

The BDSM ponyboy is unfamiliar, and potentially inappropriate, outside the BDSM community. Among BDSM practitioners, however, ponyboy is a widely-accepted identifier for individuals who assume the role. The act of role-playing a ponyboy or ponygirl is called ponyplay.

Ponyboy, it’s worth noting, is very occasionally used as a slang term for a young gay man.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of Ponyboy like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Ponyboy that will help our users expand their word mastery.