From Middle English boy, boye (“servant, commoner, knave, boy”), from Old English *bōia (“boy”), from Proto-Germanic *bōjô (“younger brother, young male relation”), from Proto-Germanic *bō- (“brother, close male relation”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰā-, *bʰāt- (“father, elder brother, brother”). Cognate with Scots boy (“boy”), West Frisian boai (“boy”), Middle Dutch boi, booi (“boy”), Low German Boi (“boy”), and probably to the Old English proper name Bōia. Also related to West Flemish boe (“brother”), Norwegian dialectal boa (“brother”), Dutch boef (“rogue, knave”), German Bube ("boy; knave; jack"; > English bub), Icelandic bófi (“rogue, crook, bandit, knave”). See also bully.
boy (plural boys)
- A young male. [from 15th c.]
- (particularly) A male child or teenager, as distinguished from infants or adults.
- (diminutive) A male child: a son of any age.
- (affectionate, diminutive) A male of any age, particularly one rather younger than the speaker. [from 17th c.]
- (obsolete) A male of low station, (especially as pejorative) a worthless male, a wretch; a mean and dishonest male, a knave. [14th-17th c.]
- (now rare and usually offensive outside some Commonwealth nations) A male servant, slave, assistant, or employee, [from 14th c.] particularly:
- A younger such worker.
- (historical or offensive) A non-white male servant regardless of age, [from 17th c.] particularly as a form of address.
- (obsolete) A male camp follower.
- (now offensive) Any non-white male, regardless of age. [from 19th c.]
- A male animal, especially, in affectionate address, a male dog. [from 15th c.]
- (historical, military) A former low rank of various armed services; a holder of this rank.
- (US, slang) Heroin. [from 20th c.]
- Exclamation of surprise, pleasure or longing.
boy (third-person singular simple present boys, present participle boying, simple past and past participle boyed)
- To use the word “boy” to refer to someone.
- (transitive) To act as a boy (in allusion to the former practice of boys acting women's parts on the stage).