a male child, from birth to full growth, especially one less than 18 years of age.
a young man who lacks maturity, judgment, etc.
Informal. a grown man, especially when referred to familiarly: He liked to play poker with the boys.
a son: Sam's oldest boy is helping him in the business.
a male who is from or native to a given place.
boys, (used with a singular or plural verb)
a range of sizes from 8 to 20 in garments made for boys.
a garment in this size range.
the department or section of a store where these garments are sold.
boys, military personnel, especially combat soldiers: Support the boys overseas.
Disparaging and Offensive. a term used to refer to or address a man considered by the speaker to be inferior in race, nationality, or occupational status.
a young male servant; page.
Offensive. (in India, China, Japan, etc.) a native male servant, working as a butler, waiter, houseboy, etc.
Nautical. an apprentice seaman or fisherman.
interjection Also, oh, boy.
an exclamation of wonder, approval, etc., or of displeasure or contempt.

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)

boy, buoy.

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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
boy (bɔɪ)
1.  a male child; lad; youth
2.  a man regarded as immature or inexperienced: he's just a boy when it comes to dealing with women
3.  See old boy
4.  informal a group of men, esp a group of friends
5.  derogatory usually (esp in former colonial territories) a Black person or native male servant of any age
6.  (Austral) a jockey or apprentice
7.  short for boyfriend
8.  boys will be boys youthful indiscretion or exuberance must be expected and tolerated
9.  informal jobs for the boys appointment of one's supporters to posts, without reference to their qualifications or ability
10.  informal (Irish) the boy the right tool for a particular task: that's the boy to cut it
11.  an exclamation of surprise, pleasure, contempt, etc: boy, is he going to be sorry!
[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 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

mid-12c., boie "servant, commoner, knave, boy," possibly from O.Fr. embuie "one fettered," from V.L. *imboiare, from L. boia "leg iron, yoke, leather collar," from Gk. boeiai dorai "ox hides." But it also appears to be identical with E.Fris. boi "young gentleman," and perhaps with Du. boef "knave,"
from M.Du. boeve, perhaps from M.L.G. buobe. This suggests a gradational relationship to babe. Used slightingly of young men in M.E.; meaning "male negro slave or Asian personal servant of any age" attested from c.1600. (Words for "boy" double as "servant, attendant" across the I.E. map -- e.g. It. ragazzo, Fr. garçon, M.E. knave, O.C.S. otroku -- and often it is difficult to say which meaning came first.) Amer.Eng. expression oh, boy attested from 1917.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with boys, also see fair-haired boy; mama's boy; separate the men from the boys; whipping boy.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences for Boy
When the boy is ready to be married, his mother will initiate him in the use of
  the coca.
The boy tried to conceal the book, fearing the reaction of his grandfather.
In the final scene, fran mentions a boy that she dated years ago.
Women were thus better suited to these boy roles than actual boys.
Image for Boy
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