1. A male child.
2. A son: his youngest boy.
3. Often Offensive A man, especially a young man.
4. Informal A man socializing in a group of men: a night out with the boys.
5. Offensive A male servant or employee.
Used to express mild astonishment, elation, or disgust: Oh boy—what a surprise!
[Middle English boi, male servant, churl, young male, possibly from Old French embuié, person in fetters, from past participle of embuier, to fetter, from buie, fetter, shackle, from Latin bōia, collar or yoke used to restrain criminals, probably from Greek boeiā (dorā), (skin) of an ox, an ox hide (such restraints being made from ox hide), from feminine of boeios, of an ox or oxen, of ox hide, from bous, ox; see gwou- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.