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I wonder whether can we call someone a genius boy? I've been using this term to describe my cousin until someone told me that the correct usage should be boy genius.

The question is: Can we say Aaron is a genius boy? Is it wrong?

What do you think?

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7 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

"Genius" and "boy" are both nouns. (Note that the adjective "ingenious" in present English usage is not at all related to the word "genius".) Take some examples:

* Genius scientist

is wrong, instead we prefer

scientific genius

However, both

boy wonder

and

wonder boy

are acceptable, so it seems that "boy" can be used either as a noun modifier (noun-as-adjective) or as a noun.

I don't know if this generalizes to other words in similar categories or not, but I am 100% sure that the accepted and upvoted answer is wrong and thoroughly misguided.

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Nothing's wrong with your answer that I can see, but once again you point out that lotsoffreetime's answer is wrong. You don't mention why, though, which seems a touch discourteous, in addition to ineffective. Would you mind explaining, please? –  kitukwfyer Aug 19 '10 at 13:48
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Both are technically correct, but the idiomatic usage is "boy genius".

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It emphasizes the trait of genius being seen in the boy at an early age. –  oosterwal Jan 31 '11 at 22:40
    
Like "Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman astronaut." –  Jared Updike Mar 8 '11 at 18:59
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"Genius Boy" sounds sarcastic to me: "Everything was going great until Genius Boy here turned out the lights."

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It didn't sound sarcastic to me till I read this answer, and now it does. –  TRiG Oct 14 '10 at 20:11
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Boy genius can also be meant sarcastically, but someone described as genius boy is almost certainly a bit of a dunce. –  Marthaª Nov 9 '10 at 22:40
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I would say that the word "genius" in this context is being used as an adjective, which it is not - the adjective form is "ingenious". "Boy genius" is idiomatically preferable, as indicated elsewhere.

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Yet another bizarre, wrongheaded answer not only upvoted but accepted - "boy" is a noun as is "genius". –  delete Aug 19 '10 at 3:00
    
He says that "genius" is not an adjective and that "boy genius" is "idiomatically preferable," not that it's necessarily correct. –  kitukwfyer Aug 19 '10 at 13:44
    
I don't see much wrong with this answer. It is fine, as are several others. –  Cerberus Feb 28 '11 at 4:02
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You can say genius boy in the same way you say, for example, ninja boy (ninja is a noun that modifies a noun); the correct expression you are asking for is boy genius, though.

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Do you mean "cast iron"? Either way, "cast" here is being used as an adjective, being the (irregular) past participle of the verb "to cast". –  Steve Melnikoff Aug 21 '10 at 10:51
    
@Steve: Whoops; I was sure it was iron cast. I should find a case of <noun as adjective> <noun>. –  kiamlaluno Aug 21 '10 at 17:26
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Yes, you mean "boy genius" unless you are trying to create your own term.

I've never heard "genius boy", and "boy genius" is a standard term for "whiz kid": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_genius

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But what about "he is a genius boy"? Is it wrong? –  Graviton Aug 18 '10 at 15:43
    
No, it's not wrong. It's obvious what you mean. It's just a new term. –  Edward Tanguay Aug 18 '10 at 15:46
    
New term! Ah, I don't want to reinvent new terms. I'll just stick to boy genius then –  Graviton Aug 18 '10 at 15:50
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I wouldn't think of it being a formal term, but perfectly usable. The emphasis changes depending on the word order. "Boy genius" is talking about a genius who is a boy. "Genius boy" is talking about a boy who is a genius.

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