Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Over dinner tonight, one of the guests was describing herself as her boss's favorite employee, and asked for a term to describe this. As the only guest who spoke English as a first language, the question fell on me, but I could not think of any such term. Is there one? It would be similar to "teacher's pet" to describe a teacher's favorite student, but in the professional realm. "Boss's pet" just doesn't seem to fit.

share|improve this question
add comment

10 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

"Blue-eyed boy" is an idiomatic term used to describe "a person highly regarded by someone and treated with special favour".

... the problem that managers may favour their blue-eyed boys

2004, Jonathan Stroud, The Golem's Eye,

"Keep it up, Mandrake," he said. "Just keep it up. You may be the Prime Minister's blue-eyed boy now, but how long's that going to last if you don't deliver?"

share|improve this answer
    
It's apparently only common in European/Australian English, but it fits the definition perfectly. And I don't have anything against using European idioms, even though I'm in the U.S. Thanks! –  Flimzy Sep 2 '12 at 5:13
add comment

Neutral or positive connotations:
- star employee (this may be closest to "teacher's pet")
- protege (if the boss is nurturing the employee in some way)

Negative connotation:
- golden boy

Some of the terms suggested here (like "brown-noser") describe someone who is attempting to gain this status, but not all brown-nosers succeed. So a manager's favorite employee might or might not be a brown-noser, but being a brown-noser doesn't ensure that you're the favorite.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Most terms for that relationship tend to have negative connotations. If it is a more positive relationship where the boss is mentoring your friend or grooming her for a better position, she would be his protégé.

share|improve this answer
2  
I think that protégé has the potential to be a very loaded word - it could potentially give the wrong impression about the relationship between the boss and the employee. The key here is the mentoring, as you mentioned. I think that Protégé requires that some teaching be taking place. –  Andy F Jul 14 '11 at 15:11
1  
OP merely stated the person was the boss's favorite. No mentoring or grooming in the question at all. –  webbiedave Jul 14 '11 at 16:21
add comment

I'd actually use "teacher's pet" — use of metaphors is allowed in English.

share|improve this answer
1  
A boss and a teacher are two different things, two very very different things. Apologies for the down-vote. –  Rachel Jul 14 '11 at 13:21
5  
@Rachel: again, metaphorical usage. –  Mark Wallace Jul 14 '11 at 13:54
7  
A boss and a teacher are very different things, but the phrase "teacher's pet" is well-known enough that it can be applied to non-teachers. –  DJClayworth Jul 14 '11 at 21:24
2  
Yes, definitely a metaphor...and definitley well-known enough, but not the most precise and best-suited term (in my humble and not necessarily correct opinion) that could be used in this case for that very reason! :) –  Rachel Jul 15 '11 at 6:22
add comment

I think this person could describe themselves as the darling of the boss:

darling
O.E. deorling "darling, favorite minion"

share|improve this answer
add comment

I would actually use the term "minion", which is defined as a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power; a favored or highly regarded person.

"Highly favored or regarded person" is kind of similar to a "teacher's pet" although it isn't using incorrect terminology to describe the people involved.

share|improve this answer
5  
A leader might have several minions, though; what do you call the chief minion? –  Monica Cellio Jul 14 '11 at 15:08
3  
Agree with Monica's criticism, but still +1 just because I love that word. Another great similar word is toadie –  T.E.D. Jul 14 '11 at 17:15
    
I don't think someone would describe themselves as a 'minion' as it is somewhat derogatory, nor does it convey the meaning of favourite because as @Monica says, a boss may command many minions. –  z7sg Ѫ Jul 14 '11 at 19:06
1  
@Monica: See my answer. I couldn't believe Etymonline's definition of darling was actually favorite minion! –  Callithumpian Jul 14 '11 at 22:37
    
@Callithumpian, "darling" sounded like a great word for this when I saw it earlier even without knowing this definition. Nice one. –  Monica Cellio Jul 15 '11 at 1:40
show 4 more comments

Common practice at my workplace has been that the favourite employee is labelled the "Golden Boy". Not sure how widespread that usage is though, and converting that to "Golden Girl" for the other gender sounds like an unflattering TV show reference.

share|improve this answer
    
I've also heard the term blue-eyed boy being used, even when the person being discussed does not have blue eyes. –  crowne Jul 14 '11 at 15:03
    
Similar to "golden", I've seen "fair-haired" boy/girl used for one who can do no wrong (regardless of actual hair color). –  PSU Jul 14 '11 at 15:55
    
@crowne, PSU: Some people might take offense at those, though. –  JAB Jul 14 '11 at 17:52
    
Related: What is the etymology of “golden boy”? –  Callithumpian Jul 14 '11 at 18:03
    
Where I work, the boss' favourite, (i.e., the one who can do no wrong), is called the golden child. Interestingly, the only people I've known to have earnt that description were all men, but I never heard anyone else use 'golden boy' in place of 'golden child' to describe them. –  bracho monacho Jul 15 '11 at 11:39
add comment

"Boss's pet" is the first thing I thought of, based on the concept of a "teacher's pet" being the favored student of that teacher. So I think most people who know what "teacher's pet" means would understand what you meant if you used that.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Off the top of my head I can't think of many terms of endearment for the type of person you describe, let alone how such a person would describe oneself, but perhaps "Right hand man" is appropriate.

Although your guest wouldn't wish to refer to herself as any of the below, the following terms can be used disparagingly to refer to the kind of person you describe.

A few that immediately spring to mind are:

  • Brown Noser
  • Boot Licker

And the more coarse

  • Arse Licker
  • Butt Kisser
share|improve this answer
2  
Aside from "right-hand man", these terms all disparage the employee as seeking the status. That's different from an employee chosen by the boss as favorite. –  Monica Cellio Jul 14 '11 at 14:55
1  
Also, brown-nosers, butt-kissers, etc don't necessarily succeed; those terms describe the attempt to gain the status. –  Monica Cellio Jul 14 '11 at 14:56
    
@Monica: You're right, I misread the question. I don't think the guest in question would want to describe herself as any of these things. I have edited the answer to reflect this. –  Andy F Jul 14 '11 at 15:03
3  
Q: What's the difference between butt-kissing and brown-nosing? A: Depth perception. –  MT_Head Jul 14 '11 at 17:55
    
LOL @ MT_Head - touche! (<-- note, not English, but a nice way to bring usage into my otherwise unproductive comment). –  Rachel Jul 15 '11 at 17:51
add comment

If the person has been given a measure of authority by the boss and is the "go to guy" when the boss has a problem, he or she might be described as "The boss's right-hand man".

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.