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?


Both are technically correct, but the idiomatic usage is "boy genius".

  • 1
    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

"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

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.

  • 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
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    I don't see much wrong with this answer. It is fine, as are several others. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Feb 28 '11 at 4:02

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.

  • 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

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

  • 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

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.


"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


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.

  • 3
    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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    This answer is wrong, pure and simple. Genius is both a noun and an adjective (“That’s an absolutely genius idea!” works fine), while boy is only a noun (“What a completely boy thing to do” does not work at all). There’s nothing ‘wrong’ about genius scientist or genius boy; it’s just that boy genius and boy wonder (both using boy as a noun adjunct) are idiomatic expressions, while genius boy and wonder boy are not. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 24 '14 at 12:50

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