One of my colleagues in Britain keeps addressing me as "Armen boss" in mails and skype.


Hi, Armen boss. Can you please verify...?

I am in no conceivable way his boss and our relationship is restricted to occasional work-related correspondence. Does this form of address mean anything in British English or is it an idiosyncrasy I will have to either silently accept or get the courage to ask him about directly? As far as I know, he's a native speaker of British English.

  • 2
    It's non-standard, but some anglophones often use 'boss' as a sign of respect. It sounds less starchy than 'Sir'. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 21:17
  • I'm more familiar with chief than boss as a "general" term of address, but I don't recall ever hearing anyone use either of those terms as well as an actual name. Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 21:24
  • Does "Ծիրունյան" mean something? Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 21:30
  • @SpehroPefhany: My great grandfather's last name was "Ծերունյան", which meant (-ish) "elderly", but then it was misspelt and it doesn't mean anything any more. Definitely not boss :) Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 21:45
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    If it helps, around Liverpool people who work in various services sometimes use 'boss' or 'chief' to address a 'client' [always male-to-male, I think]. E.g. at a garage: "Park it round the side, boss." Commented Feb 26, 2015 at 15:39

6 Answers 6


I am British and I sometimes call people "boss" in a very informal way, e.g. "Cheers, boss!" as an alternative to "Thanks, mate!" Thinking about situations where I would say that, it does tend to be with someone I don't know very well, like a shop employee, and most often when they have been useful or helpful. A typical conversation might be:

"Can you tell me where the baked beans are?"

"Certainly, they're on aisle 22, past the tinned tomatoes."

"Cheers, boss"

Hence, it would appear that there is a tiny amount of deference involved in how I use the word, plus I feel that it would make the person providing the information feel that I had treated him as an equal, rather than adopting a customer/server relationship.

I haven't come across anyone saying "#insert name# boss", but I can certainly imagine it happening in a jokey, light-hearted atmosphere.


The use of "boss" in addressing someone has fallen from use in the US. It is used when discussing one's supervisor/employer/business superior, "Jim is my boss." This is probably due, in large part, to the general use of first names in most business contexts.

I have heard the use of "boss" among people from India.


In the American South: Boss(term of endearment "mostly" but can be used to open an insulting statement.) = a big, large and or overweight man/boy.



Semi-related as well is the use of "boss" as way to indicate mastery. As a low-hanging fruit, consider show "Cake Boss". It has nothing to do with literally being a manager of cakes (although I suppose the people in the show do that too after a fashion), but instead it means the 'stars' of Cake Boss have mastered the ins and outs of baking cakes.


It's in replacement of the words "man" "bro" "buddy" "pal" "friend" or just a casual way to address another man. Stems from a more slang use of the word boss instead of badass or similar word so has transitioned from a compliment to quite a casual every day name.

He simply means hello armen my friend or something similar.

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    But is that sequence, with no pause, "Eoin boss" a natural way to say it where you're from? To me (General American English), it is entirely wrong sounding, but at a stretch I could maybe interpret it as Indian English.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 20:24

Perhaps you colleague is using this...

baas noun
South Africa, from Afrikaans, from Dutch
: BOSS, MASTER —used especially by nonwhites when speaking to or about Europeans in positions of authority

  • Seems unlikely given the OP did say the colleague is using the standard English spelling "boss", but even if they were saying "baas" wouldn't it still be strange to say "Armen baas"?
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 20:51

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