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.

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    It's non-standard, but some anglophones often use 'boss' as a sign of respect. It sounds less starchy than 'Sir'. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 25 '15 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. – FumbleFingers Feb 25 '15 at 21:24
  • Does "Ծիրունյան" mean something? – Spehro Pefhany Feb 25 '15 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 :) – Armen Ծիրունյան Feb 25 '15 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." – David Garner Feb 26 '15 at 15:39

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.

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