Why do people sometimes say the boyfriend instead of my boyfriend? Is it slang native to a particular part of the country?

  • 2
    It's kind of like "the Donald" -- it conveys a certain special status (real or sarcastic, depending on context). I don't know that it's unique to any area, though likely "wife" is more likely to receive this special honor in some areas, "boyfriend' in others, etc.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 1:50
  • They could be (but probably aren't) emphasizing that they only have one boyfriend. Maybe they want to be clear about that, so there's no mistake.
    – JEL
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 4:45

4 Answers 4


Most commonly I hear it used by people who generally say "my boyfriend" ("My boyfriend is from Chicago") but might say "the boyfriend" when they find themselves saying something stereotypically what someone would say about a boyfriend, e.g., "I got my hair cut today, hope the boyfriend likes it!" or "I think we're free on Friday, but I'll have to check with the boyfriend!"

  • 1
    Yes, I think the definite article is used in contexts when one wants to emphasize the role of the individual as boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 1:59

I'm assuming you mean something comparable to "out with the wife," etc.

In that case, I think it just boils down to tradition and culture, and the memetic nature of the evolution of language. It also depends on the emotion that the speaking individual is wishing to communicate.


This question about 'my wife' versus the slightly idiomatic 'the wife' is related.

  • 1
    Great comment; thanks for linking to that discussion, which certainly seems to be related. Not really a full answer, though.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 11, 2015 at 5:10
  • Thanks for adding this link. I was thinking about how in the United States I sometimes hear "the wife" in a somewhat negative context but I don't think I've ever heard "the husband" (and my wife agrees). Somehow I can imagine hearing "the boyfriend" though so maybe I'll hear "the husband" some day too. Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 2:14

Ok so let me answer this in easy way, my opinion is I use the boyfriend instead of my, why? Because I use my for objects that are MY property or pets and also family members because we are related blood like wise, but I hate saying my friends, my boyfriend, because it makes me feel that they are an object or they are MY property which is not right. They are free on whatever they want to do they are not MINE they can leave they can come so I just feel more comfortable saying "The" instead of MINE(my) I feel you give more respect towards that person freedom and dignity and it just sounds better in my opinion otherwise, hope this answer help your question, have a great day :)!

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