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.

10 Answers 10


"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?"

  • 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

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.


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.

  • 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
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    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

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

  • 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
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    @Rachel: again, metaphorical usage. Jul 14 '11 at 13:54
  • 9
    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. Jul 14 '11 at 21:24
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    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

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

O.E. deorling "darling, favorite minion"


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.

  • 5
    A leader might have several minions, though; what do you call the chief minion? Jul 14 '11 at 15:08
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    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
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    @Monica: See my answer. I couldn't believe Etymonline's definition of darling was actually favorite minion! 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. Jul 15 '11 at 1:40

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.

  • 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”? 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. Jul 15 '11 at 11:39

"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.


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
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    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. Jul 14 '11 at 14:55
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    Also, brown-nosers, butt-kissers, etc don't necessarily succeed; those terms describe the attempt to gain the status. 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
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    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

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".

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