boss (n.1)

"overseer, one who employs or oversees workers," 1640s, American English, from Dutch baas "a master," Middle Dutch baes, of obscure origin. If original sense was "uncle," perhaps it is related to Old High German basa "aunt," but some sources discount this theory.

The Dutch form baas is attested in English from 1620s as the standard title of a Dutch ship's captain. The word's popularity in U.S. may reflect egalitarian avoidance of master (n.) as well as the need to distinguish slave from free labor. The slang adjective meaning "excellent" is recorded in 1880s, revived, apparently independently, in teen and jazz slang in 1950s.

boss (n.2)

"protuberance, button," c. 1300, from Old French boce "a hump, swelling, tumor" (12c., Modern French bosse), from either Frankish *botija or Vulgar Latin *bottia, both of uncertain origin.

boss (v.1)

"be master or manager of, to order and direct as a boss," 1856, from boss (n.1). Related: Bossed; bossing.

boss (v.2)

c. 1400, "to swell out; to beat or press into a raised ornament," from boss (n.2). From 1620s as "to furnish with bosses." Related: Bossed; bossing.

updated on July 15, 2017

Definitions of boss from WordNet
boss (n.)
a person who exercises control over workers;
Synonyms: foreman / chief / gaffer / honcho
boss (n.)
a person responsible for hiring workers;
the boss hired three more men for the new job
Synonyms: hirer
boss (n.)
a person who exercises control and makes decisions;
he is his own boss now
boss (n.)
a leader in a political party who controls votes and dictates appointments;
Synonyms: party boss / political boss
boss (n.)
a circular rounded projection or protuberance;
Synonyms: knob
boss (v.)
raise in a relief;
Synonyms: emboss / stamp
boss (adj.)
exceptionally good;
a boss hand at carpentry
Synonyms: brag
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.