Boyfriend is a person's regular male companion in a romantic or sexual relationship, while the term "boy friend" (note the space) can refer to a male non-romantic and non-sexual friend.


The term is most commonly used to describe any male person who is in a romantic relationship with another person.

Partners in such non-marital relationships are also sometimes described as a significant other, life partner or simply partner, especially if the individuals are cohabitating. At times, since "boyfriend" and "partner" mean different things to different people, the distinctions between the terms are subjective, and which term is used in a relationship will ultimately be determined by personal preference. In 20th century United States, women were often interviewed by Gentleman callers, men who would arrive at the home of a young woman with the hopes of a potential date.

When used by a boy or man about another male in a non-sexual, non-romantic context, especially when it's a friendship between a girl and a boy, they use the term "guy friend" so it would avoid confusion with the sexual or romantic meaning.

Though nuanced, there is a significant difference between girlfriend and boyfriend, and girl friend and boy friend. In a strictly grammatical sense, a girlfriend or boyfriend is an 'individual of significance' with whom one shares a relationship. A girl friend or boy friend, however, is simply a friend identified on the basis of gender. Since the pronunciation is the same, these words may occur to be false friends.

Unlike girlfriend, boyfriend is never used to refer to non-romantic friends (and heterosexual men do not use girlfriend to refer to their female non-romantic friends).

Word history

In the past it had implications of an illicit relationship (as sexual and romantic relationships outside marriage were generally frowned upon). It is now a generally accepted term, however, no longer having negative connotations. An earlier usage in print, dating from July 1889, is discussed in Neil Bartlett's, Who Was That Man? A Present for Mr Oscar Wilde. On pages 108-110, Bartlett quotes from an issue of The Artist and Journal of Home Culture, which refers to Alectryon as "a boyfriend of Mars."


  • Certain terms suggest an older man, e.g. daddy, gentleman caller, gentleman friend, main man, man, old man, sugar daddy, while the contrary is true of young man.

Additionally, gender-indiscriminate terms also apply, e.g., true love and some more specific terms such as cavalier, wooer, and gender-neutral ones like date, escort, steady or suitor; furthermore, non-gender specific euphemisms such as admirer, companion,

  • leman or lemman, an archaic word for "sweetheart, paramour," from Medieval Briatian leofman (c.1205), from Old English leof (cognate of Dutch lief, German lieb) "dear" + man "human being, person" was originally applied to either gender, but remarkably usually meant mistress
  • Users of Internet slang often shorten boyfriend to the acronym bf or the contraction boyf.

Notes and references

External links

See also

Search another word or see boyfon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature