a bolt-on wonder boy

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Agito a42

Senior Member
Source: Need for Speed - Most Wanted (2005), an American street racing video game.

Street racer Ryan arrives in Rockport, where he's met by the local racers:
Razor mockingly: Another bolt-on wonder boy looking to get smoked.

There is a number of WR threads on "bolt-on", but even after reading them, I'm not sure who a "bolt-on wonder boy" is. Is it a wonder boy who likes to decorate his car?
 
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's quite mysterious. As many parts of this game seem to be. I don't know that it has an obvious meaning outside the context of the game.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Bolt-on + noun" is used by car fans in a mildly derogatory phrase to refer to something that is cheap, quick and easy to apply, and ineffective."

    In your context "bolt-on boy wonder" - someone who thinks that he a superb driver but nobody esle does.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Paul, could it be referring to the type of person who enters a sport by buying all the latest, fanciest equipment before developing any actual skill? I know that there are people who spend a lot of money on fancy bicycles and fancy clothes to go with them who have no skill or experience as a serious bicycle rider.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Paul, could it be referring to the type of person who enters a sport by buying all the latest, fanciest equipment before developing any actual skill?
    I wouldn't have thought so: the use is
    A: "Dave says he's tuned his car."
    B: "Dave's an idiot - What's he done, bought a couple of bolt-on cylinders?"

    C: "Do you really think that the bolt-on aerofoil is going to give you any more grip? What did it cost, $20?"

    Basically, anything that is described as "bolt-on" may be superficially attractive but highly unlikely to be effective.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Sounds close to "lousy".
    1. "Lousy" is now a word that is somewhat out of fashion - I rarely hear it.
    2. No, that is not the meaning. Amateurish and inept are closer - or superfluous or supernumerary.
    3. The sense and meaning of "Bolt-on" when speaking of car accessories is (as you will notice by my difficulty in explaining) rather hard to describe - it contains the idea that there is a cheap and simple solution to the problem of making your car go faster, improving acceleration, braking, and/or road-holding - and there is not.

    It is part of this meaning that is used in the figurative use in your example.
    If I were to say to someone who writes computer programs "You are one bolt-on programmer", meaning they're of no use, would it be acceptable?
    No. Not at all.
    1. You should not use "one" in place of 'a/an' - it sounds as if you are trying too hard to be "cool" and that you are failing. "One", in this use is no longer idiomatic - really, it isn't - it sounds terrible.
    2. "A bolt-on programmer" would be a programmer, regardless of his abilities, who is added to a team not because he is necessary - he would not be - but because the client expects there to be a programmer on the team when, in fact there is no need for one.
     

    Agito a42

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Paul! All points you made in your previous post were very enlightening. I have a much better understanding of the OP phrase now. I only have one question left.
    Another bolt-on wonder boy looking to get smoked.
    In your context "bolt-on boy wonder" - someone who thinks that he a superb driver but nobody esle does.
    Do "wonder boy" and "boy wonder" have the same meaning?
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hmm... My mistake. "Boy Wonder" is the nickname of Batman's sidekick Robin: it is used to mean "a minor hero".

    "Wonder boy" is similar but more general - a title, used ironically, to indicate that the person thinks he is far better than he is.
     
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