busboy, pizza delivery boy

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wanabee

Senior Member
Japanese
Dear all,

Could someone tell me how you feel when you see or hear the words "a busboy" or "a pizza delivery boy"? Would you picture an inexperienced, green young man? How old could he be? Or is he handsome?
I'd like to know how "boy" strikes you in those words.

I would appreciate any comments.
 
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  • rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've never heard of busboy. It must be AE. The word boy doesn't in itself suggest inexperience to me. Film sets have a best boy (presumably any age, although I don't know). There's also cabin boy (almost certainly young). Delivery boys needn't be particularly young, although I suppose you could say delivery man if you thought boy was condescending. You don't often see an old one.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    A busboy is an employee whose specific job is to clear ("bus") the tables in a restaurant after the diners have left, and then set up for the next group of diners. I would expect it to be someone relatively young and inexperienced, due to the low pay and the lack of real skill involved.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I know about busboys but it is not a term that we use here because it is AmE only, so there is no mental image for me.

    I would normally talk about a delivery man whether he was 18 or 60, and so if I hear delivery boy I would imagine a young person, say below 25. Could be handsome or ugly. Doesn't matter.
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    African American men of all ages endured the term "boy" for so many years that the word came to symbolize their oppression.
    You would be well advised not to use the term "boy" if the delivery man is African American.
    The traditional hotel employee who was traditionally summoned with a bell to help the traveler with baggage was often called a "bellboy".
    This term is often replaced by "bellhop" to avoid the problems of "boy".
    I did some websearching to see if the restaurant's "busboy" is ever replaced by "busman", but this word evidently means a bus driver—
    and it rarely occurs outside of the phrase "busman's holiday" (a vacation similar to your work, like that of a bus driver who goes on a bus tour).
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    The age-and-gender-neutral and oppression-free term for a "busboy" is a "busser": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busboy

    And I agree with Natkretep about "[pizza] delivery man": "delivery boy" sounds dated to me, evoking the days when 14-year-olds in flat cloth caps worked full-time jobs.
     

    Codyfied

    Senior Member
    It seems to still be used without much regard or insult to say "busboy" to mean one who is hired to clear and clean tables at restaurants. And there's no picture regarding age I'd have in my head. Young or old. Any sort busses tables or delivers pizza. I wouldn't say "delivery boy" though. Using boy after anything, when man, woman, person or deliverer can do, can give the wrong message. See Cenzontle's comment above.

    But from my having "bussed" tables at 17 years old for a year, if asked our position, even 30 years ago, it was just common for men and women to to say "I bus tables" without a label. I've never heard anyone addressed as a 'busgirl" either by customers or staff. Perhaps even avoided as one just waves and says "excuse me, ma'me", if Wannabee is considering using the term in one's writings. Or you could just throw in "I'm a busser" which means the same.
     

    Codyfied

    Senior Member
    Maybe :D

    Not only does our dictionary not recognize that meaning, but .....

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    buss /bʌs/n , vb
    • an archaic or dialect word for kiss

    I'm not sure the purpose of the OP's question about the curiosities of stereotypes of the word "busboy" and whether one conjures up a young handsome man and the likes, but I thought there were attempts to come up with alternative names, whether common, slang or otherwise. So the word may be hard to find defined, though I found many online references by searching the word "busser."

    The best I could do online is a reference with Oxford Dictionary if that works?

    http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/busser

    busser

    Syllabification: (bus·ser)
    Pronunciation: /ˈbəsər/
    Definition of busser
    noun

    a person who clears tables in a restaurant or cafeteria.


    • See also: http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/english/bus#bus__25 for clarification of spelling derivatives.

      verb (busses, bussing, bussed or buses, busing, bused)
    • 2 [with object] North American remove (dirty plates and dishes) from a table in a restaurant or cafeteria.
    • remove dirty plates and dishes from (a table)
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    I'm not sure the purpose of the OP's question about the curiosities of stereotypes ... and whether one conjures up a young handsome man and the likes...
    I wonder if the OP is thinking about a folkloric image of pizza delivery boys as an erotic target for lonely women? I Googled "pizza delivery boy" + "sex" and found 8 million hits, the first of which was:Have You Ever Wanted To Have sex With Your Pizza Delivery Boy? BE HONEST! But I think we can safely relegate this to the realms of urban myth.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Dear all,

    Could someone tell me how you feel when you see or hear the words "a busboy" or "a pizza delivery boy"? Would you picture an inexperienced, green young man? How old could he be? Or is he handsome?
    I'd like to know how "boy" strikes you in those words.

    I would appreciate any comments.
    "Boy" does sound a bit colonial now I come to think of it. For "boy" not to sound condescending he would have to be very young, and in my experience that isn't always the case. I don't think of someone handsome; perhaps a rather spotty youth.
    Influenced by too many American movies, my family tend to call him the pizza "guy" or "dude".
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I still use busboy from time to time (only for fairly young guys as they are performing the specific task of clearing tables in a restaurant), but that's the only generic "boy" in my vocabulary.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I still use busboy from time to time (only for fairly young guys as they are performing the specific task of clearing tables in a restaurant), but that's the only generic "boy" in my vocabulary.
    No bellboy, choirboy, cowboy, paperboy, playboy, schoolboy or tomboy in your life, Kate? :D

    On topic, I don't have a problem with busboy for a male of any age or appearance.
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    Eh, you got me - I use a few of those, notably cowboy and playboy. I do use schoolboy and tomboy, too, but only for actual, you know, children, so I'm not sure those count as generic "boys." I might use paperboy, too (again, only for a young male), but I don't see many of those any more. Our paper is delivered by a middle-age woman, actually.
     
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