This isn’t one of those words I expected to be surprised by–but I was.
So. Waaaay back in the day, in the 1300s, the word boss was in English. But it was a noun meaning “a protuberance, a button.” It came from the French boce, which meant “something swollen or protruding.”
For nearly 350 years, that was the only boss in the English language…until American English adopted the same word in imitation of the Dutch baas, which means “overseer.” Americans, you see, had an interest in a word other than “master” for someone in charge of a workplace, especially to distinguish between slave and paid labor. So around 1640, boss became the American term for an overseer, especially on a ship.
It wasn’t until 1856 that boss is recorded as a verb. And not until 1882 that bossy became a word. (Though back in the Middle Ages, bossy was used to mean “something decorated with buttons.” Wee bit different meaning there!) So all in all, a much newer word than I thought, with a far different meaning before the familiar one came about!
I’m going live on Facebook at 7 p.m. EDT to talk about A Soft Breath of Wind. Which has some of my all-time favorite elements and characters in it, and I’m so excited to chat with you about Zipporah and Samuel and Benjamin and Dara!