Good ol' boy

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Good ol' boy or good old boy is an American English slang term that can have both positive and negative meanings, depending on context and use.[1] The term is commonplace in the Southern United States. The same phrase with purely positive connotations is used in part of England.

In the United States[edit]

Positive aspects[edit]

The term can be used for well socialized men who live in rural and generally Southern areas. If a man is humble and well thought of, he can be referred to as a good old boy, regardless of his age.

It is also commonly applied to men from a family with multi-generational wealth or prestige, or to men who behave like a Southern gentleman.

Negative aspects[edit]

Pejoratively, the phrase can often suggest a man with an anti-intellectual bias or some other intolerant viewpoint.[1]

The phrase also can refer negatively to someone who engages in cronyism among men who have known each other for a long period of time. Collectively, these people are referred to as a good ol' boy network, or an old boys' club.

In England[edit]

The term is also used in parts of England,[citation needed] where it refers to a likeable man, typically of middle age or older. In certain countries in the Commonwealth, including the UK, an old boys network or club has a very different meaning involving alumni.

Other uses[edit]

The term can also refer to the mixed drink which is a combination of equal parts rum and root beer, typically in large quantities.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. p. 757. ISBN 0-618-70172-9. OCLC 535837910. n. Slang: A man having qualities held to be characteristic of certain Southern white males, such as a relaxed or informal manner, strong loyalty to family and friends, and often an anti-intellectual bias and intolerant point of view.