Good ol' boy

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For the term related to schooling, see Old boy network.

Good ol' boy (also good old boy) is an American 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, Ohio, and Southern New Jersey.

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 by the slang term, good ol' boy network (also known as an old boys' club; however, note that in certain countries in the Commonwealth including the UK, an old boys network or club has a very different meaning involving alumni).

In England[edit]

The term is also used in Peterborough, England and the surrounding Fens areas, where it refers to a likeable person.

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.