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boss (one) about

To tell one what to do. This phrase is often used to emphasize that someone's behavior is controlling and unwarranted. You can't boss me about just because Mom isn't here! My friend at work got promoted, so now he thinks he can boss me about.
See also: boss

boss (one) around

To tell one what to do. This phrase is often used to emphasize someone's behavior as controlling and/or unwarranted. You can't boss me around just because Mom isn't here! My friend at work got promoted, so now he thinks he can boss me around.
See also: around, boss

boss lady

The most powerful woman in a particular setting. A: "Should we set these tables up here?" B: "I don't know, ask the boss lady."
See also: boss, lady

boss man

The most powerful man in a particular setting. A: "Should we set these tables up here?" B: "I don't know, ask the boss man."
See also: boss, man

boss up

slang To begin to act or approach something with resolve, determination, and all of one's effort. If I really wanted that promotion, I knew I was going to have to boss up. You'll need to start bossing up if you want to get your idea off the ground.
See also: boss, up


A confident, capable woman who pursues her own ambitions instead of working for others or otherwise settling in life. (Despite the name, a girlboss does not necessarily have her own business.) The phrase was popularized by Sophia Amoruso, founder of the fashion company Nasty Gal. Why are you still working in this dead-end job? You need to be more of a girlboss and take control of your life.

show (one) who's boss

To demonstrate authority or dominance over one so that it is clearly recognized, especially by means of defeat or some form of subjugation. You can't keep letting your employees walk all over you like that. You need to show them who's boss. You saw what their players said about us on Twitter. Let's go out there and show them who's boss in this conference.
See also: boss, show

straw boss

A mid-level or junior supervisor with minimal authority over others. My official title was kitchen manager, but I was really just a straw boss since I couldn't do more than schedule shifts and order supplies. She's nothing more than a straw boss, but Janet acts like she runs the place now.
See also: boss, straw

who died and made you boss

slang A set phrase used to express frustration with another's bossiness. A: "You have to clean your room and take out the trash before you go out tonight." B: "Geez, who died and made you boss?" Who died and made you boss? Quit telling me what to do!
See also: and, boss, die, made, who

you heard (one)

One was clear in one's instructions or commands, so don't complain or argue and just do what one said. A: "I want this whole house cleaned from top to bottom before you go!" B: "What? Aw, come on—that's not fair!" A: "You heard me. Now get moving!" You heard the boss—either do the work you're paid to do, or get out!
See also: hear

boss someone around

to give orders to someone; to keep telling someone what to do. Stop bossing me around. I'm not your employee. Captain Smith bosses around the whole crew. That's his job.
See also: around, boss

boss around

Tell someone what to do, give orders. For example, David complained that his older sister was always bossing him around. The use of boss in the sense of "to dominate" dates from the mid-1800s, and around was added a few decades later.
See also: around, boss

straw boss

A subordinate boss, a worker who supervises other workers as well as performing regular duties. For example, Jim was pleased when he was promoted to straw boss. This term alludes to the person's position as a straw man, that is, a front or cover for the real boss and of only nominal importance. [Late 1800s]
See also: boss, straw

show someone who's boss

make it clear that it is yourself who is in charge.
See also: boss, show, someone

show somebody who’s ˈboss

make it clear to somebody that you have more power and authority than they have: I think it’s time we showed these people who’s boss, don’t you?
See also: boss, show, somebody

boss around

To give someone orders in a forceful and unpleasant way: My older brothers and sisters are always bossing me around. What gives you the right to boss around everyone on the playground?
See also: around, boss


mod. excellent; powerful; superior. That is a boss tune.

boss dick

n. a cop; a police officer. (see also dick = detective.) The boss dick slugged me in the face and said I should be more careful.
See also: boss, dick

boss lady

n. the woman in charge. You’ll have to ask the boss lady.
See also: boss, lady

boss man

n. the man in charge. I guess the boss man is about ready to retire.
See also: boss, man

straw boss

n. a foreman; anyone who is second in command. I don’t mind being a straw boss as long as they pay me.
See also: boss, straw
References in periodicals archive ?
Whatever the issue, good bosses support their employees.
Some bosses focused their attention on setting the bar at the right level such that their international protege was challenged but not overwhelmed.
What bosses think: Very defensive, guarded and possibly uncooperative.
Sutton is an entertaining writer, and his ability to deftly combine scientific research, real-life examples and common-sense analysis makes Good Boss, Bad Boss a must-read for bosses and would-be bosses alike.
So sometimes, people have no option but to tolerate such bosses. The fear of loss of a job or advancement puts subordinates at a disadvantage as they are in no position to correct unacceptable behaviour of their rude bosses.
Probably most descriptive and entertaining is her comparison of abrasive bosses to bears in the wild.
Some managers pay attention to managing either their own bosses or those people who report to them.
Nurses who perceived lack of respect, fairness or sensitivity in their supervisors had dramatically higher blood pressure throughout the day than nurses working for bosses who were judged as considerate and empathetic.
Much as I'd like to see all these miscreants brought to justice, I tend to think the emphasis on bad bosses is a little misguided.
Defective bosses: working for the dysfunctional dozen, Kerry Carson and Paula Phillips Carson
"If you happen to be one of those people unfortunate enough to work for one of these bosses from hell, it may make you feel better to know that you're not alone," says Shaun Belding, author of Dealing With The Boss From Hell.
It includes profiles of some of the more common bad bosses, such as the No-Boss Boss, the Pass the Buck Boss and the one that is Clueless but Connected.
It is also clear that members are never consulted; it is the bosses who make the decisions.
BOSSES in Edinburgh are some of the most pessimistic in the country about prospects for the coming 12 months.