Sunday, 7 April 2013


B-boy, breakdancing, breakdancer, hip-hop, B-boying
Proof, if ever it was needed, that b-boys are exceptionally annoying when you're trying to read the paper
(photo of the Come Correct crew)


Noun. US slang. L20.
[b- probably from BEAT noun or BREAK-DANCING]

A young man involved with hip-hop culture.

It's hard to see the Oxford English Dictionary as an authority on anything hip-hop related, but it has tried valiantly and for that it deserves due credit. However, its rather broad definition of b-boy is sure to ruffle some shell suits as it would appear that the term is not quite as all-embracing as the OED makes out. Various other sources are quite clear that a b-boy is a dancer, an artiste in the craft of b-boying, rather than simply being a (young) man somehow and abstractly involved with hip-hop culture. B-boying, if you're wondering, is what the majority of us call breakdancing, though the term b-boying is preferred (breakdancing is seen as a moniker imposed on the art by the mainstream media after b-boying went commercial).   

Ultimately, I know I'm in danger of tripping myself up with this word and, as a thirty-something white man from Oxford with a vaguely posh accent, I'm probably in no position to be commenting on anything hip-hop related anyway. Therefore, I'm just going to leave you with some videos of what I think is authentic b-boying as performed by who I think are authentic b-boys. All definitions aside, whatever it is they're doing, it's all smashingly impressive.

Are you a b-boy? Do you b-boy? Has your life in anyway been affected by a b-boy? If so, keep it real in the comment section. Word.


  1. There was once a time in my life nothing was more attractive to me than a guy who could breakd- sorry b-boy. Now I'm just thinking about how embarrassing it would be if my boyfriend all of a sudden started jumping around and do handstands in the metro.

    But apart from that, it is really impressive to see how these guys (and girls too! Don't forget about the girls!) can move in ways I believe my body is anatomically incapable.

    1. You're right, Bibi - there are b-girls of course (although the OED doesn't carry that word! Pff!). When you read about hip-hop culture, including b-boying, a recurring theme is gender imbalance. I think I will have to do a special extra-lexiconical entry for b-girl when I get to that point in the dictionary : o )

    2. So I'll hear back from you in a year or two? :P

  2. Ed, your blog, for me, is like a sample plate outside a Michelin-star restaurant, offering a small but exquisite taste of an elusive, compelling and tantalistingly rich world of O.E.D. words.

    I find myself insatiable, intrigued, pleasantly-piqued, and ever-so slightly physically hungry.

    I'm off to find a biscuit.

    1. Wow! One of my favourite reader comments of all time ... it's a shame it's anonymous - I think you would have won a prize : o )