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1A boy engaged to help to operate or pilot a boat; a boatman's assistant or apprentice.
2Anglican Church Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church. An altar boy who carries the incense boat during services, accompanying the thurifer carrying the censer.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Nathaniel Whiting (d. 1682), satirist and nonconformist minister. From boat + boy. With sense 1 compare earlier ship-boy.
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The definitions of ‘buddy’ and ‘bro’ in the OED have recently been revised. We explore their history and increase in popularity.