One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A boy engaged to help to operate or pilot a boat; a boatman's assistant or apprentice.
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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