The proper spelling of the Newfoundland slang “B’y”

30 Jul, 2009

There was some debate todate as to the proper spelling of the word b’y. Any good geek will look up the real answer to any debate so here I am.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador spells it “b’y.”

b’y {pronounced: BY} ~ 1. a young male person, a boy. 2. any male person regardless of age. “Have another piece of the cake, my dear, the b’ys are working”

About the author


I am an ex-pat Newfoundlander who has uprooted and moved to the big city of Toronto. I develop web applications for work and for fun. I play ultimate and ice hockey year-round and camp every chance my girlfriend will let me.

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  1. July 30, 2009

    That’s what I always figured. That it’s boy, shortened (as much as a one syllable word can be shortened) so the “o” is replaced with an apostrophe.

    Now as for “what are you at,” in Newfoundland slang form, I’m clueless. Any ideas?

  2. Greg Pike
    August 03, 2009

    @Darcy Fitzpatrick
    My best guess is: Whadd’ya at?

    That is what is listed under Newfoundland English Expressions on the Newfoundland English page of Wikipedia.

  3. Quahog
    December 24, 2010

    Yep! Remember well my Uncle Norm and Aunt Julie who practically raised me using the term “by” as “boy” when referring to a “man”. The greeting was always . . . “eh by . . whaddya at taday” They were originally from Harbor Grace, Norm was a veteran of the Newfoundland Regiment and served in WWI seeing serious action in France, Gawd, I loved those people and still miss them to this day.

  4. j p
    May 30, 2011

    Ahh, I always thought it was a contraction of the word ‘buddy’.

    @Greg Pike
    And ‘Whaddaya at’ or ‘whaddayat’ are acceptable forms. However, a lot of our slang is for speech only, we don’t write like that. Hence, you just have to sound it out and spell it as best you can!

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