I've updated my question Is there a better word for "boss” in this sentence? as requested, explaining why “boss” is not suitable.

Please check and vote to re-open.

  • 1
    I don't see the point in re-opening your question. It is still not clear what you are asking. Part of the difficulty seems to be your inability to accept the idea that at some jobs, a foreman or crew boss might choose to be pro-active and go check the most obvious fault point in the electrical system when all the electricity goes out... May 3, 2021 at 19:08
  • @Cascabel, so boss also is the correct word, you mean. no better word in the given example, that is what you say?
    – Rachayita
    May 3, 2021 at 22:56
  • @Cascabel what is the difference between this closure and if some one replies and I accepted the answer and marked it with tick mark? the one you closed will not appear in stackexchange? or any other difference?
    – Rachayita
    May 4, 2021 at 10:57

1 Answer 1



I doubt your question will be re-opened. The bottom-line reason is that the question is unlikely to occur to anyone else, and any answers won’t provide insight about English as a language.

Let me explain that in a bit more detail. The place to start is to understand that our mission on the StackExchange network is to build a vast and long-lasting library of Q&A which will be as useful to as many people as possible, now and in the future.

The StackExchange Model

The models to contrast are a reference work vs a help desk. We are a building a reference work: a single resource many people can consult to solve a wide variety of problems on their own, as opposed to a help desk, dealing with each individual’s problems one at a time¹.

To ensure we are working to advance the former goal (reference work) and not the latter (help desk), a variety of administrative features and processes were introduced. Closure is primary among them.

An Example

To clarify this a little, it might help to draw a parallel which is less personal, so you can see the bigger picture:

StackOverflow (SO), the grandfather of all the StackExchange sites, including EL&U, set the model for our Q&A format, and was the driving force behind the question closure process.

Among its curated set of standard closure reasons (each one introduced to deal with a particular kind of question which pulled the site away from “reference work” towards “help desk”), SO has a standard closure reason for “question asking about a problem arising from a typographical error”. This is designed for the situation where, e.g., a program refuses to compile, the programmer comes here to ask why, and someone points out they simply missed a semicolon.

The reason these questions are closed is because they’re unlikely to help anyone else; that particular program with its particular typo will never re-occur, and the “solution” won’t help anyone reason about the programming language, the compiler, or gain knowledge or insight to solve any other question.

If we try to rescue the question by generalizing it, there too we founder, because the question doesn’t contain a grain of generalizable insight to expand upon.

The “solution” to the “generalized problem” is nothing but “understand your language’s syntax and how to read compiler error messages, which point to where you made a typo”. As you can see, this advice is so general it’s all but useless, and thus, too, not valuable as a Q&A pair.

The Model Applied to Your Question

And so, too, with your question. The impetus for the question is, instead of a “typo”, a “thinko”.

In particular, the misconception that the word “boss” in English necessarily indicates a high-ranking executive in a suit and tie, rather than anyone who is in charge of other people². I imagine this confusion was born of taking English as a second language.

The issue with that, as in the missing semicolon example, is there’s nothing generalizable about it. There’s no insight to be drawn. If it were a common misconception, it might have been worth addressing.

But it’s not common: it’s unique to you; the mental equivalent of a typo. Which means it doesn’t help us predict what misconceptions the next person who comes along might have, what words might confuse them, such that we could answer your question in a way that helps both you and them. It’s a one-off, and thus any answer can’t be reused.

In short, an answer might help you, but it won’t help anyone else reading it in the future, and those are exactly the kinds of questions which closure is designed to prevent. To allow us to be a vast, long-lived, reusable reference work, without devolving into a help desk.

On Reference Works

While we're on the topic of reference works, it's worth pointing out there's a good way to test if your question fits EL&U's charter before asking.

The first thing you should do before asking here is see if your doubts can be cleared up by referring to the more familiar types of reference works: in particular dictionaries and theasauri.

Because we're a reference work, we don't want to simply recapitulate the knowledge contained in other, professionally-curated references. So questions which can be answered by a dictionary or other "general reference" are similarly closed.

Here's the gloss for boss from Merriam-Webster (the first dictionary I happened to check):

Definition of boss (Entry 1 of 6)
1: a person who exercises control or authority
specifically : one who directs or supervises workers

Which supports just what people have been telling you in the comment-discussions: boss is a perfectly suitable word.

Now, I am not accusing you in any way of not checking a dictionary. Rather, I suspect what's going on is you have English as a second language, and the reconciliation of these sorts of glosses with usages you see in the wild is much more difficult than it would be if you had spent every waking hour since birth practicing the language like native speakers have. Without that kind of familiarity, it may indeed seem to a non-native speaker that this gloss actually supports your discomfort with this word in this context.

But in other cases, referring to the dictionary, or better, cross-checking a couple, may indeed clear things up for you.

That said, I'm really raising this point not only to ask you to check general references before asking, but to point out that we have a site dedicated to those learning English as a second language, who are very familiar with the common hurdles learners have to overcome to master English in all its messiest aspects: English Language Learners (aka ELL).

You might consider asking any future questions on ELL, because they are familiar with similar struggles, are practiced in coaching learners through them, and are less insistent that askers check the dictionary/thesaurus/etc before posting a question.

By contrast, EL&U's target audience is "linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts", so it can be harder to navigate without a native- or near-native command and fluency in the language³.

In short, EL&U is for questions which would occur to or interest native speakers (or equivalent fluency), and ELL is for helping those learning English overcome the many hurdles English puts in their way.

Thus, what might be closed here on EL&U as "unlikely to occur to a native speaker" often becomes a poster-child kind of question which receives a lot of attention and assistance on ELL, because what might help one learner might help another.

So, while I'm not sure they would accept your boss question either, for the same reasons as I laid out above, I suspect they might.

The Fate of Closed Questions

Finally, in a comment, you ask:

what is the difference between this closure and if some one replies and I accepted the answer and marked it with tick mark? the one you closed will not appear in stackexchange? or any other difference

The short story is: because your question is (a) closed and (b) has no posted answers, one of StackExchange's bots (lovingly called "Roomba", after the robot vacuum cleaner) will delete it within a couple weeks. You can read all the details here.

Note that so long as you have the link, you can always revisit the page and you will be able to see the question, as could anyone on EL&U who has the link and 10,000 reputation points or more, but otherwise it will be invisible.

It won't show up in searches, and no one else (with less than 10K rep on EL&U, i.e. most of the world) will be able to see it if you send them the link (this "deletion means hiding as opposed to obliteration of the data" is called "soft deletion"; there is a mechanism for hard deletion, but it's only used for actively harmful posts, and only StackExchange employees can do it; users, even diamond mods, cannot).


¹ But, you might ask, why not both?. First, because having a pile of one-and-done helpdesk questions will bury the re-usable reference questions, making them harder to find (even with advanced search technology like Google), and second, to ensure people are working on high-value activity (helping as many people as possible), instead of spending that same time on low-value activity (helping only one person with a point problem).

² Note that in many fields, one gets the opportunity to lead people by doing the job exceedingly well yourself for a period of time, such that the higher-ups say “hey, if that guy can teach and manage other guys to be as good as he, then we’d be a lot more productive. Let’s give him a team to train and manage”. Et voila, you’re a boss.

But then of course you’re also an expert in the subject matter to a degree your staff may not be, having less experience than you do, so you may be called in to solve problems they’re unable to handle. So yes, the boss may have to check the breaker box from time to time.

³ Note this is not to say non-native speakers are unwelcome or not present on EL&U: in fact several of our moderators, and many of our regular and high-rep users, learned English as a second language. But you'd never be able to tell from reading their prose; they have achieved native-level fluency.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .