I heard the phrase Danny boy mentioned many times. I'm sure only British people get it. It can be also heard on this song on YouTube:

It sounds like, sort of a name but I'm pretty sure it has a meaning. I don't know why but it sounds good on my ears. What's the meaning of it in plain English?

EDIT: Wikipedia says a son going off to war or leaving as part of the Irish diaspora. So does it mean a Patriotic boy?

  • 2
    Did you google "danny boy"? May 10 '16 at 4:28
  • 4
    The song is about a mother seeing her boy Danny (Danny Boy) off to war, or perhaps emigrating to someplace like America (that's why the pipes are calling). The mother goes on to say she'll be waiting for him when he gets back, unless she is dead (as well she might be), in which case to come visit her grave. It was a very popular song in the earlier 20th century, to the point of being a cliché. Just the sort of thing that drunk people like to sing when in the throes of nostalgic melancholy.
    – BobRodes
    May 10 '16 at 6:24

The term just means the boy's name DANNY, followed by a sort of affectionate appositive name BOY. It is similar to saying Samantha Dear or Rachel Girl. The name John Boy (an American equivalent to Danny Boy?) also comes to mind.

There is also a novel called Danny Boy, written in 2000 by Jo Ann Goodwin. The Oxford English Dictionary uses over 30 quotations from this novel as examples of today's English language usage.

There is another use of Danny Boy, different from that of the Danny Boy of the song, which I've heard in old movies, and which is expounded by a popular (as in written by the average person) but accurate definition from the Urban Dictionary

Danny boy is a boy that made you feel comfortable right away, a person that you can share everything with and know that they wouldn't judge you. A person who knows what your thinking by just reading your expressions or looking into your eyes. Someone that you can talk to for hours without getting bored. The sweetest guy you'll meet.. that's a danny boy.

That's my danny boy

  • Um no @WendiKidd, next time you want to rollback a version of my own answer to a version that was not the one selected, one that is materially different than the version I settled on, just delete the answer instead of mauling my heartfelt work with no comment from you. Jul 19 '16 at 8:01
  • I think that you can shorten this by taking out the first paragraph, which is contradicted somewhat by the rest of the post, and just say it's akin to the term "sweetie" or someone with a sweet disposition. I don't want to make those edits though because I don't want to change the answer that much without your approval.
    – JFA
    Jul 20 '16 at 17:22
  • This post was flagged as not an answer to the question because it contains mostly quotes from urban dictionary, which is rarely an appropriate source for ELL answers. I looked through the revision history and found a version that had useful information without the urban dictionary quotes, and chose to roll it back rather than delete to preserve the useful content. You're correct that I should have left a comment explaining the action; I will keep that in mind for the future. In this instance: please edit your answer to not consist of urban dictionary references as primary source material.
    – WendiKidd
    Jul 23 '16 at 15:51
  • If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to let me know. I apologize for taking action without explanation; I understand that this could be disconcerting to experience.
    – WendiKidd
    Jul 23 '16 at 15:52
  • @WendiKidd On occasion, for slang terms not defined or illustrated elsewhere, we here at ELL do utilize The Urban Dictionary. I have removed the second, longer quote but feel compelled to leave the second one in. Also both here but perhaps more on ELU, I have seen entire answers consisting of nothing but a long quote of material found on other sites including Quora, Wikipedia, and miscellaneous other sites. I tend to decry this practice as being unworthy of a SE answer. Jul 23 '16 at 16:34

The context of the reference to Danny Boy is that someone is singing while drunk: "He drinks a Whiskey drink, he drinks a Vodka drink He drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink He sings the songs that remind him of the good times He sings the songs that remind him of the best times (Oh Danny Boy, Danny Boy, Danny Boy)"

Possibly there is no deeper meaning to the choice of song, other than that it's a well-known song which many people might sing while drunk. Later in the song: "... He sings the songs that remind him of the best times (Don't cry for me, next door neighbour)"

This is possibly a parody of "Don't cry for me, Argentina", from the musical 'Evita' by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which is another well-known song which some people might sing while drunk. (They can't use the exact words because they are under copyright.)


You must log in to answer this question.

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