plural -s
: a brightly colored European fish (Box vulgaris) of the family Sparidae having a compressed body

Word History


borrowed from Latin bōca, borrowed from Greek, from the stem of bōk,- bôx, contracted form of bóāx, bóēx, perhaps a derivative of boḗ "cry, shout," probably of onomatopoeic origin

Note: Greek bôx is found in Aristotle's Historia Animalium (610b). This and other forms (as uncontracted bóāx, bóēx), culled from earlier Greek authors, are cited by Athenaeus (2nd/3rd century a.d.) in his Deipnosophistae. According to Athenaeus, the bôx was named for its cry (Greek boḗ "cry, shout"), parallel, presumably, to English grunt, grunter applied to various fish that are thought to make noise when they are taken from the water. Athenaeus also cites Aristophanes of Byzantium's opinion that bôx, bóāx, etc., were erroneous, the correct form being bóōps (" … for though being small, it has large eyes; it must be then that the bóōps has the eyes of an ox [Greek boôpis, literally, "ox-eyed"]"). All these readings may reflect folk etymologizing of a word of older, unknown origin.

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Dictionary Entries Near boce

Cite this Entry

“Boce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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