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I remember as a child, us children would say "老大"/lǎodà to describe the boss, or final enemy in a video game. If I am guessing correctly, it is probably like comparing a "boss" with a leader of a gang, thus "老大“.

However, nowadays I can't seem to find people that say "老大“ anymore to refer to "boss" of a video game. I just see being used with the English "BOSS" whenever it is mentioned (, such as in livestreams). (Not sure if this is biased, but I assume this is probably started with trends of inserting English terms in certain situations.)

I am wondering if using “老大" is still acceptable in this case, as fitting the English word "BOSS" just feels off to me.


*After researching, I have realize that the word for boss originated in trying to represent a mob boss. In Japanese, it was orignally"親分"(おやぶん, oyabun), however it eventually evolved into ボス (bosu). Both of which are 片假名 (Katakana). Using "Boss" in Chinese would be categorized as a loanword (外来语).

While in Chinese, gangs do call their leaders "老大”, making it a fitting translation in my opinion. But, of course, in terms of 约定俗成 (convention).* As it preserves the original cultural context from "親分"(おやぶん, oyabun).

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    You are fine to use "老大" for the boss, the leader of a group, or the elder of a two men gang.
    – r13
    Aug 24, 2021 at 21:14
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    By the way, in the other post titled "Why are bosses called 'bosses'?" The YouTube video it posted did explain that "Boss" in video games originated from gang bosses. So to say “老大” in Chinese as well seems as logical to me. gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/33359/…
    – Monokuma
    Jan 29 at 4:45

3 Answers 3

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“老大” is not often used as the "boss" in video games, but it depends. If there are other smaller enemies around when this "boss" appears, to distinguish between the "boss" and small enemies, “老大”is a proper word.

If "boss" appears alone, it would be wired to call him "老大", because "老大" in real life means your superior or manager. In videogames, the "boss" is not your manager.

The official translation of "final enemy" should be “首领” or “头目”, but between players we just use the English word "boss" nowadays, and there are also older names: “老怪”, “老王“, etc., but these are the names that were used about a decade ago, they are rarely used now.

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    as in world of warcrafts we refer them as 老一, 老二, 老三 ...., 尾王. Aug 25, 2021 at 14:45
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I remember in my childhood we used the word 大老板 (big boss). Not sure if it's still in use among youngsters.

And now I have switched to "大boss".

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    +1 for “大boss”, I hear it almost everywhere nowadays
    – blackgreen
    Aug 25, 2021 at 9:35
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Chinese use 大boss(big boss)and 大怪物(big monster)nowadays.

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  • Yes, that is now very common in mainstream
    – Monokuma
    Feb 24 at 4:43
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    Some English words have already entered the daily life of ordinary people in China. For example, nowadays when Chinese people say goodbye, they often use "拜拜" (byebye), and there's also the word "boss." For instance, there's a well-known recruitment company named "boss直聘." It's likely that we'll see more English words becoming a part of Chinese people's daily lives in the future. Feb 26 at 3:11
  • Indeed. Additionally, it is pushed to have a Chinese equivalent of said terms. Therefore, in the case of "boss/老大", the translation is "首领"。
    – Monokuma
    Feb 26 at 3:56

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