Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a large dog with a flat face, smooth brown hair, and a very short tail

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun boxer used to refer to a large, short-haired dog is a surprisingly recent one in English. The breed, which  originated in Germany and may have been named for the ‘fighter’ meaning of the English noun, was first mentioned in English in the 1930s.


Boxers were originally bred in Germany in the late 19th century from British bulldogs and a type of mastiff that is now extinct. Although the origin of the breed’s name is not entirely clear, it may be derived from the German verb ‘boxen’ which came from the English verb ‘to box’. In addition to being the name of a breed of dog, a boxer is also a person who boxes, or takes part in the sport of boxing. Boxers, or boxer shorts, are a type of underwear that looks like a pair of short trousers, typically worn by men. The unrelated proper noun ‘Boxer’ refers to members of a Chinese secret society that in 1900 led an unsuccessful rebellion against foreign interests in the country. The entry for boxer is one of many that have been enhanced by the addition of images in the recent update of Macmillan Dictionary.


You can’t act being a boxer. It’s like being on stage.
(Liam Neeson)

A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.
(Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Related words

bulldog, bull terrier, mastiff

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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