- noun a boss, chief or leader. A descriptive term or term of address used by, to and about males in working-class speech. This widespread colloquial form of governor arose in the early 19th century and shows no sign of dying out. Governor, then spelt correctly, was recorded as a slang term for one’s employer as early as 1802; Charles Dickens later referred to it as a slang synonym for ‘old man’ or ‘boss’ when referring to one’s father. In the 1980s it acquired a further nuance in the form ‘the guvnor’ as an acknowledged expert or leading exponent (for instance among rock musicians and fans).