stableboy n : someone employed in a stable to take care of the horses [syn: stableman, groom, hostler, ostler]
An hostler, pronounced (and occasionally spelled) ostler, is an archaic word for a groom or stableman, i.e. the occupation of someone employed in a stable to take care of horses.
EtymologyThe word, recorded since c.1386, meaning "one who tends to horses at an inn," also, occasionally, "innkeeper" is derived from Anglo-French hostiler (modern French hostelier), itself from Medieval Latin hostilarius "the monk who entertains guests at a monastery," from hospitale "inn" (compare hospital, hospitaller, hospitality).
In the 1906 poem The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, a classic love triangle leads to doom: because Tim the hostler is in love with Bess, the landlord's daughter, and Bess loves the outlaw highwayman, Tim betrays the couple to the soldiers.
John Keats (1795- 1821) The famous Romantic Poet was the son of an hostler. Thomas Keats was Head Ostler at the Swan and Hoop, Moorgate, London. The income of a Head Ostler at this time was a respectable amount, enough to ensure that Frances Keats was not required to work, and therefore considered Middle Class.