AskDefine | Define stableboy

Dictionary Definition

stableboy n : someone employed in a stable to take care of the horses [syn: stableman, groom, hostler, ostler]

Extensive Definition

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.


The 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).

Cultural references

The Ostler is the title of an 1855 novel by Victorian writer Wilkie Collins.
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.


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