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How to Say Boss in Thai

In today’s Thai lesson, we are going to teach you how to say boss in Thai. Remember that when talking to your Thai boss you should always use the most polite form of the Thai language. The most common Thai words for boss are phôo-nam (ผู้นำ), which literally means person who leads, hŭa-nâh (หัวหน้า), which literally means front of head, jâo-nai (เจ้านาย), which literally means skillful superior, and nai jâhng (นายจ้าง), which literally means master who hires.

The good news is that you really don’t have to know any of these words if you are a foreigner working in Thailand. Over the past few decades Thais have adopted the English word “boss” into their vocabulary. If you are a fareign employer, your Thai staff will refer to you as “boss”. If you are a foreign employee, your Thai boss will welcome being called “boss”. However, you must remember our previous lesson on speaking Thailish and pronounce boss as the Thais do, which is: bàwt.

More than teach you how to say boss in the Thai language, let’s teach you something that is as common to all cultures around the world: shuffling the blame onto someone else.

ไม่ใช่ ผม นะ บอส มัน เป็น สมชาย

Mâi-châi phŏm ná bàwt. Man bpen Sa-dteef.

Not me (soften), boss. It be Steve.

It wasn’t me, Boss. It was Steve.

E-Learn Thai Language Tip: Note that if you are a teacher in Thailand, none of the Thai words for boss are ordinarily used when addressing your superiors but simply the word ah-jahn (อาจารย์), which is the Thai word for a respected instructor or a university professor. Thus you would use this if you live in Sakon Nakhon and are working at Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat Univerity or Kasetsart University.