Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nob n.1

[var. on knob n.]

1. (orig. UK Und., also nobb) the head; thus constr. with a to mean each, a time.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nob c. a head.
[UK]N. Ward Vulgus Britannicus I 13: But were, as Nob declares in spite, / By dint of Number always Right.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[Ire]K. O’Hara Tom Thumb I iii: Do pop up your nob again, / And ’egad I’ll crack your crown.
[UK] ‘A Bloody Battle between a Taylor and a Louse’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 478: He hit him o’er the Nob, made the taylor sigh and sob.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 43: Mill his Nobb; break his Head.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 138: I plainly see, thy nob, old grandsire, / Is wiser far than other noddles.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Tony Lumpkin in Town (1780) 28: You’re to paint fine large powder’d pretty wigs upon every head in this room, at [...] half a crown a nob.
[UK]G. Parker Humorous Sketches 155: Here no despotic power shews / Oppression’s haughty nob.
[Ire]Both Sides of the Gutter part II 11: His speech in his fist, and his spectacles on his nob.
[Ire] ‘Lord Altham’s Bull’ in Walsh Ireland Ninety Years Ago (1885) 89: Oh! den he laid about wid his nob.
[UK]‘Honest Bob’ in Jovial Songster 115: In gay fangl’d garments I never was drest, / Nor stuck up my nob in a coach.
[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 265: Of the muz in his nob he wish’d much to get rid.
[UK] ‘This London Agrah!’ Wellington’s Laurels 8: A great hulking fellow [...] gave me a terrible thump on the nob.
[UK]A. Tennyson Devil and the Lady (1930) III i 55: I’ll [...] uncork The claret of your nob, and dim your daylights, And make your ivories chatter in the tusk-box.
[UK]York Herald 3 May 4/3: You blasted old governor, and I’m blest if I don’t burst open your jolly nob.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 6 n.p.: Sam [...] sent in his left, with plenty of elbow grease, on Gaynor’s nob.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 89: A well-directed hit on the nob.
[Ire] ‘Parson And The Quaker’ Dublin Comic Songster 37: A jolly-faced parson once happened to pop, / Into Simon Pure’s plain dealing every day shop, / To look out for a hat that would just fit his nob.
[US]Sun. Flash (NY) 12 Sept. n.p.: [A] heavy blow with his right on Brassey’s nob.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 4 Feb. 2/2: He aimed a dreadful chopper at Baily’s nob.
[UK]New Sprees of London 13: This crib is open three nights a week; the charge, a duce a nob, the other cribs a win a nob, and mangling done every night.
[UK]Sam Sly 23 Dec. 4/3: Dick put a couple of balls in his nob, / And purwailed on him to stop.
[US]N.Y. Clipper 6 Aug. 1/7: [T]wo hard knocks on Massey’s impenetrable nob, one high up behind the right ear.
[UK] ‘Leary Man’ in ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue (1857) 42: And when you go to spree about, / Let it always be your pride / To have a white tile on your nob / And a bulldog by your side.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 May 2/7: Jones planted his left very slightly on the side of Tom’s nob.
[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 18 Aug. 6/4: Edw—d B—s, the Leonard street red nob.
[UK] ‘A New Litany on Reform’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 78: Dicky, how is your poor nob?
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 312: But a rough-and-tumble bully soon discovered himself at a great disadvantage, when faced by a shoulder-hitter who could score one on his nob once a minute and coolly step out of the reach of punishment himself.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 8 May 7/2: And a sorter radiant halo / Gleamed brightly round his nob.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 11/1: Why, boys have hit you on the nob, / And challenged you out for a bob.
[UK]Sporting Times 30 Jan. 6/1: Not a common, pokey little party at nine d. a nob for tea and cresses [...] but real good business, cocky.
[US]Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) 9 July 3/6: Prize Ring Slang [...] ‘Brain canister’, ‘lob,’ ‘nob,’ ‘lolly,’ the head.
[UK]Paddy Melon ‘Jack and Jim’ Sporting Times 4 Jan. 3: Get this fact into your nob, / You’re a broker ‘on your uppers,’ I’m a broker ‘on the job’.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ’Arry Ballads 40: Why shouldn’t her stage trotter-out take his perks too at so much a nob.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo frontispiece: Though poor you be, try spare a bob / To engrave these lines just o’er my nob.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 22 Apr. 1/2: The Belgian Society dame, who poisoned her relatives at £2000 a nob.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Sept. 25/1: If you want to get an idea of the art of up-to-date hair-dressing, put in some time at any of the Melbourne bun-temples and there study the crown-pieces of the waitresses. [...] A black velvet bow is aslant the ‘nob’ of one, Jap. ornaments stab another pile, a white satin bow rides the under-crest of another thatch, and so, in various ways, the coiffure take shape.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Lure of the Lucre’ Sporting Times 1 Aug. 1/4: What makes me fairly mad / Is the fact that I’ve been cut out by my own bald-nobbed grand-dad.
[UK] ‘Buccaneers’ Seven Seas Sept. in Lomax & Lomax Amer. Ballads and Folk Songs (1934) n.p.: The skipper lay with his nob in gore, / Where the scullion’s ax his cheek had shore.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Woman’s Way’ in Chisholm (1951) 88: I’ve got too wise a nob / To be took in.
[US] ‘You Nazi Man’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 129: They’ll get their nobs chopped off.
[UK]M. Marples Public School Slang 96: HEAD: Of the forty-two slang synonyms for head listed by Farmer, only block, chump, napper, nob and nut are associated with schools.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 7: Before I come on with the gas I’ve got to pick up on a barber because my rug needs much dusting after I get with the moss snatcher the nob will be in great shape.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 810: nob – The head.

2. (UK Und.) a hat.

[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Cant Song’ Muses Delight 177: She’d nail’d a rum cove of tilter and nob, / But in filing his tatler was routed.
[UK] ‘Battle’ in Fancy I XVII 403: Boreas too [...] did took unwarrantable liberties with the nobs of the company, without making any distinction between Corinthian and Commoner, and many a hero’s topper was not replaced on his napper, without scampering a quarter of a mile or more for it.
[UK] ‘Gallery of 140 Comicalities’ Bell’s Life in London 24 June 1/4: I say, Bill, I’ve got his ticker! – pull his precious nob! [hat].

3. in fig. use, to mean first or front.

[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 184: At the nob of the party were Headstrong Bob, Drunken Jack, &c.

4. a blow on the head.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 798: from ca. 1810.

5. (UK Und.) a young boy prisoner who bullies weaker ones.

[UK]H. Brandon Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 9: There are what are called ‘Nobs,’ perhaps little boys not higher than the table. I have seen them myself, take a broomstick and strike a boy over the arm, almost to break it, and the other dared not say a single word to him.

6. a sovereign.

[UK]Worcs. Chron. 12 Nov. 4/1: I shall let old Abraham, the Sheeney, have it at four punt and half a nob (4l. 10s.).
[UK]Mirror of Life 12 Jan. 15/2: [I]f Sam, or Dick, or Bob, / Goes all day long without a nob,' / His wares he cannot eat.
[UK]Nott. Eve. Post 30 Apr. 6/3: Lesser known nicknames for sovereigns [...] ‘chip’ [...] ‘canary,’ ‘nob,’ ‘old Mr Gory’ [...] and ‘shiner’.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 798: ca. 1840–90.

7. the penis [var. of knob n. (1c)].

[UK]‘Silver Nob’ in Randy Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) I 189: Since by your knife I’ve lost my nob, / To please my wife it will be a hard job.
[UK] ‘Wry-Mouth Bob And His Jolly Red Nob’ in Cuckold’s Nest 45: Wry-mouth Bob had a jolly red nob, / In a place – but you all know where.
[UK] ‘The Bastard King of England’ in ‘Count P. Vicarion’ Bawdy Ballads XI: The Royal nob hung next his knees / Twelve inches long and a two inch span.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘Noah’s Ark’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 101: Rule two tanners / Two tanners make a bob, / King George nevernevernever / shaves his nob!
[UK]A. Sayle Train to Hell 21: What a fucking nob-headed, shit-faced, bollock-brained, turd-shaped, prick-arsed, wanker-faced cunt!
[Ire]J. O’Connor Salesman 100: Strides down, head down, nob in the gob.

8. (mainly Aus.) a go, an item.

[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 99: Our Joe has a dinner every Good Friday, at half-a-crown a nob.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 5 Aug. 4/8: The mob from Bayley’s mine / Paid forty bob a nob to wash the barmaid’s blouse in wine.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 7 Mar. 45/7: Like lambs that are thirsty we rushed / The bob-a-nob, muddy shy-poo.
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Nickin’ In’ Dryblower’s Verses 63: ‘Peanuts, apples, lemonade!’ / Yelled the gallery man of old / While his aitches round were sprayed / As the bob-a-nob he strolled.
[Aus]‘William Hatfield’ Sheepmates 72: There’s too big of a mob fer one man to shout the house on his pat at a zac a pop, so you shove in a deaner a nob and flip the rats an’ mice, see?
[Aus]H. Drake-Brockman Men Without Wives II i: Three quid a nob fer bullocks don’t run ter trips south.
[Aus]Sun Herald (Sydney) 14 Feb. 52.3: Get your juicy meat pies - only a bob a nob.

9. (Aus., also knob) a double-headed penny, esp. as used in the game of two-up, produced by filing down standard coins and welding them together.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Aug. 12/2: There are a lot of speculations as to what [his] ‘grossest case of robbery that has ever taken place in the colony’ is. The general opinion in sporting circles is that ‘someone has rung in the nob on the man who had the kip and let the mug collar the plunder’.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 163: The only fraud possible [in two-up] is the substitution of either a two-headed or two-tailed penny – a trick known as ‘ringing in’ a ‘nob’ or a ‘gray.’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 May 4/8: I don’t spin a nob or a grey.
Eve. Teleg. (Charters Towers) 29 Apr. 2/5: Besides they claim two-up is a game of skill that defies police interference, yet (anyone who has ever played the game knows the only skill attached to it is ‘ringing in’ a ‘knob’ (two-headed coin), or ‘grey’ (two tails), which is termed ‘spinning the planet,’ and is usually done from a slot underneath the kip.
[Aus]Mirror (Sydney) 31 Aug. 8/2: The ‘nob,’ or double-headed penny, and the ‘shieler,’ or double-tailed ‘woman,’ are made by filing the coins down and soldering them together again. Such good jobs are made of them that often it is very hard to detect the join.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: nob. A double headed penny (‘two-up.’).
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 41: Knob, a double-headed penny.
[Aus]R. Raven-Hart Canoe in Aus. 187: Pennies supplied by ‘school’ to avoid ‘nobs’, ‘jacks’, double-sided heads, ‘greys’, double-sided tails.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 150: Early kips (also called lannets) are said to have been masterpieces of carpentry often with secret compartments used to hide double-headed (nob, jack) or double-tailed (gray) pennies.

10. see knob n. (1d)

11. a socially inept person [fig. use of sense 7].

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 4: nob – nerd.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 59: Derogatory epithets abound, for example [...] jerk face, nob, punk, quimp.

In compounds

nob thatch (n.)

human hair.

E. Yates Land at Last vii: You look, tho’ you’ve got a paucity of nob-thatch, and what ’air you ’ave is gray [F&H].
nob-thatcher (n.) (also knob-thatcher)

a wig-maker; a hat-maker, thus nob-thatching, wig making.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry I v: Now you can make an assignation with some of our dashing straw-chippers and nob-thatchers in Burlinton Arcade.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 23: Nob thatcher – a hat maker.
[UK]Flash Mirror 20: F. Flet’s swell tile and nob-thatching warehouse, where is daily on sale [...] rummy sconsers, cannister kivers, and nut toppers of every sort.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 49: Knob-thatcher. A wig-maker.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 42: Knob Thatcher, a wigmaker.
nob-work (n.)

(UK Und.) ingenuity.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 236: [...] a person who contrives by nob-work, or ingenuity, to live an easy life, and appears to improve daily in circumstances, is said to do it up in good twig.
[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 23: He kept a book, and his reader, respecting the nob-work at Doncaster meeting, had often proved an interesting subject to him.

In phrases

keep one’s nob squared (v.)

to keep calm.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 July 14/3: The male, being the active agent and perennially affectionate, has everything to gain (in the face of rivalry and female impulsiveness) by avoiding the female corns at all times and ‘keeping his nob squared’ until the scarce and treasured reciprocation sets in.
off one’s nob (adj.)


maynard ‘Whiskey River take my mind’ at 25 Jun. 🌐 I’m not alcoholic I just like getting so fucked off my nob that I wake up in a farm somewhere with 12 black guys with rifles pointing shit in my face.