Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bilbo n.

also bilboa, bilboe
[SE bilbo, bilboa, a high-quality sword, imported from Bilbao in Spain; Williams (1994) includes bilbo among the sword synons. used for penis]

1. (UK Und.) a ruffian’s sword; thus bilbo’s the word, it’s time for swords, i.e. fighting.

[UK]Shakespeare Merry Wives of Windsor I i: I combat challenge of this latten bilbo. [Ibid.] III v: To be compassed, like a good bilbo, in the circumference of a peck, hilt to the point, head to heel.
[UK]Davies of Hereford Vpon Eng. Prouerbes 49/2: Her bumme is no bilbo, and yet it will cutt As keene as a razer that shaues away all.
[UK]M. Drayton Battle of Agincourt 8: He scowers an olde Fox, he a Bilbowe blade / Now Shields and Targets only are for sale When down their bows they threw, And forth their bilbows drew.
[UK]Congreve Old Bachelor III iii: Tell him, I say he must refund, or Bilbo’s the word, and slaughter will ensue.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Bil-boa c. a Sword.
[UK]Guardian 145: He that shall rashly attempt to regulate our hilts, or reduce our blades, had need to have a heart of oak... bilbo is the word, remember that and tremble [F&H].
[Ire]M. Davys ‘The Modern Poet’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng. in 18C Ireland (1998) 136: With brazen-hilted Bilbo to attack / All those, who dare to call Names behind his Back.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bilboa, (cant) a sword. Bilboa in Spain was once famous for well tempered blades: these are quoted by Falstaff, where he described the manner in which he lay in the buck basket.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[Scot]W. Scott Old Mortality in Waverley II (1855) 386: ‘It was all fair play; your comrade sought a fall, and he has got it.’ ‘That is true enough,’ said Bothwell, as he slowly rose; ‘put up your bilbo, Tom.’.
[Scot](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 145: By spigot and barrel, / By bilboe and buff; / Thou art sworn to the quarrel / Of the blades of the huff.
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 79: bilbo and bilboes. The town of Bilboa, in Spain, being famous for the manufacture of iron and steel, a fine Spanish blade was called a bilbo.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 5: Bilboa – a sword, or any pointed instrument.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 11: bilboa A pointed instrument.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

2. in pl., iron ankle shackles, also called ‘iron-garters’.

[UK]Hell Upon Earth 8: High Spirited Fellows [...] put into Bilboes, and Handcuffs.
[UK]S. Centlivre Bickerstaff’s Burying Act I: E’gad, I always thought the Wedding-sheet the Winding-sheet of Pleasure, after a month [...] Zounds! I had rather sit in the Bilboes all Days of my Life.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 254: They have been forced to put him [...] in the bilboes, or else the condemn’d hold.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c 349: He was often whipp’d at the Cap stern, put in the Bilboes, and once Keel-haul’d.
[UK]Smollett Roderick Random (1979) 134: An that be all (said he) you shan’t go to the bilboes this bout.
[UK]in ‘Bumper Allnight. Esquire’ Honest Fellow (1790) 134: Come away citizens, ye that have long / By tyrots [sic] been held in the biboes.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Wild Oats (1792) 66: I’ll give him a passport to Winchester Bilboas.
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 109: He’d his feet fast in the bilboes.
[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 12 May 3/5: The constable took him in tow and clapped him in the ‘bilboes’.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 16 June 1/3: They took me to the bilboes, and here I is.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 10 Mar. 2/5: Well, says I to that gemmnn in the bilboes, ‘come along, old feller, and I’ll stand treat’.
[UK]G.A. Sala Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous 194: The Master Mariner had no power over his crew, and no license to put ’em in the Bilboes.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Characters 83: Racks, bilboes, and other ‘hateful and grim things’.

3. in pl., the stocks.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Bilboas, the Stocks.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: bilboes, the stocks.
[UK]A. Pasquin Shrove Tuesday 90: Dodd, in the bilboes, ne’er did better.
[UK] ‘Lovely Nan’ in Jovial Songster 52: In the bilboes I was pen’d / For serving of a worthless friend.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[Scot](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 188: ‘And now let us talk about our business.’ ‘Your business, if you please [...] mine was done when I got out of the bilboes.’.
[WI]M. Lewis 4 Mar. in Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834) 205: The most worthless rascal on the estate, whom for manifold offences I was compelled [...] to allow to pass two days in the bilboes.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy II 214: The poor landlords are most of them in the bilboes at Winchester.

In compounds

bilbo-blade (n.)

a swashbuckler; a thug.

[UK]Behn Sir Patient Fancy IV i: Sir Credulous What, last Night, when you rescued me from the Bilbo-Blades! indeed ye look’d a little furiously.