Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buffer n.3

also buffa
[Fr. bouffard, a fool or clown]

1. a genial old fool, a description more affectionate than critical; thus often as old buffer.

[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 191: You fat-headed buffer.
[UK] ‘A Wife’s Appetite’ in Cuckold’s Nest 44: ‘Drive away, Roger! drive on,’ says she, / ‘Another good push, and you’ll murder the flea.’ / But, exhausted at last, the old buffer, good lack, / Was forced to give over, and lay on his back.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Mar. 2/3: I’m sure he’s a buffer / Who’ll see his mistake.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin II 268: I doubt if, in the present day, such freaks would be tolerated in a commandant as those in which our old buffer was continually wont to indulge.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 51: What dealings have you had with this old buffer?
[UK]New Swell’s Night Guide to the Bowers of Venus 9: Who can gainsay him not as good as the primo buffa of Old Drury?
[UK]F. Smedley Harry Coverdale’s Courtship 105: He’s a rich old buffer.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 23 Aug. n.p.: What makes Clara B—n look so downhearted [...] Has she lost her buffer?
[UK]J.E. Ritchie Night Side of London 157: Now; then, old buffer, another quartern of gin.
[Aus]Sth Aus. Register (Adelaide, SA) 20 Sept. 3/8: [from Punch, London] His father’s no father, but out of a joke, / He’s the guv’nor, old buffer, old cock, or old bloke.
[Ind]Hills & Plains I 220: ‘Was that the old judge who came up a couple of days ago? Poor buffer’.
[UK]J.A. Hardwick ‘The London Scamp’ in Prince of Wales’ Own Song Book 49: That was the same humane old buffer that bought two pairs of gutta-percha goloshes for his tom cat to go out on the tiles in of wet nights.
[UK]E. Yates Broken to Harness II 45: He’s a thoroughly changed buffer, is Jim.
[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 7 Jan. 1/7: All the male portion of humanity may now be recognised, from boyhood to old age, under the title ‘coves,’ ‘buffers,’ ‘shavers,’ ‘fogies,’ and ‘flukes;’ buffers and fogies are particularly appropriate to grey hairs.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple III 72: What a jolly, genial old buffer he is.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 May 2/3: Mr Christopher Bennett [...] is about to enter the bonds of wedlock again. We didn’t think it was in the old buffer.
[UK]W. Hooe Sharping London 34: buffer, an elderly man, one not likely to be able to defend himself from any violence.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Angling’ in Punch 30 July 45/1: Rekerlek that old buffer at Richmond.
[UK]A. Day Mysterious Beggar 301: An old buffer who works s’hard as I do of a Sunday, needs a little comfortable relaxation.
[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] The Wrong Girl 🎵 One day a queer old buffer in / The street accosted me.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 Apr. 1/5: ‘No,’ replied the buffer at the other corner, ‘she pays her bills regular’.
[UK]Sporting Times 17 Mar. 1/5: What are those old buffers dressed in red, with pikes and funny black hats?
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 2 Dec. 3/3: Half that shop is on the town, sir— / ‘Quiet pieces’ they are called — / Does there bisness on the never / With old buffers witch is bald.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 26 Jan. 6/3: The old buffer got a week’s adjournment.
[UK]Magnet 27 Aug. 27: One of them loudly expressing his intention of ‘outing the interfering old buffer’ there and then.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 8 Feb. 11/2: They Say [...] He tried his luck in the Old Buffers’ Race. Boxer is a good sport.
[UK]Grey Brigade 20 Nov. 4/3: You helped to pass a dullish day, / And were not such a bad old buffer.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 215: He was a big, stout old buffer in a high collar that seemed to hurt his neck.
[US]J. Spenser Limey 158: One of the regulars, a girl called Mavis [...] specialized in middle-aged old buffers.
[UK]J.B. Priestly Three Men in New Suits 89: The confident young fighting-man, telling the old buffer a thing or two.
[Aus]H.P. Tritton Time Means Tucker 100: The old buffers had always been the greatest handicaps of the grandmothers.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Minder on the Orient Express’ Minder [TV script] 107: Some old buffer had it.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 June 2: Is he not the sort of amiable buffer whose bashful facetiousness could clear a room like mustard gas?

2. an eccentric, a fool, used with a degree of contempt.

[Ire]H. Fitzcotton (trans.) Homer’s Iliad 23: You’re a buffer always rear’d in / The brutal pleasures of Bear-garden.
[UK]R. Barham ‘Misadventures at Margate’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 155: I told my tale – he seem’d to think I’d not been treated well / And call’d me ‘Poor old Buffer!’ – what that means I cannot tell.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. III 57: I’d just give a mug o’ yale to mill that one-eyed buffer.
[US]Broadway Belle (NY) 1 Jan. n.p.: ‘Dinna ye ken that I’m a buffer?’.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Ask Mamma 432: That old buffer said I had no business at Marshfield. Dom the old man.
[US]H.L. Williams Ticket-of-Leave Man 9: Who is the queer buffer?
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 217: We found him to improve on acquaintance; and from being a surly old buffer [...] he proved himself to be nothing but an out-and-outer.
Dundee Wkly News 5 May 3/5: The old man seems a queer old buffer.
[UK]Burnley Exp. 20 Feb. 3/5: I say, he’s a queer old buffer.
[Ire](con. 1930s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town 21: The ‘townie’ felt superior to the countryman, ‘the buffer’. He was better dressed: he wore leather shoes or boots to the countryman’s serviceable clogs.
[Ire]T. Murphy Morning After Optimism in Plays: 3 (1994) Scene iv: Who’s the buffer with the archaic gimmick?
[UK]Observer Rev. 18 July 7: Bishops, the bomb and middle-class buffers.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 19 Mar. 14: This red-faced buffer was deliriously disingenuous about his celebrity chef aspirations.
[Ire]L. McInerney Glorious Heresies 305: What, you wanted to make a metaphor of the horizon, was it? And you expected the buffers above to get that?

3. an inn-keeper.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.

4. a tradesman.

[UK]R. Brinsley Peake Devil In London I iii: The tradesmen are grumbling now – I don’t mean the jewellers, goldsmiths, tailors, or wine-merchants – but I mean the every day buffers – Kidney, the butcher [...] Dough – the baker.

5. as a term of address.

[UK] ‘’Arry on Chivalry’ in Punch 20 July 177: There you ’ave it, buchanan, my buffer.