Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buzz v.1

1. in the context of speech [SE buzz, echoic of the bee].

(a) (also buzz it up) to talk about, to gossip, to promote a rumour; to inform on; thus buzzing n.

[UK]Jeronimo in Dodsley IV (1874) 366: I will buzz Andrea’s landing / Which, once crept into the vulgar mouths, / Is hurried here and there, and sworn for troth.
[UK]Dekker & Webster Westward Hoe V i: I know what one of em buz’d in mine eare.
[UK]J. Howell 5 Apr. Familiar Letters (1737) II 323: T. Ca. buzz’d me in the ear, that tho’ Ben had barell’d up a great deal of knowledge, yet it seems he had not read the Ethicks.
[UK]A. Wood Life of Anthony à Wood I (1772) 166: It was often buz’d into his Head by his Flatterers.
[UK]Shortest-Way with Whores and Rogues 8: This Project may be best accomplish’d by buzzing some Remarks in their hearing.
[UK]Penkethman’s Jests 8: A Girl in the Country being got with Child, it began to be buzz’d in the Family.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 13 Sept. 3/2: ’Tis buzz’d about that a Citizen, in a very high Station, is goen off.
[UK]Derby Mercury 18 Dec. 2/1: ’Tis further buzz’d about in that City that Prince Eugene was soon expected there.
[UK]Trial of Charles Drew 9: His vicious Companions laid hold of the Opportunity to buzz in his Ears, that it was a shame that the Father should possess so plentiful an Estate and the Son be in continual want of Money.
[UK]J. Gay Rehearsal at Goatham I v: If one ever does an imprudent, indiscreet thing, our Neighbours buzz it about.
[UK]Caledonian Mercury 19 May 2/3: Nothing is to be heard almost on Change, but the buzzing of a war with Spain.
[UK]Derby Mercury 9 Sept. 1/1: The Bellman have effected the felony, buzzed about a suspicion that the box was was too much exposed [...] and might be robbed.
[Ire]Hibernian Jrnl 12 June 4/1: The Earwigs of State, who are constantly buzzing their detestable Sentiments of arbitrary power into the Ears of all who are weak enough, or base enough to imbibe the Poison.
[UK]Derby Mercury 29 Dec. 3/1: A gentleman who had seen him at Bath happened to be present here, and his character was instantly buzzed about the room.
Staffs Advertiser 4 Feb. 3/1: Madam, I find you little know their route, I hear, for certain, they’re gone North-about [...] For crowds have buzz’d it through the Castle Yard.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 228: No sooner was it buzzed about Madrid, that the duke raised the siege, than a new host of would-be conquerors appeared.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 114: His splendid fortune had now been buzzed about from one end of the town to the other.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 63: It was soon buzzed throughout the village that Master jerry had returned.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act III: If it was buzzed about that I kept a ticket-of-leave man in my employment —.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]A. Day Mysterious Beggar 335: But you two mus’ promis’ not t’ buzz this biz ’round anywheres.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 100: Next Day there was an awful Buzzing.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 120: The boarders buzzed among themselves.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Carmen’ Gullible’s Travels 30: Mrs. Hatch buzzed all the way home, and she was scared to death that the motorman wouldn’t know where she’d been spendin’ the evenin’.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 3 Mar. [synd. col.] Most of them [...] have launched a career of profligacy that has caused gossips to buzz.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 267: The next day, the news was buzzed that the original Duchess of Devonshire, by Gainsborough, had been stolen.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 48: I just thought I’d drop in on you and do a little buzzing.
[US]Don Redmond ‘I Heard’ [lyrics] Yeah, I heard, / Mmmm, and what I heard! / You know, they didn’t buzz to me, / I just happened to hear it.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Don’t Meddle with Murder’ in Thrilling Detective May [Internet] Then who buzzed the tip-off to come up here.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 39: When I see you two buzzing Mr. Widener and Mr. Schaumberg [...] I wondered what you could be up to.
[US]E. Hunter ‘The Jungle Kids’ Jungle Kids (1967) 119: The kids began to buzz it up.
[US]J.D. Macdonald Slam the Big Door (1961) 163: The whole key is buzzing. People are saying Troy put the slug on her.
[US]L. Hairston ‘The Winds of Change’ in Clarke Harlem, USA (1971) 323: The gallery was buzzin’ with ‘Lumumba,’ ‘Tshombe,’ and all those ‘Belgian mercenaries’.
[US]C. Bukowski Erections, Ejaculations etc. 67: I could hear them babbling and buzzing in there, buzzing and babbling.

(b) (US) to question, to interview; to intimidate.

[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 43: Buzz, to interview and ‘sound’ a man.
[US]T.A. Dorgan ‘Daffydills’ in El Paso Herald (TX) 7 Sept. 10: he decided to go right in and [...] buzz the boss for a few weeks off.
[US]J. Lait ‘Taxi, Mister!’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 137: When a keen newspaper reporter wants to find out anything of what is going on in his town he sees the police, buzzes the night clerk in the owl drug-store.
[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 221: buzz—To interview; also in the sinister meaning of visiting and intimidating someone, especially with the ultimate purpose of extorting money, as ‘to put the buzz on.’.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 81: When the waiter tipped me that you were buzzin’ him about who I was, I ast about who you was.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 25: George buzzed the bartender and asked for the key to the piano in the back room.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 155: Guy with a badge buzzed me. Tall guy.
[US] (ref. to 1930s) Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

(c) (US) to flirt with.

[US]M.D. Landon Eli Perkins 162: He must have ‘buzzed’ her for an hour steady.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 190: Then he placed himself about Six Inches away and began to Buzz, looking her straight in the Eye.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 23: She knows you, that’s the dope — Go over and buzz her.

(d) (US) to scold, to tell off; thus buzzing n., a scolding.

[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 449: He had already warned the capper that he was about to turn over the wrong paper, and been admonished by the jeweled gentleman [...] when he was pulled aside by the tall capper, who gave him a good buzzing.

(e) to speak.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 25: buzz, v.t. To entertain, converse with.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Mr. Mister’ in All-Story Weekly 22 May n.p.: ‘I got a canary home what kin do better ’n that,’ he buzzed.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Score Another One for Barnum’ in Argosy All-Story 11 Sept. [Internet] I’ll buzz now that we never had to pay the forfeit during the ten weeks that the major was with us.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 69: Monkey came over to me [...] and buzzed in his happy-go-lucky way.

(f) (Aus./US tramp) to solicit handouts, to beg; thus buzzing n., begging.

[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 109: Yeh kin buzz ’em fer their last bit iv chicken ’n’ ther Friday deener.
[Aus]C.H. Thorp Handful of Ausseys 256: A number of Tommies who strolled over ...] to buzz some cigarettes from us.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 20: Jungle crimes include [...] ‘buzzing,’ or making the jungle a permanent hangout for jungle ‘buzzards’ who subsist on the leavings of meals.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 44: buzz [...] To beg from.
[US] (ref. to 1920s) Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

(g) to telephone or to use an intercom; cit. 1979 refers to calling an elevator.

[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 15: The telephone-bell rang [...] I buzzed down and found it was young Bingo.
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 392: He’d [...] buzz Jack on the phone.
[US]Louis Jordan & The Tympany Five ‘Buzz Me’ [lyrics] Buzz me, buzz me, buzz me baby / I’m waitin’ for your call.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 132: You want to buzz your mouthpiece before they get here?
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 129: I’ll buzz your crib.
[UK]H.E. Bates A Little of What You Fancy (1985) 488: I’ll buzz you back.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 152: I will buzz you 20–30 times a week.
[US]P. Hamill Deadly Piece 92: ‘Find Ike,’ I said, and buzzed the elevator.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 211: I called the manager and told him to buzz my room at ten that evening.
[US]P. Highsmith Ripley Under Water (1992) 133: He buzzed Tom in, after verifying his voice on the speaker.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 337: Some locals vibed terrorist trouble and buzzed the Feds.

(h) (US) to irritate.

[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Golden Spike 30: I don’t want to buzz him [...] He don’t want me to give you nothing and I ain’t looking for trouble from him.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Rock 72: That info really buzzed him [...] I rub it in and say ‘It’s all in how you talk to them.’.

2. (also buz) to make a move: to go, to arrive, to leave, to depart; usu. in comb. with a prep.

[UK]T. Brown Letters from the Dead to the Living in Works (1760) II 199: [They] were buzzing about streets in search of cooks-shops.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 99: There is necessity to buz about with court flies, to waste time and money in getting introduced to the tip tops of the West, to join what are termed the fashionable circles, and to end a fashionable career by a whereas or a whitewashing.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Voces Populi 295: Look at ’im buzzin’ round!
[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 227: Glory be sugared! [...] so long as folks git buzzin’ along through life wid happiness and comfort.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 3: I really wanted [...] some charming girl to buzz up and ask me to save her from assassins.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Third Round 547: A cocktail, a rapid lunch, and I must buzz back.
[UK]Boys’ Realm 16 Jan. 265: You’d better buzz out and post that at once.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Have His Carcase 325: He’d have plenty of time to [...] buzz along on foot to the rock and commit his murder.
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Gus Tomlins’ in Me And Gus (1977) 131: We’ll pack you in the side-car, cover you up all snug, and Gus will buzz you home in twenty minutes.
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 33: We were just about to buzz, when the yard door opened again.
[UK]H.E. Bates A Breath of French Air (1985) 139: I think I’ll buzz round and have a snifter.
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 19: He fronted a Country ’n’ Western group and buzzed around the Mid-West, busily getting nowhere.
[US]J. Lahr Hot to Trot 7: I buzz north along the Palisades, whipping around the curves so that my tires squeal.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 165: Fortcha might be buzzin’ over to Tower Bridge magistrate’s court s’mornin’.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 52: I don’t want that guy over there to see me, so let’s buzz as soon as class is over.
[US]D. Hecht Skull Session 136: We’ll buzz down to Philly.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 51: Salivating paparazzi buzzed around like ravenous bluebottles.

3. (also buz) in the context of crime [buzz n. (3)].

(a) to pick pockets; thus buzzing n.1

[UK]Rambler’s Mag. Jan. 36/1: Though biddies and doxies may queer, / And roadsmen go out scamp and buz.
[UK]H. Lemoine ‘Education’ in Attic Misc. 116: And while his flaming mot was on the lay, / With rolling kiddies, Dick wou’d dive and buz.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Egan Boxiana III 622: [as 1791].
[UK]London Eve. Standard 6 Sept. 1/2: Some of the flash-house keepers not infrequently join in a little buzzing excursion.
[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: Square the broke [sic] for a bus, take his attention off whilst I pick his pockets.
[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: Busing, picking pockets; a bus man, a pick pocket.
[UK]W.A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 112: Two ‘stall’ while the other ‘buzzes’.
[UK]G.M.W. Reynolds Mysteries of London III 66/1: Tim [...] buzzed a bloak and a shakester of a yack and skin.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 26 Feb. 1/4: I buzzes, cuts, and not no down.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 38: I buzzed a bloak and a shakester of a reader and a skin.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 109: BUZ, to pick pockets.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 261: In my young days, there used to travel about in gangs, like men of business, a lot of people called ‘Nobblers,’ who used to work the ‘thimble and pea rig’ and go ‘buzzing,’ that is, picking pockets, assisted by some small boys.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 10/1: A bludger and his mot ’ticed a cully into the ‘Deadhouse,’ and while he was parting for the booze buzzed him of three caser and a deaner. A man who robs in company with a prostitute and his woman enticed a victim into the ‘Dead-house’ [...] and while he was paying for the drinks picked his pocket of three crowns and a sixpence.
[UK]‘Morris the Mohel’ ‘Houndsditch Day By Day’ Sporting Times 11 Jan. 3: [She] then vent and buzzed me for a bit o’ shinus as vhas in my ofercoat pocket vhen I ’anded it to her to be ’ung up.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 225: At the age of fifteen she was an expert pickpocket, and ‘buzzed’ around ‘molls’ at funerals, and relieved them of their ‘leathers’.
[US]Sun (NY) 10 July 29/4: Here is a genuine letter written in thieves’ slang, recently found by the English police [...] I chucked a dummy while they buzzed the clys out of owt old blokes with nailcans.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 441: Buzz, (2) To pilfer.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 203: Wide boys looked out for a chance to nick a wallet or buzz a moll.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 41: buzz To pilfer; to practice petty theft.
S. Fuller Pickup on South Street [film script] I’ll give you the names of eight cannons that fit the job and I’ll bet you thirty eight dollars and fifty cents that one of them buzzed this moll’s wallet.
[US] (ref. to 1920s) Wentworth & Flexner DAS 82/2: buzz v. To pilfer from a place; to rob a person.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 32: Buzz – to pick someone’s pocket. Now extant only in the East End of London.

(b) in fig. use, to cheat.

[UK]Sporting Times 8 Feb. 6/2: You don’t mean to say as you’re goin’ to try an buzz me for the bloomin’ fare.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 15: He has had the molars out all right enough, but he has buzzed her on the laughing gas.

(c) (US Und.) to work as a purse-snatcher.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 38/2: Buzz, v. [...] 5. To snatch, especially a woman’s purse from a baby carriage; to operate as a moll-buzzer.

4. to happen.

[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 13: Things seemed to be buzzing along quite satisfactorily.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 40: Then somebody [...] tipped off at least one city editor and things started to buzz.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: I fink I’ll shoot down the snooker ’all and see if there’s anyfing buzzing.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 9: [I] reported to old cheerful every now and then just to let him know what was buzzin’.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 16: I don’t reckon it when geezers start larkin’ about on my manor unless I know wot’s buzzin’.

5. to make, to prepare, to put on.

[Ire]J.P. Donleavy Ginger Man (1958) 48: Get down there in that little nest of a kitchen and buzz on the coffee.

6. to become lively, energetic, esp. of the atmosphere at a party or the performance of a rock band; thus buzzing n.

[UK]Jackie 25 Jan. n.p.: Bet you’ll buzz for these [KH].
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 154: The room full of addicts had started buzzing.
[UK]K. Hudson Dict. of Teenage Revolution 33: Buzz. [...] To become excited.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 6: Big Moby’s buzzing his nuts off. He knows there’s something cooking.
[UK]Guardian 29 Aug. 20: A street buzzing with tourists and young Dubliners.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 143: I’ll admit it. I buzz off his ignorance.
[UK]Guardian Guide 21 May 10/2: He attracts groups of clued-up teenagers who buzz off whatever off-the-cuff tracks he puts online.

7. (US black) to gaze at admiringly.

[US]L. Hairston ‘The Winds of Change’ in Clarke Harlem, USA (1971) 317: I knew she was buzzin’ me with her pearls.

8. to experience a drug pleasurably; usu. as buzzing adj. (2)

[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 39: The panama Red had me zipping, zapping and buzzing.

9. to swoop on, in an aircraft or vehicle.

[US]C.R. Bond 5 Jan. in A Flying Tiger’s Diary (1984) 156: We couldn’t restrain ourselves from buzzing the beautiful Taj Mahal at Agra.
[US]E.J. Ruppelt Report on UFOs 61: The crew of an Air Force C-47 had three UFO’s barrel in from ‘twelve o’clock high’ to buzz their transport.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 125: The bikes went by so fast that some people probably thought they had been buzzed by a low-flying crop duster.
[US]J. Conaway Big Easy 94: The ship was buzzed by a Mexican fighter plane because Comiski forgot to raise the flag.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 159: The guy that jumped off the rock and fell on his ass when he buzzed him.

10. (US) to fail to stop at a red traffic light.

[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 84: Maxwell had taken off like he was on fire, buzzed the red light at the end of the block.

In compounds

buzz kid (n.)

(UK Und.) a pickpocket.

[UK]‘Cock-Eyed Sukey’ in Cove in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 219: So the buzz kid, a pigman near, / Shuts up his swag.

In phrases

buzz a chariot (v.)

(US Und.) to pickpocket the passengers on public transport.

[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Buzzing a chariot, pickpockets working a subway train, tram or city bus.
buzz around like a blue-arsed fly (v.) (also buzz around like a bee in a bottle, run around like a blue-arse(d) fly)

to be excessively busy, often to the detriment of others, to rush around headlong.

[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 41: He had heard of the man running around like a blue-arsed fly.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 148: Stop runnin’ around like a blue-arsed fly, Nino. Sit down an’ drink yer plonk. Yer makin’ me nervous.
[UK]S. Selvon Housing Lark 121: Sit down quiet on the grass [...] don’t go running all over the place like a blue-arse fly.
[UK]Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 97: A zealous foreman is not praised; instead, he ‘runs about like a blue-arsed fly’.
[UK]I. Welsh ‘VAT ’96’ in Acid House 45: She was running around like a [...] blue-arsed fly.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 124: It is always quite possible to uselessly run/buzz around like a blue-arsed fly, or to have as much right of way as a hatful of arseholes walking down the street backwards.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 62: Runnin round Aber trine t’get rid like a blue-arsed fuckin fly.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Like a blue-arsed fly (phr): running around, hectically busy.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 41: buzz around like a bee in a bottle Busy and/or confused.
buzz in (v.) [antonym of buzz off v.]

to arrive, to enter.

Perception2020.com [Internet] Like a 5 foot Tasmanian devil, he buzzed in and out of Chicago’s Issac Hayes club, leaving a frenzied crowd cheering him on in his wake.
buzz it up (v.)

see sense 1a above.

buzz off (v.)

see separate entry.

what’s buzzin’ cousin? (also what’s buzzin’, cuzzin? what’s buzzin’?)

(US) what’s happening? how have you been?

[US]S.J. Perelman ‘How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth’ in Keep It Crisp 139: Hiya Jackson. What’s buzzin’, cousin?
[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 28 Feb. 47/2: ‘Dig that’ and ‘what’s buzzin, cuzzin’ are solid holdovers from be-bop and have infiltrated youthful talk.
[US]Mad mag. Sept. 23: What’s Buzzin’ Cousin Dept.
[US]I. Freeman Out of the Burning (1961) 193: What’s buzzin, cousin?
[US]C. Himes Pinktoes (1989) 155: What’s buzzin’.
[US]S. Stallone Paradise Alley (1978) 27: What’s buzzin’, Lenny?

In exclamations

buzz off!

see separate entry.