Green’s Dictionary of Slang

b’hoy n.

[Irish pron. of SE boy]

1. (orig. US) a ‘lad’, a young rowdy, esp. those found around the Bowery, NYC.

[[US]Eve. Star 25 July 2/3: The Bowery boys will be struck up in a heap at the brilliant demonstrations made for their edification and admiration].
[US]A. Greene Glance at N.Y. II v: Dere’s no mistake but he’s one of de b’hoys!
[US]Southern Literary Messenger Oct. 623: The b’hoys in the Bowery, for example, do not converse with any strict observance of grammar or any remarkable purity of expression, but their lingo is better than that of the young gentlemen of St. Giles, who have been introduced to us, in all their larcenous extravagance, in Mr. Ainsworth’s novels.
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. in Slices 43: While the B’hoy himself possesses many of the noble and truly manly attributes which go a-begging in genteel society, our Mose and Jakey and Sykesey of the stage are nothing more nor better than absolute and unmitigated ruffians.
[UK]New Eng. Washingtonian in Leics. Mercury 26 Jan. 4/5: There are [...] a large number of young men who lack every attribute that distinguishes the good citizen. They may be found in the bar-room, the blowing-alley, at the racecourse, lounging the corners of the streets, staring out countenance every woman who passes, their mouths filled with tobacco, their breaths reeking with spirit, and their language compound of slang, profanity, and obscenity. They have been known during the past few years various names—the swell-mob, soap-locks, &c. ; but, last a generic name for the whole class has been hit upon, and they have been christened ‘b’hoys’.
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. by Gas-Light (1990) 172: The virtues of the b’hoy are by no means all of a negative character.
N.Y. Home Journal 17 June n.p.: The b’hoy is fast disappearing from among us, and the day is not far off, we apprehend, when the Bowery will know him no more.
[UK]Armagh Guardian 26 Nov. 7/1: We want none of your darned old Country airs here, do we behoys?
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 267: Mr. McGovern [...] made his appearance in our rooms, in the evening, in company with twenty or more individuals, whom he characterized as the b’h’ys; and a motley crowd they were. Nearly all were respectably dressed, and some stylishly. Many carried in their hands gold-headed canes, while gold and gems adorned the fronts of their shirts and glittered on their stumpy fingers; and every face, though some were by no means ill-looking, bore the stamp of dissipation and debauchery.
[US]Fireman’s Journal 16 Aug. 131/2: Mr. Tarbell [...] was, in his younger days, one of the ‘b’hoys’ you read about [...] He was a member of Frank Whitney’s famous crowd that made notorious old ‘Hero No. 6’ the terror of ‘Nigger Hill’.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 15 Feb. 11/3: They Say [...] That The Nob wants to know if-any of the bhoys were married last week as he received a parcel of wedding cake.
[UK]G. Squiers More Skitologues 6: She was coortin’ Pat O’Grady, and bedad, he was a b’hoy.

2. an Irishman.

[US]St Paul Globe (MN) 23 Dec. 10/2: Oh! jolly Joe Hoy is the broth of a b’hoy, / He’s the type of a good-natured Mick.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 22 June 15/3: But he was a gran’ bhoy all the same.
[US]F. Harris ‘Gulmore, the Boss’ Elder Conklin & Other Stories (1895) 221: Are the bhoys to have nuthin’ for their throuble?
[UK]Sporting Times 24 Mar. 2/5: Hogan the cabman came into barracks next day with a message to B from the bhoys, to the effect that if they had known who he was they wouldn’t have beaten him so much.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 3 June 5/6: He returned with two stalwart lorander b’hoys [who] caught the bold bad burglar.
[Aus]Horsham Times (Vic.) 14 Sept. 7/4: Ole Mick Molloy, a brothy bhoy.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 29: There’s been times when I’ve sensed that the Bhoys are getting a bit frustrated with old JPB.