1. (orig. US, also bul, a police officer; thus US tramp) bull buster, one who is obsessed with assaulting the police; bull-hearted, keen to offer information; fresh bull, a police officer who cannot be bribed; wise bull, a detective.
|[||Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 114: Bailiffs Napping Bulls].|
|Jack London Reports (1970) 311–21: Attempt to translate this: – De bull snared me; got a t’ree hour blin’ [...] he (fly) (bull) (policeman) arrested me and the judge gave me three hours in which to leave town.‘The Road’ in|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 165: Them bulls is round lookin’ fur bot’ uv youse.|
|Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 7/3: ‘A bull buster’ is one who makes a practice of assaulting policemen.|
|Lincoln (NE) State Journal 9 Mar. in DN IV:ii 119: Two weeks ago one of our detectives caught one of them (mashers) and, honest, when that ‘bul’ got through with him he was a sight.|
|The Web in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 54: D’yuh think I’m a simp to be gittin’ yuh protection and keepin’ the bulls from runnin’ yuh in.|
|Mirror (Sydney) 31 Aug. 8/1: Old-timers still remember the stirring days, or nights, when Superintendents, then Inspectors, Roche and Kelly led their ‘bulls’ against many a strongly fortified fan tan shop.|
|West Broadway 47: ‘I heard a very curious thing about Westman this morning. It seems he’s disappeared.’ [...] ‘I bet the bulls are after him’.|
|Keys to Crookdom 399: Bull. Police. Wise bull – detective.|
|Manhattan Transfer 122: Too many bulls an detectives in this town.|
|Eve. News (Sydney) 5 May 4/5: Policemen: demons, bulls, johns, and john hops.|
|Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 39: bull buster.–One with a morbid passion for assaulting the police. [Ibid.] 80: fresh bull.–An energetic policeman, or one who cannot be bribed or silenced.|
|Rough Stuff 23: We went around the South End again seeing if we’re still ‘hot’ (whether any bulls were on our trail).|
|Ball of Fire [film script] When the bulls gave Benny a ticket, they saw Kinnick in the back of the car. Dead.|
|Mad mag. Mar.–Apr. 30: Once upon a time there wuz t’ree bulls. Dere was dis big poppa bull who wuz a double-crossin’ dick.|
|(con. 1950-1960) Dict. Inmate Sl. (Walla Walla, WA) 19: Bull-hearted – to be by nature, an informer; a pigeon.|
|Last Exit to Brooklyn 28: Feeling superior [...] because he knew Steve who had been killed by the bulls.|
|Carlito’s Way 13: Big Jeff [...] was the first bull through the door.|
|Goodfellas [film script] 86: The bulls are across the street [...] watching everything we do.|
|(ref. to 1931) Damon Runyon (1992) 5: ‘Police department. You’re under arrest.’ ‘Frankie! I told you. Bulls!’.|
|Crumple Zone 140: Fergal he’s orderin’ me to shift the guy outside [...] shift the body before the bulls show.|
|Crooked Little Vein 178: The attending officers from homicide were a couple of old bulls of that type that I’m always comfortable dealing with.|
|(con. 1943) Coorparoo Blues [ebook] The bulls had his number – some bastard had shopped him – and he was done for if they nabbed him.|
|‘How to Make the Perfect New York Bagel’ in ThugLit Jan. [ebook] ‘I still know a few of the bulls in this neighbborhood’.|
2. a railroad security guard.
|Road 159: Salinas is on the ‘hog,’ the ‘bulls’ is ‘horstile.’.‘Road-Kids and Gay-Cats’|
|Texas Stories (1995) 46: He’ll be walking the tops and be dressed like a ’bo, so you’ll never know by his looks he’s a bull.‘If You Must Use Profanity’ in|
|Half a Million Tramps 317: There are many fights between railway ‘bulls’ and hoboes when the ‘bulls’ try to make arrests for ‘stealing a ride’.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 243: train bull A trailroad detective; a railroad watchman train dick A railroad detective.|
|Walk on the Wild Side 17: The A. & W.P. bulls made a point of putting you off at a water tank in the wilderness.|
|(con. 1930s) Tales of the Iron Road 3: There were frightening memories of the ‘bulls,’ the brutal, sadistic railroad police.|
|Sun. Times Mag. 6 Feb. 22: We [...] duck down, out of sight of a ‘bull’ – a railroad security guard – who is patrolling the yard.|
3. (US prison) a prison warder; thus night bull, the night guard.
|‘9009’ (1909) 22: Didn’t have to look out for no ‘bulls’.|
|My Life in Prison in Hamilton Men of the Und. 248: Dat’s th’ night bull.|
|We Who Are About to Die 23: The bull in that tower is one of the centers of consciousness on the Condemned Row.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|DAUL 36/1: Bull. [...] 3. (California prisons) A prison guard.et al.|
|Panic in Needle Park (1971) 198: You remember Mickey, how he used to make you laugh with the stories about when he was in Sing Sing and he kept the bulls running around?|
|On the Yard (2002) 53: Other night bulls sit out in the towers [...] They sip black coffee, read girlie magazines, or watch the moonlight.|
|Animal Factory 36: What about [...] the bull they killed in the hospital?|
|Silent Terror 67: The deupty sheriffs who served as jailers were ‘bulls.’.|
|Mr Blue 131: The tank trusty came out of the first cell and headed down the run. ‘Hey, Bunk, you better go. That bull is an asshole.’.|
|Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July 🌐 Bull: Guard.|
4. (US) a detective.
|‘Thieves’ Sl.’ Toronto Star 19 Jan. 2/5: DETECTIVE Bull, dick, Mr Richard.|
|Man’s Grim Justice 65: I was determined to wreck a few ‘bulls’ (cops or detectives).|
|Third Degree (1931) 177: Detectives and patrolmen usually hate each other, and only on rare occasions will the cop [...] offer any information or assistance to the ‘bull’ or ‘dick’.|
|Sun. Mail (Brisbane) 13 Nov. 20/8: The watch house is the ‘can;’ detectives are ‘demons’ and plain-clothesmen are ‘bulls’.|
|DAUL 36/1: Bull. 1. A detective.et al.|
|Close Pursuit (1988) 173: She was looking for something in the detective’s face, some sign that he wasn’t a bad bull.|
|Widespread Panic 8: A robbery bull named Harry Fremont.|
5. in comb., a certain kind of police officer, e.g. country bull, a local, small-town officer; narcotic bull, a Federal narcotic officer; motorcycle bull, motorcycle police officer; road bull, highway patrol officer.
|Wash. Post 11 Nov. Misc. 3/6: The ‘hoosier with bushes and a tin’ which is a running description of a ‘country bull’ or Constable.|
|AS XIII:3 188/1: narcotic-bulls. Federal narcotic officers.‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2|
|Jive and Sl. n.p.: motorcyle bull.|
|Current Sl. V:3 n.p.: road bull.|
|(con. 1940s–60s) Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 95: A friend of mine called John who was later shot to death by narcotics bulls while making a junk delivery.‘Elsie John’ in|
see separate entries.
(US prison) a padlock used on a cell door.
|(con. 1950-1960) Dict. Inmate Sl. (Walla Walla, WA) 20: Bull-lock – an individual padlock which is used on cell doors.|
(US tramp) frightened of the police.
|Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 40: bull simple.–Afraid of the police.|
|World to Win 347: ‘Joe’s bull-simple,’ he said to Robert. ‘You’ll learn what it is t’ be bull-simple. You get it from bein’ beat across the kidneys and havin’ a hose stuck in yer mouth, and sometimes yer pratt, and the water turned on full force.’.|
|Grapes of Wrath (1951) 223: ‘I guess maybe he’s bull-simple.’ ‘What’s “bull-simple”?’ ‘I guess cops push ’im aroun’ so much he’s still spinning.’.|
|World’s Toughest Prison 792: bull simple – Afraid of the police.|
(US tramp) a police van used to transport prisoners, a Black Maria n. (1)
|Morn. Tulsa Dly World 13 June 19/1: Bandwagon — Police patrol, known also as ‘Kelly wagon’ or ‘bull taxi’.|
1. (US Und.) one who impersonates an official in order to extort money.
|New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: bully trapp a pretended constable, a thief catcher, a runner to a trading justice.|
|Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: bullytraps pretended constables called in to frighten the unwary and extort money.|
|Modern Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1809].|
|New and Improved Flash Dict.|
|Secrets of the Great City 359: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Bull-traps. – Rogues who personate officials to extort money.|
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
2. (Aus.) a villain who impersonates a police officer and preys on couples in lover’s lanes, parks, etc., extorting money from those who should not, for whatever reason, be there.
|Aus. Sl. Dict. 13: Bull Traps, thieves or swindlers who personate policemen in the public parks for the purpose of extorting money.|
|(ref. to 1890s) ‘Gloss. of Larrikin Terms’ in Larrikins 202: bull traps: swindlers, or thieves pretending to be policemen in parks to extort money.|
(Aus.) a vehicle carrying suspects or criminals to a police station or prison.
|Breaking Out 55: Dragged kicking and screaming through a wail of sirens and flash of rotating patrol car lights to the waiting bullwagon. [Ibid.] 187: Next thing, there’s police cars and bullwagons coming out of the bloody woodwork.|