Green’s Dictionary of Slang

betsy n.

also Betsey, Betsey Jane, Betsy Ann, Betsy Jane, old Bess(y), old Betsey, old Betsy, old Bet
[abbr. brown bess n.]

1. (US) a gun, thence a pistol.

[US]D. Crockett Exploits and Adventures (1934) 144: I squared myself, raised my beautiful Betsey to my shoulder, took deliberate aim, and smack I sent the bullet right into the centre of the bull’s eye.
[US]R. Carlton New Purchase I 174: I’ll jist take old Bet — (a rifle).
[US]W.T. Thompson Chronicles of Pineville 169: Old Betsey here toats fifteen buckshot and a ball, and slings ’em to kill.
[US]Spirit of Age (Sacramento, CA) 4 Nov. 3/1: Jest let them raise that check agin me, and if I don’t shoot why old Betsy won’t blizzard [DA].
[US]New North West (Deer Lodge, MT) 20 Aug. 2/7: Mr Fredericks proceeded immediately on the horse, loaded ‘Betsey’, (his shot gun) [DA].
[US]A. Garcia Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 66: Beaver Tom had nothing to do but look wise and hold his Betsy Ann, a buffalo gun. [Ibid.] 105: Betsy Jane went off with a roar.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 38: I pulled out old ‘Betsey Jane,’ one of the best tarantula pistols in the Southern county.
[US]J.C. Duval Young Explorers 24: I picked up ‘Old Bess,’ my double-barrel shotgun.
P.H. Emerson Marsh Leaves 137: Potter had a long-barrelled gun, his ‘old Bessy’, and I took my eyes along with me .
[US](con. mid-19C) A. Gonzales Black Border 83: He had implicit faith and infinite pride in the shooting powers of his old ‘muskick,’ – ‘Ole Betsey, him cya’ shot fuh sowl!’.
[US](con. late 19C) V. Hemphill Down the Mother Lode 17: Among the handful of coins and small nuggets he brought from his pocket was a bullet strung on a bit of dirty twine. ‘Ah! a love token, senor?’ ‘Yes, from the throat of Betsy Jane’ (a term often used for a rifle).
J.F. Dobie Texas and Southwestern Lore 51: Uncle Billy jerked ‘old Betsy’ (his rifle) up to his shoulder.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 39: [of a shotgun] I’ll still take old Betsy.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 1: He says he will go out and borrow a Betsy off of Officer Gloon and blow the parrot’s brains out.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 76: I blew the dust off old Betsy.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[UK]J.P. Carstairs Concrete Kimono 48: ‘You’ve noticed I’m toting a Betsy.’ ‘Betsy?’ ‘Equalizer, rod, gat, iron.’.

2. an effeminate man.

[UK]Sam Sly 3 Feb. 7/1: Sam Sly Never Said [...] That Fred G——d [...] nurses a babby; or that his father is an office-scrubber, window cleaner, and Betsey in general.
[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 96: The captain’s elegant appearance and handsome person became the talk among the inmates of the jail, and some low blackguards made a set of annoyance [...] calling after him ‘Betsy Bailey’.