Green’s Dictionary of Slang

barney n.2

[proper name Barney, associated with the Irish and their stereotyped aggression (cf. paddy n.3 )]

1. an enjoyable social occasion; a rowdy party.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 3: BARNEY, a lark, spree, rough entertainment; ‘get up as barney,’ to have a lark.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Rail’ in Punch 13 Sept. 109/1: Comin’ ’ome was the barney, my bloater!
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Sea-Side’ in Punch 10 Sept. 111/2: Socierty sez, ‘When the Season is hover, slide off to the Sea!’ It’s the place for a fair autumn barney.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ in Punch 15 Aug. 76: We ’ad a rare barney, I tell you, although a bit spiled by the pour.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘That Pretty Girl on the Army’ in Roderick (1972) 482: There was no barney in the bar because there was a fight in the backyard.
[UK]Lottie Lennox [perf.] ‘The Donah’s Wedding’ 🎵 What a barny, what a day, soon there's going to be. / Billy Thomkins, ’e’s so nice, with ’is Liza means to splice.
[UK]Mass-Observation Report on Juvenile Drinking 8: I don’t drink with me mates, only when me mother and father gets some in for a barney.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 49: It was a huge soft barney all day.

2. (also barny) an argument; a discussion; a suggestion.

[Aus]‘A. Pendragon’ Queen of the South 156: Arter a bit of a barney, they consents.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 48/1: Something struck me that there was a ‘barney’ on somewhere, and that the job was going to turn out, ‘Get all you can; but more if you can,’ on each side.
[Aus]Sth Bourke & Mornington Jrnl 5 June 3/4: After some ‘barney’ they called for two gins.
[Aus]J.S. Borlase Blue Cap, the Bushranger 97/1: Alick and Charlie had a bit of a barney, which ended up a regular, stand-up fight.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Brummy Usen’ in Roderick (1972) 77: She was just as self-opinionated as the neighbours, and many a barney she had with them.
[UK]Mirror of Life 12 Jan. 15/3: [T]hat caused ‘Big Tim’ to turn rusty, and they had a ‘barney’ (row).
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ In Bad Company 104: Well, we had a bit of a barney, nothing much.
[Aus]L. Esson Woman Tamer in Ballades of Old Bohemia (1980) 64: Had a barney, Chopsey?
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 21 Sept. 6/4: He again woke and heard them having a barney in their bedroom.
[Ire]S. O’Casey Juno and the Paycock Act III: You’ll let me have a barny for a minute or two with you, Mr. Boyle.
[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 59: I was having a bit of a barney with a gorgie there, when he ups and calls me a bastard. Of course I chinned him.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘A Man & his Wife’ in A Man and His Wife (1944) 75: I’d hook off while they had their barney.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Billy Liar (1962) 137: I’ve just had an almighty barney with Arthur about the song.
[UK]A. Burgess Inside Mr Enderby in Complete Enderby (2002) 70: He’s gone off [...] We had a bit of a barney.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 58: I told Ma about the barney in the shop.
[Aus]G.W. Turner Eng. Lang. in Aus. and N.Z. 107: The list of items valid in both countries is a long one and would include [...] barney ‘argument’.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Cash and Curry’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I don’t know what this barney’s all about and I don’t want to know!
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] And when the estate was sold, there was a bit of a barney over that, wasn’t there?
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 44: I’m not in the mood for a barney.
[UK]D. Mitchell Black Swan Green 128: Mum and Dad’s last barney when Mum smashed the plate.
[Scot]I. Welsh Decent Ride 181: They’ve been huvin another wee barney. — Make that your priority! Ronnie snaps.
[Ire]P Howard Braywatch 257: I become aware of a serious borney happening between a man and a woman.

3. a crowd of people.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 414: I used to prac-tize wipe-hauling, tail buzzing, and thimble-twisting, on Jack and Rose for an hour or two hevery day, and when I was pretty puffec at the job I’d go hout with Rose and work the pushes and barneys.

4. a way of life.

[UK] ‘’Arry on Song & Sentiment’ Punch 14 Nov. 229/1: The bokos who try other barneys are bossing about in the dark.
[UK] ‘’Arry on African Affairs’ Punch 22 Feb. 90/1: Toffs and Tin [...] They’re the only two barneys as pay.

5. a scolding.

[UK] ‘’Arry at Stonehenge’ Punch 28 Aug. in P. Marks (2006) 85: He shuddered [...] And pattered a proper old barney to me and Bob Jones.

6. a fight; also as bit of (a) barney.

[Aus]C.R. Thatcher Colonial Songster (rev. edn) 68: A barney first commences / With a little bit of ‘skiting’, / But calling names is not enough, / And so it ends in fighting.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Woman Rights’ Punch 2 Apr. 156/1: Thinks I, ‘There’s a barney on here.’.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 374: I’m sorry [...] that I had that barney with Warrigal.
[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 210: I darkly hint at ‘a barney’ in the provinces.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 124: His love of a barney was [...] weaker than his strict observance of the laws of meum and tuum.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 14 July 4/8: In the barney at the Boulder, it’s a plain as A.B.C. / That Smith was simply paramount, in fact the Perfect Pea.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Mitchell on the “Situation”’ in Roderick (1972) 715: Did you ever see two men get into a barney in the Bush when they’re both on the same job?
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 74: There’ll be a barney then. Bosher’s in a wicked temper.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 179: Blimey, I wish I got that cane. It’d be handy in a barney.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 39: He can take care of His self [...] any time there’s a bit of a barney anywhere.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 33: All of a sudden there was a right barney at the other end of the shop.
[UK]B. McGhee Cut and Run (1963) 40: There was more than one South Side mob in this barney.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 116: Eventually, there was a real barney.
[Aus]G.A. Wilkes Exploring Aus. Eng. 15: Other Australianisms derived from English dialect include [...] barney (for an argument).
[UK]H.R.F. Keating Soft Detective 243: You had a bit of a barney with Conor, didn’t you?
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 142: The only wans oo’d be up ferra bahney would be Paul an Colm.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 289/1: barney a fight.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 286: [of the Vietnam War] In spite of mass opposition to the barny among the public, rosbif armed forces will be deployed.

In phrases

rise a barney (v.) (also raise a barney)

1. (UK Und.) to gather a group of criminals to assist in confidence trickery.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 201: RISE (or raise) A BARNEY, to collect a mob.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1860].
[UK]W. Hooe Sharping London 36: Rise a Barney, to collect a mob for any sharping purpose.

2. to cause trouble, to inspire an argument.

[UK]Manchester Courier 17 July 10/4: ‘There,’ he said, ‘this will rise a barney,’ meaning that the stopping of the drink would cause a row.