Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bamboo n.

1. (US) nonsense, a ‘fairy–story’ [i.e. a ‘pipe-dream’].

[US]Sun (N.Y.) 14 Mar. 12/1: ‘Hello, Chuck, did ye know that Mickey McDermott was dead?’ ‘Break! Break!’ said Chuck. ‘Don’t try to gimme a bamboo like dat. Why, I saw Mickey last night.’.

2. (US Und.) an opium pipe; an opium addict [the bamboo pipe].

[US]Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 7/3: ‘Dopey’ Agnes says it’s [i.e. opium] the best ever and she ought to know because she’s performed on the bamboo for 27 years.
[US]T.A. Dorgan ‘Daffydills’ in El Paso Herald (TX) 8 Sept. 8: Winsor the hophead had taken his last smoke. He decided to throw the old bamboo out of the window bust the lamp and throw the yen hok in the sewer.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 1 AS XI:2 118/1: bamboo. An opium pipe.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 303: bamboo. An opium pipe.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.

3. (W.I.) the penis.

[UK]New Statesman 23-29 Aug. 36/3: Beach bars advertise cocktails with names that are well-used euphemisms for a large penis [...] ‘Big Bamboo,’ ‘Dirty Banana,’ ‘Jamaican Steel’.

In compounds

In phrases

suck (the) bamboo (v.)

(US drugs) to smoke opium.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 465: suck the bamboo, To smoke opium.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 820: sucking bamboo – Smoking opium, the pipe being usually of bamboo.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

bamboo baksheesh (n.) [baksheesh n. (1)]

a blow, usu. when offered in place of the tip that is requested.

[Aus]Hobart Town Dly Mercury 16 May 3/6: Soon afterwards I saw the chief serving out bamboo backsheesh to some Sikhs who passed him with loot, with a big stick.
[UK]W.H. Russell My Diary in India 407: [B]ut as some other emissaries had given information of an opposite character, the quartermaster-general ordered his eyebrows, beard, and head to be shaved, and a plentiful allowance of bamboo backsheesh to be administered to him.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 87: All over India and the East generally, the natives lose no opportunity of asking for buckshish. The usage is such a complete nuisance, that the word is sometimes answered with a blow; this is termed bambooo buckshish.
[Ind]R.F. Burton Sind Revisited I 31: Or some pepper-pod of an ensign – we call him a ‘sub-lieutenant’ in these days – threatened the boatmen with ‘bamboo bakhshish;’ whereat the little whity-browns on board would at once throw themselves into their quasi-natural element, and strike shorewards like dabchicks.
[Ind]J. Moray Brown Shikar Sketches 150: Nothing moved, however; but, on going up to the spot, what was my delight to find five snipe all quite dead, and packed into the hole as if in a nest! Needless to add, my native guide did not get the ‘bamboo backsheesh’ with which I was so nearly threatening him.
[Aus]Goulburn Eve. Penny Post (NSW) 3 Dec. 6/5: [as 1864].
[Ind]H. Compton Free Lance in a Far Land 264: ‘That I surely will,’ roared the Feringee Shaitaun in a voice like a musth elephant. ‘Bamboo buxees, you black hind leg of a bandicoot!’ and [...] caught him a cuff on the head, and set to work kicking him.
bamboo chow-chow (n.) [pidgin use]

a thrashing.

[UK]H.A. Giles Gloss. of References on Subjects Connected with the Far East in DSUE (1984).
[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 8 June 2/4: Here we were shown the instruments whereby bamboo chow-chow is given to ther nadal callosities of the wicked.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA) 7 May 9/2: The nearest ‘namhoi’ (native Chinese magistrate) in CAton [...] applies the bamboo (commonly termed ‘bamboo chow-chow’) as a wholesome warning.
[US]Phillipsburg Herald (KS) 25 Apr. 7/5: In pigin-English, ‘Bamboo chow-chow’ is a term expressing the application of the rod.
[US]St Louis Republican (MO) 30 June 7/4: The doctor can throw the bearers in the street and give them bamboo chow-chow besides.
L. Thomas Lauterbach of the China sea 16: Evidently he knew what was coming, and did not like the idea of ‘bamboo chow chow,’ as they called a licking.