Green’s Dictionary of Slang

windbag n.

1. a braggart, a boaster, a ‘loudmouth’; thus as v., to boast.

[UK]Morn. Post (London) 16 Oct. 2/1: [T]he frothy wind-bag. Sutherland, has been suffered to come back again upon a technicality.
[UK]Manchester Times 3 Apr. 4/7: To call such a man [...] the prurient windbag described above, seems to me the poorest solecism.
[Ire]Limerick & Clare Examiner 2 Jan. 2/2: We are sick ef pretenders, wearied from windbags.
[UK]Preston Chron. 9 Mar. 6/4: [M]y young friend still walks abroad, a wind-bag fall of resolutions, which finally evaporate and come to nothing.
[US]J.R. Lowell Biglow Papers 2nd Ser. (1880) 104: I du think, ez Jeff says, the wind-bag’s gut pricked; / It’ll blow for a spell.
[Ire]Dublin Eve. Mail 6 Oct. 3/5: If the leaders are mere windbags, their followers are arnest thieves.
[UK]N. Devon Jrnl 17 Dec. n.p.: Two Electioneering requirements — wnd-bags and money-bags.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly I 260: If they were not to gush and pile up Alpine heaps of words they would be found out for shallow wind-bags.
[NZ]N.Z. Observer (Auckland) 29 Jan. 193/3: What does ‘Justice’ mean when he talks of ‘rattling wind bags, burdened with sound, minus sense’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 17 June 3/1: That oleagininous [sic] old windbag, Sam Colville.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Jan. 7/1: It has remained, however, for the publication [...] to show us that the great philosopher, prophet, and teacher was a humbug – what he, in his barbarous jargon, would have called ‘a wind-bag and a sham.’.
[UK] in Punch 25 Apr. 202: [cartoon caption] A windbag.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 22 July 1/5: Maoriland is commencing to discipline the windbags of its House of Representatives.
[UK]G.B. Shaw John Bull’s Other Island IV i: When I see the windbags, the carpet-baggers, the charlatans, the – the – the fools and ignoramuses.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 12 Oct. 3/5: [T]he Salvarmy and other hordes of howling windbags.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 1 Sept. 7/8: [heading] Wordy Windbag.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 245: Why, you great, ugly wingbag, you.
[US]E. Pound letter July in Paige (1971) 87: To the best of my knowledge there is no history of Greek poetry that is worth anything. They all go on gassing about the ‘deathless voice’ and the ‘Theban Eagle’ as if Pindar wasn’t the prize wind-bag of all ages.
[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 53: wind-bag — (1) Braggart; (2) a vague term of abuse.
Sherwood Anderson Poor White 109: They also spoke of him as a young upstart and a windbag.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 121: Bombast! the professor broke in testily. Enough of the inflated windbag.
[UK]E. Waugh Vile Bodies 144: This will have to mean a coalition with that old wind-bag Brown, I suppose.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 271: Dinny Gorman, the high hat windbag of a politician!
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 261: Also – and this is worse – you are expected to ‘like’ these essentially Saxon windbags.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 25 Oct. [synd. col.] That Chicago publisher, wind-bagging on his own zeitung’s station, was introduced as a ‘patriot’.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 167: Goddam it, you little Argentine windbag.
[US]A. Kahn Brownstone 58: Sometimes the biggest windbags’re the first to throw in the sponge.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 121: Wind-baggin’ with Willie Givens, our esteemed president.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 31 Jan. in Proud Highway (1997) 436: Sartre is an eloquent windbag.
[US]E. Torres Q&A 30: He’s a racist, elitist windbag.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 419: windbag. A person who talks a lot, especially one who doesn’t know what he is talking about.
[UK]K. Lette Foetal Attraction (1994) 250: If he weren’t such a boring windbag.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 314: The rest are just fucking windbags who like to hear the sound of their own voices.
[UK]Guardian 31 Mar. 21: His critical judgements are all couched in the most hoity-toity toffee-nosed windbaggery.
[UK]Indep. 3 June 8: Get unto the point, you Scottish windbag!
[US]Week (US) 29 June 23: First they’d have to admit they see themselves as the pompous windbag at the centre of his dark comedy.
(con. 1926) T. McCauley ‘For Whom No Bells Toll’ in ThugLit Mar. [ebook] ‘[T]he only thing I hate worse than a bully is a windbag who can’t back up his bluster’.

2. (US black, also windpump) in pl., the lungs [their role in the body].

[UK]Smollett Peregrine Pickle (1964) 392: Now, while the sucker of my wind-pump will go, I would willingly mention a few things.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 4 Oct. 1/2: He had [...] received several rib-roasters that must have told on his wind-bags and other internals.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Dec. 21/1: I was walking at a smart ‘bat,’ and my knees – they are bony – came into violent collision with his ribs, fairly taking his wind away. He stood up as straight as his bruised wind-bag would allow him.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 467: wind pumps, Lungs.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 150: Windbag [...] Wind pumps — Lungs.
[NZ]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 258: Colonels who were too dumb to know if their arses were on fire, issuing orders fit to be rammed up their own windbags and so on.

3. (UK Und.) a confidence trick, based on selling envelopes that are apparently filled with valuables; in the event they contain only rubbish; also attrib.

[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 269: I found that the windbag-workers and the R.O. boys no longer thought of pitching near me.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 274: ‘Windbags’ is another crooked dodge. Crooks ‘at the windbags’ stuff worthless jewellery and tips for races into a number of fat envelopes (the windbags) which are placed in an open suit-case in the street. Then, in full view of the crowd, they place valuable gold watches and 10s. notes into a smaller number of envelopes. [...] The whole lot is mixed together. ‘Who’ll give me a shilling for these,’ cries the windbagger, holding up two envelopes in his hand. [...] They are ‘sold’ to confederates who open them in view of the crowd, to whom they display their wonderful purchase. The ‘mug’ parting with his money always finds himself possessed of an envelope which contains only junk.

4. (UK und.) a cheapjack working at a fair or market.

[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 12: Wind-bags: Cheap jacks.