Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bozo n.1

[? Sp. term meaning the light beard of adolescence or Sp. bozal, simple, stupid, or US fairground use bo n.1 (2), or Ital. bozzo, a cuckold, a bastard]
(orig. US)

1. a person, a fellow, a man; there is a slight overtone of clownishness.

[US]J.E. Rendinell diary 27 June in One Man’s War (1928) 123: One bozo says, ‘Joe, the last guy who cut my hair got bumped off.’ [Ibid.] 18 July 157: That bozo had the German colonel marching in front.
[UK]Wodehouse Leave it to Psmith (1993) 515: Gosh-dingit, you leave me a coupla days back saying you’re going to stick up this bozo.
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 34: Wise guy [...] Can y’ beat it —? Wonder how many kinds of a jackass that bozo thinks I am?
[US]C.G. Finney Circus of Dr Lao 87: Well, the Chinks they haul out the last guy, a great big bozo.
[US]H. Miller Roofs of Paris (1983) 46: What the fuck’s wrong with you bozos, anyway?
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 52: [A] broad-shouldered bozo of about thirty.
[US]L. Hughes Laughing to Keep from Crying 61: I spit in a bozo’s eye yesterday and killed him stone dead! I spit bullets.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 88: One is entitled to expect even bozos of course fibre to have a certain amount of delicacy.
[US]Kerouac letter in Charters II (1999) 377: What these bozos and their friends are up to now is simply the last act in their original adoption and betrayal of any truly ‘beat’ credo.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 72: Some organic-looking bozo in rim-less glasses.
[UK]A. Sayle Train to Hell 100: This bozo kept dragging me round with him.
[US]A. Rodriguez Spidertown (1994) 73: Did’ju hear this bozo say Petey or din’chu?
[UK]Indep. Rev. 9 Aug. 1: Why is the acclaimed author of One Flew OverThe Cuckoo’s Nest [...] travelling around the country with ‘a bunch of bozos’?
[UK]Indep. Rev. 25 Feb. 14: With Commons all-night jamming / We’ll wig those bozos out.
[Aus]S. Maloney Something Fishy (2006) 41: A bunch of bozos were playing pool.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson I Am Already Dead 216: ‘I’ve got an address for you. The bozo who robbed my safe’.

2. as a term of address.

[US]Hecht & Bodenheim Cutie 20: ‘Say, bozo,’ Cutie said, handing him an O.O. [...] ‘what kind of racket is this?’.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 159: Hold on there, bozo, not so fast!
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 68: Well, bozos [...] here I am again.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 122: Listen, Bozo, d’you want to make a thousand pounds a week?
[US]H. Ellison ‘Along the Scenic Route’ in Deathbird Stories (1978) 44: ‘Boze, you de-mote me, true!’ ‘And stop calling me a bozo, you lousy degenerate.’.
[UK]H.B. Gilmour Pretty in Pink 143: You got a problem, bozo?

3. a fool, an idiot.

Dayton Herald (OH) 18 Apr. 28/2: ‘I am not a bum. I maybe a bozo — may be, mind you — but I am by no means a bum’.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 17: You think that bozo looks good, do you?
[US]Dos Passos Adventures of a Young Man 255: Those bozos are getting my goat.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Dead Man’s Shakedown’ in Dan Turner Detective Mar. 🌐 Waldring was a runty, lard-faced bozo who owned and operated a minor independent neighborhood movie theater.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: Recruit [...] bozo.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 319: Take a look at them fat old bozos out in the other room and see what high livin’ and drink and no exercise does to yer.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 87: Bozo A person who always does the wrong thing.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 26: I can handle that bozo.
[US]R. Price Breaks 115: She must have seen ten thousand precocious bozos like me.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 5: The Bus Bozo wouldn’t let up until she told him her real name.
[US]T. Dorsey Hurricane Punch 141: I’m going to throw it away as soon as I get these bozos out the door.
[[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Bozo — Character who insults customers to induce them to try to throw balls to spill him in a dunk tank].
Young M.A. ‘OOOUUU’ 🎵 The other nigga, he a bozo.
[Aus]C. Hammer Silver [ebook] ‘You gave it to that bozo Doug Thunkleton’.
[US]C. Hiaasen Squeeze Me 112: ‘If either of these bozos come back, call me’.

4. a tough, a thug.

[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 148: We can find what flat dem bozos come out of.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Falling Star’ in Spicy Detective Sept. 🌐 The masked bozo walked towards me. He shoved the Filipino wren ahead of him toward my desk.
[US]J. Tully Bruiser 68: There ain’t nobody knockin’ this bozo out of the ring.
[US]W.R. Burnett Quick Brown Fox 225: ‘It’ll make a hell of a difference,’ shouted Joe, ‘if all us guys all over the country lay down and let bozos like Harding trample over us’.
[US]P. Rabe Murder Me for Nickels (2004) 65: By seven I had lined up five bozos for a quick job on Bonetti’s depot [...] large of muscle and small of head.
[US]Fantastic Four Annual 34: That gave that masked bozo time to climb down here.
[UK]Indep. 7 Feb. 18: The usual throng of villainous-looking musclemen and huge-thighed bozos.