Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bully n.1

[? Du. boel, a lover of either sex]

1. [late 16C–1930s] a good fellow, a companion [post-18C use is mainly US].

2. [mid-17C–1900s] a thug hired for purposes of violence or intimidation.

3. [late 17C+] a pimp, a procurer.

4. [late 17C–mid-19C] a braggart, a boaster.

5. [mid-18C] a prostitute’s client.

6. [mid-19C] (US Und.) a cosh, a ‘life preserver’.

In compounds

bully back

see separate entries.

bully-banco (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a criminal who, pretending to be drunk, starts a fight with a stranger so that his accomplices can rob the victim.

bully-buck (n.) [buck n.1 (3)]

[18C] a thug who deliberately starts fights between others, so as to rob them in the confusion.

bully-cock (n.) [fig. use SE cock]

[late 18C–early 19C] one who deliberately encourages quarrels so as to rob those who are engaged in the argument.

bully-fop (n.) [SE fop]

[late 17C–18C] a brainless chatterer, a talkative bore.

bully huff (n.) (also bully huff-cap) [huff n. (1)]

[late 17C–early 19C] one who poses as a prostitute’s husband then defrauds her client of his money by threats of violence or blackmail.


see separate entries.

bully-rock (n.) (also bully-rook, bull-rook) [rook n.1 (1)]

1. [late 17C–18C] a boon companion.

2. [mid-17C–early 18C] a hired thug, e.g. in a brothel.

bully-ruffian (n.) (also bully-ruffin) [SE ruffian]

1. [mid-17C] the penis.

2. [mid-17C–18C] a highwayman who runs contrary to popular fantasies of gentlemanly robbers by shouting and swearing at his victims, in order to intimidate them further.

bully-swagger (n.) [SE swagger]

[early 19C] a ruffianly braggart.

bully-trap (n.) [active and passive uses of sense 2 above + SE trap] (UK Und.)

1. [late 17C–18C] a card-sharp, a cheat.

2. [late 18C–early 19C] a mild looking man, whose lack of overt aggression fools thugs into thinking that they can take advantage of him.

3. see bull trap under bull n.5

bully van (n.)

[2000s+] (UK black teen) a police van.

In phrases