Green’s Dictionary of Slang

butch adj.

[butch n.1 ]

1. (orig. US gay) studiously masculine, of male or female homosexuals.

[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 174: There was an elegant Miss Drexel-Bütsch of Philadelphia; also there were the Brown-Bütsches of New Rochelle (very classy indeed), and a whole Bütsch-Fuchs family in New York.
[US]C. Solomon Report from the Asylum in G. Feldman (ed.) Protest (1960) 137: in my corpulent forgetfulness, I no longer resembled a ‘butch’ fairy or ‘rough trade’.
[US]H. Greenwald Call Girl 119: Those call girls who engaged in overt homosexual behavior [...] alternated between the ‘butch’ and ‘femme’ roles.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 97: I loved Chuck once [...] such a butch cowboy. [Ibid.] 181: A dike (a square shouldered butch lesbian).
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 6: butch it up (v.): The act or effort of assuming the characteristics of one who is butch (q. v.); said of one who must do so in an effort to hide his homosexuality from his heterosexual friends.
[US]J. Rechy Numbers (1968) 16: […] ‘butch’ means very male and usually carries overtones of roughness.
[US](con. 1965) E. Newton Mother Camp 110: You may be talking to one of the butchest queens in the world, but you still say, ‘Oh, girl’.
[US]K. Jay ‘A Journey to the End of Meetings’ in Jay & Young (1979) 453: They were not into butch/femme roles so prevalent in the fifties and sixties.
[US]P. Califia Macho Sluts 29: I love butch-looking women.
[UK]D. Jarman diary 10 Nov. Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 256: The repressive world in which I grew up, where the queens wittered: ‘He’s butch, she’s bitch’.
[US]Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 5: All commentators on twentieth-century lesbian life have noted the prominence of butch-fem roles.
[US]E. White My Lives 180: His disapproval of the American butch style didn’t keep him from being attracted to individual clones. [Ibid.] 282: Butch-femme role-playing might have approximated traditional male-female interactions.
[UK]D. Seabrook Jack of Jumps (2007) 238: She thought Frances’s friend Beryl was a ‘butch lesbian’.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 194: ‘No one hates you much. Just a select few.’ ‘Add this waiter,’ said Villani. ‘Loves you, pants on fire. So fucking butch’.
[UK]K. Richards Life 168: Red, his butch gay chauffeur from Stepney. Red was a very nasty piece of work.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 188: Big black bubble-butted bitch-dykes like skinny white girls inside the joint.

2. (orig. US) heterosexual.

[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 4: butch: Not homosexual.
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 106: The homosexual, in inner-group language, is likely to call a heterosexual girl a fish, and a man who is attracted only to women is butch, but neither of these words is considered derogatory.
[NZ]J. Justin Prisoner 41: Don’t you threaten me! You’re as camp as a row of tents yourself anyway. Trying to go butch.

3. of a woman (irrespective of sexuality), masculine, aggressive.

[UK]G. Freeman Undergrowth of Lit. (1969) 123: Whereas Kismet is young [...] and Jackie Joyce frankly butch in spite of the long blonde wig.
[UK]P. Bailey An Eng. Madam 81: There she was, looking butch and gloomy.
[UK]Guardian Guide 5–12 June 55: Mercedes McCambridge’s extraordinary, butch, land-grabbing Emma Small.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov.
[US]J. Ridley What Fire Cannot Burn 289: ‘You look butch, Eddi.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘Not dyke, butch. Tough.’.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 48: She was a butch woman who inhabited a crisp, tucked-in polo shirt.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 136: He’s banging butch girls.

4. (orig. US) tough, manly.

[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 94: He wasn’t tough and butch and boorish, he wasn’t one of the boys.
[US]San Diego Sailor 41: He would have been leery of asking for trouble among his butch pals.
[UK]P. Theroux London Embassy 155: It was a Polish freighter, full of butch sailors.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 434: Billy came on butch.
[UK]Observer 17 Oct. 15: The sequel to Grand Theft Auto [...] promises to be ‘bigger, butcher and better’ than the 1997 original.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 7 Feb. 1: My big brother [...] would look quite threatening if he weren’t so pathetically speccy and puny and un-butch.
[US]Salon.com 20 Nov. 🌐 My actual father, a retired ironworker from Boston who makes a ponytail look positively butch.

In derivatives

butchly (adv.)

(gay) in a macho, masculine manner.

[UK]A. Hollinghurst Swimming-Pool Library (1998) 194: I took Phil’s arm [...] he himself, keen to be so claimed, didn’t quite flow with it, butchly somehow held himself apart.
butchy (adj.)

(US) lesbian; masculine-looking.

[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen 🌐 1 Apr. Today I went to school dressed like a prep. I told everyone I sold my leather jacket and gave away my rock shirts because my mom didn’t want me to be so butchy anymore.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 170: The butchy tuxedo whorefit reminded Kitty of Bermuda.
[US]Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 210: ‘One girl [...] she dressed very butchy [...] tatoos on her arms, she really looked rugged. She looked rough’.

In compounds

butch number (n.) (also butch queen) [number n. (1c)/queen n. (2a)]

a ‘masculine’ male homosexual; usu. in question, e.g. who’s that butch number over there?

[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 50: [A] world of beauty, a world where there wasnt even a memory of johns or punks, butch queens [...], just the now of love.
[US]J. Rechy Numbers (1968) 16: He has been described recurrently in homosexual jargon as ‘a very butch number’ [...] A supreme accolade in that world, ‘butch’ means very male and usually carries overtones of roughness; a ‘number’ is a potential or actual or merely desired partner in vagrant sex.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 39: butch queen homosexual man whose virile activities and responsibilities make him hard to detect. The only distinction between the gay boy who is butch and the butch queen is that the latter will get fucked.
[US]Maledicta III:2 217: Latin homosexuals are perceived by others (and, to some extent, inevitably by themselves) as more fey than the [...] neo-macho English-speaking butch numbers who are more aggressive [...] and more confident than the butterflies and swishes of other climes.