Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bona roba n.

[Ital. bona roba, a fine dress]

a prostitute.

[UK]Nashe Have With You to Saffron-Walden in Works III (1883–4) 51: I was faine to lift my chamber doore off the hinges, onely to let it in, it was so fulsome a fat Bonarobe and terrible Rounceuall.
[UK]G. Wilkins Miseries of an Enforced Marriage Act IV: Wenches, bona robas, blessed beauties.
[UK]Jonson Alchemist II vi: A rich young widow – Good! A bonaroba?
[UK] ‘The Louse’s Peregrination’ in Wardroper (1969) 178: Where lecherous passages I did discover / Betwixt bona roba and Diego her lover.
[UK]J. Shirley Lady of Pleasure V i: We could not get a lay, A tumbler, a device, a bona roba, For any money.
[UK]Greene & Lodge Lady Alimony II i: These Bonarobas must sate their appetites with fresh Cates.
[UK]‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue Epistle: Those who will believe what is here written, but fall into trading with those Bona Roba’s of lasciviousness.
[UK]Wycherley Love in a Wood IV iii: I long till his bona-roba comes, that you may be both dis-abus’d.
[UK]Behn Rover III i: Oh such a Bona Roba, to sleep in her Arms is lying in Fresco, all perfum’d Air about me.
[UK]Otway Soldier’s Fortune I i: She’s a hummer; such a bona roba, ah!
[UK]M. Pix Innocent Mistress I i: He [...] instead of making his life easy with jolly bonarobas, dotes on a platonic mistress.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 69: Where you might see in one pew a covey of handsome, buxom bona roba’s with high heads. [Ibid.] 113: Two jolly bona roba’s slip in.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy III 337: The Boxes shine, and Galleries are full, / Such were our Bona Roba’s at the Bull.
[UK]Pretty Doings in a Protestant Nation [title page] Inscribed to the Bona-Roba’s in the several Hundreds, Chaces, Parks and Warrens, North, East, West and South of Covent-Garden; and to the Band of Petticoat Pensioners, etc.
[UK]Richardson Clarissa VII 328: A fine strapping Bona Roba.
[UK]W. Kenrick Falstaff’s Wedding (1766) II v: That Dick was a prate-a-pace rogue; and a devil among the bona robas.
[UK]Nocturnal Revels I 51: Charlotte’s bill of fare [...] A Bona Roba for Lord Spasm.
[UK]A.M. Bennett Beggar Girl (1813) I 48: ‘Pray,’ asked the colonel [...] ‘is that bona roba the poor sickly doctor’s wife?’.
[UK] Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 216: You may often meet with characters among them, to the full as eccentric as any bona roba of the green-room.
[Scot](con. early 17C) W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 109: What! your lordship is for a frolic into Alsatia? [...] I promise you there are bona-robas to be found there – good wine too, ay, and good fellows to drink it with.
[US]R.M. Bird City Looking Glass III i: And another man’s bona-roba too! If you had told me this before, I could have prevented this rencontre.
[UK][T. Wontner] Old Bailey Experience 313: [F]emales, but mere children to view [...] tawdrily decked out with baldrick and tiara, dancing with all the airs of a Bona Roba, with their fancy men.
[UK]New Swell’s Night Guide to the Bowers of Venus 22: To enjoy the company of these bona robas, it may enhance the hour of entertainment by the knowledge of the French language.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 38: They were wont to hear the chimes at midnight in the days when they [...] consorted with the Bona Robas.
[UK]Sportsman 29 Sept. 2/1: Notes on News [...] [M]any an otherwise quiet bona roba was sent for a month’s hard labour for ‘speaking to gentlemen’.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) II 395: A certain amusement in noticing the difference between them, and the highly paid Bonarobas, whose silks, satins, and laces I had helped to pay for.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 52: Calège, f. A high-class harlot; ‘a bona roba’.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 159: a prostitute [...] bona roba (Brit fr Parlyaree // It = good merchandise).
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 29: Saint-Germain-de-Prés [...] an area already rife with bonarobas [...] and she-wolves.