Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bruiser n.

[SE bruise]

1. a boxer, a prize-fighter; in fig. use applied to a large person (see cit. 2005).

[UK]H. Walpole 26 Nov. in Letters I (1891) 332: He let into the pit great numbers of Bear-garden bruisers (that is the term), to knock down everybody that hissed .
[UK]Foote Englishman in Paris in Works (1799) I 4: Dick Daylight and Bob Breadbasket, the bruisers.
[UK]J. Townley High Life Below Stairs I ii: Take care what you say; his Grace is a Bruiser.
[Scot]Scots Mag. 6 June 39/1: Broughton, of bruisers once the dread.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 2: And in a manner quite uncivil, / Sent fifty bruisers to the devil.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 139: With whom came muzzy Tom, / And sneaking Snip, the boozer, / Bag-picking, blear-ey’d Ciss, / And squinting Jack, the bruiser.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 118: He beat the mighty bruiser, Slack.
[UK]Sporting Mag. May XVI 90/1: A Nobleman, well known on the town as a fighter and bruiser, has been black-balled at the Jockey Club.
[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie III v: His Majesty hath made a match for you, Sir, To spar with young Laertes—a prime bruiser.
[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 99: [A]n eminent bruiser [...] incontinetly addicted to whisky.
[UK]Annals of Sporting 1 May 361/2: Many well-known in sporting circles were observed — the Bruiser-General, Long Bill, Dusty Jack, Dandy Coalman, &c.
[US]National Advocate (N.Y.) 19 Apr. 2/3: The court regretted sincerely the necessity of locking him up, but Tom was such a bruiser; he was so much attached to sky-larking, and dealt out his blows with such force and severity.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 73: Many a cross buttock have I given the black bruiser [i.e. the devil] for your sake! [Ibid.] 121: A secret joy the bruiser knows / In giving and receiving blows.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair I 131: At college he pulled stroke-oar in the Christchurch boat, and had thrashed all the best bruisers of the ‘town’.
[Aus]Goulburn Herald (NSW) 29 July 4/3: [W]e beheld a thick-set fellow, of bull-dog aspect, [...] formerlv a convict, [...] and by profession a bruiser.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) II 152: ‘Bruiser’ was plainly written in his personal appearance, from his hard-featured, low-browed, battered, hang-dog face, to his thickset frame.
[UK]G.W.H. Griffin Hamlet the Dainty Act III: To spar with young Laertes, a rummy bruiser.
[UK]W.E.A. Axon Boggart of Orton Cloough 3: Theaw’s bin a great bruiser i’ th’ toime, Roger.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 17 Nov. 10/2: A glove contest [...] between Marcellus Baker, of Boston, and Billy Andrews, a local ‘bruiser’.
[UK]J. Greenwood Odd People in Odd Places 58: Two villanous-looking ‘bruisers’ [...] of the very lowest of the ‘rough’ type – broken-nosed, besotted, pimple-visaged, and unwholesome-looking fellows, whose foul and blasphemous language seemed to pollute the pestilent air of the place.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 6/4: No more must be said about the disreputable row which caused boxer Lees’ flight to England. [.] The bruiser’s warm tinted declaration will be a mild corrective to the ‘loyal’ gush of our travelling C.M.G.’s.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 22 Jan. 2: Each death-drawn trace on the bruiser’s face / Jack, sighing, looked upon.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Oct. 5/6: They call me the ‘Bruiser’ [...] I could knock out John L. Sullivan.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 93: The old bruiser rubbed vigorously at his arms.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 12: Bruiser, a low pugilist.
[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Angus, Scot.) 3 June 3/4: A Famous bruiser As Klondyke Miner.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 20 Jan. 6/1: ‘Spider’ Kelly will fight Ted Dargan the aboriginal bruiser.
L. Esson ‘The Sacred Place’ in Lone Hand May 48: They had no truck with [...] the unlucky bucks, broken bruisers, and ‘guns’ out of a job.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 20 Mar. 2nd sect. 12/2: It would be a pretty game jockey who would deliberately pull one of Tommy's [i.e. Burns] horses when the bruiser’s money was on it.
[US]Van Loan ‘For the Pictures’ in Taking the Count 330: The thick-skulled, unimaginative, old-style type of bruiser.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 306: The Portobello bruiser was being counted out.
[UK]N. Lucas London and its Criminals 62: They usually keep some kind of ‘bruiser’ on the premises in case of trouble.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 30: He [...] had fought a professional bruiser with bare knuckles.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 362: He walked into Rynders’ Empire Club in Park Row and asked for Dutch Charley, but was told that the bruiser had gone to the races.
[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 29: Bullock is a bruiser. He is one of those boxers of whom nobody ever heard.
[NZ]J.A. Lee Shiner Slattery 151: What separates a successful bruiser from a brawler, a Shiner from a company promoter?
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 45: A fixed fight was known as a barney and a crooked fighter was reviled as a bruiser.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 34: Will didn’t say anything about a bruiser like you being part of the deal.

2. any form of thug who prefers to express himself with his fists.

[UK]H. Brooke Fool of Quality I 140: Their Adversary, had, like Harry, been a Bruiser, from two Years old and upward.
[UK]R. King New London Spy 25: A couple of bullies [...] began a dialogue in the character of bruisers. ‘D—n your eyes (says one) [etc].
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. (Cumbria) 16 Nov. 2/3: Female Bruiser. Elizabeth Smith [...] one of the most celebrated pugilists in London, was [...] charged with assaulting and knocking down some watchmen.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 114: Regular built bruisers too; claw your eyes right out, like a Carolina gouger.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ G’hals of N.Y. 65: The unlucky tars, half dead and stupefied with the poisoned liquor they had drank, as well as the punishment they had received at the hands of the bruisers.
[UK]T. Taylor Still Waters Run Deep II i: mrs. s: If a man gave you a blow, what would you do? mildmay: Hit him again. mrs. s: Yes, if he were a Bruiser, but if he were a gentleman...
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 285: You’d make a d—n nice job of it, going up against McGovern and his bruisers. Why, they’ll bust you all up in five minutes.
[US]North Amer. Rev. Nov. 434: Among the crowd were four New-York cock-fighters, two Chicago murderers, three Baltimore bruisers, one Philadelphia prize-fighter, four San Francisco hoodlums, three Virginia beats, two Union Pacific roughs.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 7 Aug. 4/2: [headline] A Female Bruiser. At the Borough Police Court [...] Isa Campbell charged Susan Watson with assault.
[US]J.A. Riis How the Other Half Lives 218: The common ‘bruiser’ of a more phlegmatic clime.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 147: The fallen joker found himself awkwardly confronted by the shop bruiser.
[Can]R. Service ‘Grin’ in Songs of a Sourdough 28: If you’re up against a bruiser and you’re getting knocked about – Grin.
[UK]D. Stewart Wild Tribes of London in Illus. Police News 11 Jan. 12/4: ‘Listen, my ancient bruiser’.
[US]H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 371: Like most fatheads, Lefty figured a woman falls into the arms of a bruiser which will beat up the present incumbent.
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 146: A typical old ‘bruiser’ who was in prison with me, and was released about the same time.
[US]J.T. Farrell Tommy Gallagher’s Crusade 71: Only ten fellows had come along to break up the meeting: Al O’Reilly [...] and five bruisers whom Tommy didn’t know.
[UK]C. Day Lewis Otterbury Incident 34: Ted had gone a bit pale [...] with that great bruiser glaring down at him.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 27 Nov. [synd. col.] Big bruisers who should be turning over streetcars and wrassling polar bears.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 48: I’m in a business where people come to me with troubles [...] but always troubles they don’t want to take to the cops. How long would they come if any bruiser with a police shield could hold me upside down and drain my guts?
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 41: This big bruiser got funny.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 173: Bev [...] encountered two bruisers in official overalls.
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 113: She was one of the only two wicked people I’ve known, and I’ve known some bruisers.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 130: Like all big bruisers, he was heavy and slow.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 311: Outrageous tarts, dark-skinned bruisers, drunks, tramps and me.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 23 Jan. 12: He is the kind of good-natured bruiser with whom his subject [...] would have cheerfully attempted to start a fist-fight.
[Aus](con. 1960s-70s) T. Taylor Top Fellas 59/2: Too many five-star bruisers [...] classed themselves as sharpies.
[UK]E. St Aubyn Mothers Milk 91: The bruiser’s mother came over. ‘I’m sorry about that,’ she said. ‘Eliot is so competitive.’.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 74: Four sisters, bruisers with very hard, sharp faces.
[US]T. Robinson Hard Bounce [ebook] ‘If you just wanted a bruiser, you could throw a stick in Kenmore Square and it’d bounce off a dozen thick necks’.
[Aus]G. Disher Heat [ebook] [M]ost people would see him for a suave bruiser, not a businessman: the hands, the corded tendons, the chill.
[Ire]L. McInerney Blood Miracles 38: Aren’t they both ebony-topped bruisers disposed towards sullenness.

3. one who performs strongly (although not necessarily aggressively).

[US]N.-Y. Eve. Post 11 Feb. 2/1: [headline, of a heavy drinker] A stout grog bruiser.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Tasmania 12 July 3/3: [T]he horsemanship of some of our ‘gay cavaliers’ deserves a word or two of mention; more especially the pluck and skill of Messrs. Clarke and Allison, who showed themselves regular ‘bruisers’.
[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter I 174: [of horses] They were not bruisers over a country, but were difficult to beat along the roads.
[NZ]Tuapeka Times (Otago) 16 Sept. 4: Our junior friend ought to be pretty strong for a trussle; but look out C[ounsello]r. M! George gets the name of being a ‘bruiser’.
Meridional (Abbeville, LA) 7 Mar. 2/1: I’m a bruiser, / A blooming snoozer, / A rare amuser. / And my colors they are black-and-tan.
P. Johnson History of Jews 544: [David Ben Gurion] had been a professional party activist all his life and he remained, to the last, an aggressive political bruiser.

4. in attrib. uses of senses 1 & 3.

[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Angus, Scot.) 3 June 5/3: Baile Barrie at the Police Court [...] was impressed by the style of hairdressing adopted buy the accused. It was what is known as the ‘bruiser crop’ — the hair cut very short all over except at the forehead, over which hung a heavy fringe.

5. a prostitute or pimp.

[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 22 Nov. n.p.: Marm G-lm-n, who has so long been a fancy woman [...] in company with another old bruiser .
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 16: The cowardly bully who is known by the term ‘bruiser’ in prison slang, and who is usually the hanger-on of some unfortunate creature who supports him out of the rewards of her shame.

6. (US) a black eye.

[US] in DARE.

7. an obese or overweight person.

[UK]Independent 5 Oct. 7/1: On the matter of his precise weight, this fearsomeomely outspoken bruiser is unwontedly coy. But it cannot be less than 20 stone.