Green’s Dictionary of Slang

buzzard n.

[all fig. uses of SE]

1. (also buzzard-head) a weak foolish person, a gullible dupe; thus buzzardly adj.; buzzardism n.

[UK]Langland Piers Plowman (B) X line 272: I rede ech a blynd bosard do boote to hymselue.
[UK]W. Birch ‘Parson of Wollaton’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 146: And then lyke a Bussarde from thense [i.e. a cheating gambling house] he gose / Unto Ralphe Bamforde’s.
[UK]G. Gascoigne (trans.) Supposes I iii: She be given by her father to this old doting doctor, this buzzard, this bribing villain, that by so many means seeketh to obtain her at her father’s hands.
[UK]Three Lords and Three Ladies of London D 3: I think this blindfold buzzardly hedge-wench spoke to ye.
[UK]Dekker Lanthorne and Candle-Light Ch. 5: But he fearing they would make a Hawke or a Buzzard of him too, and report they had ridden him like an Asse, as they had done others, out of dores he flung with a vengeance.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Iacke a Lent’ in Works (1869) I 116: It is Lents intent, that the innocent Lambe and the Essex calfe, should suruiue to weare the crest of their Ancestors: that the Goose, the Buzzard, the Widgeon, and the Woodcocke, may walke fearlesse in any market Towne.
[UK]Dick of Devonshire in Bullen II (1883) III iv: Pox on the Buzzard! how he startled my bloud!
[UK]J. Taylor Juniper Lecture 96: I am no Goose to be Crow-trodden by such a Buzzardly Gull as thou art.
[UK]Greene & Lodge Lady Alimony V ii: My wish shall be for all that Puny-pen feather’d Ayry of Buzardisme and Stanielry: That such as They who love to stay to suck their Mammies teat, May live at home, but ne’er finde one to give them Cloathes or Meat.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[US]G. Hunter ‘Androboros’ in Meserve & Reardon Satiric Comedies (1969) 33: Unsear your Ears, ye Old Buzzard, I can speak, but you it seems, can’t hear.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]C. Coffey Devil to Pay I ii: Ye Fry of the bottomless Pit! Who are you thus muffled, you Buzzard?
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Buzzard [...] some derive it from Bouze All, i.e. drink all.
[US]Irving & Paulding Salmagundi (1860 215: The buzzards of the party scamper from poll to poll, on foot or on horseback; and they worry from committee to committee, and buzz, and fume, and talk big, and do nothing.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[US]W.M. Raine Brand Blotters (1912) 140: Think I’m a buzzard head?

2. an old and unattractive person; often as old buzzard.

‘P.R.’ Whores Dialogue 11: The next degree is Buzzard Bawd, which is the highest preferment she is capable off [sic], soon after which she departs away like the snuff of a candle .
[UK]G. Colman Yngr Iron Chest I ii: Age has so overdone this old dry-bones [...] An old buzzard!
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Bashful Man II iv: Under the very nose of our old buzzard of a porter.
[US]A. Garcia Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 66: That old cockeyed buzzard had forgotten that he just missed death by a few inches.
[US]Fort Worth Gaz. (TX) 28 May 6/4: The grand old buzzards of the Democratic party.
[US]E. Caldwell Bastard (1963) 33: I don’t mind decent men, but I can’t stand to have those dirty buzzards roosting on me like that.
[US]A. Halper Foundry 99: Don’t mind what that old buzzard says to you, he’s got the gripes lately.
[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 161: This Regan was a cockeyed sort of buzzard.
[US]J. Mitchell McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (2001) 78: The boozy, bedaddled old buzzards.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 57: You had to hand it to the decadent old buzzard.
[US]D. Miles Inside Out 28: So the Colonel was a lying old buzzard.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 120: I keep forgetting you’re an old buzzard.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Minder on the Orient Express’ Minder [TV script] 124: You might as well come out, you old buzzard, I’ll only kick the door down.
[US]D. Hecht Skull Session 291: The kind of tough old rich buzzard who knew how to make trouble for you.

3. (US) a native of the state of Georgia.

[US]St Louis (MO) Reveille 14 May 2/4: The inhabitants of [...] Georgia [are called ] Buzzards [DA].
[US]Montana Post (Virginia City, MT) 28 Apr. 4/1: The inhabitants of [...] Georgia [are called] Buzzards.
[US]Jasper Wkly Courier (IN) 28 Nov. 8/1: Delaware Musk rats; Florida, Fly-up-the-Creeks; Goergia, Buzzards; [...] Maine, Foxes.
[US]Whitman ‘Sl. in America’ in North Amer. Rev. Nov. 433: Those from Maine were call’d Foxes; New Hampshire, Granite Boys; [...] Georgia, Buzzards.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[US]H.W. Ruoff Dict. Facts 372: Names given to the inhabitants of the different States by popular use: [...] Georgia, buzzards [DA].

4. (US) a silver dollar [the eagle inscribed on it].

[US]Bolivar Bulletin (Hardeman Co., TN) 28 Nov. 2/1: Gold for the bondholder and the depreciated buzzard silver dollar for the masses.
[US]Dly Astorian (OR) 9 Jan. 3/2: They contain more silver than the buzzard dollar and are bankable.
[US]Daily Trib. (Bismarck, ND) 23 Oct. 4/1: Silver dollars are [...] buzzards.
[US]Sun (NY) 2 Mar. 6/3: Babe Bailey of Texas [...] wears a white necktie [and] a large silver buzzard dollar for a collar button.
[[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: buzzard . . . eagle insignia on sleeve].

5. (US, also turkey buzzard) a filthy child.

[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 145: little (turkey) buzzard, n. A filthy child.

6. (US milit.) an honourable discharge.

[US]C. M’Govern By Bolo and Krag 20: Yours very sincerely lost no time in attaching himself to the cool end of a brewery the minute he got his buzzard.

7. (US) a worthless horse.

[US]S.E. White Arizona Nights 118: Good Lord! [...] he ain’t celebratin’ gettin’ that bunch of buzzards, is he?
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 43: It is no use trying to tell Itchky that Em is nothing but an old buzzard, because he keeps thinking of her as a stake horse.

8. (US Und.) a police officer.

[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 891: A Chief of Police is a ‘buzzard’ or mean person.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 414: Police. [...] buzzard.

9. (US tramp) a second-rate thief; one who preys on women.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 21: buzzard [...] A timid or amateur or low life ‘gun’ who operates on ‘molls,’ women. Example: ‘The moll buzzards tore into the jam [...] and glommed a batch of pokes.’.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 44: buzzard.–An amateur thief, or one preying upon women.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 38/2: Buzzard. A petty crook.

10. an unpleasant person.

[US]B. De Beck Barney Google [comic strip] The buzzards. I ought to report them to the American consul.

11. (US Und.) a beggar, the lowest form of tramp.

[US]N. Anderson Hobo 20: Jungle crimes include [...] ‘buzzing,’ or making the jungle a permanent hangout for jungle ‘buzzards’ who subsist on the leavings of meals.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 98: Out in the jungles the moper is known as a ‘buzzard’.
[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 331/1: buzzard, n. [...] 2. An unattached old bum who appears uninvited in the jungles.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 38/2: Buzzard. [...] a leech who lives off gratuities doled out by successful thieves and racketeers.

12. (US) an aviator.

[US] ‘Tarmac Talk’ in Sky Fighters in T. Goodstone Pulps (1970) 55/1: Greetings – buzzards, kiwis, peelots, ack emmas and cloudbusters [...] it’s here now! The Age of Aviation!

13. (US army/campus) chicken.

[US]Abilene Reporter-News (TX) 27 Dec. 5/1: Buzzard means chicken.
[US]H.B. Hersey G.I. Laughs 171: Buzzard, chicken.

14. an animal, a creature.

[US]R. Ellison ‘A Coupla Scalped Indians’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 270: [to a dog] Eat it, you buzzard.
[UK]P. Terson Night to Make the Angels Weep (1967) I iii: Let me do it. Come out you buzzards.

15. an unattractive woman.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 231: buzzard See bear [i.e. an unatttractive woman].

SE in slang uses

In compounds

buzzard bait (n.) (also buzzard’s bait)(US)

1. a corpse abandoned in the open; by ext. a person fated for death or otherwise doomed, a general term of abuse.

in T.C. Haliburton Americans at Home (1854) 120: ‘I’ll make buzzard’s bait of some on ye fust!’ yelled Harris.
Nation’s Peril 43: A warning was sent to him, the substance of which was, that he ‘must leave the country, change his politics, or make up his mind to become Buzzard Bait’.
Ft. Worth Gaz. (TX) 22 Mar. 12/3: Boaz, having having heard of some adverse criticism from Wright and others, concluded to make ‘buzzard bait’ of them.
[US]G.W. Nichols Soldier’s Story 71: I told them that neither of them were fit for buzzard’s bait.
[US]Lexington Intelligencer (MO) 7 Sept. 6/2: Sucha fellow is not fit for buzzard bait.
[US]Clinch Valley News (Jefferson, VA) 9 Aug. 2/2: Uncle Johnwound up by declaring that such men ‘was fitten only for buzzard bait’.
R. Beach Winds of Chance 269: If a certain old buzzard-bait sets up with you, Frenchy, count your spoons, that’s all. I know him.
B.A. Williams House Divided 1126: Sam, who now was buzzard bait over in the next valley.
‘Anthony Saul’ in Famous Western Oct. [story title] Buzzard Bait.
B. Pronzini Arizonans 75: You mangy old buzzard bait [...] No wonder them horses lit out when they got a whiff of you.
T. McNamee Story of Deep Delight 231: Sergeant Riley [...] take this buzzard bait and sign him in and give him a shovel, and put him digging the nigger latrines.
N. Pollack Three Mildly Horrifying Tales 92: If Grunt and the boys hadn’t recognized this horse you’d be buzzard bait by now, for sure.
M. Sweere Forgive Me Father 274: They found poor old Russell, who by this time was almost buzzard bait.

2. a scraggy old horse.

[US]Holmes Co. Republican (OH) 7 Nov. n.p.: Big prices have been paid for old horses frames that would not make decent buzzard bait.
[US]Colfax Chron. (LA) 10 Feb. 2/3: Let him [...] go for buzzard bait — all that he is fit for.
County Transcript (Lansing, MN) 17 Oct. 3/1: This yere’s the ornist lay out o’ horses in seven states. Horses, huh! They’re buzzard bait.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:i 72: buzzard-bait, n. An emaciated horse.
buzzard-meat (n.) (US)

1. a corpse abandoned in the open.

[US]O. Strange Law O’ The Lariat 70: I’ll feel a heap easier when he’s buzzard-meat.
[US]O. Strange Sudden 197: I’d be like him – buzzard-meat [...] Oughta planted him, I s’pose.
in Spirituality Today 43:2 [Internet] The desert is [...] a place where all your easy answers fall to pieces, where you yourself may end up as nothing more than buzzard meat.
Weekly Wire (Tucson, AZ) 1 June [Internet] Some of the bodies photographed in American deserts are wasted and burned after lying for days as buzzard meat.
H. Redd 40 Crowns of Shame 146: Louise [...] shot Bob Berry in the buttocks and spine and left him there for buzzard meat.

2. a person fated for death or otherwise doomed.

[US]C.E. Mulford Hopalong Cassidy Returns 247: ‘What do you aim to do, you buzzards?’ ‘Aim to make some buzzard meat!’ snapped Number One.
Daily Whim 18 May [Internet] Great web logs such as Bradlands and Bondcliff are now buzzard meat. Maybe someday, my site will be as well.
buzzard roost (n.) (also buzzard’s roost) [the slaughterhouse area, where buzzards gathered to eat the discarded entrails]

1. (US) a run-down or disreputable place.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Connecticut Yankee 231: The moral and physical stenches of that intolerable old buzzard-roost.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 129: buzzard-roost, n. A dilapidated building.
[US]N.I. White Amer. Negro Folk-Songs 361: The song is probably an off-shoot of May Irwin’s ‘Mr. Johnson Turn Me Loose,’ one of the coon songs of the 1880–1910 period. ‘O police, police, turn me loose, / I’se got a home in de buzzard roost.’.

2. (US, Southern) the top gallery in a theatre, usu. reserved for blacks.

[US]N.Y. Age 6 Jan. 6/1: The better class of colored citizens [...] being frequently compelled to give up their seats in the ‘buzzard roost’ whenever the white patrons find they have not sufficient room on the lower floors.
O.R. Cohen ‘All That Glitters’ in Polished Ebony 15: The front row of the super-gallery which [...] is known south of the [Mason-Dixon] Line as Buzzard Roost or Nigger Heaven.
[US] in Drake & Clayton Black Metropolis (1946) 100: ‘Don’t have to go to the buzzard roost at shows’ [...] Semi-humorous colloquial name for the Jim-Crow balcony in southern theaters.
C.S. Johnson Patterns of Negro Segregation 73: They make the Negroes go up in the balcony or ‘buzzard’s roost,’ as they call it.
[US]K. Lumpkin Making of a Southerner 133: Negroes rarely went, and in any case ‘their place’ was only a nook railed off far up in the ‘buzzard’s roost’.
M. Angelou Caged Bird 115: The whitefolks downstairs laughed every few minutes, throwing the discarded snicker up to the Negroes in the buzzards’ roost.
[Aus](con. 1940s) R.E. Hayden Coll. Prose 105: I never went to movies in the South, because in order to go to the movie you had to enter the theater through an alley and then go up and sit in what we used to call the buzzard's roost, a Jim Crow balcony.
O.R. Wade 30 Baseball Parks 141: ‘They are on the Buzzard Roost.’ ‘I hope they're not up too high, as I would get dizzy up there’.

In phrases

harvest buzzard (n.) [SE harvest]

(US tramp) a thief who robs seasonal workers.

[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 293: These yeggs made fat hauls from unfortunate seasonal workers, such as [...] harvest-buzzards.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 449: Harvest buzzard, A yegg who follows the harvests in order to rob the migratory men as they are paid off.
storm-buzzard (n.)

(US black) a homeless or unemployed person, a beggar.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 147: She whirled around angrily and asked me, ‘Did dat storm-buzzard throw a slam at me?’.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1010: Stormbuzzard: shiftless, homeless character.