Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mob n.2

also mobb, mobocracy
[abbr. mobile vulgus, the fickle crowd, mob was a term cited by Swift in 1712 as one of those that should be purged from the language. Surprisingly Johnson, whose Dict. (1755) eschewed (inter alia) dumfound, ignoramus and touchy allowed it]

1. the rabble, the city proletariat [SE f. 1800].

in M.M. Verney Memoirs (1989) IV 447: John describes the sacking of the Spanish Ambassador’s house and how ‘The Mobb’ (an abbreviation of Mobile vulgus now first coming into use) carried away the very boards and rafters.
[UK]M. Pix Innocent Mistress IV ii: Who was that imposter that told me my friend Mr Beaumont was taken up for a Jacobite, and the mob was pulling him to pieces?
[UK]E. Hickeringill Priest-Craft II (1716) 111: God bless every Good man (and Great Man too) from the Violence of the Mob, when sometimes (like Dogs) they run mad.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 106: Hoping you’ll be so civil as not to raise any hubbub of the Mob about me.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 14: He [...] then ventur’d to walk and ask Questions amongst the Mobb.
[UK]Proceedings at Sessions (City of London) July 157/2: By-and-by Moll Harvey, with a Mob of I believe an Hundred Pick-pockets came and made a Riot about my House.
[UK]H. Simms Life of Henry Simms/Alias Young Gentleman Harry 34: I came off the Forest for London, perceiving a Hurly Burly, and a great Mob at Thetford Turnpike, I rode up to see what was the Matter.
[UK]J. Cox Narrative of Thief-takers, alias Thief-makers 56: So great was the Mob, that the Peace-Officers found it impossible to protect the Prisoners.
[UK]Mme D’Arblay Diary (1891) 1 33: The English mob is most insufferable!
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘The Lousiad’ Works (1794) I 287: The Mob, with brandy, ale and gin, Got roaring drunk.
[Ire] ‘Luke Caffrey’s Gost’ Luke Caffrey’s Gost 2: You know in Ram-alley, dey pin’d him, / Do dey had de mob at dir back.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 102/1: Should City Praters leave their tools, / To talk by Ciceronian rules; / And at our meetings in Guildhall / Puzzle the mob with Classic brawl!
[UK]Sussex Advertiser 26 Apr. 4/2: The mobocracy advanced to the fair, where the most stupendous ansd horrific preparations were made for the gratification of their fancy.
[UK]‘A. Burton’ Adventures of Johnny Newcome III 146: Visitors from morn to night Flocked off to ask about the fight; And Girls and Jews came off to try For Sailors’ Love, and Agency. Our Hero often had the job To keep the ship clear of the mob.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 20 Dec. 3/4: Mobocracy. The conduct of the mob round the Spanish Ambassador’s house [...] displayed symptoms of bandonment.
[UK]Sussex Advertiser 10 May 4/2: Hyde Park [...] The fineness of the day, and the absence of the mobocracy tempted to the promenade most of [...] the haut ton.
[UK]Disraeli Venetia III 179: A brutish mob in a fit of morality about to immolate a gentleman.
[UK]Morn. Post 27 Dec. 3/4: The dogged mobocracy had determined not to enjoy themselves.
[Ire] ‘Donnybrook Jig’ Dublin Comic Songster 261: For the fair very soon, / Was as full as the moon, / Such mobs upon mobs as was there.
Newcastle Gdn 14 Mar. 7/1: Peel is just now an immense favourite with the London mobocracy.
[UK]Stirling Obs. 24 Jan. 2/3: The wildest display of mobocracy.
[UK]Thackeray Newcomes I 273: That vulgar sport round the green-table, at which the mob, with whom we have little to do, was elbowing each other.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 69/2: It’s very seldom that the police say anything to us, so long as we don’t stop too long in the gangway not to create any mob.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 204/2: ‘That man’ll be a stiff’un with cold, policeman,’ chorussed a second member of the mobocracy.
[UK]Western Times 29 Feb. 3/2: If we are not indebted to the mobocracy of Exeter for the sustenance of its fair fame, we are [etc.].
J.R. Green Short Hist. of Eng. People 729: When mobs were roaring themselves hoarse for ‘Wilkes and liberty,’ he denounced Wilkes as a worthless profligate.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 23 Feb. 3/7: Commenting on Lor Randolph Churchill’s speech [...] how will the rowdyism, and mobocracy of Belfast interpret him.
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1: Thereby espousing the cause of the most contemptible mob of scoundrels that ever pirated the high seas, adulterated decent wine, encouraged slavery in Africa, and generally raised social and political Cain.
[UK]Edinburgh Eve. News 22 Aug. 4/6: What they had to discuss was mobocracy or democracy, whether they were to be governed by the mobocracy that had now been brought about.
[UK]W. Besant Orange Girl II 98: The soldiers drew up before the door: the mob began throwing stones.
[UK]Coventry Eve. Teleg. 5 Oct. 2/4: Mobocracy spells strike, revolution, anarchy —the dissolution of society.
[Ire]Sligo Champion 8 Sept. 4/2: [from N.Y. Eve. News] William Fox presents [...] nero Staggering in its magnificence, Gripping in its story, Wonderful in the handling of its Mobocracy.

2. a company or group of associates; occas. of non-human groups.

[UK]D. Gunston (ed.) Jemmy Twitcher’s Jests 76: If nobody lov’d a mob and a racket and an uproar better than Sally Davis, we should have other-gates-doings o’nights.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 259: I know there’s a precious mob going from our yard.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 9 Dec. 48: He became attached to the London swell mob, and finally was transported for picking pockets.
[Aus]letter to Australasian Chron. (Sydney) 8 Apr. 2/3: This club consists of some bankers’, attorneys’, and storekeepers’ clerks, and is facetiously called ‘Jingle’s Mob;’ [...] The taproom and pothouse are tihe only fit receptacles for such mushroom creatures.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 19 Sept. 1/3: Spooner [...] is one of the lights of the ex-lawyer’s clerk’s mob.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 24 July 3/2: The defendant’s case was that as he and his family were [...] passing Mrs L's back gate, she said ‘some of his mob had done it’.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 191/1: There’s the Somer’s-town ‘mob’ now in London; the King-street, the four St. Giles’s mobs.
W.M.B. Narrative of Edward Crewe 223: A contractor in a large way, having a mob of men in his employ.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 12/3: Rosebery is married into the Rothschild mob.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I 134: The overseer, pointing to a flock of two thousand more or less, said, ‘There’s your mob’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘“Water Them Geraniums”’ in Roderick (1972) 571: James hadn’t found himself called upon to do more than milk old ‘Spot’ (the grandmother cow of our mob).
[UK]A. Binstead More Gal’s Gossip 178: Charlie [...] has declared his intention of following whichever mob gets Mr Suffolk-Bassoon’s delightful little orchestra.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 24 Apr. 4/8: He was one of the mob that was drinking.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 11: Any time you see one of the mob fall for a doll, let him go as far as he likes!
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. vii: I shook the rest of the mob and descended to the floor.
[Aus]H. Ash diary 29 Mar. [Internet] Start again at 4 p.m. after being terribly hot, but managed to keep with the mob all the afternoon.
[US]J. Lait ‘Omaha Slim’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 108: One of them, a foreman or colonel or something above the mob, was standing.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 106: Bingo was too busy introducing the mob to take much notice.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 257: If they travelled and didn’t have a big enough mob along, they’d get the clouts.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 35: ‘What’s it like?’ ‘Better’n your mob. No ruddy canvassing. Girls do it all for you.’.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 122: Me and the mob are going to help him celebrate the big event.
[Aus]A. Seymour One Day of the Year I i: I’m sick of everybody in our mob, everybody.
[Aus]K. Gilbert Living Black 39: The Newcastle Trades Hall mob, they backed me and that helped.
[UK]W. Russell Educating Rita II vii: Tiger’s asked me to go down to France with his mob.
[Aus]Aus. Word Map [Internet] Biggest mob of cattle over that hill, boss. (An exceptionally large number of cattle may be found over that hill, sir.).
[UK]Guardian G2 12 Nov. 2: You can be sure there will be an England mob ‘up for it’.
[Aus]P. Temple Dead Point (2008) [ebook] WRG went for Rykel. And your mob went for Susan Ayliss.

3. a criminal gang.

[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 164/1: Mobs – companions. Working with mobs. Robbing with companions.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Mar. 3/1: We know a few of the O’Connell-street mob.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Feb. 2/3: He found his way to London, where he joined the Black Leg Mob; after two or three very narrow escapes he retired to Litchfield.
[UK]Liverpool Mercury 14 Jan. 38/2: When I was in Hull, besides the mob I was working with, there were eight or ten mobs more working the packets and railway stations .
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: Doncaster races were ‘coming off,’ so our ‘mob’ made up their mind to ‘nam’ down there on the ‘dip’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: One or two of a ‘mob’ ‘working’ New York and Philadelphia have just been ‘copped to rights’.
[UK]Macmillan’s Mag. (London) ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ XL 502: Being with this nice mob [of criminals] you may be sure what I learned.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 14 June 54/2: There were [...] twenty mobs (pickpockets) who never got a rap.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 156: Sergeant Goring [...] would be after Starlight’s mob to-morrow morning.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 46: An’ ’ere’s the on’y real toff in the mob with ’ardly ’arf a pipeful left, an’ no lights.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 127: He and his mob rattled a friend of mine [...] against the iron shutters of a jewellers at the corner of West Street.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 210: If it wasn’t for me, [you’d] be ‘stalling’ on the ‘shorts’ for a lousy gun mob.
[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 81: Later I learned the mob cleaned up $750 in 20 minutes – while the dicks were watching me.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 146: Two rival gangs—the River Rats and the Bridge Twisters [...] even as youngsters their two mobs had clashed.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 7: You don’t want no trouble with that mob.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 66: The mob figured that Frank and I were cooking up something.
[UK]P. Beveridge Inside the C.I.D. 75: There was William Hill, now the self-styled ‘Boss of the Underworld,’ Harry Bryan and Georgie Ball, all of whom were part of what was known as the Kentish Town Mob.
[US]C. Himes Real Cool Killers (1969) 49: If I had me a real mob like Dutch Schultz’s I could take over Harlem.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 7: You could have scraped more gold and silver of our kitchen hearth than Snow White’s little mob could have humped in a week.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 809: mob – A criminal band or gang.
[UK]R.L. Finn Time Remembered (1985) 125: He was a leader of a race gang known to the police [...] as the Aldgate Mob. They were razor slashers who frequented the racecourses.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 83: One mob who used to exchange confidences in the cinema.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 92: You know that gruesome mob / they’re hard men Mike.

4. a gang of ruffians or thugs.

[Aus]J.P. Townsend Rambles in New South Wales 231: These men were known [...] as the ‘flash mob.’ They spoke the secret language of thieves.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Shake this mob, Bill, and speel to the den, and let our lushy shicksters bring the ruin in. Get away from these fellows, Bill, and come away home, and let our tippling women bring in the gin.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Termarter Sorce’ in Rose of Spadgers 36: She feared, if I got with the old, crook mob / In Spadgers Lane / That I might miss the step.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 11: Your mob’s too milky as it is.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 49: He bragged about what a tough mob the Dukes were.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 44: What about the mob, the click? Have they been re-owsed as well?
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 86: I heard that there were a lot of mobs at this school.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 16: They could have been from the mob the cops broke up.
[UK]R. Hewitt White Talk Black Talk 22: We’re having a bit of trouble with this geezer’s mob.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 96: Two silly wee cows who know that Setterington’s and Gorman’s mob were there.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] There are five bikie mobs in Perth and they all want to own me.

5. (US) constr. with the, the US Mafia.

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 5 Aug. [synd. col.] Among other reasons which Nick [the Greek] is so popular with th‘e mob’ is his honesty and courage.
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 109: Tony Scalla is one of Istria’s boys. He works for the mob.
[UK]I. Fleming Diamonds Are Forever (1958) 106: Don’t think you can ask for a lawyer or the British Consul if you get in bad with the Mob.
[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 29: I’d be inclined to think he was somewhere with the Mob.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 5: Henry Hill was introduced to life in the mob almost by accident.
[US]N. Stephenson Snow Crash (1993) 72: Jason is bullish on the Mob.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 133: Bruce Willis [...] is sitting in the cross-town cab with the night flashing in his eyes, on the lam from the mob.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 16: The money the dopey bastard stole from the mob.

6. by ext., e.g. in UK, any form of organized crime.

[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 34: Telling us he’s on our side if we don’t fancy underwriting Christy’s little spat with The Mob.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 23: Mad Ivan Karamazov, ex KGB and Spetznaz, now an enforcer for the Moscow mob.

7. see mobster n.

In derivatives

mobism (n.)

the phenomenon of the mob.

[UK]Morn. Post 27 Dec. 3/4: The slang-twang of mobism and swell-mobism.
mob-handed (adv.) [-handed adj.]

accompanied by a large gang.

[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 72: They work mob-handed. As soon as one is finished another will have a go.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 65: They want to graft mob-handed.
[UK]G. Kersh Fowlers End (2001) 19: The Fowlers End Superman Association comes mob-handed to bust in.
[UK]B. McGhee Cut and Run (1963) 34: ‘Who’s giein’ ye the chase?’ Pat asked. ‘The Hatchet,’ I answered laconically. ‘An they seem tae be ‘mob-handed’.’.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 116: Don’t go steamin’ in on ouer tod [...] Them O’Rourkes niver goes in but mob-handed.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 168: It had better be [good]. Or else I’ll be back mob-handed. Right?

In compounds

mobman (n.)

(Aus. Und.) a member of a criminal gang.

[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 2 July 4/4: Myself, when young, did eagerly frequent / The company of ‘mobmen,’ and heard great arg-u-ment / Of how to ‘cop the leather,’ and when in ‘smoke,’ / To leave not by the same door as in I went.