Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bouncer n.1

[bounce v.1 ]

1. (US) something or someone exceptionally large of its kind.

[UK]Nashe Have With You to Saffron-Walden in Works III (1883–4) 140: My book will grow such a bouncer, that those which buy it must bee faine to hire a porter to carry it after them in a basket.
[UK]O. Goldsmith She Stoops to Conquer Act II: Ah! could you but see Bet Bouncer of these parts, you might then talk of beauty.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bouncer, a large man or woman.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 213: You have heard of Miss Bouncer, without any doubt [...] She smil’d in my face while she drank up my wine; of my punch and cakes, oh my dear had a share.
[US]D.P. Thompson Trappers of Umbagog 68: ‘This, I suppose, is the far-famed moose?’ ‘Yes, and a bouncer at that.’.

2. (UK Und.) a swaggerer, a blusterer, a bully.

[UK]R. Speed Counter-Rat E4: Vp comes the Bredah-Bouncer [...] Of Turnebull-Punks a staring Trouncer.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]J. Walker Pronouncing Dict. 60/1: Bouncer, A boaster, a bully, an empty threatener.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Bell’s New Wkly Messenger 9 Mar. 6/2: The several descriptions of London thieves are [...] bouncers, or those who plunder by swaggering.
[UK]H. Mayhew (con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor IV 24: ‘Bouncers and Besters’ defrauding, by laying wagers, swaggering, or using threats.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).

3. a liar.

[UK]Foote Lyar in Works (1799) I 293: He will tell ye more lies in an hour, than all the circulating libraries put together will publish in a year [...] he was always distinguished by the facetious appellation of the Bouncer. [Ibid.] I 314: Nor is the character of my son to be blasted with the breath of a bouncer.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 243: Such a bouncer!! [...] I mean that he’s the greatest liar that ever walked a deck.

4. an unashamed lie.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Colman Yngr John Bull II iii: What a bouncer you told me.
[UK]T. Dibdin Ninth Statue I i: Thats a great big bouncer, by St. Patrick!
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Thackeray Yellowplush Papers in Works III (1898) 361: That last stoary I roat about you and Larnder was as big a bownsir as ever was.
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy 350: The more startling the bouncers he told, the more successful were his anecdotes [...] though they all voted him the greatest liar they ever met.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Feb. 2/7: He means to svere as how I vore a vig, and that’s a bouncer.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Dead-Sea Fruit II 205: I should say wait, and put your trust in Time — Time, the father of Truth, as Mary Stuart called him when she wanted to obtain belief for a bouncer, — and oh, what an incredible number of royal bouncers were carried to and fro in the despatches of that period!
[UK]W.S. Gilbert Engaged in London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies (2001) Act III: He does not hesitate to invent, I am not quite sure of the word, but I think it is ‘bouncers’.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley’s Opinions 87: Th’ earnest youth in sarch iv a career in life ’ll be taught lyin’ individjally all’ in classes [...] the r-ready fake, th’ bouncer, th’ stiff, th’ con, th’ bunk, th’ poetic lie, th’ business lie, th’ lie imaginative.

5. a surprise.

[UK]W. Phillips Lost in London I i: (Aside) Now for a bouncer! (Aloud) Her! ! !

6. (UK Und.) a thief who steals from shops, often while distracting the merchant’s attention with his argumentative bargaining.

[UK]W.A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 91: There is another ‘caste’ or class called ‘bouncers,’ who enter a shop, and while bargaining contrive to steal property.
[UK]Bell’s New Wkly Messenger 9 Mar. 6/2: The several descriptions of London thieves are [...] bouncers, or those who plunder by swaggering [...] pitchers, or those who do so by passing off one thing for another; drummers, or those who do the same by stupefying persons with drink; macers, or those who write beging letters.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 266: Joe the Bouncer at his old game again.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 87: One who steals from the shopkeeper while pretending to effect an honest purchase – a bouncer.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 347: Shoplifters, or ‘bouncers,’ are of a different class [...] There are nearly always two of them.

7. an energetic person.

[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 129: And Mr Bouncer ‘went the complete unicorn’ [...] by extemporizing a farewell solo to Verdant.
[UK]Hants. Advertiser 19 May 7/5: The Huge Yankee Bouncer Making a Fool of Himself.
[UK]Henley & Stevenson Admiral Guinea I vi: Ah, and a bouncer you are, and no mistake.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 12 May 5/4: There three bouncers have had me drivin’ ’em for half a day, and [...] they won’t part up.

8. (US) a social climber.

[US] (ref. to mid-late 19C) I.L. Allen City in Sl. (1995) 224: Mrs. Astor’s crowd named the upcoming swells the Bouncers.

9. (orig. US) a large, tough man employed to keep order in premises, often a pub, club, concert hall etc.

[UK]Hants. Chron. 19 May n.p.: He throws the Bouncer a Cross Buttock’.
[US]National Police Gazette 29 Apr. 4/2: Old Moyamensing is almost as famous for its lawless gangs of boys and young men as it was in the days of the ‘killers’ and ‘bouncers’.
[US]Sun (NY) 24 Sept. 2/3: Bouncers are [...] men of prudence and self-control, as well as strong of arm and deft in the art of bouncing.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 15 Sept. 3: Frank Murphy, bouncer in 12 Royal Street, seems to be furnished with more than the average amount of brass.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 49: A bouncer [...] plunged about in the crowd, dragging bashful strangers to prominent chairs, ordering waiters here and there and quarreling furiously with men who wanted to sing with the orchestra.
[UK]A. Binstead More Gal’s Gossip 70: The Heavy-Weight Bouncer, who Worked like a Beaver, but couldn’t Knock a Hole in a Tub of Butter.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 351: Bouncer in a Second avenue joint.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 79–80: A professional bouncer in the employ of the rummery noted the snoozing patron.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 260: Bouncer — the plug-ugly who throws out the victims who want to make trouble, especially in a house of prostitution.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: Francis and the bouncer dragged the little guy out.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 177: I called for Margaret, and he began abusing her. Margaret pushed the buzzer for Rudy, the bouncer.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 26 Feb. 3/4: [A] gentleman called at a King's Cross cabaret and informed the ‘Bouncer’ of the establishment of his intention to collect a taxi fare.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Killer’s Cure’ Hollywood Detective Mar. [Internet] [He] looked more like a professional bouncer than a diamond salesman; he had the build of a grizzly bear, a bullet-shaped conk with the hair cropped short, and two of the prettiest cauliflower ears you ever piped outside a boxing arena.
[US]B. Spicer Blues for the Prince (1989) 119: There was a bouncer at the old Bohemian Club who used a persuader in both hands.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 14: The management were on hand to see that their clientele got the best of everything, and that included bouncers.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 134: I’ve been making like a bouncer keeping everybody from tearing your joint down.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 373: When a fight broke out [...] two ageing bouncers cruised along and floored the likely victor with crisp punches to the nose.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 65: Hell, he’d never be as big as he was [...] when he was working as a bouncer at the Salisbury Club.
[UK]Guardian Sport 8 Jan. 16: He calls the bouncers off and says he’s quite happy to let me stand in the corridor.
[UK](con. 1982) N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 274: My work as a bouncer led to me being offered a couple of ‘minding’ jobs.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 350: Mirabel’s friends were all night-owls - DJs, bartenders, and bouncers.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 78: A yarn about a nightclub bouncer sacked for being HIV-positive.

10. (UK Und.) a sharp, a cheat.

[UK]H. Mayhew Great World of London I 46: ‘Bouncers’ and ‘besters,’ who cheat by laying wagers. [Ibid.] II 90: The ‘Bouncers’ and ‘Besters’ [obtain their means] by betting, intimidating, or talking people out of their property.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 24: ‘Bouncers and Besters’ defrauding, by laying wagers, swaggering, or using threats.
[UK]W. Newton Secrets of Tramp Life Revealed 11: I will now introduce you to what they call the ‘Bouncer,’ or Swindler [...] To encourage the people to purchase his ‘pokes’ more freely, he will pretend to drop three half-crowns into a ‘poke’ and offer it for sale for half a crown.

11. (UK Und.) a pimp, esp. one who practises the Murphy (Game), the n. (1)

[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 128: The Bouncer — The class of crime represented by this, the slang name of its professors, [...] is the means of extracting large sums of money from many gentlemen in society who would be proof against any other species of robbery or fraud.

12. usu. in pl., female breasts.

[UK]J. McDonald Dict. of Obscenity etc.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 401: Nice bouncers she got. Pity a bit on the small side. Still you lose respect after a while for the bigger tit.
[UK]Guardian Editor 16 July 20: Blimey – Look at them bouncers!