Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bobby n.1

also b, bobbie
[Sir Robert Peel (1788–1850), who established the force in 19C. ‘The term is, however, older. The official square-keeper, who is always armed with a cane to drive away idle and disorderly urchins, has, time out of mind, been called by said urchins Bobby the Beadle. Bobby is also an old English word for striking, or hitting, a quality not unknown to policemen’ (Hotten, 1860)]

1. a British or Australian, occas. US, policeman, latterly any police officer.

[UK]Sessions Papers June 341: I heard her say [...] ‘a bobby’ [...] it was a signal to let them know a policeman was coming .
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 66: Ven I pitches, and they count me the best flag pitcher of all the shallows; I never gets copped by the Bobbies [...] but yet I nails the browns.
[UK]J.S. Coyne Pippins and Pies 119: ‘Here’s a Bobby!’ cried a shrill juvenile voice on the outskirts of the crowd.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 4 Aug. 2/5: While a busy B was humming about the neighbourhood [,,,] he espied a maiden-fair emerging from the hostelerie of Mr. Taylor with a bottle of [...] rum.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch 21 Feb. 24/2: Just in the nick of time, a Bobby dropped into the bar, and took him before the Beak.
[UK]Dickens Uncommercial Traveller (1898) 22: They don’t go a headerin’ down here wen there an’t no Bobby nor gen’ral Cove fur to hear the splash.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 2 Feb. 3/2: The atrocious crime of having represented himself as one holding the dignified position of a ‘Bobby’.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 16/1: It is often said in admiration of such a man that ‘he could muzzle half a dozen bobbies before breakfast’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 32/2: The policeman appeared, and regardless of all the ‘flat’ could say, he was collared by the ‘bobbie’.
[US]Appleton’s Journal (N.Y.) 6 Sept. 307/2: To limp as if lame means ‘Don’t go in that direction;’ to wipe the brow, ‘Have a care of Bobby’ (policeman).
[Ind]‘Aliph Cheem’ Lays of Ind (1905) 62: A bobby stopped the fray.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 4: And the bobbies came down on us costers.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Feb. 5/4: He accompanies bobbies, alias the myrmidons of the law, in their rounds, making all sorts of raids into all sorts of places, at all sorts of hours.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Jan. 2/2: [T]he cohorts of virtue as epitomized by those venging angels without wings — the ‘Bobbies’.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 7 June 47/2: To others Samuel Hardstaff is a peeler, a reeler, a copper, a Bobby, a Robert, an unboiled lobster, or a slop, but to cook he is Mr Policeman.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) I 103: Said I, ‘Perhaps she has gone off with the bobby.’ It was a current joke then, policemen not having been long invented.
[UK]A. Day Mysterious Beggar 267: ‘Tell all the Bobbies on this beat!’ suggested Burle sarcastically.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Captain of the Push’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 187: Would you smash a bleedin’ bobby if you got the blank alone?
[US]J. London ‘The Road’ in Hendricks & Shepherd Jack London Reports (1970) 311–21: Their [i.e. tramps] argot is peculiar study. [...] bobbie – policeman – transplanted from Cockney argot.
[UK]J. McNicoll [perf. Marie Lloyd] And she lisped when she said, ‘Yes!’ 🎵 He told a ‘Bobbie’ of the lisp.
[UK]Sporting Times 3 Mar. 7/1: The event was celebrated by the appearance of a band of butchers [...]. A halt in front of the Pink ’Un office to cheer the staff was resented by the police, and the unsympathetic City bobbies moved the cleavers on.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 14 Aug. 1/1: The opium-smokers can play the game while the bobbies are in the room [...] to the uninitiated the pig-tailed vermin appear to be reading Chinese history.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 11 Jan. 5/8: [headline] A Blundering Bobby.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Nov. 12/2: [headline] LIZZIE LUMBERED. A Sussex Street Solicitress BUMPS A BRACE OF BOYS IN BLUE. Bright Bobbies Boob Her Bludger Bloke Barnay.
[UK]J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 14: I [...] found a couple of bobbies and an inspector busy making an examination.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 24 May [synd. col.] I say, bobby, old top, can you direct me to a shoe surgery?
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 97: A bobby soon had us in charge. I slipped one of my diamond rings into the sucker’s pocket, and cried copiously all the way to Bow Street Station.
[UK]Jennings & Madge May the Twelfth: Mass-Observation Day-Surveys II:63: I asked the bobby: ‘How long has this bye-law been in force?’ B: ‘About’ – deliberately swinging forward on his toes and back on his heels – ‘two years.’.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 252: When a cop brings in one of these strikers, a sympathetic Bobbie down at the Court rings up the Trades Hall.
[UK]Whizzbang Comics 45: ‘Humph! We must have a look inside this tent, anyway!’ said the bobby.
[UK]Oh Boy! No. 20 7: You showed the bobby your return ticket to China!
[UK]F. Norman Fings I Prologue: Just take it from me that a bobby knows best.
[Ire]F. O’Connor An Only Child (1970) 102: The bobby was so stunned at being cheeked by a small spectacled boy.
[NZ]D. Davin Breathing Spaces 49: Dee Street was empty as a tomb except for a bobby standing in the library doorway.
[UK]A. Burgess 1985 (1980) 210: We want to see our brave bobbies back on the beat.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 303: Adriana’s house on Widgeon was British Empired for the night. Union jacks and pearlie buttons [...] bobbie outfits.
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 145: The bobby told me, ‘Let’s get clear of this, son, it’s bloody dangerous’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 82: ‘[M]y friends and I get on quite well with the police — or the bobbies, as we call them’.
[UK]Guardian G2 30 June 3: If you’re a corrupt London bobby, you might like to consider early retirement.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 167: The bobbies must have put two and two together.
[UK]K. Richards Life 287: It was also a real drag to wake up every day with these bluebottles around your doot, these bobbies.
[Scot]V. McDermid Out of Bounds (2017) 320: ‘Should I be talking to the local bobbies about popping round with a search warrant?’.

2. (US) an Englishman.

[US]in DARE.

3. (Aus. prison) a prison officer.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Bobby. Prison Officer. Derived from the British usage where a bobby is a police officer.

4. (N.Z. prison) constr. with the, the police force.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 22/2: bobby, the n. the police.

5. (also boaby man) the penis, thus sexual intercourse; bobby juice, semen [? backform. bobby’s helmet ]. 🌐 i mean he could be a poofter and could have had a boaby in his mouth and was spitting out the boaby juice and giving your friend a facial.
[Scot]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: Christ, it’s keen. Maybe get the boaby today after all.
[Scot]I. Welsh Decent Ride 45: Ah pats ma wee boabyman but through ma jeans.

In compounds

bobby peeler (n.)

see separate entry.

bobby’s helmet (n.) (also bobby’s hat) [SE helmet/hat; the shape of the ‘bell end’]

the glans penis.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 108/1: since 1930s.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: bobby’s helmet n. Bell end. From the distinctive shape of the British police constable’s hat.