bob·​by | \ ˈbä-bē How to pronounce bobby (audio) \
plural bobbies

Definition of bobby


Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for bobby


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

A nickname for a British policeman is a bobby, after Sir Robert (Bobby) Peel, who founded Britain’s Metropolitan Police Force in 1829, provoking complaints about the infringement of civil liberties. The first patrolmen wore a blue uniform (to distinguish them from the military who wore red) with a top hat. They also carried a 20-in (51-cm) truncheon (club) for protection, and a rattle for attracting attention—rattles were replaced with whistles in 1886, after experiments showed that whistles could be heard from a much greater distance. The first two bobbies—William Atkinson and William Alcock, holders of Warrants Number one and two— were fired on the first and second day of the force’s existence for being drunk.

Examples of bobby in a Sentence

a bobby on his beat asked a passing London bobby for directions
Recent Examples on the Web Sometimes bobby pins don't cut it to upgrade your day-two hair. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "30 great gifts under $5 that won't end up in the trash," 11 Dec. 2020 To pick the lock, use your bobby-pin pick to push up the pins, one at a time, until the cylinder is free to turn. Kevin Dupzyk And Joseph Truini, Popular Mechanics, "How to Open a Locked Door Without the Key," 18 Nov. 2020 These colorful acrylic bobby pins can be added to so many styles. Andrea Jordan, Better Homes & Gardens, "Yes, You Can Wear Hair Accessories at Any Age—Here's How," 23 June 2020 What about like a bobby-pin situation on men’s hair? Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Jonathan Van Ness Thinks You Should Let Your Quarantine Hair Grow," 26 May 2020 There will soon be a new bobby on the beat in London: artificial intelligence. Will Knight, Wired, "London Cops Will Use Facial Recognition to Hunt Suspects," 25 Jan. 2020 In 1942, a near-riot of bobby-soxers greeted the opening of Frank Sinatra’s singing engagement at the Paramount Theater in New York’s Times Square., "In 1853, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty under which the US agreed to buy some 45,000 square miles of land from Mexico for $10 million in a deal known as the Gadsden Purchase.," 31 Dec. 2019 The great theme of the recent Tory conference was providing reassurance—putting more bobbies on the beat, building more hospitals, raising the minimum wage and otherwise spraying money all over the place. The Economist, "The sad decline of Thatcherism," 12 Oct. 2019 The 65-year-old actor plays Moose, a childlike man who appears to eke out a living as a Hollywood street performer, portraying a mustachioed British bobby on the sidewalks of Tinseltown, collecting tips from tourists. Michael O'sullivan,, "’The Fanatic’ review: As an obsessed movie fan, John Travolta goes all out," 27 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bobby.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of bobby

1839, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bobby

Bobby, nickname for Robert, after Sir Robert Peel, who organized the London police force

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bobby

Statistics for bobby

Cite this Entry

“Bobby.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on bobby

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bobby

Britannica English: Translation of bobby for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bobby

Comments on bobby

What made you want to look up bobby? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!