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

Definition of bobby


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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 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 What’s missing are images of the bobby-socks crowd. Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Today: Trump backs down on tariffs, ‘just in case’," 14 Aug. 2019 The bobbies in Glasgow had been watching Slater for months. The Economist, "When Arthur Conan Doyle cried “J’Accuse…!”," 7 July 2018 Sentimental buccaneers and bumbling bobbies will share the stage with an eccentric major general. Tom Titus,, "On Theater: Vanguard University schedules shows for summer and its 2018-19 season," 31 May 2018 Vic Damone, the postwar crooner whose intimate, rhapsodic voice captivated bobby soxers, middle-age dreamers and silver-haired romantics in a five-decade medley of America’s love songs and popular standards, died on Sunday in Miami Beach. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Vic Damone, Who Crooned His Way to Postwar Popularity, Dies at 89," 12 Feb. 2018 Enter Lilla Rose, founded in 2008, which offers fun and functional hair clips, pins, bobbies, hairbands, and hair sticks. Arricca Sansone, Woman's Day, "8 of the Best Direct Selling Companies to Earn Extra Cash," 24 June 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for bobby

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The first known use of bobby was in 1839

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Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bobby.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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

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