bobby

noun

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

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 There will soon be a new bobby on the beat in London: artificial intelligence. Will Knight, Wired, 25 Jan. 2020 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, 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, chicagotribune.com, 27 Aug. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bobby.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1839, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bobby was in 1839

Dictionary Entries Near bobby

Cite this Entry

“Bobby.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bobby. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

bobby

noun
bob·​by ˈbäb-ē How to pronounce bobby (audio)
plural bobbies
British
Etymology

named for Sir Robert (Bobby) Peel 1788–1850 English politician who first organized the London police force

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