Billy A policeman's staff, which is a little bill or billet.
Billy Barlow A street droll, a merry Andrew; so called from a half-idiot of the name, who fancied himself
some great personage. He was well known in the East of London, and died in Whitechapel workhouse.
Some of his
Billycock Hats First used by Billy Coke (Mr. William Coke) at the great shooting parties at Holkham. The old-established hatters in the West End still call them Coke hats.
Bi-metallism The employment of two metals, silver and gold, of fixed relative value. Now gold is the only standard metal in England and some other countries. Silver coins are mere tokens, like copper coins; and if given in payment of large sums are estimated at the market value, so much an ounce; but a gold sovereign is always of one fixed legal value.
Binary Arithmetic Arithmetic in which the base of the notation is 2 instead of 10. The unit followed by a cipher signifies two, by another unit it signifies three, by two ciphers it signifies four, and so on. Thus, 10 signifies two, 100 signifies four; while 11 signifies 3, etc.
Binary Theory A theory which supposes that all definite chemical salts are combinations of two radicles or elements, one of which is electro-positive (basic), and the other electro-negative (acid).
Bingham's Dandies The 17th Lancers; so called from their colonel, the Earl of Lucan, formerly Lord Bingham. The uniform is noted for its admirable fit and smartness. Now called The Duke of Cambridge's Own Lancers.
Binnacle The case of the mariner's compass, which used to be written bittacle, a corruption of the Portuguese bitacola, French, habitacle, properly an abode.
Birchin Lane I must send you to Birchin Lane, i.e. whip you. The play is on birch (a rod).
Passing through Birchin Lane amidst a camp-royal of hose and doublets, I took ... occasion to slip into a captain's suit- a valiant buff doublet stuffed with points and a pair of velvet slops scored thick with lace.- Middleton: Black Book (1604).
Bird An endearing name for girl.
And by my word, your bonnie birdBird is the Anglo-Saxon bird, the young of any animal, hence bride, verb, beran, to bring forth.
A bird of ill-omen. A person who is regarded as unlucky; one who is in the habit of bringing ill-news. The ancients thought that some birds indicated good luck, and others evil. Even to the present day many look upon owls, crows, and ravens as unlucky birds; swallows and storks as lucky ones.
Ravens, by their acute sense of smell, discern the savour of dying bodies, and, under the hope of preying on them, light on chimney-tops or flutter about sick rooms; hence the raven indicates death. Owls screech when bad weather is at hand, and as foul weather often precedes sickness, so the owl is looked on as a funeral bird.
A bird of passage. A person who shifts from place to place; a temporary visitant, like a cuckoo, the swallows, starlings, etc.
A jail-bird. (See Jail.)
The bird of Juno. The peacock.
Minerva's bird is either the cock or the owl; that of Venus is the dove.
The bird of Washington. The American or baldheaded eagle.
The well-known bald-headed eagle, sometimes called the Bird of Washington.- Wood.The Arabian bird. The phoenix.
The green bird tells everything a person wishes to know. (Chery and Fairstar.)
The talking bird spoke with a human voice, and could bid all other birds join in concert. (Arabian Nights.)
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