billie

or Billie or billy or billies

[bil-ee] or [bil-eez]

What does billie mean?

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There are any number of famous Billies out there—Billie Jean King, Billie Holiday, and Billie Eilish, to name a few. But when it isn't a name, billies variously refer to a good friend, a policeman's nightstick, money, or a pipe or bong for smoking marijuana.

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Examples of billie

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Examples of billie
Fried, dyed, and laid to the side...big billies today for my g 💯
 @WOODAINFANTRY, December 2018
Billie Eilish's latest single, "When The Party's Over," was written by her brother Finneas O'Connell.
Ashley King, Digital Music News, November 2018
These billies dated back to the 1920's; they were shorter than the other type of batons used today, about nine inches long…
Harry Camisa & Jim Franklin, Inside Out: Fifty Years Behind the Walls of New Jersey's Trenton State Prison, 2003

Where does billie come from?

CBC

The name Billie is a feminine form of Billy, a nickname of William (literally “will helmet”). As a given name for women, it peaked in popularity in the 1930s.

There are quite a few famous Billies: Billie Jean King, legendary tennis player; Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of the punk band Green Day; and Billie Eilish, an American indie singer-songwriter. That’s not to mention possibly the most famous Billie of them all, though her birth name was actually Elenora Fagan—jazz singer Billie Holiday, who chose her stage name from an actress she loved, Billie Dove.

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The term billy to refer to a policeman’s nightstick dates to 1842. While it was coined in America, billies (or billy clubs), spread to the UK. In the late 1960s and 1970s, billy was used as shorthand for a cop in general in the US—because they carried them. Why billy? It’s probably based on the name Billy, as very common given names can lend themselves to various doo-dads (cf. Jack).

In 19th century Scottish English, a billie referred to a good friend or companion. Originally, the term referred to “a brother in blood or craft,” as the Dictionary of the Scots Language defines it. It’s likely based on Billie as a common nickname for William, itself a common name. While the first uses of billie were between men, it is used in the UK today to refer to a really good friend, particularly a female. This change is probably accounted for by the fact that Billie is a female given name.

In American slang, billies, a riff on (dollar) bills was used to mean “cash” in the 1980s.

Billies is also associated with drug use. By 1959, Billie Hoke was used as slang for cocaine, though this slang has dropped out. But in mid-2000s Australian slang, billie referred to a marijuana pipe, perhaps based on the Australian surf company Billabong or billy, a term for a kettle Down Under.

Who uses billie?

Billie can either be a given name or a nickname for William. Billie is also the name of a female-owned line of razors.

Calling a cop a billy is unusual today, though they still carry billy clubs.

Using billie to refer to a “mate” or “lad” may be found occasionally still in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, but it isn’t widespread.

Using billies to refer to “cash” is still somewhat in use in the United States, particularly in hip-hop, like the appropriately named 2001 track “Got Dough” by Five Deez, where he raps about how he gets women “due to big billies and they greenback motivations.”

The term Billie Hoke, in reference to cocaine, has largely been dropped in modern usage while the Australian billy for “bong” is still getting high.

Finally, you’ll also common see billies in reference to billy goats (male goats) and in the term hillbillies (disparaging term for a backwoods person) and silly-billies (clownish person).

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