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Yobbo or yob is a slang term for an uncouth or thuggish blue collar person. The word derives from a back slang reading of the word "boy" (boy or boyo reversed becomes yob or — slightly modified — yobbo).


In Britain, as the word 'yob' came out of the London back slang and into more general English usage, it and latterly, 'yobbo' have meant 'working class, adolescent, male person'. Within his own culture, he was not necessarily seen as uncouth, though a person writing about him rather than speaking of him was likely to be of another social class and prone to seeing him as loutish.

Dr. C. T. Onions, an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary seems not to have noticed the word before he published the XYZ section of the dictionary in 1921 but the later supplement notes the use of 'yob' as meaning 'boy' in the working-class youth context, from 1859. This implies that the word had by that stage, come out from the back slang argot into ordinary English usage. In the dictionary supplement's references, it is possible to detect a slow drift in the word's meaning, towards the 'Ruffian' interpretation, the new emphasis becoming clear from about 1927.

'Yobbo' appears from 1922 when its meaning does not clearly emphasize the ruffian. Its meaning drifts clearly towards the 'ruffian' interpretation by 1956, though a reference of 1938 calls a yobbo a 'Street Rough'.

In Britain today, this word is sometimes superseded by the newer term "Chav".


The word 'yob' is likely to have reached Australia as part of back slang, in the early nineteenth century, before it entered openly into English. Between the Napoleonic Wars and the 1850s there was much emigration from the poorer parts of London to the new settlements, whether as transportation or as semi-voluntary economic migration.

In March 2005, several bar owners announced they will no longer be serving Bundaberg Rum as they believed its drinkers were yobbos who abused bar staff and other patrons. Bundaberg fought back to fend off a reputation of being a drink for yobbos.


A Canadian 'Yob' is characterized by a lack of education as well gainful employment. This poor background leads towards a life comprised of youthful mischief ending in intoxicated violence. The typical habitat of Canadian yobs is in low income housing or areas where buildings have been abandoned. This is not to say that people from these areas are yobs, it is just that yobs inhabit these areas. Due to a decrease in available jobs the yob population has been skyrocketing. Hopefully the Canadian government will pursue economic policies that are socially and morally inclusive so that this problem does not increase.

See also


  • Burchfield, R.W. ed. The Oxford English Dictionary. (1987) ISBN 0-19-861211-7

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