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See also: Barney



This definition is lacking an etymology or has an incomplete etymology. You can help Wiktionary by giving it a proper etymology.

The US sense "police officer" refers to the character Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.



barney (plural barneys)

  1. (UK, Australia, slang) A noisy argument.
    • 2007, Dave Brooks, For Nil Consideration, page 230,
      Gary and Mum went mental, and Gary phoned them up and had a right Barney with them.
    • 2009, Neville Conway, An Ornament to His Profession, page 45,
      ‘They had a right barney,’ Dexter said with glee, between mouthfuls. ‘Bloke wouldn′t go. Said he′d write to his MP.’
    • 2010, Michael White, The Art of Murder, unnumbered page,
      [] I bet there was a right barney over her wearing a dress that exposed the rose tattoo!’ Turner concluded with a laugh.
  2. (UK, Australia, slang) A minor physical fight.
    • 1982, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Corridors of Death, page 157,
      I got stuck in the middle of a real barney between a couple of tough coppers and a handful of hairy protesters, and I didn't enjoy it one single bit.
    • 2010, Katie Flynn, The Liverpool Rose, page 200,
      But he doesn't seem to be so — so angry all the time, and it's ages since he and Aunt Annie had a real barney, with flying fists and screechings, that sort of thing.
    • 2011, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Killing Time, unnumbered page,
      ‘I heard this crash, like the door was being kicked in, and then a load of shoutin′ an′ crashin′ about, like someone was havin' a real barney.’
  3. (US, pejorative slang) An insult directed at a police officer, usually by someone who believes the officer to be inferior or overzealous.



barney (third-person singular simple present barneys, present participle barneying, simple past and past participle barneyed)

  1. (UK, Australia, slang) To argue, to quarrel.