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Yobbo or yob is a slang term for an uncouth or thuggish working-class person. The word derives from a back slang reading of the word "boy" (boy or boyo reversed becomes yob or – slightly modified – yobbo).
The XYZ section of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1921, does not include the word, but a later supplement notes the use of 'yob' as meaning 'boy' in the working-class youth context, from 1859. 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 onwards; originally its meaning did not clearly emphasise the ruffian. Its meaning drifted clearly towards the 'ruffian' interpretation by 1956, though an article from 1938 calls a yobbo a 'street rough'.
In Britain today this word is sometimes superseded by the newer term "chav".
It is not unknown for a girl or woman to be described as a yob by the British media.
The term is also prevalent in Australian English. Similarly to the manner in which yobbo in the UK has been increasingly replaced with the term chav, in Australia the term has been increasingly replaced by the term bogan.
- "In the dock". Lancashire Evening Post. March 18 2010. "Yob is given curfew order: A woman who damaged a window has been given a six-week curfew."
- Burchfield, R.W. ed. The Oxford English Dictionary. (1987) ISBN 0-19-861211-7