noun, plural bil·lies.

  1. Also called billy club. a police officer’s club or baton.
  2. a heavy wooden stick used as a weapon; cudgel.
  3. Scot. Dialect. comrade.
  4. Also called bil·ly·can [bil-ee-kan] /ˈbɪl iˌkæn/. Australian. any container in which water may be carried and boiled over a campfire, ranging from a makeshift tin can to a special earthenware kettle; any pot or kettle in which tea is boiled over a campfire.
  5. Textiles. (in Great Britain) a roving machine.


  1. a male given name, form of William.
  2. Also Bil·lye. a female given name.


  1. Katharine Meyer,1917–2001, U.S. newspaper publisher.
  2. Martha,1894–1991, U.S. dancer and choreographer.
  3. Thomas,1805–69, Scottish chemist.
  4. William FranklinBilly, born 1918, U.S. evangelist.
  5. a male given name: from an Old English word meaning “gray home.”


  1. WilliamBilly, 1915–67, U.S. jazz pianist and composer: collaborator with Duke Ellington.


  1. Elizabeth,1911–79, U.S. poet.
  2. HazelGladys, 1906–1998, U.S. chemist and businesswoman.
  3. John Peale,1892–1944, U.S. poet and essayist.
  4. Morris (Gilbert),1893–1973, U.S. humorist, poet, and biographer.
  5. William AveryBilly, 1894–1956, Canadian aviator: helped to establish Canadian air force.


  1. George WilliamJohann Gottlob Wilhelm BitzerBilly, 1872–1944, U.S. cinematographer.

noun plural -lies

  1. US and Canadian a wooden club esp a police officer’s truncheon

noun plural -lies or -lycans

  1. a metal can or pot for boiling water, etc, over a campfire
  2. Australian and NZ (as modifier)billy-tea
  3. Australian and NZ informal to make tea


  1. (in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Greek Orthodox Churches) a clergyman having spiritual and administrative powers over a diocese or province of the ChurchSee also suffragan Related adjective: episcopal
  2. (in some Protestant Churches) a spiritual overseer of a local church or a number of churches
  3. a chesspiece, capable of moving diagonally over any number of unoccupied squares of the same colour
  4. mulled wine, usually port, spiced with oranges, cloves, etc


  1. Elizabeth . 1911–79, US poet, who lived in Brazil. Her poetry reflects her travelling experience, esp in the tropics


  1. (modifier) mainly US and Canadian made of graham flourgraham crackers


  1. Martha. 1893–1991, US dancer and choreographer
  2. Thomas. 1805–69, British physicist: proposed Graham’s law (1831) of gaseous diffusion and coined the terms osmosis, crystalloids, and colloids
  3. William Franklin, known as Billy Graham. born 1918, US evangelist


  1. Billy, full name William Strayhorn. 1915–67, US jazz composer and pianist, noted esp for his association (1939–67) with Duke Ellington

“club,” 1848, American English, originally burglars’ slang for “crowbar;” meaning “policeman’s club” first recorded 1856, probably from nickname of William, applied to various objects (cf. jack, jimmy, jenny).


Old English bisceop “bishop, high priest (Jewish or pagan),” from Late Latin episcopus, from Greek episkopos “watcher, overseer,” a title for various government officials, later taken over in a Church sense, from epi- “over” (see epi-) + skopos “watcher,” from skeptesthai “look at” (see scope (n.1)). Given a specific sense in the Church, but the word also was used in the New Testament as a descriptive title for elders, and continues as such in some non-hierarchical Christian sects.

A curious example of word-change, as effected by the genius of different tongues, is furnished by the English bishop and the French évêque. Both are from the same root, furnishing, perhaps the only example of two words from a common stem so modifying themselves in historical times as not to have a letter in common. (Of course many words from a far off Aryan stem are in the same condition.) The English strikes off the initial and terminal syllables, leaving only piscop, which the Saxon preference for the softer labial and hissing sounds modified into bishop. Évêque (formerly evesque) merely softens the p into v and drops the last syllable. [William S. Walsh, “Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities,” Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott, 1892]

Late Latin episcopus in Spanish became obispo. Cognate with Old Saxon biscop, Old High German biscof. The chess piece (formerly archer, before that alfin) was so called from 1560s.

in reference to crackers, etc., from unsifted whole-wheat flour, 1834, American English, from Sylvester Graham (1794-1851), U.S. dietetic reformer and temperance advocate. The family name is attested from early 12c., an Anglo-French form of the place name Grantham (Lincolnshire).

  1. American microbiologist. He shared a 1989 Nobel Prize for discovering a sequence of genes that can cause cancer when mutated.

  1. American molecular biologist who, working with Harold Varmus, discovered oncogenes. For this work, Bishop and Varmus shared the 1989 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

In some Christian churches, a person appointed to oversee a group of priests or ministers and their congregations. In the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, bishops are considered the successors of the Twelve Apostles.

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