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The Concise New Partridge presents, for the first time, all the slang terms from The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English in a single volume.

With over 60,000 entries from around the English-speaking world, the Concise gives you the language of beats, hipsters, Teddy Boys, mods and rockers, hippies, pimps, druggies, whores, punks, skinheads, ravers, surfers, Valley girls, dudes, pill-popping truck drivers, hackers, rappers and more.

The Concise New Partridge is a spectacular resource infused with humor and learning - it's rude, it's delightful and it's a prize for anyone with a love of language.

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The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang
and Unconventional English
The Concise New Partridge presents, for the first time, all the slang terms from the New Partridge
Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English in a single volume.
With over 60,000 entries from around the English-speaking world, the Concise gives you the
language of beats, hipsters, Teddy Boys, mods and rockers, hippies, pimps, druggies, whores,
punks, skinheads, ravers, surfers, Valley girls, dudes, pill-popping truck drivers, hackers, rappers
and more.
The Concise New Partridge is a spectacular resource infused with humour and learning – it’s
rude, it’s delightful, and it’s a prize for anyone with a love of language.

The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang
and Unconventional English
Tom Dalzell (Senior Editor)
Terry Victor (Editor)

List of contributors
Observations on slang and unconventional English

Entries A to Z
Numeric slang



Dr Richard Allsopp, a native of Guyana, is Director of the
Caribbean Lexicography Project and former Reader in
English Language and Linguistics, University of the West
Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados. He edited the Dictionary of
Caribbean English Usage.
Dr Dianne Bardsley is Manager of the New Zealand
Dictionary Centre at Victoria University of Wellington. Her
PhD involved the compilation and analysis of a rural New
Zealand English lexicon from the years 1842–2002. She
was contributing editor for the New Zealand Oxford
Dictionary and is currently leading several New Zealand
lexicography research projects.
James Lambert has worked primarily in Australian English,
specialising in slang in general and Australian slang in particular. He was assistant editor of The Macquarie Dictionary

of New Words and general editor of The Macquarie Book of
Slang and The Macquarie Slang Dictionary.
John Loftus manages the online archive at www.hiberno He was a senior research assistant on A
Dictionary of Hiberno-English.
Lewis P; oteet is a leading Canadian authority on slang and
dialect. He has written extensively about language in
Canada’s maritime provinces and edited Car & Motorcycle
Slang, Hockey Talk, Plane Talk, Car Talk and Cop Talk.
John Williams served as a consulting lexicographer on this
project. He has been contributing to general language
dictionaries, both monolingual and bilingual, for more than
20 years. He is the author of three children’s dictionaries, as
well as several articles on the practice of lexicography.

Eric Partridge made a deep and enduring contribution to
the study and understanding of slang. In the eight editions
of The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
published between 1937 and 1984, Partridge recorded and
defined the slang and unconventional English of Great
Britain, and to a lesser extent her dominions, from the
1600s to the 1970s. For the years up to 1890, Partridge
was by his own admission quite reliant on Farmer and
Henley’s Slang and its Analogues, which he used as an
‘expansible framework’. When it came to the slang for the
years 1890 to 1945, Partridge was original and brilliant,
especially in his treatment of underworld and military
slang. His attitude towards language was scholarly and
fun-loving, scientific and idiosyncratic. His body of work,
scholarship and dignity of approach led the way and set
the standard for every other English-language slang
lexicographer of the twentieth century.
Our respect for Partridge has not blinded us to the
features of his work that have drawn criticism over the
years. His protocol for alphabetising was quirky. His dating
was often problematic. His etymologies at times strayed
from the plausible to the fanciful. His classification by
register (slang, cant, jocular, vulgar, coarse, high, low, etc.)
was intensely subjective and not particularly useful.
Furthermore, his early decision to exclude American slang
created increasingly difficult problems for him as the years
passed and the influence of American slang grew. Lastly,
Partridge grew to lose the ability to relate to the
vocabulary he was recording. In 1937, Partridge was a man
of his time, but the same could no longer be said in 1960.
There is a profound relationship between language and
culture, and neither Partridge nor Paul Beale, editor of the
8th edition, seem to have assimilated the cultural changes
that began at the end of World War 2. This left them
without the cultural knowledge needed to understand the
language that they were recording. Their lack of cultural
understanding accelerated with time, and this is sadly
reflected in the later entries. Beatniks and drug addicts,
and their slang, baffled Partridge and Beale, who lacked
either the personal experience or historical perspective
needed to understand underlying countercultures.
Partridge himself observed, ‘More than almost any
other kind of book, a dictionary constantly needs to be
revised; especially, of course, if it deals with the current
form of a language and therefore has to be kept up to
date’. With The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and
Unconventional English we tried to do just that. We picked
up where Partridge left off, recording the slang and
unconventional English of the English-speaking world since
World War 2 with the same scholarship and joy in
language that characterised Partridge’s work. We are not,
and cannot be, Partridge: but we can strive to be proud
heirs of Partridge and to speak with a voice that Partridge
would recognise as an echo of his own. We have worked
hard to continue the Partridge tradition, observing high
standards of lexicography while producing an accessible
work informed by, and infused with, the humour, mischief

and energy that are endemic to slang. This Concise
version of the New Partridge contains every entry in New
Partridge as well as several hundred new words that have
come into the slang lexicon since 2005. The Concise is
presented without the hundreds of thousands of citations
in the New Partridge, creating an affordable alternative to
our update of Partridge. Lastly, we improved dating information given on hundreds of headwords.

Criteria for inclusion
We use three criteria for including a term or phrase in this
dictionary. We include (1) slang and unconventional
English, (2) used anywhere in the English-speaking world
and (3) after 1945.
Rather than focus too intently on a precise definition
of slang or on whether a given entry is slang, jargon or
colloquial English, we take full advantage of the wide net
cast by Partridge when he chose to record ‘slang and
unconventional English’ instead of just slang, which is,
after all, without any settled test of purity. We have considered for inclusion all unconventional English that has
been used with the purpose or effect of either lowering
the formality of communication and reducing solemnity
and/or identifying status or group and putting oneself in
tune with one’s company. A term recorded here might be
slang, slangy jargon, a colloquialism, an acronym, an
initialism, a vulgarism or a catchphrase. In all instances,
an entry imparts a message beyond the text and literal
meaning. This approach is especially useful when dealing
with world slang and unconventional English. A broader
range has permitted inclusion of many Caribbean entries,
for instance, which merit inclusion but might not meet a
stringent pure-slang-only test. Our only real deviation from
Partridge’s inclusion criteria is a much diminished body of
nicknames. The regiment nicknames that populate
Partridge’s work no longer fulfil the language function that
they did in the United Kingdom of Partridge’s day.
If there was a question as to whether a potential
entry fell within the target register, we erred on the side of
inclusion. We generally chose to include poorly attested
words, presenting the entry and our evidence of usage to
the reader who is free to determine if a candidate passes
Partridge limited his dictionary to Great Britain and
her dominions. We elected the broader universe of the
English-speaking world. Globalisation has affected many
facets of life, not the least of which is our language. There
are words that are uniquely Australian, American or
British, but it is impossible to ignore or deny the extent of
cross-pollination that exists between cultures as regards
slang. We were aided in our global gathering by
indigenous contributors from Australia, Canada, the
Caribbean, Ireland and New Zealand. We also include
pidgin, Creolised English and borrowed foreign terms used
by English-speakers in primarily English-language
conversation. We include slang and unconventional English

heard and used at any time after 1945. We chose the end
of the war in 1945 as our starting point primarily because
it marked the beginning of a series of profound cultural
changes that produced the lexicon of modern and
contemporary slang. The cultural transformations since
1945 are mind-boggling. Television, computers, drugs,
music, unpopular wars, youth movements, changing racial
sensitivities and attitudes towards sex and sexuality are all
substantial factors that have shaped culture and language.
No term is excluded on the grounds that it might be
considered offensive as a racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or
any kind of slur. This dictionary contains many entries and
citations that will, and should, offend. To exclude a term
or citation because it is offensive is to deny the fact that
it is used: we are not prescriptivists and this is simply not
our job. At the same time, we try to avoid definitions or
editorial comment that might offend.
We were tempted, but finally chose not to include an
appendix of gestures, although many serve the same
function as slang. Examples include the impudent middle
finger, Ralph Cramden’s Raccoon greeting and handshake,
the elaborate mimes that signal ‘jerk-off’ or ‘dickhead’,
Johnny Carson’s golf swing, Vic Reeves’ lascivious thigh
rubbing and Arsenio Hall’s finger-tip-touch greeting.
Neither did we include an appendix of computer language
such as emoticons or leet speak, although we have
included throughout several of the more prominent
examples of Internet and text messaging shorthand that
have become known outside the small circle of initial
We tried but in the end decided not to include the
word/word phenomenon (‘Is she your friend friend or
friend friend?’) or the word/word/word construction (‘The
most important three things in real estate are location,
location, location’). We could not include the obvious
pregnant silence that suggests ‘fuck’ (‘What the **** do
you think you’re doing?’). We shied away from the
lexicalised animal noises that often work their way into
informal conversation, such as a cat noise when someone
is behaving nastily. We similarly did not include musical
phrases that have become part of our spoken vocabulary,
such as the four-note theme of The Twilight Zone which is
used to imply an uncanny weirdness in any coincidence, or
melodramatic hummed violin music that serves as vocal
commentary on any piteous tale.

Using The Concise New Partridge
We hope that our presentation is self-evident and that it
requires little explanation. We use only a few abbreviations
and none of the stylistic conceits near and dear to the
hearts of lexicographers.

We use indigenous spelling for headwords. This is
especially relevant in the case of the UK arse and US ass.
For Yiddish words, we use Leo Rosten’s spelling, which
favours ‘sh-’ over ‘sch-’. An initialism is shown in upper
case without full stops (for example, BLT), except that
acronyms (pronounced like individual lexical items) are
lower case (for example, snafu).
Including every variant spelling of a headword
seemed neither practical nor helpful to the reader. For the
spelling of headwords, we chose the form found in
standard dictionaries or the most common forms, ignoring

uncommon variants as well as common hyphenation
variants of compounds and words ending in ‘ie’ or ‘y’. For
this reason, citations may show variant spellings not found
in the headword.

Placement of phrases
As a general rule, phrases are placed under their first significant word. However, some invariant phrases are listed
as headwords; for example, a stock greeting, stock reply or
catchphrase. Terms that involve a single concept are
grouped together as phrases under the common
headword; for example, burn rubber, lay rubber and peel
rubber are all listed as phrases under the headword

In dealing with slang from all seven continents, we
encountered more than a few culture-specific terms. For
such terms, we identify the domain or geographic location
of the term’s usage. We use conventional English in the
definitions, turning to slang only when it is both
substantially more economical than the use of conventional English and is readily understood by the average reader.

The voice and tone of The New Partridge Dictionary of
Slang and Unconventional English is most obvious in the
gloss: the brief explanations that Partridge used for ‘editorial comment’ or ‘further elucidation’. Partridge warned
against using the gloss to show what clever and learned
fellows we are – a warning that we heed to the very
limited extent it could apply to us. We chose to
discontinue Partridge’s classification by register.

Country of origin
As is the case with dating, further research will
undoubtedly produce a shift in the country of origin for a
number of entries. We resolutely avoided guesswork and
informed opinion.

Even Beale, who as editor of the 8th edition was the direct
inheritor of Partridge’s trust, noted that Partridge’s dating
‘must be treated with caution’. We recognise that the
accurate dating of slang is far more difficult than dating
conventional language. Virtually every word in our lexicon
is spoken before it is written, and this is especially true of
unconventional terms. The recent proliferation of electronic databases and powerful search engines will
undoubtedly permit the antedating of many of the entries.
Individualised dating research, such as Allen Walker’s hunt
for the origin of ‘OK’ or Barry Popik’s exhaustive work on
terms such as ‘hot dog’, produces dramatic antedatings:
we could not undertake this level of detailed research for
every entry.

In the preface to his 1755 Dictionary of the English
Language, Samuel Johnson noted that ‘A large work is
difficult because it is large,’ and that ‘Every writer of a
long work commits errors’. In addition to improvements in
our dating of terms and identification of the country of
origin, it is inevitable that some of our definitions are

incorrect or misleading, especially where the sense is
subtle and fleeting, defying paraphrasing, or where kindred
senses are interwoven. It is also inevitable that some
quotations are included in a mistaken sense. For these
errors, we apologise in advance.
We carry the flame for words that are usually judged
only by the ill-regarded company they keep. Just as
Partridge did for the sixteenth century beggars and rakes,
for whores of the eighteenth century, and for the armed
services of the two world wars, we try to do for the slang
users of the last 60 years. We embrace the language of

beats, hipsters, Teddy Boys, mods and rockers, hippies,
pimps, druggies, whores, punks, skinheads, ravers, surfers,
Valley Girls, dudes, pill-popping truck drivers, hackers,
rappers and more. We have tried to do what Partridge saw
as necessary, which was simply to keep up to date.

Tom Dalzell, Berkeley, California
Terry Victor, Caerwent, South Wales
Spring 2005
Re-edited for the Concise edition in the spring of 2007

Our debt to Sophie Oliver defies description. With good
humour and a saintly tolerance for our so-called wit and
attempts to corrupt, she herded this project through from
a glimmer in the eye to print on the page.
We bow to and thank the following who helped along
the way: Mary Ann Kernan, who was charged with putting
this project together in 1999 and 2000; John Williams,
who must be credited for all that is right about our
lexicography and excused for anything that is not; Robert
Hay and Mike Tarry of Alden for their unending work on
the database and cheerful handling of every problem we
could throw at them; Claire L’Enfant; James Folan for
rescuing us in the content edit phase; Louise Hake for her
cheerful determination in the editing and production
phases; our fine copy editors Sandra Anderson, Howard
Sargeant and Laura Wedgeworth; and Aine Duffy for her
enthusiastically scurrilous vision of the whole project as it
Finally, we thank Oxford University Press for
providing us with access to the ‘Oxford English Dictionary
Online’, a brilliant online presentation of the Oxford
English Dictionary, one of the leading sources for dating.

Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor

This dictionary would never have seen the light of day
without the time and support given to me by my family –
Cathy most notably, also Jake, Julia, Rosalie and Charlotte.
I thank and owe you big-time, major league and
humongously. Who knew it would take so much? In their
own ways, and from a distance, my parents guided.
Audrey, Emily and Reggae started the project with me but
did not stay for the end.
I also thank: my slang mentors Paul Dickson and
Madeline Kripke (and better mentors you could not hope
for); Archie Green, who saved Peter Tamony’s work for
posterity and encouraged me throughout this project;
Jesse Sheidlower, Jonathon Green and Susan Ford, slang
lexicographers, friends and comrades in words; Dr Lisa
Winer for her voluminous and fine work on the slang of
Trinidad and Tobago; Jan Tent for his excellent collection
of Fijian slang; Dr Jerry Zientara, the learned and helpful
librarian at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human
Sexuality in San Francisco, which kindly opened its
incomparable library to me; Tom Miller, Bill Stolz, John
Konzal and Patricia Walker, archivists at the Western
Historical Manuscript Collection, University of Missouri at
Columbia, for their help and insights during my work with
the Peter Tamony archives; the Hon. Sir Colville Young for
leading me to Richard Allsopp; Jim Holliday for his help on
the slang of pornography; Jennifer Goldstein for her help
on the slang of sex dancers; Richard Perlman for his
patient and Zen-like technological help; Angela Jacobson,
Elizabeth McInnis and Caitlan Perlman, who helped as

readers; Mr Baldwin, Mr Muir, Mr Lee, Dr Robert Regan
and Dr Gordon Kelly for the English and popular culture
they taught me.
I thank my fellow language writers and
lexicographers who were generous in their encouragement,
advice and assistance: Reinhold Aman, a brave and
brilliant pioneer, the late Robert Chapman, Gerald Cohen,
Trevor Cralle, Jim Crotty, Connie Eble, Jonathan Lighter,
Edward MacNeal, Geoffrey Nunberg, Judi Sanders, Leslie
Savan and Oliver Trager.
Our Australian contributor, James Lambert, was given
recourse to the various databases of the Macquarie Library
Pty Ltd, who publish synchronic dictionaries for the
Australian and Asian markets, and for these vast resources
we are grateful.
Lastly, I acknowledge Terry Victor. The demands of
this project have only strengthened our friendship.

Tom Dalzell

My wife, Liz, deserves a dictionary entry of her own as a
definition of tolerance, patience and encouragement way
beyond conventional expectations. In the wider world, my
sister and family added to both my library and vocabulary;
and my other family, now in Spain, even went so far as to
put a christening on hold until a deadline had been met,
as well as allowing me access to the playground language
of our time. I must also thank Gerri Smith for her tolerant
understanding that I could not be in two places at once.
Serendipity brought me to Tom Dalzell and through
him I have had the advantage and benefit of all of the
influences and providers of expertise that he names
above, especially Jonathon Green. In addition to those
encouragement of Michael Quinion and David Crystal;
and, in matters polari, Paul Baker.
For particular contributions I would like to thank:
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Resoli; Lisa and Tim Hale; David
Morrison; some of the inmates at HMP High Down in the
summer of 2002; Antonio Lillo for his work on rhyming
slang; various magazine editors and journalists who
addressed so many of my queries of modern usage; and,
for a splendid collection of cocaine-related slang, a certain
group of musicians (whose management would prefer
that they remain anonymous). I also enjoyed the advantage of the correspondence that the Partridge and Beale
8th edition still attracts: I am grateful to all who wrote
in, and I look forward to seeing more contributions at
Above all, I must make mention of two people: Eric
Partridge, who is my hero, and Tom Dalzell, who is my

Terry Victor

Some notes on the challenges of lexicography, drawn entirely from the writings
of Eric Partridge (1894–1979)

Partridge wrote widely on matters concerning the English
language. He did not, by any means, restrict his interest to
matters slang and unconventional; however, it is his work
in this area that had, and continues to have, the greatest
impact, and on which his reputation is most celebrated.
He wrote more than forty books in his lifetime,
considering such diverse topics as abbreviations, American
tramp and underworld slang, British and American English
since 1900, comic alphabets, English and American
Christian names, Shakespeare’s bawdy, usage and abusage,
and he contributed to many, many more. It is so
substantial a body of work that any list short of a full bibliography will inevitably do his great achievement a
disservice. He was a philologist, etymologist, lexicographer,
essayist and dictionary-maker; he is a legend and an inspiration.
The flavour, and wisdom, of Partridge’s work is
gathered in the quotations that follow, loosely grouped by
subject, and presented under sub-headings that make new
use of a selection of his book and article titles.

usually at first sight only that their simplicity is what
strikes one the most forcibly. And slang, after all, is a
peculiar kind of vagabond language, always hanging
on the outskirts of legitimate speech, but continually
straying or forcing its way into the most respectable
Language in general and every kind of language
belongs to everyone who wishes to use it.
Slang, being the quintessence of colloquial speech,
must always be related to convenience rather than
scientific laws, grammatical rules and philosophical
ideals. As it originates, so it flourishes best, in
colloquial speech.
Slang may and often does fill a gap in accepted

Words, Words, Words!
Slang Today and Yesterday
From about 1850, slang has been the accepted term
for ‘illegitimate’ colloquial speech: but since then,
especially among the lower classes, ‘lingo’ has been
a synonym, and so also, chiefly among the cultured
and the pretentious, has ‘argot’. Now ‘argot’, being
merely the French for ‘slang’, has no business to be
used thus – it can rightly be applied only to French
slang of French cant: and ‘lingo’ properly means a
simplified language that, like Beach-la-Mar and
Pidgin-English, represents a distortion of (say)
English by coloured peoples speaking English indeed
but adapting it to their own phonetics and grammar.
‘Jargon’ – originally as in Chaucer, used of the
warbling of birds – has long been employed loosely
and synonymously for slang, but it should be
reserved for the technicalities of science, the professions and the trades: though, for such technical1
ities, ‘shop’ is an equally good word.
[S]lang is much rather a spoken than a literary
language. It originates, nearly always, in speech.
Slang is easy enough to use, but very hard to write
about with the facile convincingness that a subject
apparently so simple would, at first sight, seem to
demand. But the simplest things are the hardest to
define, certainly the hardest to discuss, for it is

Every group or association, from a pair of lovers to a
secret society however large, feels, at some time or
other, the need to defend itself against outsiders,
and therefore creates a slang designed to conceal its
thoughts: and the greater the need for secrecy, the
more extensive and complete is the slang[.]
The specialization that characterizes every vocation
leads naturally to a specialized vocabulary, to the
invention of new words or the re-charging of old
words. Such special words and phrases become slang
only when they are used outside their vocational
group and then only if they change their meaning or
are applied in other ways […] But, whatever the
source, personality and one’s surroundings (social or
occupational) are the two co-efficients, the two chief
factors, the determining causes of the nature of slang,
as they are of language in general and of style.
One kind of eyewash, the army’s innumerable ‘states’
and ‘returns’ was known as bumf, short for bumfodder: the abbreviation was common in English
public schools from before 1900; the full term for
toilet-paper dates back to the seventeenth century,
when it was coined by Urquhart, the translator
of Rabelais; Urquhart is one of the most prolific
originators of the obscenities and vulgarities of our
language, and with him rank Shakespeare and

Observations on slang and unconventional English
In English, the ideas most fertile in synonyms are
those of drinking, drunkenness, money, and the sex1
ual organs and act.
Many slang words, indeed, are drawn from
entertainments), from the joy of life, from a gay
abandon: for this reason it has been wittily called
‘language on a picnic’.
Common to – indeed, very common in – the
jazzman’s and the Beatnik’s vocabulary is the noun
pad, whence the entirely Beatnik pad me, a cat’s
invitation to a chick to share his room and bed. […]
The Beatniks got it from the jazzmen who got it
from the American underworld who got it from the
British underworld (pad, a bed) who got it from
Standard English of the sixteenth–eighteenth
centuries (pad, a bundle of straw to lie on).
The metaphors and allusions [in slang] are generally
connected with some temporary phase, some
ephemeral vogue, some unimportant incident; if the
origin is not nailed down at the time, it is rarely
[B]orrowings from foreign languages produce slang;
and every language borrows. Borrowings, indeed,
have a way of seeming slangy or of being welcomed
by slang before standard speech takes them into its
War always produces a rich crop of slang.


[W]ar (much as we may hate to admit the fact),
because, in all wars, both soldiers and sailors and,
since 1914, airmen and civilians as well, have
imported or adopted or invented hundreds of words,
terms, phrases, this linguistic aspect ranking as, if we
except the unexceptable ‘climate of courage,’ the
only good result of war.
Human characteristics, such as a love of mystery and
a confidential air (a lazy freemasonry), vanity, the
imp of perversity that lurks in every heart, the
impulse to rebellion, and that irrepressible spirit of
adventure which, when deprived of its proper
outlook in action, perforce contents itself with verbal
audacity (the adventure of speech): these and others
are at the root of slang[.]

Here, There and Everywhere
When we come to slang and familiar speech generally, we come to that department of the vocabulary
in which British and American differences are
naturally greater than anywhere else, just as they are
greater in the colloquial language generally than in
the literary.
American slang is more volatile than English and it
tends, also, to have more synonyms, but a greater
number of those synonyms are butterflies of a day;
English synonyms are used more for variety than
from weariness or a desire to startle. American slang
is apt to be more brutal than English[.]

Canada also has an extensive and picturesque
objective slang, but that slang is 80 per cent
American, with the remainder rather more English
than native-Canadian[…] it is linguistically unfair to
condemn it for being so much indebted to its near
and ‘pushing’ neighbour[.]
Australian speech and writing have, from the outset,
unconventionality is linguistic.
The truth is that South African slang, as distinct
from indispensable Africanderisms, is not intrinsically
so vivid, humorous, witty, or divinely earthy as
Canadian and Australian slang, nor is it nearly so
extensive, nor has it, except during the Boer War,
succeeded in imposing itself upon English slang,
much less upon Standard English[.]
New Zealand is like South Africa in that its population is too small to have much influenced the
language of the mother country whether in Standard
or in unconventional English.

Usage and Abusage
Some of the upstart qualities [of slang] and part of
the aesthetic (as opposed to the moral) impropriety
spring from the four features present in all slang,
whatever the period and whatever the country: the
search for novelty; volatility and light-headedness as
well as light-heartedness; ephemerality; the sway of
fashion. In the standard speech and still more in
slang we note that the motive behind figurative
expressions and all neologisms is the desire to
escape from the old accepted phrase: the desire for
novelty operates more freely, audaciously, and rapidly
in slang – that is the only difference. […O]f the
numerous slang words taken up by the masses and
the classes, most have only a short life, and that
when they die, unhonoured and unsung, they are
almost immediately replaced by novelties equally
transitory: the word is dead, long live the word!
[…S]lang, as to the greater part of its vocabulary and
especially as to its cuckoo-calling phrases and it’s
parrot-sayings, is evanescent; it is the residuum that,
racy and expressive, makes the study of slang revel1
atory of the pulsing life of the language.
[S]lang is indicative not only of man’s earthiness but
of his indomitable spirit: it sets him in his proper
place: relates a man to his fellows, to his world and
the world, and to the universe.
And slang is employed for one (or two or more) of
thirteen reasons:

In sheer high spirits; ‘just for the fun of the
As an exercise in wit or humour.
To be ‘different’ – to be novel.
To be picturesque.
To be startling; to startle.
To escape from cliché’s and long-windedness.
To enrich the language.
To give solidity and concreteness to the
abstract and the idealistic, and nearness to the


Observations on slang and unconventional English



distant scene or object.
To reduce solemnity, pain, tragedy.
To put oneself in tune with one’s company.
To induce friendliness or intimacy.
To show that one belongs to a certain school,
trade or profession, intellectual set or social
class. In short to be in the fashion – or to
prove that someone else isn’t.
To be secret – not understood by those around

But no real stylist, no-one capable of good speaking
or good writing, is likely to be harmed by the
occasional employment of slang; provided that he is
conscious of the fact, he can employ it both
frequently and freely without stultifying his mind,
impoverishing his vocabulary, or vitiating the taste
and the skill that he brings to the using of that
vocabulary. Except in formal and dignified writing and
in professional speaking, a vivid and extensive slang is
perhaps preferable to a jejune and meagre vocabulary
of standard English; on the other hand, it will hardly
be denied that, whether in writing or speech, a sound
though restricted vocabulary of standard English is
preferable to an equally small vocabulary of slang,
however vivid may be that slang.

attack and the very sturdinessof the defence have
ensured that only the fittest survive to gain entrance
to the citadel, there establish themselves, and then
become conservatives and purists in their turn.
Any term that prevents us from thinking, any term
that we employ to spare us from searching for the
right word, is a verbal narcotic. As though there
weren’t too many narcotics already…
Words are very important things; at the lowest
estimate, they are indispensable counters of


The Gentle Art of Lexicography
I began early in life: and it is the course of my life
which, allied to a natural propensity to original sin,
has made a lexicographer out of me.
For most of us, a dictionary is hardly a book to read;
a good dictionary, however, is a book to browse in.
Some dictionaries are so well written that one just
goes on and on. To write such a dictionary has
always been my ambition.
Slang [etymology/lexicography] demands a mind
constantly on the qui vive; an ear constantly keyed to
the nuances of everyday speech, whether among
scholars or professional men or craftsmen or
labourers; a very wide reading of all kinds of books.
I have read much that is hopelessly inferior,
hopelessly mediocre; and much that, although
interesting, is yet devoid of literary value. But ever
since my taste acquired a standard, I have been able
to extract some profit from even the most trashy
There is far more imagination and enthusiasm in the
making of a good dictionary than in the average

Words at War: Words at Peace
For over a century, there have been protests against
the use of slang and controversies on the relation of
slang to the literary language or, as it is now usually
called, Standard English. Purists have risen in their
wrath and conservatives in their dignity to defend
the Bastille of linguistic purity against the
revolutionary rabble. The very vehemence of the






Slang Today and Yesterday, 1933: George Routledge &
Sons, London
Slang Today and Yesterday, 1933, quoting Greenough
and Kittredge, Words and their Ways in English
Speech, 1902: George Routledge & Sons, London
‘The Lexicography of Cant’, American Speech, Volume
26, Issue 2, May 1951: The American Dialect Society,
Durham, North Carolina
‘Byways of Soldier Slang’ in A Martial Medley, 1931:
Scholartis Press, London
‘A Square Digs Beatnik’, August 1959. Originally
published for private circulation Christmas 1959/New
Year 1960. Collected in A Charm of Words, 1960:
Hamish Hamilton, London
‘Words Get Their Wings’, originally published in
Chamber’s Journal, July-August 1945. Collected in
Words at War: Words at Peace, 1948: Frederick Muller,
‘Introduction’ in Dictionary of New Words, Mary
Reifer, 1957: Peter Owen, London
British and American English Since 1900, co-authored
with John W. Clark, 1951: Andrew Dakers, London
‘Australian English’ in A Charm of Words, 1960:
Hamish Hamilton, London
Usage & Abusage, 1947: Hamish Hamilton, London
[originally published in the US in 1942]
The World of Words, 2nd edition, 1939: Hamish
Hamilton, London [reduced by Eric Partridge from a
fuller consideration in Slang Today and Yesterday,
1933, and based on the work of M. Alfredo Niceforo,
Le Génie de l’Argot, 1912]
The Gentle Art of Lexicography, 1963: André Deutsch,
Adventuring Among Words, 1961: André Deutsch,
Journey to the Edge of Morning, ©1946, reprinted
1969: Books for Libraries Press, New York
As Corrie Denison, a pseudonymous epigraph to A
Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Captain
Francis Grose (3rd edition, 1796), edited by Eric
Partridge, 1931: Scholartis Press, London
Here, There and Everywhere, 1950: Hamish Hamilton,
‘Verbal Narcotics’, originally published in Good
Housekeeping magazine, June 1949. Collected in
From Sanskrit to Brazil, 1952: Hamish Hamilton,
‘Words in Vogue: Words of Power’, 1942: collected in
Words at War: Words at Peace, 1948: Frederick Muller,

A noun 1 amphetamine US, 1967. 2 LSD. An abbreviation of ACID US,
1977. 3 in a deck of playing cards, an ace US, 1988. < get A into G;
get your A into G to stop idling; to apply yourself to an activity;
to start doing something useful. Euphemistic for GET YOUR ARSE IN

A adjective 1 reserved for the best; the best US, 1945. 2 anal US, 1997
a2m noun a scene in a pornographic film in which an object or body
part is withdrawn from a rectum and taken into a mouth without
either washing or editing. Shorthand for ‘ass-to-mouth’ US, 1997
A3 anytime, anyplace, anywhere. An abbreviation used in text
messaging UK, 2003
AAA noun an amphetamine tablet. In the US, the AAA is the national
automobile club, which, like an amphetamine tablet, helps you get
from one place to another US, 1993
A and A noun in the military, a leave for rest and recreation. A
jocular abbreviation of ‘ass and alcohol’ US, 1966
A and B noun assault and battery US, 1986
aap; arp noun a marijuana cigarette. From Afrikaans for ‘monkey’

aardvark noun an F-111 combat aircraft or any aircraft that is
awkward-looking or difficult to fly. Vietnam war usage US, 1963
ab noun an abscess, especially as a result of injecting drugs US, 1952
AB noun 1 the Aryan Brotherhood, a white prison gang in the US US,
1990. 2 the bleed period of the menstrual cycle. An abbreviation of
‘Annie Brown’ NEW ZEALAND, 1996
ABA noun a traveller’s cheque US, 1985
abb adjective abnormal US, 1991
abba-dabba noun chatter, gossip. Undoubtedly originated with the
song ‘The Aba-Daba Honeymoon’, written in 1913 and re-released
with great success by Larry Clinton and His Orchestra in March
1948, in which ‘abba-dabba’ is the chatter of monkeys US, 1961
abba-dabba adjective dark-skinned, especially Arabic US, 1975
abbed adjective having well-defined abdominal muscles UK, 2002
abbey noun a swindler who impersonates a priest US, 1950. < on the
abbey engaged in a swindle involving clergy impersonation US, 1992
abbott noun a capsule of pentobarbital sodium (trade name
Nembutal™), a central nervous system depressant. From the name
of the manufacturer US, 1971
Abby Singer noun in television and film making, the next-to-last
shot of the day. Singer was active in US television from the early
1950s until the late 1980s; his name became an eponym when he
was an Assistant Director in the 1950s US, 1990
ABC noun 1 an American-born Chinese US, 1984.
two and three US, 1988


in poker, the ace,

ABC adjective of a piece of chewing gum, already been chewed.
Childish usage US, 2004
ABC ad noun a newspaper advertisement listing shows in
alphabetical order US, 1973
ABC class noun the entry grade in a primary school TRINIDAD AND
TOBAGO, 2003

ABCing you used as a farewell. Intended as a clever variant of ‘I’ll
be seeing you’ US, 1947
ABC’s noun underwear US, 1949
ABC-ya used as a farewell. Intended as a clever variant of ‘I’ll be
seeing you’ US, 2002
abdabs; habdabs; screaming abdabs noun a condition of anxiety,
uneasiness, nervousness; also, but rarely, delirium tremens or a

state of enraged frustration. Always following ‘the’, usually now
phrased (to give someone) the screaming abdabs UK, 1946
abdicate verb to vacate a public toilet upon orders of a homosexualrousting attendant. The royal imagery is derived from the homosexual as QUEEN US, 1941
Abdul noun 1 used as a term of address for any Turkish soldier. World
War 1 coinage UK, 1925. 2 any male Arab. Gulf war usage US, 1991

Abe noun 1 a five-dollar note. An abbreviation of ABE LINCOLN US, 1945.
2 any Jewish male. Also variant ‘Abie’. From the archetypal Jewish
name: Abraham US, 1914
A bean noun a capsule of MDMA, the recreational drug best known
as ecstasy UK, 2003
Abe Lincoln noun a five-dollar note. The note bears an engraving of
President Lincoln US, 1966
Aber nickname Aberdare, Abergavenny, Aberystwyth or any town so
constructed. From Welsh for ‘where two waters meet’ UK: WALES, 2001
abercrombie noun 1 a person devoted to prep-school fashions and
style US, 2004. 2 someone who strives at creating the impression of
knowing all US, 1945
abfab adjective absolutely fabulous. Originally the slang of Australian
teenagers. From early 1990s in the UK it has been the widely familiar short-form of popular television situation comedy Absolutely
Fabulous AUSTRALIA, 1965
Abigail noun a staid, traditional, middle-aged homosexual man US,

able adjective strong, capable, courageous. In general speech, this
word is usually followed by ‘to do [something]’, but the Canadian
use tends to follow the otherwise obsolete pattern of letting it
stand alone or with an intensifier CANADA, 1980. < can’t spell able
be unable to do what you are told to do BARBADOS, 1996
Able Dog noun the propeller-driven Douglas AD Skyraider. Based on
the letters A and D in phonetic alphabet. The Skyraider was
manufactured between 1946 and 1957; it saw service in Korea and
Vietnam US, 1961
able Grable noun a sexually attractive girl US, 1945
abo noun an Australian Aboriginal. An abbreviation of ‘aborigine’
blended with the ‘-o’ suffix. Now a strongly taboo word, formerly
in frequent use by white people, and viewed by them as less
marked than other terms such as ‘boong’ or ‘coon’. It was even
used in names for products, businesses, etc AUSTRALIA, 1906
abo adjective Australian Aboriginal; of, or pertaining to, Australian
Aboriginals AUSTRALIA, 1911
aboard adverb present, part of an enterprise US, 1957. < go aboard
of someone to act vigorously and aggressively, to attack, or scold
vigorously CANADA, 1980
A-bomb; atom bomb noun marijuana combined in a cigarette with
cocaine, heroin or opium. The addition of narcotic enhancements
to a BOMB (a marijuana cigarette) is signified by the ‘A’ US, 1969
A-bombed adjective under the influence of amphetamines US, 1975
A-bone noun a Model A Ford car, first built in 1927 US, 1951
aboot preposition used as a humorous attempt to duplicate a
Canadian saying ‘about’ US, 1995
abort verb to defecate after being the passive partner in anal sex US,

abortion noun a misfortune; an ugly person or thing US, 1943
about-face noun a 180-degree turn executed while driving fast US,

about it; ’bout it adjective in favour of something US, 2001
about right adjective correct, adequate UK, 1850

above board | acey-deucey


above board adjective entirely honest. From card playing UK, 1616
above par adjective 1 in excellent health or spirits. Originates from
describing stocks and shares as above face value UK, 1937. 2 mildly
drunk. By extension from the previous sense UK, 1984
abracadabra, please and thank you used as a humorous
embellishment of ‘please’. A signature line from the Captain
Kangaroo children’s television show (CBS, 1944–84). Repeated
with referential humour US, 1944
Abraham Lincoln; Abie Lincoln adjective disgusting, contemptible.
Glasgow rhyming slang for STINKING UK, 1988
Abrahampstead nickname Hampstead, an area of north London
with a large Jewish population. A combination with the archetypal
Jewish name Abraham UK, 1981
abs noun the abdominal muscles US, 1956
absobloodylutely adverb absolutely, utterly. First recorded as
‘absoballylutely’ UK, 1914
absofuckinglutely adverb absolutely UK, 1921
absolutely! used for registering complete agreement UK, 1937
Absolutely, Mr Gallagher. Positively, Mr Shean. used for a
humorous assent. From the Vaudeville team of Gallagher and
Shean US, 1922
absotively; absitively adverb certainly. A jocular blend of ‘positively’ and ‘absolutely’ US, 1926
Abyssinian polo noun a game of dice US, 1962
Abyssinian tea noun khat, a natural stimulant grown in Kenya,
Ethiopia and Somalia UK, 2004
Ac noun an Acura car US, 2002
AC/DC; AC-DC noun in gay society, a couple UK, 2002
AC/DC; AC-DC adjective bisexual. A pun on electricity’s AC
(alternating current) and DC (direct current) US, 1960
ACAB all coppers are bastards. An initialism, a philosophy, a tattoo
UK, 1996

academy noun a jail or prison US, 1949
Academy Award noun recognition of excelling in a field US, 1958
Academy Award adjective 1 excellent US, 1958. 2 histrionic AUSTRALIA,

accordion war noun US tactics during the Korean war: accordionlike movements up and down Korea by land forces US, 1982
account executive noun a pimp who procures and profits from
high-price prostitutes US, 1972
accrue verb < accrue chocolate to behave towards officers in an
obsequious, sycophantic manner. Royal Navy usage; a play on
BROWN-NOSE (to behave obsequiously, etc.) UK, 1929
accumulator noun a type of bet where the amount won on one
event becomes the stake for the next event; a bettor who operates
in such a manner UK, 1889
ace noun 1 a very close friend US, 1932. 2 used as a form of address UK,
1919. 3 a good and reliable friend US, 1941. 4 one dollar US, 1900. 5 one
hundred dollars US, 1974. 6 one-eighth of an ounce of a drug US, 1989.
7 phencyclidine, the recreational drug known as PCP or angel dust
US, 1981. 8 in dice games, a rolled one US, 1999. 9 an important or
notable CB user. Citizens’ band radio slang US, 1976. 10 a prison
sentence of one year US, 1927. 11 in the theatre, a one-night
engagement US, 1981. 12 in pool, the number one ball US, 1878. 13 a
table for one at a restaurant US, 1961. 14 a single rotten fruit UK, 1963.
15 in lunch counter usage, a grilled cheese sandwich US, 1975.
16 the grade ‘A’ US, 1964. < ace in the hole an undisclosed
resource US, 1908. < ace up your sleeve a resource that is yet to
be revealed. From the popular belief that card cheats hide cards
up their sleeves US, 1927. < on your ace alone; by yourself

ace verb 1 to outsmart someone US, 1929. 2 to work your way
somewhere, to engineer something US, 1929. 3 to do well in an
examination US, 1957. 4 to kill someone US, 1975
ace adjective exceptional, expert, excellent US, 1930
ace boon coon; ace boon poon noun a very close friend US, 1958
ace boy noun a very good male friend BERMUDA, 1985
ace cool noun a very close and trusted friend US, 1988
ace-deuce noun 1 a fellow prisoner upon whom you rely without
question US, 1989. 2 your best friend BELIZE, 1996
ace-deuce verb in craps, to sustain a heavy loss US, 1987
ace-deuce adjective 1 cross-eyed US, 1955. 2 riding a racehorse with the
right stirrup higher than the left US, 1948
ace-deuce adverb on an angle, with one side higher than the other
US, 1948

Academy Award winning adjective histrionic AUSTRALIA, 1987
Acapulco noun marijuana from southwest Mexico. A shortened form

ace-douche noun in craps, a first roll of three. ‘Douche’ is an
intentional corruption of ‘deuce’; a come-out roll of three loses US,

Acapulco gold noun golden-leafed marijuana from southwest
Mexico. A popular, well-known strain of cannabis. The song
‘Acapulco Gold’ by the Rainy Daze was released in 1967 and had
just begun its climb on the pop charts when programme directors
figured out what it was about and pulled it off play lists US, 1965

ace high; aces high adjective the very best. From poker US, 1896
ace in verb 1 to manipulate someone or something into a situation
US, 1971. 2 to become associated with a group and work your way
into it US, 1992
acelerante noun an amphetamine or central nervous system stimulant. Borrowed Spanish used by English-speakers US, 1992
ace man noun a youth gang’s top fighter US, 1953
ace note noun a one-dollar note US, 1929
ace of spades noun the vulva US, 1960
ace on adjective skilled at BAHAMAS, 1982
ace out verb 1 to fool someone; to swindle someone US, 1933. 2 to
exclude someone US, 1964. 3 in poker, to win a hand by bluffing
while holding a relatively low-value hand US, 1983
ace over apex adverb head over heels US, 1960
aces noun in poker, a hand with a pair of aces US, 1987. < aces in
both places in craps, a roll of two US, 1999
aces adjective excellent US, 1901

acca; acker noun an academic whose work serves the marketplace
rather than the intellect; hence a particularly sterile piece of
academic writing. An abbreviation punning on OCKER (a coarse
Australian) AUSTRALIA, 1977
accelerator noun 1 an amphetamine tablet US, 1993.


an arsonist US,


accessory noun a boyfriend or girlfriend US, 1992
accibounce noun a minor collision or accident TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO,

accident noun a murder that cannot be proved as such US, 1964
accidentally on purpose adverb apparently accidental yet
deliberately done, especially with hidden malicious purpose US, 1887
accommodation arrest noun a pre-arranged, consensual raid of an
illegal gambling operation, designed to give the appearance of
strict enforcement of laws US, 1961
according to Hoyle adverb in keeping with established rules and
norms. After Edmond Hoyle (1672–1769), who codified the rules
for many games US, 1904
accordion act noun collapsing under pressure US, 1989


acey-deucey noun 1 in backgammon, a variant rule under which the
game is started in positions other than the standard layout US, 1944.
2 a bisexual. A probable elaboration of AC/DC US, 1980
acey-deucey verb (used of a jockey) to ride with the inside stirrup
lower than the outside stirrup. A riding style popularised by
legendary jockey Eddie Acaro US, 1948


acey-deucy | actor’s Bible

acey-deucy noun in craps, a roll of a one and a two US, 1974
acey-deucy adjective bisexual. A probable elaboration of AC/DC US,

achiever noun a devoted fan of the film The Big Lebowski. In the
film, the rich Lebowski sponsors a programme named the ‘Little
Lebowski Urban Achievers’ US, 2004
Achnard noun a taxi driver. New York police slang, corrupting
‘Ahmed’ as an allusion to the preponderance of immigrants
among New York’s taxi-driving workforce US, 1997
acid noun 1 LSD US, 1965. 2 rum BARBADOS, 1965. 3 by extension, any
alcoholic beverage TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 2003. 4 impudence, heavy
sarcasm. Especially in the phrase ‘come the old acid’ UK, 1962.
< put the acid on 1 to pressure someone; to put someone to
the test. From ‘acid test’ AUSTRALIA, 1906. 2 to pressure someone
sexually AUSTRALIA, 1939
acid freak noun a habitual user of LSD US, 1966
acid funk noun a depression brought on by LSD use US, 1971
acid head noun a habitual user of LSD US, 1966
acid house noun a mesmeric dance music genre characterised by
electronic ‘squelching’ sounds. An artistic and lexicographic
extension of HOUSE (MUSIC) US, 1988
acid jazz noun a dance music genre UK, 1999
acid mung noun the sensation while under the influence of LSD of
having an oily face US, 1971
acido noun LSD US, 1971
acid rock noun a genre of rock music. Folk etymology claims the
music to be inspired by the altered states of conciousness induced
by ACID (the hallucinogenic drug LSD); certainly this was a
commercial style of music being marketed to the mass audience
when high-profile musicians were experimenting with LSD US, 1966
acid test noun an event organised to maximise the hallucinatory
experiences of LSD. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters organised
acid tests in Palo Alto, Portland (Oregon), Los Angeles and Mexico
in 1966 US, 1966
acidy adjective psychedelic. From ACID (LSD) UK, 1998
acieeed!; aceeed! called out to register a delight in, and identification with, club dance music. Three ‘e’s seem to be a constant in
the various spellings that attempt to capture the fervour generated
by early acid house culture UK, 1999
ack noun 1 a pimple US, 1968. 2 in computer programming, a message
sent from one system or program to another, acknowledging
receipt of a previous message UK, 1986
ack verb 1 to acknowledge a letter, etc. Clerical usage, originally Civil
Service UK, 1984. 2 in computer programming, to acknowledge
receipt of a message UK, 1986
ack-ack noun anti-aircraft artillery. An initialism, using the phonetic
alphabet that was current until 1941. Usage survived the new
alphabet rather than being amended to ‘able able’ US, 1926
ack-ack verb to shoot someone or something US, 1947
ackamarackus; ackamaracka noun fanciful speech intended to
deceive US, 1933
ack emma noun the morning. Military origins, from the phonetic
alphabet: ack (A) current 1904–41, emma (M) 1904–27 UK, 1890
acker; akka; ackers noun money in any form. Originally military
usage for the (Egyptian) piastre, probably from Arabic fakka (small
change) UK, 1937 8see: ACCA
Acker Bilk noun milk. Rhyming slang, based on West Country jazz
musician Acker Bilk (b.1929) UK, 1992
ackle verb to fit or function properly UK, 1961
ack Willy; ack Willie adjective absent without leave. In World War 2
military use; signalese for AWOL, the official abbreviation AUSTRALIA,

acme wringer noun the finger. Glasgow rhyming slang UK, 1988
acne noun a rough road-surface US, 1976
acorn noun in a casino, a generous tipper US, 1984

acorns noun the testicles US, 1975
acorn shell noun a condom UK, 1990s
acquire verb to steal something. Ironic use of the conventional
sense UK, 1937
acre; acher noun the backside AUSTRALIA, 1938
across preposition < across the bridge to Dartmouth mentally ill,
institutionalised. In the twin cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova
Scotia, the Nova Scotia Hospital, the institution for the mentally
unstable, is in the latter CANADA, 1999
across the board noun in horse racing, a bet that a horse will win,
place (finish second), or show (finish third) US, 1964
across the ditch noun Australia NEW ZEALAND, 1998
across the pavement adverb (of criminal activity) in a street situation UK, 1977
act noun the disguise and staged personality assumed by an expert
card counter playing blackjack in a casino in the hope of avoiding
detection and ejection US, 1991. < get in on the act; be in on
the act to become, or be, involved in another’s activity US, 1947.
< get into the act to take part. If not coined by, popularised as
part of the catchphrase ‘everybody wants to get into the act’ by
comedian Jimmy Durante on the radio in the 1940s US, 1946.
< get your act together; get it together to take control of
your personal condition; to get your mind and emotions under
control; to become organised. A variation of ‘pull yourself
together’ US, 1973. < hard act to follow; tough act to follow
something or someone who cannot be easily outdone US, 1963.
< put on an act to give an exaggerated performance; to indulge
in histrionics AUSTRALIA, 1944
act verb < act as if in twelve-step recovery programmes such as
Alcoholics Anonymous, used as a slogan for new participants in
the programme US, 1998. < act cute to behave in an annoyingly
adorable fashion SINGAPORE, 2002. < act the angora to play the
fool. The angora goat supplies this variation of ACT THE GOAT
AUSTRALIA, 1942. < act the goat to play the fool AUSTRALIA, 1940.
< act the maggot to play the fool IRELAND, 2003. < act your age
not your shoesize to behave in a manner appropriate to your
years. A humorous extension of ‘act your age’ US, 1986
act-ass noun a show-off; a braggart US, 1970
acting Jack noun 1 a lance sergeant. Korean war usage US, 1917. 2 a
soldier temporarily appointed to higher rank, especially to serve as
a platoon leader in basic training US, 1942
action noun 1 sexual activity US, 1956. 2 activity, especially of the kind
to arouse interest or excitement. Often in the greetings ‘where’s
the action?’ and ‘what’s the action?’ US, 1951. 3 betting, gambling
US, 1885. 4 the amount that a gambler is willing to bet US, 1991. 5 in
pool, a game played with wagers US, 1990. 6 in pool, spin imparted
on the cue ball to affect the course of the object ball or the cue
ball after striking the object ball US, 1913. 7 a political act, often
confrontational or violent US, 1971. < piece of the action; share
of the action an involvement in an activity; a share in the profits
of something US, 1957
action suffix used for emphasis of the noun to which it is suffixed,
without change in meaning. For example, ‘I’m ready for some
Chinese food action’ US, 1982
action beaver noun a film featuring full nudity and sexual activity
short of intercourse US, 1974
action faction noun a subset of the political left that advocated
forceful, confrontational tactics US, 1968
action player noun a gambler who bets heavily, frequently and
flamboyantly US, 2003
action room noun 1 a poolhall where betting is common US, 1972. 2 a
place where betting and gambling take place US, 1972
active citizens noun fleas, bedbugs or body lice US, 1949
actor noun 1 a liar, a bluffer. Criminal usage UK, 1950. 2 a troublemaker
US, 1964

actor-proof adjective denoting a part in a play or performance so
well written that no amount of bad acting can ruin it US, 1973
actor’s Bible noun Variety magazine US, 1981

actor’s reach | Afghan
actor’s reach noun a seemingly sincere effort to pay for your meal
when eating in a group at a restaurant, masking a secret hope that
someone else will pay. Based on the stereotype of the actor as
starving artist, timing his reach for his wallet to produce a demur
from someone else at the table who has already reached for their
wallet to pay US, 1999
actual noun in the Vietnam war, a unit commander US, 1991
actuary noun in an illegal betting operation, an oddsmaker US, 1971
AD noun a drug addict. Either a straightforward abbreviation of
‘addict’ or, as has been seriously suggested, an initialism of ‘drug
addict’ reversed to avoid confusion with a District Attorney US, 1970
adafookman! used in black criminal society as an all-purpose
protestation of innocence, e.g. ‘have I?’, ‘I didn’t!’. A phonetic
slovening of ‘have I fuck, man!’ UK, 2002
Ada from Decatur; Ada Ross, the Stable Hoss noun in a game
of dice, a roll of eight. A homophonic evolution of ‘eighter’ US, 1918
Ad Alley nickname the advertising industry, especially that located in
New York and commonly known in the US as ‘Madison Avenue’
after the New York street where many advertising agencies had
their offices US, 1952
Adam noun 1 MDMA, the recreational drug best known as ecstasy.
An anagram US, 1985. 2 a partner in a criminal enterprise UK, 1797.
3 a homosexual’s first sexual partner. From Adam as the biblical
first man US, 1972. < not know someone from Adam to be
ignorant about an identification UK, 1784
Adam and Eve noun a pill of MDEA and MDMA, the recreational
drugs best known as ecstasy. A combination of ADAM (MDMA) and
the obvious partner; note MADMAN and MADWOMAN as synonyms
for MDMA and MDEA repectively UK, 1996
Adam and Eve; adam verb 1 to believe. Rhyming slang. Franklyn
suggests it ante-dates 1914; the Oxford English Dictionary finds the
earliest citation at 1925 UK. 2 to leave, especially in a hurried
manner UK, 1998
Adam and Eve on a raft noun two eggs on toast. Restaurant slang
US, 1909

Adam Ants noun pants. Rhyming slang for UK underwear not US
trousers; formed on Adam Ant, the stage name of singer and actor
Stuart Goddard (b.1954) UK, 2003
adamatical adjective naked. Without a conventional fig leaf UK, 1961
Adam’s off-ox noun a complete stranger. Used in the expression ‘he
wouldn’t know me from Adam’s off-ox’ US, 1983
adbuster noun in anticorporate activism, the non-specific
description for those involved in cultural subversion CANADA, 1989
adbusting noun in anticorporate activism, the act of subverting
brand advertising, usually by parody or mockery US, 2000
addick noun an addict. A misspelling that reflects pronunciation US,

addict noun a victim of a confidence swindle who repeatedly invests
in the crooked enterprise, hoping that his investment will pay off
US, 1985. < addict waiting to happen in twelve-step recovery
programmes such as Alcoholics Anonymous, used for describing
the childhood of addicts of the future US, 1998
additood noun a confrontational manner. The English version of
Americanised pronunciation, adopting the US slang sense of
‘attitude’ UK, 1990s
addy noun an address US, 2002
A-deck noun a prison cell used for solitary confinement US, 1984
adger verb in computing, to make an avoidable mistake US, 1991
adidas noun a prison training instructor. From the similarity
between the stripes on an instructor’s uniform and the logostyling on Adidas™ sports equipment UK, 1996
adios amoebas used as a humorous farewell. The ‘amoebas’ is an
intentional butchering of amigos US, 1988
adios motherfucker used as a farewell. Jocular or defiant;
sometimes abbreviated to AMF US, 1986

Adirondack steak; Adirondack goat noun game, especially
venison, killed out of season US, 1954
adjectival adjective used as a euphemistic substitute for any
intensifying adjective that may be considered unsuitable UK, 1910
adjuster noun a hammer US, 1990
adjust the stick! used as a humorous admonition to casino
employees at a craps table when the players are losing US, 1983
ad-lib verb to date indiscriminately US, 1960
ad man noun 1 a prisoner who is friendly or aligned with the prison
administration US, 1976. 2 a swindler who sells advertising space in a
non-existent publication or a publication with whom he has no
association US, 1992
Admiral Browning noun in the navy, human excrement UK, 1961
admiral’s mate noun in the Royal Navy, a boasting know-all rating
UK, 1962

admiral’s watch noun a good night’s sleep US, 1949
admiralty brown noun toilet paper. Originally Royal Australian Navy
usage AUSTRALIA, 1961
admish noun the admission price of a performance US, 1981
a-double-scribble noun used as a euphemism for ‘ass’ in any of its
senses US, 1996
Adrian Quist adjective drunk. Rhyming slang for PISSED; formed on
the name of the Australian tennis player, 1913–91 AUSTRALIA, 1978
adrift adjective 1 absent without leave; missing. Originally nautical
usage US, 1841. 2 confused UK, 1962
adult baby noun a person, often a prostitute’s client, whose sexual
needs are manifested in a desire to be dressed and treated as an
infant UK, 1995
advance verb < advance the spark to prepare US, 1945
advertise verb 1 to signal your intentions unwittingly but plainly US,
1931. 2 to dress or behave in a sexually provocative manner; to
pluck and pencil the eyebrows. Gay use, on the premise that it
pays to advertise US, 1972. 3 in poker, to bluff in a manner that is
intended to be caught, all in anticipation of a later bluff US, 1949.
4 in gin, to discard in a manner that is designed to lure a desired
card from an opponent US, 1971. 5 to activate the siren and/or
flashing lights of a police car US, 1976
advertised noun < on the advertised on the railways, on time US,

adzine noun a single-interest fan magazine containing only
advertising US, 1982
aerated; aeriated adjective excited, angry UK, 1984
aerial adjective used as a modifier for any sexual position where at
least one participant is off the ground US, 1995
Aesop noun in poker, any player who tells stories while playing US,

af; aff noun an African. Derogatory SOUTH AFRICA, 1976
A-factor noun the ‘Antarctic factor’, which explains any and all
unexpected and added difficulties encountered ANTARCTICA, 1988
AFAIC used as shorthand in Internet discussion groups and text
messages to mean ‘as far as I’m concerned’ US, 2002
AFF noun an attraction to South Asian females. An abbreviation of
‘Asian female fetish’ US, 1997
affirmative yes. Used with irony, mocking a military response US,

affy bud noun a type of marijuana that originates in Afghanistan UK,

afgay noun a homosexual. See:

AGFAY US, 1972

Afghan noun any Afghan, Pakistani or other central Asian who
immigrated to Australia in the C19 to work as camel-drivers in
desert regions. Formerly generally regarded with suspicion and
contempt by white Australians, which accounts for the fossilisation
of the term in various derogatory phrases; the occupation has long
since disappeared AUSTRALIA, 1869


Afghani | aggravation

Afghani noun hashish oil from Afghanistan. Although Afghanistan is
best known for its heroin, hashish is a second important export US,

Afghani black; Afghani pollen noun varieties of hashish from
Afghanistan UK, 2003
AFK used as shorthand in Internet discussion groups and text messages to mean ‘away from keyboard’ US, 2002
Afkansastan noun Afghan marijuana grown in Kansas US, 2001
afloat adjective drunk US, 1809
AFO nickname the Arellano-Felix Organization, a criminal enterprise
that functioned as a transportation subcontractor for the heroin
trade into the US US, 1998
afoot or ahossback adjective unsure of the direction you are going
to take US, 1895
A for effort noun praise for the work involved, if not for the result
of the work. From a trend in US schools to grade children both on
the basis of achievement and on the basis of effort expended.
Faint praise as often as not US, 1948
Africa hot adjective extremely hot US, 1992
African noun 1 a manufactured cigarette (not hand-rolled) AUSTRALIA,
1959. 2 a type of marijuana claimed to have been grown in Africa
UK, 2003. 3 in American casinos, a black betting chip worth $100 US,

African black noun a potent type of marijuana, presumed to be
from Africa, possibly Morocco US, 1970
African bush noun marijuana US, 1979
African dominoes noun dice US, 1919
African golf noun the game of craps US, 1919
African grape noun a watermelon. Based on the stereotypical
association between rural black people and a love of watermelon
US, 1980

African guff-guff noun a non-existent disease suffered by soldiers
US, 1947

African plum noun a watermelon US, 1973
African queen noun a white homosexual man who finds black men
attractive. Punning on the Bogart film US, 1979
African salad noun khat, a natural stimulant grown in Kenya,
Ethiopia and Somalia UK, 2004
African toothache noun any sexually transmitted infection US, 1964
African Woodbine noun a marijuana cigarette. Woodbine™ was a
well-known brand of cheaper cigarette UK, 1975
Afro noun a bushy, frizzy hairstyle embraced by black people as a
gesture of resistance in the 1960s US, 1966
afromobile noun a wicker pedicab US, 1939
Afro pick noun a gap-toothed comb used for an Afro hairstyle US, 1986
afterbirth noun rhubarb AUSTRALIA, 1943
afterburner noun a linear amplifier for a citizens’ band radio US, 1976
afterclaps noun consequences BELIZE, 1996
after-hours adjective open after bars and nightclubs close at 2am US,

afterlater adverb later US, 1997
after-nine noun a black male homosexual who pretends to be heterosexual during working hours SOUTH AFRICA, 2000
afternoon noun the buttocks, especially large female buttocks

afternoon farmer noun a lazy and unsuccessful farmer CANADA, 1960
afters noun 1 the dessert course of a meal. Originally military usage
UK, 1909. 2 drinks, or a session of drinking, served in a public house
after licensing hours UK, 2000. 3 the after-effects of too much
alcohol IRELAND, 1997. 4 further fighting after a fight appears to have
ended UK, 1974
after tears noun a post-funeral celebration. Scamto youth street
slang (South African townships) SOUTH AFRICA, 2005

afterthought noun an unplanned pregnancy; the child of an
unplanned pregnancy UK, 1914
after you, Claude – no, after you, Cecil used to depict a lack of
aggression or unnecessary good manners. A catchphrase regularly
delivered by Jack Train and Horace Percival in the BBC radio
comedy ITMA, 1939–49. Contemporary usage has been widely
applied to sports such as cricket, hockey, football and motor-racing,
and also to first-past-the-post electoral systems UK, 1939
after you with the trough! used in response to someone’s
belching. A unsubtle implication that the belcher is a pig who has
eaten too much. Mainly northern England UK, 1977
ag adjective angry. An abbreviation of ‘aggravated’ US, 2000
AG adjective all good US, 1997
ag used as an all-purpose intensifier. Pronounced like the German
ach. Can precede any sentence for various effects, such as the
more neutral, ‘Ag, I don’t know’. Used by some people as a standalone expletive SOUTH AFRICA, 1833
ag; agg noun trouble; problems; a nuisance. A further reduction of
AGGRO (aggravation) UK, 1996
again! used for expressing strong approval ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, 1996
against the law adjective (used of a woman) extraordinarily beautiful
US, 1997

against the wall adjective said of a confidence swindle which is
perpetrated without a fake office, extras, props, etc US, 1940
A-game noun in a casino or cardroom, the poker game with the
highest stakes US, 1949
Aga saga noun a genre of popular novel-writing, plotting
comfortable, domestic and emotional middle-class lives. Based on
Aga stoves which are recognised as an appropriate social symbol or
aspiration UK, 1992
agate noun 1 a marble in the slang sense of sanity US, 1951. 2 a small
penis US, 1967
agates noun the testicles US, 1941
A-gay noun a prominent, sought-after homosexual man US, 1982
age noun 1 length of service for an employer; seniority US, 1946. 2 in
poker and other card games, the person to the immediate left of
the dealer US, 1963
-age suffix used as an embellishment without meaning at the end of
nouns. The suffix got a second wind with the US television series
Buffy The Vampire Slayer US, 1981
ageable adjective very old TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 2003
age before beauty used as a mock courtesy when allowing
someone to precede you UK, 1977
age card noun proof of legal age US, 1968
agent noun 1 the operator of a rigged carnival game US, 1985. 2 in
casino gambling, a confederate of a cheat US, 1996
Agent Scully noun oral sex. A reference to the name of the female
lead in the X-Files television series, punning on her name and
SKULL (oral sex) US, 2001
agfay noun a homosexual man. Pig Latin for FAG US, 1942
agged adjective angry, aggravated US, 1998
aggie noun 1 an aggressive, domineering male. From the conventional ‘aggressive’ US, 1968. 2 during the Korean war, any young
Korean US, 1951. 3 agoraphobia UK, 1980. 4 a farm tool, especially a
hoe US, 1972
aggie adjective angry, agitated US, 2002
aggie overdrive noun in trucking, coasting in neutral gear US, 1976
Aggie Weston’s; Aggie’s nickname a hostel for sailors provided by
the charity RSR (Dame Agnes Weston’s Royal Sailors Rests). Cofounded in 1876 by Agnes Weston (1840–1918) to try and save
sailors from ‘booze and brothels’ and still trying. Grateful sailors
used to call Weston-Super-Mare in the southwest of England
‘Aggie-on-horseback’ UK, 1962
aggravation noun (of police or criminals) an act of harrassment.
Metropolitan Police slang UK, 1970

aggressive | air jammer
aggressive adjective used as a coded euphemism for ‘dominant’ in
sadomasochistic sex US, 1986
aggro noun 1 trouble, strife; problems; a nuisance. Abbreviated from
‘aggravation’ UK, 1969. 2 aggression AUSTRALIA, 1982
aggro adjective aggressively angry AUSTRALIA, 1986
aginner noun a person morally opposed to carnivals and the circus
US, 1981

agitate verb < agitate the gravel to leave. Teen slang US, 1958
agitprop noun agitation and propaganda as an unfocused political
tactic; a fashionable genre of theatre arts with a (usually) left-wing
political agenda. Adopted from the name given to a department of
the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party responsible for agitation and propaganda on behalf of communist ideals;
a conflation of agitatsiya and propaganda UK, 1934
aglish adjective nauseated; sick to one’s stomach. Used around the
Lunenburg area in Nova Scotia, where many German settlers still
adapt old expressions CANADA, 1999
-a go-go suffix all over the place, in a mess; on the go. In the
manner of GO-GO (a disco), hence dancing applied figuratively UK,

agonies noun the physical and psychological pain suffered when
withdrawing from drug addiction US, 1992
agonised button noun on military uniforms, an anodised aluminium (Staybrite) button. Anodised (electro-plated) aluminium
replaced brass and white metal as the main metal for British
Other Ranks military insignia from about 1950 onwards UK, 1984
agony noun < pile on the agony; pile up the agony; put on
the agony to exaggerate, to show-off. Originally theatrical usage
US, 1837

agony aunt; agony auntie noun a newspaper or magazine
columnist who advises readers on questions of a personal nature;
hence an adviser or counsellor on intimate problems UK, 1975
agony column noun a newspaper or magazine feature of readers’
letters seeking help for personal problems with replies from a
columnist or agony aunt UK, 1975
a good craftsman never blames his tools used for dismissing
an attempt by someone to blame a mistake on a piece of
equipment or something within their control US, 1997
agricultural adjective in cricket, describes a simple, slogging shot off
a sweeping bat UK, 1982
A-head noun 1 an amphetamine abuser US, 1971. 2 a frequent user of
LSD US, 1971
ahhh, Rooshan used as a youth-to-youth greeting. A short-lived fad
greeting associated with bebop jazz US, 1949
a-hole noun 1 the anus. A’ as in ASS of ARSE US, 1942. 2 by extension,
a despised person US, 1942
-aholic; -oholic; -holic suffix an addict of, or addicted to, the prefixed thing or activity. Usage may be literal or figurative. From
‘alcoholic’ (a person addicted to alcohol); the first widely
recognised extended usage was ‘workaholic’ (1968) US, 1964
ai!; aiii! yes! Popularised in the UK in the late 1990s by Ali G
(comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen) UK, 2002
AIF adjective deaf. Rhyming slang, from Australian Imperial Forces

a-ight used for expressing agreement or affirmation US, 1995
aim verb < aim Archie at the armitage (of a male) to urinate.
Armitage Shanks are manufacturers of toilet furniture AUSTRALIA, 1971
aimie noun an amphetamine UK, 2003
ain’t; aint verb replaces am not, are not, is not, has not, have not. A
widely used solecism UK, 1710
ain’t buyin’ it! I don’t believe you US, 1990
ain’t havin’ it! it is not allowed US, 1990
ain’t love grand! used for registering the pleasure of being in love
or, ironically, the opposite US, 1977
ain’t no joke! I am serious! US, 1990

ain’t no shame in my game used for expressing a lack of shame
when engaged in an activity that might shame others US, 2002
ain’t no thang; ain’t no big thang used for dismissing
something as not problematic US, 1985
ain’t that a bite! isn’t that too bad! Teen slang US, 1951
ain’t the beer cold! used for conveying that all is well in the
world. Popularised by baseball radio announcer Chuck Thompson,
who used the phrase as the title of his autobiography. Repeated
with referential humour US, 1982
ain’t with that I do not agree or consent US, 1990
ain’t you got no couf? where are your manners, dress sense, etc?
Military; a pun on ‘uncouth’ UK, 1984
AIO noun a college student who does not belong to a fraternity US,

AIP noun heroin from Afghanistan, Iran and/or Pakistan US, 1982
air noun 1 a jump while snowboarding US, 1996. 2 in foot-propelled
scootering, a jump UK, 2000. 3 air support, air power, bombing.
Vietnam war usage US, 1991. 4 in the pornography industry, an
ejaculation that cannot be seen leaving the penis and travelling
through the air. In a situation which calls for visual proof of the
ejaculation, air is not good US, 1995. 5 air brakes on a truck or
railway carriage US, 1897. 6 the mood created by a person or
persons. There is ‘good air’ and there is ‘bad air’ US, 1988. < get
air to be ignored UK, 2005. < in the air (used of the flank of an
army) unprotected by natural or man-man obstacles US, 1982.
< leave in the air to abandon someone without support UK,
1948. < turn the air blue; make the air turn blue to use
obscene or blasphemous language UK, 1890. < up in the air (used
of a pair in a game of poker) formed with help from the
communal face-up cards US, 1992
air verb < air your belly to vomit US, 2000
air artist noun a railway engineer skilled at the use of air brakes US,

airbag noun a person who talks too much US, 2004
airbags noun the lungs US, 1945
air ball noun 1 in pinball, a ball that is lost out of play without
having been flipped US, 1977. 2 in pool, a shot in which the cue ball
does not hit any other ball US, 1993
air bandit noun a gambling cheat US, 1969
air barrel noun in pool, that which backs a bet made without
money to back the bet. A BARREL is a betting unit; an ‘air barrel’ is
thus an illusory betting unit US, 1990
air biscuit noun a fart US, 2001
air-conditioned adjective sexually frigid UK, 1983
air dance noun capital punishment by hanging. A specific dance
name is sometimes substituted for ‘dance’, such as ‘air polka’ US,

air-dash verb to travel in an aircraft (a degree of urgency is implied),

airedale noun 1 a Wall Street gentleman. An extension of the symbol
of the Airedale as an aristocratic dog US, 1925. 2 a navy pilot US, 1942.
3 a plane handler on an aircraft carrier US, 1943
air giver noun a railway brakeman US, 1977
air guitar noun an imagined guitar used to mimic a rock guitar
player US, 1982
airhead noun 1 a person who is not inclined to think, not equipped
to think, or both US, 1972
air hog noun in the language of hang gliding, the flier in a group
who stays in the air longest US, 1992
airie noun an aeroplane. In Glasgow, a shortening of the local
pronunciation ‘airieplane’ UK: SCOTLAND, 1985
airish adjective 1 cold US, 1985.


arrogant, showing off US, 1943

air jammer noun a railway worker who connects airhoses and air
signals on a train US, 1977


Air Jesus; Air Hebrews | alco; alko

Air Jesus; Air Hebrews noun sandals. Alluding to Nike Air Jordan™
sports shoes US, 1992
air junkie noun in the language of hang gliding, a devoted, obsessed
flier US, 1992
air-kiss verb to go through the motions of kissing but deliberately
fail to make contact with the person who would normally be
kissed UK, 1985
airlock verb to speak. C. I. Macafee glosses as ‘from the cut-out in a
diesel engine if air enters the fuel system’ in A Concise Ulster
Dictionary, 1996 UK: NORTHERN IRELAND, 1996
airlocked adjective extremely drunk UK: NORTHERN IRELAND, 1996
airmail noun 1 rubbish thrown from the upper windows of a
building to the courtyard below US, 1952. 2 objects thrown by
prisoners down onto guards or other prisoners below US, 1992
airmail verb to throw rubbish from the upper windows of a building
to the courtyard below US, 1968
air monkey noun a railway air-brake repairman US, 1946
air off verb to talk loudly TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 1960
airplane noun 1 a device used for holding a marijuana cigarette that
has burnt down to the stub. An abbreviation of the fuller
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE US, 1970. 2 marijuana UK, 1998
airplane verb to inhale through the nose the smoke of the stub of a
marijuana cigarette US, 1970
airplane blonde; aeroplane blonde noun a brunette, usually a
woman, with dyed blonde hair. Jocular, implying the punchline
‘blonde up top but you know there’s a black box somewhere’ UK,

airplane driver noun a fighter pilot. Gulf war usage US, 1992
airplane rule noun in computing, the belief that simplicity is a
virtue US, 1991
air ride noun a car with pneumatic shock absorbers US, 1975
airs noun a pair of Nike Air Jordan™ trainers (sneakers) US, 1990
airs and graces noun braces; suspenders. Rhyming slang, surviving
earlier senses ‘Epsom Races’ and ‘faces’ UK, 1960
air shot noun an act of sexual intercourse that stops short of
orgasm. Royal Navy slang, from ‘torpedo drill’ UK, 1979
air sucker noun a jet aeroplane US, 1963
air-to-mud adjective (used of shots fired or bombs dropped) from the
air to the ground US, 1991
air tragic noun air traffic control. In Royal Air Force use UK, 2002
airy adjective marijuana-intoxicated US, 1949
airy a none. As used in Nova Scotia’s South Shore, this expression
is a form of the archaic ‘ne’er a’ or a short form of ‘never a’
CANADA, 1999

airy-fairy noun a member of the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) later
the Fleet Air Arm UK, 1979
airy-fairy adjective delicate, fanciful; insubstantial, trivial UK, 1869
aitch noun 1 hell. A euphemism US, 1950. 2 heroin US, 1945
ai te guacho I’ll see you later. ‘Guacho’ prounounced ‘watch-o,’ a
pure invention. Border Spanish used in English conversation by
Mexican-Americans US, 1950
AJ noun an ‘acting jack’, or an acting noncommissioned officer US,

ajax noun 1 in hold ’em poker, an ace and a jack as the first two
cards dealt to a particular player. Punning on the brand name of a
cleaning agent US, 1981. 2 any youth gang member under the age of
16. A borrowing from the slogan for Ajax™ cleaner – ‘comes out
clean’ – and the fact that a juvenile offender will be treated far
less harshly than an adult US, 1993
ajax adjective 1 nearby. Possibly derived from ‘adjacent’ UK, 2002.
2 clean. An allusion to the branded cleaning product US, 2002
AK noun 1 a sycophant US, 1939. 2 a mean and nasty old man. An
abbreviation of the Yiddish ALTER KOCKER US, 1942. 3 an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle US, 1990

AK verb to curry favour by obsequious behaviour. An abbreviation of
‘ass-kiss’ US, 1939
AK47 noun a variety of marijuana. From the automatic weapon
designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, 2002
AKA noun an alias. An acronym of ‘also known as’; from police
jargon US, 1955. < go AKA to assume an alias US, 1983
AK amp noun an amputation at the knee. Vietnam war medic usage
US, 1990

akey-okey adjective satisfactory US, 1960
aks verb to ask. A familiar mispronunciation, especially in black and
youth usage UK, 2005
AL adjective not to be believed. An abbreviation of ‘always lying’ US,

ala-ala’s noun the testicles. Hawaiian youth usage US, 1981
Alabama wool noun cotton US, 1958
a-la-beff noun vaginal intercourse, the woman on hands and knees
and the man entering her from behind. An allusion to the mating
of cattle and the French boeuf TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 1980
Aladdin’s cave noun the location of a successful thief’s ill-gotten
gains. Metropolitan Police slang. After the tale of Aladdin in The
Arabian Nights UK, 1970
alambrista noun a Mexican illegally present in the US. Border
Spanish used in English conversation by Mexican-Americans; from
the Spanish for ‘wire’ US, 1974
Alameda noun in bar dice games, a roll that produces no points for
the player. Alameda is an island city just west of Oakland. In
Alameda, a worthless hand is called a ‘Milpitas’, alluding to a small
and relatively poor city just north of San Jose US, 1971
alamo used for registering a strong sexual interest in someone.
Derives from the initial letters of ‘lick me out’ UK, 2002
Alamo Hilton nickname a heavily fortified bunker beneath the Khe
Sanh base in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war US, 1990
Alan Whickers; Alans noun knickers. Rhyming slang, formed from
the name of reporter, broadcaster and television personality Alan
Whicker (b.1925), who first came to prominence in the late 1950s
UK, 2003

Alaska hand noun in hold ’em poker, a king and a three as the first
two cards dealt to a particular player. Built from the synonymous
KING CRAB, which is found in Alaska US, 1981
Alaskamo noun an American Indian from Alaska US, 1963
Alaska strawberries noun beans US, 1991
Alaska time noun used for explaining tardiness US, 1976
Alaska turkey noun salmon US, 1948
Alaska tuxedo noun a wool work suit US, 1965
Alb noun an Albanian UK, 1945
albatross noun 1 a very sick, incurable hospital patient, lingering
near death US, 1985. 2 a Grumman HU-16 amphibian aircraft, best
known as a rescue aircraft during the Korean and Vietnam wars US,
1991. 3 cooked chicken. Royal Navy use; presumably inspired by
Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ UK, 1995
Alberta Clipper noun a cold weather system that blows from the
Canadian Rocky Mountains eastward. A winter phenomenon, with
wind and usually snow CANADA, 1999
Albert County tartan; Albert County dress tartan noun a plaid
wool shirt, as used by woodsmen. Albert County is in the
Moncton, New Brunswick, area CANADA, 1993
albino noun in pool, the white cue ball US, 1988
albino grass noun snow fallen on a Vancouver, British Columbia,
lawn CANADA, 2002
Alcan nickname the Alaska-Canada Highway US, 1975
Al Capone noun heroin UK, 2002
alcho noun an alcoholic UK, 1996
alco; alko noun an alcoholic AUSTRALIA, 1965

alcoholiday | alley craps
alcoholiday noun a holiday or festive period that is spent drinking
alcohol GUYANA, 1975
alcohol rub noun a cocktail party US, 1968
alderman noun 1 in the circus and carnival, an office worker who
informs on his fellow workers US, 1981. 2 a big paunch. Referring to
the supposed physique and appetite of local elected officials US,

al desko adverb (used of a meal) consumed at your desk at work. A
play on al fresco US, 1981
alec; aleck; alick noun an idiot. Shortening of SMART ALEC AUSTRALIA,

aled up adjective under the influence of beer UK, 1996
aletank noun a heavy drinker. A modern variant of the earlier, now
obsolete ‘alecan’ (a heavy drinker) UK, 2002
a-levels noun anal sex, especially when advertised as a service
offered by a prostitute. A play on the name given to ‘advancedlevel’ examinations in the British education system UK, 2003
Alexander noun a telephone. From Alexander Graham Bell,
1847–1922, Scottish-born inventor of the telephone UK, 1999
Alf noun an ordinary uneducated, unsophisticated Australian male.
Counterpart of the ROY AUSTRALIA, 1960
alfalfa noun 1 money. Circus and carnival usage US, 1917. 2 marijuana
US, 1995

alias man noun a confidence swindler JAMAICA, 1961
alibi noun 1 in a rigged carnival game, the reason given by the game
operator to disqualify a legitimate win US, 1985. 2 in sports, an
excuse for not performing well. In 1914, sports writer Ring Lardner
created the character Alibi Ike, who always had an excuse for not
playing well US, 1914. 3 a weak excuse. A watered-down version of
the conventional use US, 1899
alibi day noun payday. Used in logging camps, suggesting that
loggers suddenly develop illnesses and injuries that prevent them
from working when they have cash in hand US, 1958
alibi ghee noun a person who can be counted upon to provide an
alibi for a criminal US, 1950
alibi Ike noun any criminal who regularly asserts alibis when
questioned about a crime US, 1915
Alice noun 1 LSD. A phonetic pun on the first two letters of LSD,
influenced by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,
1865, and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There,
1871, which were considered inspirational works by the hippy
subculture of the late 1960s. The obvious reference, but not a
citation of usage, is Jefferson Airplane’s ‘White Rabbit’, 1969 US,
1972. 2 a military backpack US, 1988. < to have Alice to experience
the bleed period of the menstrual cycle US, 1968
Alice nickname Alice Springs. Early use is always preceded by ‘the’

Alice B. Toklas brownies noun chocolate brownies laced with
marijuana or hashish. Toklas’ original 1954 recipe, which was for
fudge, not brownies, carried the caution: ‘Should be eaten with
care. Two pieces are quite sufficient’ US, 1969
alickadoo noun a rugby club official or committee member. Possibly
from a book by Alec Kadoo IRELAND, 1997
alien noun in casino gambling, a betting chip from another casino
US, 1983

Alimony Gallery noun ex-wives of players at an exhibition game by
celebrity filmmakers CANADA, 2002
A-list noun used for denoting all that is associated with the greatest
contemporary fame and celebrity. In conventional media jargon
the A-list is a notional social elite of those who are considered
prestigious enough to add top-value to a guest list US, 1984
alive adjective 1 said of a multiple-race bet in horse racing in which
the first or early legs of the bet have been won AUSTRALIA, 1989. 2 in
horse racing, said of a horse subject to heavy betting US, 1990
alize noun any alcoholic beverage US, 2002
alko noun 8see: ALCO

alky; alkie noun 1 an alcoholic US, 1952. 2 alcohol, especially methyl
alcohol US, 1844. 3 methanol used as fuel for racing cars US, 1970
alkyed adjective drunk US, 1970
alky tank noun a holding cell in a jail reserved for drunk prisoners
US, 1962

all adverb 1 very, 1994.


so US, 1997

all < be all used as a quotative device to report a conversation US,

all about adjective 1 alert, efficient. Mostly Royal Navy use UK, 1946.
2 interested in US, 1999
all alone adjective in horse racing, leading a race by several lengths
US, 1951

All-American nickname the 82nd Airborne Division. Taken from the
two A’s on the division’s patch. There were many double-A
variants, such as ‘All-African’, ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, and ‘Almost
Airborne’, but ‘All-American’ was the most common US, 1991
all-American drug noun cocaine US, 1998
all and everyone noun every single person TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 1973
all a penny adjective inexpensive and plentiful BARBADOS, 1978
All Black nickname a member of the New Zealand international
men’s rugby team NEW ZEALAND, 1986
all chiefs and no Indians; too many chiefs and not enough
Indians a situation in which too many people are giving orders
and too few are available to obey; a top-heavy command structure.
Military coinage, meaning all officers not other ranks. US, 1972
all-clear noun authorisation, official approval. From the earlier and
continuing use as a signal that a danger has passed UK, 1936
all coppers are bastards; all coppers are cunts serves as a
catchphrase among certain sections of society. From, or possibly
the inspiration for, a chanted jingle: ‘I’ll sing you a song / And it
wont take long (or: It’s not very long) / All coppers are bastards.’ UK,

all dat noun everything. Popularised in the UK in the late 1990s by
Ali G (comedian Sacha Baron-Cohen) UK, 2003
all day adjective 1 in bar dice games involving up to three rolls,
taking all three rolls to make the player’s hand US, 1976. 2 in craps,
said of a bet that is in effect until the shooter rolls his point or a
seven US, 1983
all day and night noun a life prison sentence US, 1976
all day from a quarter noun a jail sentence of 25 years to life US,

all-day sucker noun a large lollipop that takes a long time to
consume AUSTRALIA, 1939
all down the line adverb in every way, completely, at every
opportunity UK, 1976
allergic adjective having a dislike for someone or something.
Generally jocular usage UK, 1937
alley noun 1 a fictional place characterised by the preceding thing or
activity US, 1954. 2 in horse racing, a stall in the starting barrier
AUSTRALIA, 1982. 3 on the railways, the track visible ahead of a train
US, 1975. 4 a walkway between rows of prison cells US, 1992. 5 a
playing marble AUSTRALIA, 1934. < make your alley good to
improve your situation; to redeem yourself in the eyes of others
AUSTRALIA, 1924. < up your alley apt to your style or taste US, 1924
alley apple noun 1 a brick or cobblestone US, 1927.
piece of faeces; excrement US, 1960


horse manure; a

alley bourbon noun strong, illegally manufactured whisky US, 1999
alley cat noun 1 a sexually promiscuous person, especially a woman
UK, 1926. 2 a young person who idles on a street corner US, 1945. 3 a
person who survives on begged or stolen pickings GUYANA, 1996
alley cleaner noun a handgun US, 1957
alley craps noun a spontaneous, loosely organised, private game of
craps, rarely played in an alley US, 1977


alley juice | all singing all dancing

alley juice noun denatured alcohol (ethyl alcohol) to which a
poisonous substance has been added to make it unfit for
consumption US, 1992
alley-oop noun in snowboarding, a 360-degree turn in the direction
of the back of the board CANADA, 1996
alley-scoring noun the recyling of food, furniture or anything else
left in the rubbish US, 1997
alley up verb to pay off a debt NEW ZEALAND, 2002
alley-wise adjective sophisticated in the ways of the world US, 1974
allez-oop! used to accompany the action when lifting a child, or
boosting someone over or onto something. Originally used by
circus acrobats. A combination of French allez (to go) with a
Franglais version of ‘up’ UK, 1931
all fall down used for describing a catastrophe or chaos GRENADA,

all fart and no shit adjective said of a person who makes empty
promises UK, 1989
all-fired adjective used as an intensifier. Perhaps a euphemism for
‘hell-fired’, as are INFERNAL, DAMNED, etc US, 1845
all gas and gaiters adjective used as a derisory description of
bishops and other church dignitaries; pompous nonsense.
Originally ‘All is gas and gaiters’, Charles Dickens, Nicholas
Nickleby, 1838–39. Repopularised as a useful catchphrase by the
BBC situation comedy All Gas and Gaiters, 1967–71 UK, 1967
all get-out noun a high degree of something US, 1884
all gong and no dinner adjective all talk and no action UK, 1981
all hands adjective sexually aggressive US, 1963
all het up adjective 8see: HET UP
alligation noun the charring of burnt wood US, 1955
alligator noun 1 an enthusiastic fan of swing jazz US, 1936. 2 any
unpleasant and difficult task US, 1990. 3 a circus performer’s wife US,
1981. 4 in electric line work, an insulated line tool known formally
as a ‘tie stick’ US, 1980. 5 in television and film making, a clamp
used to attach lighting US, 1987
alligator verb (of a painting) to crack US, 1955
alligator see you later. Rhyming slang, inspired or influenced by
‘See you later, alligator / In a while, crocodile.’ (Bill Haley & the
Comets, ‘See you later, Alligator’, 1956.) UK, 1960
Alligator Alley nickname Interstate Highway 75, which connects
Naples and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. So named because it crosses
the heart of what had been an impenetrable wilderness, the
Florida Everglades. The name is thought to have been coined by
the American Automobile Association in 1966 to express supreme
disdain for what it considered to be an unsafe toll road US, 1966
alligator bait noun 1 a black person US, 1901. 2 bad food, especially
fried liver US, 1926
alligator boot noun a railwayman’s work-boot damaged by diesel oil
so that the uppers have parted from the sides. From the
appearance of the flapping leather UK, 1970
alligator burns noun charrings on burnt wood in the form of scales
that resemble an alligator’s hide US, 1981
alligator mouth noun a braggart; a verbal bully US, 1961
alligator skins noun paper money US, 1949
all in adjective 1 exhausted, tired out. A term coined in the Stock
Exchange where it was used to describe a depressed market UK,
1903. 2 said of a poker player who has bet their entire remaining
bankroll US, 1979
all jam and Jerusalem adjective applied derisively to the Women’s
Institute. A catchphrase, probably dating from the 1920s, that
targets the two widely-known details of WI lore: jam-making and
the anthemic use of William Blake’s hymn ‘Jerusalem’ UK, 1977
all jokes and no tokes adjective used by casino employees to
describe poor tipping by gamblers US, 1983
all like < be all like used as a quotative device, combining two
other devices for ‘to say’ US, 1997

all man jack noun everybody who is involved TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO,

all mouth adjective boastful; unable to back up words with deeds

all mouth and no trousers adjective all talk and no substance UK,

all-nighter noun 1 an engagement between a prostitute and
customer that lasts all night; a prostitute’s client who pays to stay
all night. Also known as an ‘all-night’ UK, 1960. 2 any task worked on
all night long, especially to meet a deadline for the following day
AUSTRALIA, 1966. 3 a person who stays in jail all night after being
arrested US, 1992
all-night money noun a prostitute’s charge for spending the night
with a customer US, 1992
all of a doodah adjective nervous, dithering with excitement UK, 1952
all of a tiswas; all of a tizwas; all of a tizzy adjective in a state
of panic or excited confusion. Probably a Royal Air Force coinage;
from TIZZ; TIZZY (a state of panic), contriving what appears to be an
etymology by amending the source-word to ‘tiswas’, a combination of ‘it is’ and ‘was’, suggesting a play on the earlier
colloquial phrase ‘not know whether you are coming or going’ (to
be in a state of confusion) UK, 1984
all on adjective prepared for violence NEW ZEALAND, 1999
all on top! that’s untrue! Criminal use, probably from the 1920s or
30s; what’s ‘on top’ is in addition to the truth UK, 1984
all-out adjective very drunk GUYANA, 1952
all over bar the shouting adjective finished for all intents and
purposes UK, 1842
all over it adjective in complete control US, 2002
all over the place like a madwoman’s knitting adjective in
chaos, in utter disarray. Several variants including ‘all over the
place like a madwoman’s custard / lunch-box / shit’. An elaboration of conventional and unconventional senses of ‘all over the
place’ AUSTRALIA, 1953
all over the shop adjective confused, in disarray; everywhere UK, 1874
all over you like a rash adjective making determined advances of
an intimate or personal nature UK, 1999
allow verb to be lenient towards someone, to let someone off lightly.
Predominantly black usage UK, 2002
all piss and wind adjective prone to boasting NEW ZEALAND, 2002
all pissed-up and nothing to show adjective used of someone
who has spent or, more precisely, drunk all his wages or winnings.
A variation, probably from the 1920s, in the manner of ‘all dressed
up and nowhere to go’ UK, 1961
all quiet on the Western Front adjective used to describe a situation in which not much is happening. From a World War 1
communiqué that became a satirical catchphrase; now generalised, probably influenced by the 1929 novel by Erich Maria
Remarque and the 1930 film so titled. In the US, the phrase
replaced the Civil War-era ‘all quiet on the Potomac’ UK, 2003
all reet adjective good; all right US, 1946
all right adjective in possession of drugs US, 1971
all right used as a greeting among prisoners US, 1992
all right for some! used for registering envy of another’s advantages or luck UK, 1969
all rooters and no shooters used at casino craps tables for
encouraging a player to take a turn as a shooter US, 1983
all rootie used as an expression of agreement or satisfaction.
Especially popular after Little Richard’s 1955 hit song ‘Tutti Frutti’
US, 1957

all round the option adverb all over the place, everywhere UK, 1957
all show and no go adjective used for describing someone who
cannot back appearances with action US, 2000
all singing all dancing adjective configured or equipped with all
possible enhancements. Especially of financial and IT products,

all star | Amazon Annie
but originally from the advertising matter for Broadway Melody,
1929, the first Hollywood musical US, 1929

all star noun a drug user who abuses many different drugs US, 1992
all systems go noun a state of readiness. Often humorous; adopted
from the jargon of space exploration US, 1974
all that noun sexual activity. A shortening of the conventional,
already partially euphemistic ‘all that sort of thing’ UK, 1970
all that adjective superlative, very good US, 1991
all that and a bag of chips! noun used for expressing strong
approval US, 1997
all that and then some noun everything US, 1998
all the best good bye. By ellipsis from conventional ‘all the best of
luck/fortune’, etc UK, 1968
all the better for seeing you used as a ‘witty’ riposte to the
greeting: ‘How are you?’. A catchphrase UK, 1977
all the eighths noun a seven-eighths point movement in a stock
price US, 1988
all the fives noun fifty-five. In Bingo, House or Tombola, the formula ‘all the’ announces a double number. Varies numerically,
from ‘all the twos’ (22) to ‘all the eights’ (88). Recorded by Laurie
Atkinson around 1950 UK, 1943
all the go adjective in the height of fashion UK, 1793
all there adjective 1 sane UK, 1864. 2 alert, aware, sharp UK, 1880
all the same khaki pants used for expressing the sentiment that
there is no difference between the matters in question. Khaki
trousers are the regular schoholboy uniform, eliminating personal,
social or class difference TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 1996

almond rocks; almonds; rocks noun socks. Rhyming slang, based
on a confection popular from the mid-C19, can be presumed
therefore to be late C19 in origin. In the mid-C20 it was popularly
abbreviated to ‘almonds’; later use seems to favour ‘rocks’, i.e.
‘cotton rocks’. A specialised military variation arising during World
War 1 was ‘army rocks’ UK, 1979
Aloha Airlines nickname an aviation unit attached to the 25th
Infantry Division during the Vietnam war US, 1991
alone player noun a card cheat who works alone US, 1961
Al Pacino noun a cappuccino coffee. Rhyming slang, formed from
the name of the US film actor (b.1940) UK, 2003
alpha adjective used for intensifying a personal insult. From conventional usage indicating a premier example UK, 2005
alphabet city nickname an imprecisely defined area on the lower
east side of Manhattan, near Avenues A, B, C and D US, 1980
Alphonse noun 1 a pimp. Rhyming slang for PONCE UK, 1943. 2 a
homosexual. Rhyming slang for PONCE (an effeminate male) UK, 2003
alpine snow noun cocaine ingested off a woman’s breasts UK, 2001
alpine stick noun an oversized frankfurter NEW ZEALAND, 1984
Alpo noun sausage topping for a pizza. An allusion to a branded dog
food US, 1996
alrightnik noun a person who has succeeded in material terms US,

all-timer’s disease noun used by surfers humorously to describe a
person’s proclivity to exaggerate when recounting surf conditions
or their accomplishments US, 1991

alrighty! used for expressing agreement or satisfaction AUSTRALIA, 1997
also-ran noun anyone not performing very well. Originally applied in
horse racing to any horse placed fourth or worse and thus not
winning any money on the race US, 1896
altar noun a toilet US, 1962
altered adjective very drunk. A suggestion of a completely altered
state of perception US, 1991
alter ego noun a false identification card that permits a minor to be
served alcohol US, 1990
alter kocker; alte kaker noun a mean and nasty old man. Yiddish
for German for ‘old shitter’ US, 1968
altogether noun < the altogether complete nudity UK, 1894
alum; alumn noun an alumnus or alumna US, 1934
aluminium cookie noun a compact disc (CD) UK, 2002
aluminium crow nickname a CF-100 Canuck jet fighter aircraft. The
aircraft first flew in 1950, and is also known as LEAD SLED and THE

all tits and teeth adjective used for describing a woman who makes
the most of a distracting smile and breasts UK, 1967

aluminum noun < the aluminum in horse racing, the inside rail

all the way adjective in the military, destined for leadership US, 1982
all the way adverb to a championship US, 1959
all the way live adjective excellent, superlative US, 1982
all the world and his dog noun everybody. A humorous variation