Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ride v.

1. in sexual senses.

(a) [16C+] of a man, to have sexual intercourse; also sometimes of a woman.

(b) [17C+] of a woman, to have sexual intercourse.

(c) [1920s] to sodomize.

(d) [1930s–50s] (US) to play an instrument with rhythm and competence.

(e) [1990s+] (US prison) to trade sexual favours for immunity from physical attack by fellow inmates.

2. [late 19C–1930s] (US campus) to use a translation in an examination or when preparing classwork [pun].

3. in verbal or emotional senses; to ‘get on someone’s back’.

(a) [20C+] to pressurize.

(b) [1900s–50s] (US campus) to reprimand, to scold.

(c) [1910s+] to annoy, to irritate.

(d) [1910s+] to tease, to taunt.

(e) [1950s] to pursue closely.

(f) [1960s] to overcome.

4. [20C+] (US Und.) to move from a local gaol to prison proper.

5. [1930s+] (US) to endure, to suffer, to experience.

6. (US gang) to involve oneself in the gangster life.

7. see punk out v. (2)

8. see ride the lightning

In derivatives

rideable (adj.)

[1980s+] of a woman, sexually alluring.

Pertaining to sexual intercourse

In phrases

ride bareback (v.) [bareback adv. (1)]

[1950s+] to have sexual intercourse without a condom.

ride below the crupper (v.) [SE crupper, the hind-quarters or rump of a horse; also the human buttocks]

[mid-17C–18C] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

ride in another man’s boots (v.) (also to ride in another’s/anyone’s old boots)

[mid-17C–early 19C] to marry another man’s ex-wife or widow, or to start keeping his former mistress.

ride someone’s leg (v.) [the image of a dog rubbing itself amorously against one’s leg]

[2000s] (US prison) to befriend officers in the hope of gaining favours.

ride tantivy (v.) [SE tantivy, a gallop at full tilt]

[18C] as a euph. for sexual intercourse, i.e. to gallop.

ride the deck (v.) [deck n.1 (2)]

[1910s+] (US prison) to perform anal intercourse.

ride the hobby horse (v.) [it is unlikely that the ref. to hobby horse n. (2) is more than coincidental]

[1980s+] (US campus) to have sexual intercourse.

ride the tan track (v.) [tan track n.]

[1990s+] to have homosexual anal intercourse.

Meaning to attack

ride down (v.) [image of a ‘Wild West’ posse]

[1990s+] (US prison) to attack in a group.

ride down to the ground (v.) [image of a ‘Wild West’ posse]

1. [1970s+] (US black) to attack verbally, to criticize heavily.

2. [1980s+] to get down to the facts.

ride in (v.)

[1940s] (US Und.) to ensnare a victim into a confidence trick.

ride someone’s ass (v.)

[2000s] (US) to scold, to reprimand.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to menstruation

In phrases

ride a cotton horse (v.) (also ride a white horse, ride the white horse) [cotton sanitary towels; cf. ride the red horse ]

[1960s+] to be menstruating.

ride the cotton pony (v.) (also ride the cotton bicycle)

[1970s+] (US) to menstruate.

ride the rag (v.) (also wear the rag) [rag n.1 (7a)]

[1960s+] (US black/campus) to have a menstrual period.

ride the red horse (v.)

[1990s+] (US) to be menstruating.

Pertaining to walking

ride Bayard of ten toes (v.) (also mount a horse with ten toes, do ten toes) [proper name Bayard, a horse that featured in various medieval romances; the name itself comes from Fr. bayard, bay-coloured; Henke, Gutter Life and Language (1988) notes a one-off use in A Hundred Merry Tales (1526) in which Bayard is synon. with a young woman’s buttocks, the cleft of which is ‘Bayard’s mouth’, a play between the brown horse and the brown anus]

[late 16C–18C] to walk.

ride shank’s mare (v.) (also ride shank’s pony, take shank’s mare) [shanks’s pony n.]

[mid-18C+] to walk.

ride the shoe leather express (v.) (also go by…, go on...)

[mid-19C+] (US tramp) to walk.

Pertaining to drugs

ride the E-train (v.) [play on the New York subway E-train/E n.]

[1990s+] (US campus/drugs) to be under the influence of MDMA.

ride the horse (v.) [horse n. (7)]

[1940s–70s] (drugs) to take heroin; thus horseriding, on horseback, using heroin.

ride the poppy train (v.)

[1950s–60s] (drugs) to smoke opium.

General uses

ride a jock (v.) [jock n.1 (5)]

[1980s+] (US campus) of a woman, to attempt to get to know a man of her own peer group with the intentions of ultimately having a relationship with that person because of his personality, not his material possessions.

ride blind baggage (v.)

see .

ride grub (v.) [SE grub, an unpleasant person]

[late 18C] to be bad-tempered or sulky.

ride herd on (v.) [cowboy imagery]

[late 19C+] (US) to control or manage someone or something, to admonish, to beat.

ride in state (v.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) for a condemned villain to sit on his coffin as the cart proceeds from Newgate prison to the Tyburn gallows.

ride one’s thumb (v.)

[1950s+] to hitchhike.

ride out (v.) [20C+ uses are cowboy imagery]

1. [early 17C–18C] to be a highwayman.

2. [1950s+] (US black/teen) to leave; also as imper.

3. [2000s] (US prison) to move to another prison.

4. [2000s] (US black) an excl. of dismissal, disbelief.

ride Pegasus (v.) [the flying horse Pegasus of Greek mythology]

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) to work on the prison treadmill.

ride plush (v.) [plush adj.+ the lit. plush-covered seats]

[20C+] (US tramp) to pay for one’s seat (and thus travel in comfort).

ride rusty (v.) [SE rusty, refractory (of horses)]

[late 18C–mid-19C] to be ill-tempered or sullen.

ride shotgun (v.) (also ride shottie) [orig. the shotgun-wielding assistant who sat next to the driver] [1950s+]

1. (orig. US) to sit in the seat next to the driver in a car, also fig. use.

2. (US) to act as a security guard, esp. on a vehicle.

ride staff (v.) (also play staff) [Zulu sl. ukubamb’ istuff, to board a moving train, ult. ? f. staff, the pole in the doorway of railway carriage, which is grasped by those jumping aboard when the train is already moving]

[1960s+] (S.Afr.) to cling to the outside, or stand on the roof, of a moving train, having boarded it while in motion.

In phrases

ride the beef (v.) [beef n.2 ]

[20C+] (US Und.) to take the blame.

ride the black donkey (v.)

[mid-19C] to be in a bad temper.

ride the blinds (v.) (also ride blind baggage) [blind n.2 (2)]

[late 19C+] (US tramp) to ride for free in the closed baggage compartment of a train.

ride the broom (v.) [the trad. witch on her broomstick]

1. [1970s+] (US prison) to threaten or intimidate another inmate; to prophesy.

2. [1950s–70s] (US drugs, also ride the broomstick, ...the witch’s broom) to participate in drug taking.

ride the cushions (v.) [the upholstered seats] [20C+] (US tramp)

1. to ride in a passenger car rather than in a boxcar; thus cushion-rider n.

2. in fig. use, to prosper, to be comfortable.

ride the goat (v.) [the fantasy that initiate Masons have to ride a live goat]

[1900s–20s] (US campus) to be initiated into a secret society.

ride the grub line (v.) [grub-liner under grub n.2 ]

[1900s–40s] (US) of an out-of-work cowboy, to travel around seeking work while subsisting on hand-outs.

ride the gun (v.) [ride shotgun ]

[1970s+] (US teen) to ride in the front passenger seat of a car.

ride the handcar (v.) [from the up-and-down movement of a handle with which one drives the vehicle]

[1940s+] (US) to masturbate.

ride the horse foaled by an acorn (v.) (also …foaled of an acorn, take an acorn ride) [i.e. the oak tree gallows]

[mid-17C–mid-19C] to be hanged.

ride the lightning (v.) (also ride)

1. [1930s+] (US) to be executed in the electric chair.

2. [2010s] to be given a course of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).

ride the odno (v.) [backsl. odno = nod, thus ‘on the nod’]

[late 19C] to travel by train without paying a fare.

ride the pilot (v.)

[1930s] (US tramp) to ride on the cowcatcher of the locomotive.

ride the pine (v.) [the pine bench]

[1980s] (US campus) to sit on the bench during an athletic event, esp. when one wants desperately to play.

ride the plush (v.) [1920s–40s] (US tramp/Und.)

1. to ride inside a passenger train.

2. in fig. use, to be well provided with material comforts.

ride the porcelain bus (v.) (also ride the porcelain pony) [i.e. the porcelain lavatory bowl] [1960s+] (orig. US campus)

1. to vomit.

2. to have diarrhoea.

ride the rap (v.) [rap n.1 (3a)]

[1980s+] (US) to accept the consequences of one’s crimes, such as arrest and imprisonment, and deal with them as well as possible.

ride the rods (v.) (also ride the beams, ...bumpers, ...rod)

[late 19C+] (US tramp) to ride on the steel bars beneath a freight car; fig. to be a tramp; thus rod-rider n.; rod-riding adj.

ride the rumble (v.) [rumble n.2 (2)]

[1950s] (US Und.) to take responsibility for a crime.

ride the toby (v.) [toby n.2 (3)]

[early–mid-19C] to practise highway robbery.

ride the wagon (v.) [the image of lying on a hay-laden wagon as it moves through the fields]

[1970s] (US black) to enjoy a pleasant experience on a drug.

ride the wood (v.)

[2000s] (US) to wait, e.g. outside someone’s office, on a bench.

ride to Romford (v.) (also ride to Rumford) [proper name Romford, Essex, esteemed for the quality of its leather breeches]

1. [mid-18C] to be blunt, properly, you may ride to Romford on this knife.

2. [late 18C–early 19C] to get a new pair of breeches or to get a new bottom put in an old pair.

ride with (v.) [fig. use of SE, but note car n. (1)] [1960s+] (US prison)

to side with (in a fight).

In exclamations


[1910s] (Aus.) a general term of abuse; the implication is that the subject is ‘a goat’.