Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gravy n.

1. as a bodily fluid.

(a) [late 17C–early 18C; 1920s+] vaginal secretions; thus gravy bowl, the vagina.

(b) [18C+] semen; thus gravy-receiver, the vagina.

(c) [mid-19C+] blood.

(d) [1960s+] (drugs) the mix of blood and heroin solution that is created in a hypodermic syringe before it is reinjected into the vein; it can coagulate while in the syringe and, when this happens, must be heated before the injection.

(e) [1970s] sweat.

2. in fig. use, i.e. as a bonus, something extra.

(a) [late 19C+] money, esp. profit when easily acquired, a tip or bonus, something that comes ‘on top of’ something that is already very good; thus as v.

(b) [1910s+] (orig. US) extras, perquisites, the best; money paid as bribes.

(c) [1910s+] good fortune.

(d) [1930s+] (US) emotional stimulation.

3. [1940s+] (Aus.) any form of tinned food [supposedly the creation of cartoonist Emile Mercier (1901-81) who regularly used the word in unusual contexts, notably a can labelled ‘gravy’, noted by Baker as ‘being one of the few things that are not canned’].

4. [2010s] (US) alcohol.

In compounds

gravy boat (n.) [var. on gravy train n.]

1. [1940s+] (US) a sinecure, a simple, substantially profitable situation from which one can benefit easily.

2. [1960s] a wealthy person.

gravy case (n.) [var. on gravy train n.]

[1940s+] (US) a sinecure, a simple, substantially profitable situation from which one can benefit easily.

gravy-giver (n.) (also gravy-maker) [19C]

1. the vagina.

2. the penis.

gravy rider (n.)

[1910s–50s] (US) a person with an easy job; a leech on one’s friends.

gravy street (n.)

[1970s] (US) an easy, profitable or successful situation.

gravy train (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

give one’s gravy (v.) [19C]

1. of a man, to reach orgasm.

2. to hit, to beat.

go down for the gravy (v.)

[1950s+] to perform oral sex.

in the gravy (adj.)

[1940s+] rich, prospering.

shoot gravy (v.)

[1960s+] (drugs) of a narcotics addict, to reinject the blood that has been drawn into the syringe and there mixed with the heroin solution.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

gravy-eyed (adj.)

[late 18C–19C] bleary-eyed, having mucus-filled eyes, thus n. gravy eyes; note naut. gravy-eye, the notorously tedious 0400-0600 watch.

gravy ring (n.) [resemblance to a ring of gravy staining a cloth]

[20C+] (Ulster) a doughnut.

In phrases

good as gravy (adj.)

[1950s] very good.

have gravy on one’s grits (v.) [the image of a brimming plate]

[1930s+] (US black) to be enjoying a materially successful life.

hot gravy (n.)

something outstanding.

In exclamations

by gravy! (also by gravies! good gravy!) [euph. for ‘by God!’]

[mid-19C+] (US) a mild oath.