Green’s Dictionary of Slang

move n.

1. (UK Und.) of a prostitute, a session with a customer.

[UK] ‘Charley The Buzzman and Mot!’ in Flash Casket 67: It’s gallows well known by every cove, / You goes in the fields, when you have a move.

2. a trick, a scheme, a stratagem.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 253: move: any action or operation in life; the secret spring by which any project is conducted, as, There is a move in that business which you are not down to. To be flash to every move upon the board, is to have a general knowledge of the world, and all its numerous deceptions.
[UK] C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 162: Dick’s a trump and no telegraph – up to every frisk, and down to every move of the domini, thoroughbred and ne want of courage.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 134: But, up to ev’ry move, Saucy Nell will not be beat.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd Ser.) 359: I am so well acquainted with all the rigs and moves of London life.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 24 Jan. 6/1: The country has long been infested by professional cadgers, who are adepts in all the ‘dodges’ extant [...] we will here mention a few of these ‘lairs’ which have proved the most lucrative, as we think an exposure of the ‘moves’ ought to prove [...] efficient in the protection of society.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 81: Well, Gig-lamps, and By-by won’t be at all a bad move for you.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 61/2: I should like to be up to some of their moves; they do manage their things so plummy.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple III 160: have already made a move in the right direction.
[UK]Henley & Stevenson Deacon Brodie I tab.I vii: brodie: The old move, I presume. The double set of dice? smith: That’s the rig, Deakin.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve’ in Man from Snowy River (1902) 12: But, ‘dosing’ or ‘stuffing’, those fellows / Were up to each move on the board.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 Aug. 32/2: But Warder Goodman, from the balcony of the workshops overlooking the lane, had seen the ‘move.’ No. 23 was promptly locked-up, awaiting the arrival of the visiting ‘beak.’.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 132: It wouldn’t be a bad move to get a line on G. Hayward’s form.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 124: There’s a whole heap Of them kinda by-words. Like for instance: ‘Ole coon for cunnin’, young coon for runnin’’, and ‘Ah can’t dance, but Ah know good moves’.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 155: It looks like our move.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 196: Something crook was going on, but Peter couldn’t find out who was behind the move.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 271: It had been a sucker move to come to Mama.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 26: Instantly he recalled those moves by Peter Rosi again; they were a measure of the accountant’s treachery and cunning.
[US]Kid ’N’ Play ‘Last Night’ 🎵 That’s when I knew this move wasn’t groovy / ’Cos that was Freddie Kreuger from the Nightmare movie.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 112: They’d make their move on Rings during lunch hour.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 14: I was in LA with people who were making moves, the real in-crowd.
[UK]K. Richards Life 63: I didn’t piece it together until years later - some swift moves Doris was making.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2016 6: MOVE — event, plan: ‘What’s the move tonight?’.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Shore Leave 106: That was a dickhead move.

3. style, fashion, design.

[UK]Flash Mirror 19: R. Rainbow, Slap Toggery-maker; benjamins, top togs, cover-me-decents, togs, and kicks of every sort done to a new move, pinch’d in knee pillow-cases, done fine and work’d to fit any forks.

4. schemes used for seduction; esp. in put a move on

[US]Current Sl. II:3 16: Moves, n. Dating maneuvers.

5. (orig. US) a sexual advance.

[US]Jenkins & Shrake Limo 157: ‘By the way, is this the move?’ I laughed and realized I was sitting very close to her. In fact, our arms were touching.
[US]G. Tate ‘Stagolee Versus the Proper Negro’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 55: There you get the Napoleonic vulnerability behind his kinky stud moves.
[Aus]J. Birmingham Tasmanian Babes Fiasco (1998) 224: She’s cool for the Move. She likes the Move. She wants the Move.

6. (orig. US) in pl., knowledge, ability, ‘smarts’; esp. in phrs. have all the moves, got all the moves.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 127: Good moves, a sexually expert male.
[US]G.V. Higgins Cogan’s Trade (1975) 8: He’s a prick, but he’s got all the moves.
[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 392: You don’t start learnin da moves, y’all gonna get you a major dirt-nap.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 32: Nobody see his moves.

7. (US) the right thing, the proper way, ‘what’s happening’.

[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS II.
[UK]D. Lodge Therapy (1996) 151: Lawrence [...] ended up inviting him in for a cup of tea. Bad move.
[US]Source Aug. 124: Pen had finally realized that subjecting herself and subsequently her children to dangerous conditions wasn’t the move.

8. (drugs) a shipment of smuggled drugs.

[US]G. Cuomo Couple of Cops 180: They [drug importers] spent all their time waiting for what they called a move, meaning a shipment coming in from Bolivia.

9. (UK black) a robbery, a crime.

[UK]T. Thorne (ed.) ‘Drill Slang Glossary’ at Forensic Linguistic Databank 🌐 Move - criminal operation, raid or attack, robbery.
[UK]G. Krauze Who They Was 7: All he really has to do is drive us to wherever the move is gonna pop off .

In phrases

bust a move (v.) (orig. US black)

1. to make a physical move.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 50: Oh, I’m running late — I’ve got to bust a move.
[US]W.D. Myers Slam! 11: I play facing the hoop and either dishing off or busting a move for the basket.
[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 231: ‘Bust a move!’ shouted the man next to him.
[UK]Guardian Guide 8–14 Jan. 26: The mutha bust a move on her breasts, and the wicked lady run amok with her Dunhill surburban filter.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov.
[US]L. Berney Gutshot Straight [ebook] [O]h, shit, her heart busted a little hip-hop move in her chest.

2. to make a serious effort, to take action.

[US]Fat Boys 🎵 Bust the fresh move.
[US]Ice-T ‘Rhyme Pays’ 🎵 Moves must be busted, girls can’t be trusted / I looked at your lady and I was disgusted.
[US]UGK ‘Good Stuff’ 🎵 Now who you kiddin’, I’m slangin’, bangin’, and skiddin’ / Busta playa moves.
[UK]Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 18: Bustin’ some seriously wrong moves in this here column.
[US]Mad mag. June 53: Must be able to freestyle rap, kick it old school and bust a move.

3. to snub.

[US]MC Lyte ‘I Cram to Understand U’ 🎵 Look, to bust a move, I don’t even know you / To put it Lyte, I really don’t care to.
[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 34: Yeah, she could really bust a move [...] every time I tried jaw jackin’ with Miss Thang, she got so frosted that I fin’lly jus’ folded.
lose (move) (n.)

(US campus) a foolish person or action.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring 5: lose – someone who acts stupid, tactless, gauche: He’s a real lose. He took the camera from the darkroom. lose move – a stupid, foolish action.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 31: Some compounds are grammatically ambiguous. [...] Lose move ’stupid action’ can be verb + verb or verb + noun.
make a move (on) (v.)

1. to make sexual advances (towards).

I. Shaw ‘The Girls in Their Summer Dresses’ in Sailor Off the Bremen 45: ‘Some day,’ she said, crying, ‘you're going to make a move...’ Michael didn’t say anything. [. . . .] ‘Aren’t you?’ .
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 200: One rarely talked a woman into the act. One made a move and either succeeded then or not.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 43: I do believe she’s makin’ a move on us.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 75: I can’t make any move on Tammy tonight.

2. to approach.

[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 126: Word is we made a move on the two guys out West made it [i.e. a film].

3. to attack physically.

[US]W.D. Myers Cruisers 20: ‘We have to make a move on that dude [...] he needs a serious beat down’.
put a move on (v.) (also put the moves on)

1. (orig. US) usu. of a man, to make advances towards the opposite sex.

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 313: We were parking at the old beach and I was puttin’ my best moves on her.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 47: By that time Roger’s already put the moves on Monica.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 9 July 5: Billy finally – finally – puts the moves on Gabe, and gets humiliatingly rejected.
[UK]M. Dibdin Thanksgiving 96: He’s stationed some base in Germany, put his usual crude moves on a local fraulein and ended up in the brig.
[US]C. Stella Rough Riders 208: A handsome young stud putting the moves on your old lady.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 186: [of man-to-man] ‘Jimmy’s putting the moves on this kid actor, Sal Mineo’.

2. (US black) to harass.

[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 98: Krush thought about the pretzel vendor they’d put the moves on.

3. to contact.

[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 48: The we came for putting the moves on old Karan. Track him down [...] and bring him back up Walthamstow.