Green’s Dictionary of Slang

soldier n.

1. in plays on the ‘red coat’.

(a) (also soldier in the salt) a red herring.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[UK]Morn. Post (London) 7 Sept. 4/2: A tall gaunt personage had purchased [...] what is called ‘a soldier in the salt’ or a red herring.
[UK]Marryat Snarleyyow I 9: ‘How dare you appear on the quarter-deck of a king’s ship, sir, with a red-herring in your fist?’[...] ‘O Lord, sir! let me off this time, it’s only a soldier.’.
[UK]Huddersfield Chron. 10 Mar. 3/1: The common soldier is the red-herring, and the officer is the bloater.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 12: Dried herrings, real Yarmouth bloaters, kippered herrings, not forgetting the old original, unpretending red herring, the modest but savoury ‘soldier.’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Bury Free Press 8 Aug. 8/4: ‘Caught in a squall off Yarmouth’ — a red herring ‘soldier’ or warrior of the deep [...] a Yarmouth bloater’.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 13 June 7/5: Living on two meals a day, hot water sugared [...] with now and then a stinking soldier (red herring) for a taste.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 78: Soldier, a red herring.
[UK]Regiment 18 Apr. 36/1: A soldier went into a fishmonger’s shop, and observing some red herrings lying on the counter, asked what they were. ‘Soldiers, my friend!’ replied the shopkeeper.
[UK]Taunton Courier 19 Nov. 8/5: The real Yarmouth red herring, or soldier, sold seven for sixpence.
[Scot]Dundee Eve. Teleg. 15 Feb. 5/3: The galant red herring, alias ‘the soldier’.

(b) a boiled lobster.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.

(c) (W.I.) a crayfish.

[WI]M. Lewis 10 Mar. in Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834) 214: I have also tried the soldier soup [...] it seemed to me to be composed of cray-fish which had been kept too long.

(d) a bloater.

[UK]Hull Dly Mail 6 Sept. 3/5: A bloater is [...] dubbed a ‘soldier’.

2. (Aus.) a quid of chewing tobacco.

[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 78: Soldier, [...] a chew of tobacco.

3. as used to a sailor, a term of abuse.

[UK]T. O’Reilly Tiger of the Legion 89: Now ‘soldier"—pronounced ‘sodger’ by this gentleman—is a term of great opprobrium when applied to a seaman, and it caused the last of my temper and discretion to go.

4. (US) a term of address, usu. to one whose name one does not know.

[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 71: I’d like to talk to you a little, soldier.
[US]I. Shulman Good Deeds Must Be Punished 197: ‘We’ve talked enough, soldier,’ she attempted kissing my ear.
[Ire]J. O’Connor Secret World of the Irish Male (1995) 241: He takes his hand and squeezes it. ‘Ah don’t soldier, [...] don’t be upsetting yourself.’.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 52: ‘Do you wish to purchase the item?’ ‘Beats me, soldier.’.

5. in prison/Und. uses.

(a) (US prison) a lookout man during a burglary.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 335/2: soldier, n. A watchman for robbers while on a theft.

(b) (US Mafia) a lower echelon member of a Mafia family, the run-of-the-mill gangsters who fight the gang wars.

[US]M. Puzo Godfather 104: Whenever a war between the Families became bitterly intense, the opponents would set up headquarters in secret apartments where the ‘soldiers’ could sleep.
[US]L. Sanders Anderson Tapes 218: [T]he organization variously known as Cosa Nostra, Syndicate, Mafia, etc., even has military titles for its members—don for general or colonel, capo for major or captain, soldier for men in the ranks, etc.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 144: That’s what she got for taking up with that guinea Mafia soldier from New Jersey.
[US]R. Price Clockers 361: Mazilli played cards with the [Mafia] old-timers and their soldiers almost every day.
[US]T. Dorsey Stingray Shuffle 268: The mob [...]’d become increasingly unsatisfied with their own soldiers assigned to urinal duty.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 47: You don’t normally pay cash to have this kind of thing done — you give it to one of your soldiers.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] There’s Lou sitting out there [...] with one of his soldiers, an unmade wannabe.

(c) a hired killer.

[US]A. Vachss Hard Candy (1990) 164: You pulled my jacket - you know I’m not a soldier. I’m not a hired killer.

(d) (Aus./US prison/Und.) a member of a prison gang.

[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper From The Inside 139: Mass murderers come and go but good soldiers like Joe are hard to find.

6. (US) a dollar.

[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 108: ‘I better ask the old lady for a soldier when I write to her’ [...] She’d been soft about money since the old man had died.

7. (UK/US gang) a member of a (teen) gang.

[US]A. Hoffman Property Of (1978) 12: Not far from Tosh was T.J., another of the Orphans’ soldiers.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 8: You is a top soldier down ah yard.
[US]Dr Dre ‘The Message’ 🎵 Youse a soldier, you’re probably packin heat up there / Met up with homies from the street, and got deep up there.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 68: Some homegrown roughneck soldier straight off the Grove front line.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 83: ‘First become a foot soldier, and that’s just gettin’ in [...] then you become a G’.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 32: Maitland’s soldiers, his scuzzy lieutenants.
[UK]G. Knight Hood Rat 107: To be feared is to be respected [...] This is the street code. Step up and be a good soldier.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] It had been a minute since he had been on the block pitchin’ hand to hand, but he still had the heart of a soldier.
[UK]Vanity Fair 16 Mar. 🌐 Reader was merely a ‘soldier’ on that job, moving the gold between a ‘fence’ named Kenny Noye, who was supposed to arrange for it to be melted down, and dealers in Hatton Garden.
[UK]A. Wheatle Crongton Knights 238: ‘Major Worries [...] said to go after Pinchers’ soldiers’.
[Ire]L. McInerney Rules of Revelation 87: [T]hat I wasn’t an ordinary soldier was the reason he kept me close.

8. (UK black) the penis.

[UK]K. Koke ‘I’m Back’ 🎵 I got ya lady naked waiting patient on the sofa / Got me contemplating ways to make her take the soldier.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

soldier’s bottle (n.) [orig. naut. jargon; the presumption being that soldiers either drink excessively or need alcohol to fortify their courage]

a very large bottle.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Soldier’s-bottle a large one.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 78: I hope you will give me a Soldier’s Bottle.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
soldier’s farewell (n.) (also lag’s farewell, sailor’s farewell)

‘goodbye, good luck and fuck you!’; ‘hello, how are you and fuck you!’.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 229/1: Soldier’s farewell (Garrison). ‘Go to bed’, with noisy additions.
[Aus](con. WWI) L. Mann Flesh in Armour 266: ‘Soldiers’ farewell, Aussie, eh?’.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 82: ‘Good-bye. I hope they’ll poke you into the Lock Hospital.’ ‘Soldier’s farewell to you.’.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 148: We gave him what is vulgarly termed a ‘lag’s farewell’.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 74: ‘What if I miss, and run over you?’ ‘Then when you hear the squelch [...] just raise your hand in the Soldier’s Farewell!’.
[UK]L. Davidson Rose of Tibet 26: e could give the sailor’s farewell to the Head of the Edith Road Girls’ Secondary [...] and on any propitious day set up as an artist.
soldier’s joy (n.) [note naut. jargon soldier’s joy, pease pudding]


[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US] Gillian Welch ‘Wayside’ 🎵 When I got to Nashville, it was too much soldier’s joy.
soldier’s maund (n.)

see under maund n.

soldiers on horseback (n.)

(US short order) fishballs and dropped eggs.

[US]N.Y. Dispatch 1 Aug. 7/6: ‘Waiter,’ said I, when it was my turn, ‘get me two fat fishballs with a dropped egg perched on top of each one.’ ‘Two soldiers on horseback riding by,’ he bawled.
[US]Witchita Dly Eagle (KS) 30 Oct. 6/6: We never say dropped eggs on fishballs [...] ‘soldiers on horseback riding by’ is shorter and plainer.
soldier’s supper (n.) [the soldier’s last meal of the day was tea; there was no supper]

nothing; a drink of water and a cigarette or pipe.

[Aus]J.A. Barry Steve Brown’s Bunyip 31: A bite o’ rotten bread for breakfus, ditto for dinner, an’ a soldier’s supper, with lime-juice an’ winegar chucked in.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 229/1: Soldier’s supper (Garrison). Nothing at all – tea being the final meal of the day.
soldier’s thigh (n.) [military poverty]

an empty pocket.

[UK]C.H. Hartshorne Salopia Antiqua Gloss. 572: Soldier’s thigh, a slang term for an empty pocket .
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
soldier’s wash (n.) (also sailor’s wash) [the privations of the battlefield]

the washing of one’s face with a scoop of water in cupped hands rather than using a flannel.

[UK]Bridlington Free Press 16 Feb. 9/1: We might call this the sailors’ or soldiers’ wash [...] I very much doubt if the wash extends further than chest.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1112/2: [...] C.20.

In phrases

dead soldier (n.) (also fallen soldier)

1. an empty bottle; thus half-dead soldier, a partially empty bottle.

[US]Ariz. Wkly Jrnl-Miner Presscott, AZ) 13 Aug. 1/7: Dead Soldier; An empty whiskey bottle.
[US]Pittsburgh Dispatch (PA) 31 July 10/4: Will Become Dead Soldiers. The noble army of 8,000 bottles.
[US]F. Norris McTeague (1958) 127: A row of empty champagne bottles – ‘dead soldiers,’ as the facetious waiter had called them.
[US]Arkansas City Dly Traveler (KS) 31 Jan. 4/2: The list read: Two cases dead soldiers, 7 empty jugs.
[US]Spokane Press (WA) 27 Mar. 5/2: Old Man Trying to Get Corner on ‘Dead Soldiers’. Storing Empty Beer Bottles Away in Old Shack.
[US](con. 1879) Tombstone Epitaph (AZ) 22 Aug. 4/1: I will explain that a dead soldier is an empty whiskey bottle.
Winkler New Yorker 9 Feb. 40f: His aim with a dead soldier was unnerving [W&F].
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 203: Dead soldier – An empty whiskey bottle lying beside the road.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 28: I held up the dead soldier and shook it.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Die Hard’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 16: I found a half-dead soldier in the drawer [...] and I poured a stiff one.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 38: I kicked the fallen soldier under the bed.
[US]P. Rabe Murder Me for Nickels (2004) 107: The standard post-party formula of cigarette butts, dead soldiers [...] glasses with lipstick stains on the rim.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 134: Dead soldiers of scotch and bourbon glittered from the wastebasket.
[US]H. Selby Jr Song of the Silent Snow (1988) 35: Empty bottle passed back (clink) — no more, all gone, three dead soldiers.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 85: Lately he’d been drinking quite a bit. There were five dead soldiers on the table in front of him.
[[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 79: He screwed the lid back on the bottle [...] ‘Empty,’ he sighed. ‘I guess this little soldier’s ready to retire.’].
[Scot]A. Parks To Die in June 22: Billy had found a bottle of red wine amongst the dead soldiers on the table.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson I Am Already Dead 132: [B]eer cartons filled with dead soldiers.
[US]D. Swierczynski California Bear 119: ‘[T]hose half dozen dead soldiers on my kitchen table. How many were yours?’.

2. US drugs an empty crack vial.

[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Buys’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 3 [TV script] You walkin’ down them alleys in the projects, man, you steppin’ dead soldiers [...] empty vials.