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’.
[UK]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.
[UK]Taunton Courier 19 Nov. 8/5: The real Yarmouth red herring, or soldier, sold seven for sixpence.
[UK]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. (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.’.

3. 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]E. Torres After Hours 2: I’m just a soldier.
[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.

4. (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.

5. (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’ [lyrics] 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’.
[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. [Internet] 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’.

6. (UK black) the penis.

[UK]K. Koke ‘I’m Back’ [lyrics] 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)

‘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!’.
soldier’s joy (n.) [note naut. jargon soldier’s joy, pease pudding]


[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US] Gillian Welch ‘Wayside’ [lyrics] 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.
[US]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.’].

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.