Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Mary n.

also Marie
[generic use of one of the most common of female proper names, but also offering a touch of Mariolatry]

1. uses based on being female.

(a) (Aus./N.Z., also meri) an Aboriginal native woman; thus pidgin White Mary, a white woman.

[NZ]J.L. Nicholas Narrative of Voyage to N.Z. I vii 201: A canoe that was along-side, in which was the sister of one of our New Zealand sailors, [...] to whom she was well known by the name of Mary .
[Aus]A.C. Grant Bush-Life in Queensland II 121: Missa Fitzgell, White Mary cook’em me.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 12/4: A Kanaka and his Mary were recruited with others for a plantation on the Burnett in Queensland, and while there she learnt the art of cookery and also to make her own and husband’s clothes, and was much thought of by their employer.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Drover’s Wife’ in Roderick (1972) 49: God sent Black Mary — the ‘whitest’ gin in all the land.
[Aus]G. Boothby On the Wallaby 153: Every girl is invariably called ‘Mary’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Jan. 14/4: Soon afterwards, however, the trackers, when mad-drunk, so ill-used their gins that one of these unfortunates told the white police-officer ‘All about them fella bin kill-’em white Mary (white woman).’.
[Aus]J. Furphy Buln-Buln and the Brolga (1948) 🌐 There was a whole swag o’ blackfellers [...] though, mind you, they hadn’t got their Marys or piccaninnies with ’em.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Nov. 16/2: Sometimes Meri has to be hurried off to the local hospital or cemetery as a result of the dusky doctor’s diagnosis. It is always a difficult thing to get a conviction against a tohungra, as even the nearest relations of a defunct Henare refuse to ‘shelf’ the medico. [Ibid.] 12 Dec. 19/1: ‘Where Jacky now, Mary?’ / ‘Oh, Mister Sergeant him very fond of Jacky; him bin take him up longa gaol again cut wood!’.
[UK]M. Forrest Hibiscus Heart 187: Old Jacky, the head of the tribe [...] would arrange a corroboree next week for the ‘White Marys’ to see.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld) 1 Mar. 10/5: Spotting an old lubra [...] I went across to her. ‘Look here, Mary,’ I said.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Ridge and River (1966) 172: ‘The coons reckon he’s been having a lash at the maries.’ [...] ‘Good Lord – not the maries. What bags!’.
[Aus](con. 1940s) E. Lambert Veterans 147: I asked him were there any Marys and he didn’t know what a Mary was.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 229/1: An abo woman is variously termed a lubra, gin, meri or mary (I was given both spellings), black velvet, and others.
[UK](con. 1940s) G. Dutton Andy 221: Boy, could I use a lay. The black Marys up north swing a lovely pair.

(b) (Irish/Aus., also mary ann, mary jane) a female servant.

[UK]Egan Life of an Actor 45: Why, you ugly slip of a tall Mary, I’ve a mind to go and tell her what a pretty sort of a sarvent she has got.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Dec. 31/3: The servants till then had been ugly as sin, / So he picked out a new sort of Mary.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 July 25/1: The experiment of spreading an inadequate number of Mary Anns over a vast number of missuses is being tried [...] So the State Registry Office does not find a place for Mary Ann – it merely tries to find a Mary Ann for several places, and the number of unfilled places swells visibly every day. [Ibid.] 26 Jul. 28/3: [T]he occasional disrespect with which the bar-lady may be treated as a woman is nothing to the continual disrespect with which Mary Jane is regarded as a human being. Mary Jane is not supposed worthy of being allowed to join in the conversation of people who are not Mary Janes.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Aug. 36/1: She polishes your dirty grate, / Or scrapes the scraps from off the plate, / In all things she is sure as Fate – / Hurrah for Mary Ann.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Feb. 14/3: Our own Mary Ann had been solemnly warned about the consequences of having men about the house.

(c) (S.Afr., also coolie Mary) an Indian woman, usu. a fruit or vegetable hawker.

[Aus]Aus. Town and Country Jrnl 3 May 16/4: The most curious slang in the world is that of South Africa. [...] A female ‘coolie’ is invariably addressed as ‘Mary’.
K. Johnston in Outspan Apr. 37: On a Saturday morning I go for a walk along [Durban’s] garbage-littered streets where ‘Marys’ and ‘Sammies’ are feverishly chaffering for vegetables [DSAE].
[SA]L.G. Berger Where’s the Madam? 142: ‘Nanny’ is a term that native girls hate – the same as their being called [...] ‘Mary’.
[SA]K. McMagh Dinner of Herbs 18: Their women folk, each called Mary, just as the Indian males were known as Sammy, hawked fruit and vegetables in flat baskets.
[UK]J. McClure Steam Pig 88: Every Indian woman was Coolie Mary.
[SA]Cape Herald 22 Sept. B2: Because ‘Mariamma’ was a common name among Indian women and ‘Mun-samy’ among the men, we were referred to as ‘Marys and Sammies’. This was considered to be insulting [DSAE].

(d) (S.Afr.) any black woman, esp. a domestic servant.

[SA]C.R. Prance Tante Rebella and her Friends (1951) 143: His fellow passenger [...] seemed to be making a point of chatting on terms of equality with ‘Coloured Mary’.
H. Klein Land of Silver Mist 58: I went with Radebe to the Inchcape Hall, the Bantu night club. We saw ‘Jim’ and ‘Mary’ of everyday life in evening dress on the ballroom floor [DSAE].
G. Westwood Bright Wilderness 25: When they came home Mary would have set the table and prepared meals. Jim would polish the floors and mow the lawns.
S. Sepamia in Ndaba One Day in ]une 23: Thixo! we want to rejoice Celebrating the birth of a new age [...] No more Sixpence, John is neither here nor there, Mary lives no more for tea only! [DSAE].

2. (also Marjorie) gay uses.

(a) the most popular camp proper name; typically in phr. get you Mary!

[US]R. McAlmon Miss Knight (1963) 49: With her it was ‘now I’m tellin’ you , Mary,’ or ‘now when these bitches get elegant I lay ’em out stinkin’ [...] she would hastily apologize had she used the Mary phrase on a man who didn’t know her well, or who might resent her queerness and undue familiarity.
[US]R. McAlmon Distinguished Air (1963) 12: ‘Goodness me, Marjorie, I just love art. I love art,’ Foster minced [...] ‘Will there be some pretty pictures of naked boys?’ [Ibid.] 22: Dearie, the Countess has a new lover, and she’s green-eyed if I go near her Marjorie.
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 104: Best known among these words are fairy [...] Mary, sissy or sis.
[UK]R. Fabian London After Dark 58: There are ‘queer men’ – fetishists [...] There is one of them, a mild, elderly little chap [...] known to every prostitute in London, I should think, as ‘Mary’.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 156: Before you get your finger outta your athth you’re athleep, Mary.
[US]Russo ‘Camp’ in Levine Gay Men (1979) 206: The phrase ‘Get you, Mary!’ is always directed at gay men.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 26: Everyone was ‘she’ or ‘Mary’ and various were the opinions on opera, recipes, and yard goods.
[US]K. Vacha Quiet Fire 32: I don’t act like that with all that ‘May’ and ‘Mary’ shit. It shows so little discretion.
[UK]D. Jarman letter 23 June Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 24: Piss off Mary, I’m a head fairy.
[UK]R. Antoni Grandmother’s Erotic Folktales 77: They wanted to know what do we mean to say the Syrian was an old buller? Well Mrs Carmichael smiled and she said Mary, and I [...] said jump-over-the-fence, and Mrs Carmichael said softman, and I said borrow-the-Bishop’s crosier.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.
[US]T. Pluck ‘Story of O Street’ in Life During Wartime 59: ‘Who you kidding, Mary? Your flag’s way past half mast!’.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 294/2: Mary, Mary-Ann 1. a generic term for a gay man. 2. a Catholic gay man.
[US]J. Hannaham Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit 150: ‘This ain’t bout no femme-queen realness or no butch queen up in drags. It called me. Mary’s just Mary!’.

(b) thus, a gay man’s (younger) lover.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]S. Hunter Dirty White Boys 1: He wasn’t a boss con’s fuckboy, either, or a punk or a bitch or a mary or a snitch.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 228: That’s Cooper’s Mary, so I figure Cooper will stick with him.

(c) (S.Afr. gay) a magistrate.

[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

(d) (US) an effeminate male.

[US]T. Robinson Hard Bounce [ebook] ‘Don’t be so touchy, ya big Mary’.

(e) (Polari) a virgin.

[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 138: ‘You’re nanti still a mary are you [...] A virgin barky!’.

3. drug uses.

(a) (US drugs) morphine [the shared initial letter M].

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Lannoy & Masterson ‘Teen-age Hophead Jargon’ AS XXVII:1 28: MARY, n. Marijuana. 2. Morphine [LAPD].
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 165: mary morphine. Obsolete.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

(b) see mary jane n.1

(c) see mary jane n.2

In phrases

go to Mary’s room (v.) (also go to visit aunty, go to visit Mary) [euph.]

(Aus.) to use the lavatory.

[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 49: ‘Going to Mary’s room’ or ‘going to visit Mary’ or ‘aunty’ are examples of a range of euphemisms used by some women.