Green’s Dictionary of Slang

low adj.

(US) quiet, discreet.

[US]C. Stella Jimmy Bench-Press 136: Just keep it low. Don’t give them nothing.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

low-ass (adj.)

(US) lowly.

[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 111: Not even a low-ass doper like him [...] should have to live like that.

see separate entries.

low-bite (n.)

(W.I.) an upper class person who likes working class pursuits.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 31: Low-bite a person of the upper class with a taste for the common.
low-bottom (adj.) (US)

1. of a person, filthy, impoverished.

[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Buys’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 3 [TV script] Is he low-bottom enough for you.

2. criminal, aggressive.

[US]Burns & Corthron ‘Know Your Place’ Wire ser. 4 ep. 9 [TV script] He banged me four times this week, Kima. I’m havin’ dreams ’bout this low-bottom motherfucker.
low-count (adj.)

(US drugs) of a measure of drugs, under-weight.

[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 79: He gave us low-count smoke when we did get a decent bag.
low countries (n.)

see separate entry.

low dice (n.)

fixed dice that will always show low numbers.

[UK](con. early 17C) Sir W. Scott Fortunes of Nigel II 283: Men talk of high and low dice, Fulhams, and bristles, topping, knapping, slurring, stabbing, and a hundred ways of rooking besides.
[Aus]Mirror (Sydney) 31 Aug. 8/2: The dice have their own foibles. [...] There are highs and lows. The manipulator, by sleight of hand, inserts in the pot the set he wants. If he wants a high main, in go the highs, and the lows if a small count is desired.

see separate entry.

low five

see separate entries.

low-flung (adj.)

(US) of low character or social position.

[US]Missouri Reporter 11 Apr. n.p.: Here we have a beautiful specimen of the dishonesty and low-flung slang of the clique [DA].
Anti-Slavery Bugle (New-Lisbon, OH) 27 Nov. 3/2: One is courageous, highbred and manly. The other is cowardly, low-flung and sneaking.
[US]Clarksville Wkly Chron. (TN) 26 Apr. 2/6: The [...] swarm of low-flung negro worshipping office seekers.
Lincoln Co. Herald (MO) 27 Jan. 3/3: If it be low flung to charge Mr Cake as the father of the present poor farm and poor house, then I plead guilty.
[US]Daily Astorian (OR) 18 Oct. 2/1: The ignorant [...] low-flung, dirty [...] self-styled ‘politician’ .
[US]M.A. Owen Voodoo Tales 64: Time someun teach dat low-flung red-head mannehs.
[US]Monroe City Democrat (MO) 1 Oct. 8/3: At this age of the world disputation means low flung personalities and not reason.
Democrat Sentinel (Logan, OH) 25 Nov. 2/5: Some irreverent and low-flung person started the story.
low-flying birdie (n.)

Famous Grouse Scotch whisky.

[UK]T. Black Gutted 167: ‘Anything else?’ He stepped back, waved a hand to the optics [...] ‘Go for broke, let’s see you mess up a low-flying birdie.’.
[UK]T. Black Gutted 260: Fitz delved in his pocket, brought out a half-bottle of Grouse, some tabs – Regal, and a lighter. ‘Fill yer boots, boyo.’ I ripped into the low-flying birdie, drenched my throat. Tasted like paradise.
low forehead (n.)

(US) a foolish person.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 53: The low forehead has a Fitzsimmons hug on the order when Ikey Mincenpizenstein crawls into the harbor and drops anchor at our table.
low gagger (n.)

(UK Und.) a confidence trickster who elicits compassion (and money) by pretending to be hurt in some way.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 154: Low Gagger. The professors of this Rig are old Soldiers, old Sailors, Gypsies, Tinkers, &c. The ways and means which they make use of to excite the pity and compassion of the humane; are innumerable. An Instance: An old Soldier had gagg’d about London many years. His mode for provoking compassion was to get some sheep’s blood and a handful of flour, which he put so artfully upon his knee, as to make the passengers, who saw it, believe it to be a mortification in his leg and thigh.
low Greek (n.) [Greek n. (8)]

(gay) heterosexual intercourse (because the vagina is lower than the anus).

[US]Maledicta IX 56: Greek, low n [D] Sexual intercourse.

see separate entry.

lowland (n.)

(US black) the area of a city, usu. the south, where the black ghetto is generally sited.

[US]D. Claerbaut Black Jargon in White America 71: lowland n. the south side of the city, often where the black area of the city is located.

see separate entries.

lowmen (n.)

fixed dice that will always show low numbers.

[UK]G. Walker Detection of Vyle and Detestable Use of Dice Play 27: Ye must also be furnished with high men and low men for a mumchance and for passage.
[UK]Greene Defence of Conny-Catching 6: I had cheates for the very sise, of the squariers, langrets, gourds, stoppe-dice, high-men, low-men, and dice barde for all aduantages.
[UK]Shakespeare London Prodigal A4: Item, to my sonne Mat Flowerdale I bequeath two bale of false dyce, videllicet, high men, and loe men, fullomes, stop cater-traies, and other bones of function .
[UK]J. Harington Epigrams I No. 79: Then play thou for a pound, or for a pin, / High men or low men, still are foysted in.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Travels of Twelve-pence’ in Works (1869) I 73: Where Fullam high and Low-men bore great sway, / With the quick helpe of a Bard Cater Trey.
[UK]W. Cartwright Ordinary II iii: Your high / And low men are but trifles: your pois’d dye / That’s ballasted with quicksilver or gold / Is gross to this.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: The names of false dice: A bale of bard cinque deuces A bale of flat cinque deuces A bale of flat sice aces A bale of bard cater traes A bale of flat cater traes A bale of fulhams A bale of light graniers A bale of langrets contrary to the ventage A bale of gordes, with as many highmen as lowmen, for passage A bale of demies A bale of long dice for even and odd A bale of bristles A bale of direct contraries.
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII 100/1: [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
low-neck hack (n.) (also low-neck cab)

(US) an open-topped horse-drawn cab.

Illus. Milliner 9 45: No public conveyance, except a low neck hack, would admit such a monster of a hat.
L.J. Vance Joan Thursday 354: They contrived in the end to engage an open, horse-drawn vehicle, of the type colloquially known in those days as a ‘low-neck hack,’ and ordered themselves driven to the Manhattan Beach Hotel.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 15 July [synd. col.] Regan, who lives there [...] was getting into a low-neck hack.
C.R. Walker Bread and Fire 30: The fat, starry-eyed Jew [...] seemed to me infinitely more ridiculous than Haviland in a hack, even a low-neck hack, galloping on Broadway.
C. LaFarge Each to the Other 322: We’d drive, in a low-neck hack, together, at dusk, in love.
low-octane (adj.) [the opposite of high-octane adj. (3)]

of coffee, decaffeinated.

[US]Knoxville Tenn. professionals age c.34 n.p.: ‘Would you like some coffee?’ ‘High-octane or low?’ ‘Uh...’ ‘High-octane is caffeine, low is decaf.’ [HDAS].
‘Taking the Steam Out of Decaf’ HealthScoutNews 28 Nov. [Internet] New research shows low-octane coffee may increase risk of arthritis.
low pad (n.) [pad n.1 (3); as opposed to high pad under high adj.1 ]

(UK Und.) a footpad; ‘a base Sheep-stealing, half-penny Rogue’ (Head 1674); thus low-padding n., petty thievery.

[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 41: If he meets Country people coming late from Market, or any other seasable booty, he will not stick to seize it [...] and thus the Ruffler is metamorphosed into a Low-Pad.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue IV 152: Which Arts are divided into that of High-Padding, Low-Padding, Cloy-Filing, Bung-Nipping, Prancers Prigging, Duds-Lifting, Rhum-Napping, Cove-Cuffing, Mort-Trapping, Stamp-Flashing, Ken-Milling, Jerk the Naskin.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Low-pad c. a Foot-pad.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: low pads a Crew of Villains, who rob on Foot, some of them using long Poles or Staves, with an Iron Hook at the End, with which they either pull Gentlemen from their Horses, or knock them down: At other Times, they skulk under Hedges or behind Banks in the Road, and suddenly starting out from their Covert, one seizes the Bridle, while the other dismounts the Passenger; and so rob and often murder him.
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 29: The High-Pad, or Highway-Man. The Low-Pad, or Foot-robber.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]New Swell’s Night Guide to the Bowers of Venus 23: Admission – patience – in turn to wade through the throng of costermongers, porters, doxies, high and low pads, who stand lushing.
[UK]‘A Harassing Painsworth’ in Yates & Brough (eds) Our Miscellany 28: Listen! all you high pads and low pads, rum gills and queer gills, patricos, palliards, priggers, whipjacks, and jackmen, from the arch rogue to the needy mizzler.
low pro (n.) [abbr.]

(US black) a low profile.

[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 227: He keep a pretty low pro.
[US]Nas ‘Suspect’ [lyrics] I keep a low pro as if I owe.
low quarters (n.)

(US black) Oxford shoes, with laces over the instep.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 39: Low quarters, my good man, are the footwear Lanes wear on the highways and byways of the land when they should wear hip boots.
[US]Current Sl. VI 7: Low quarters, n. Army dress shoes.
low-rate (v.)

(US black/Southern) to attack verbally, to criticize, to denigrate, to ridicule.

[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 145: lowrate, v. To depreciate, set a low estimate on. ‘That’s lowrating him some.’.
[US]A. Bontemps God Sends Sun. 179: An’ damn if you’s gonna low-rate me in ma own house.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 104: They got a liberal education that lowrated all the book-learning [...] they had thrown at them.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 262: That feller better quit low-ratin’ my kinfolks!
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 47: You’re just jealous of Jackie [...] That’s why you low-rate him every chance you get.
low rent

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

low tide (n.) (also low water, low water mark) [the image of one’s economic ‘vessel’ being stranded by low tide]

a state of financial difficulty, thus be in low tide v.

[UK]Middleton No Wit or Help like a Womans (1657) [Dramatis personae] Master Low-Water, a decayed gentleman. I ii: Mistress Low-water [...] I’ll empty your enemies Bags to maintain you; for the rich Widow, the Lady Golden-fleece, [...] I am perfectly assured, the next meeting strikes a bargain. [...] Her wealth shall rise from her, and set in thee. mistress low-water: You men have th’art to overcome poor women.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Low Tide, when there’s no Money in a Man’s Pocket.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Low tide, or low water, when there is no money in a man’s pockets.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[Ire]Tom And Jerry; Musical Extravaganza 54: Low water mark, without cash.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 96: ‘Low-water’ implies empty clies [i.e. pockets].
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 9 Aug. 3/2: Reynolds proposed the partnership with a view rather to his own interests [...] it being low watermark with him.
[UK]T. Hood ‘Ode to Admiral Gambier’ Works (1862) II 431: Gin may be low – but I have known low-water!
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 101: I’m at low-water-mark myself — only one bob and a magpie.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Oct. 2/4: He had gone into Lowater’s public house, as the name agreed with the state of his pockets, which were far below ebb tide.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 114: Low-water mark, having little money.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[UK]Story of a Lancashire Thief 11: I liked the blood-and-thunder penny trash, too, but only when I was hard up. At such times, when it was low water with me, I’d read the Mysteries of the Court and such like.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act I: I’ve taken a serious turn; always do when it’s low tide here [Pointing to his pocket].
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 174: LOW WATER, but little money in pocket, when finances are at low ebb.
[US]A. Trumble Mysteries of N.Y. 9: [O]wing to my contribution to the famine fund [...] it was very low tide with me.
[UK]Chambers’s Journal 21 Feb. 125: Or who, having been ‘put away,’ and done their time, found themselves in low water upon their return to the outer world [F&H].
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 10 Aug. 4/3: I was i’ pretty low water at the time, and I morgiged my public-house.
[UK]Sporting Times 3 Jan. 2/1: ‘Weren’t you about with him in very low water?’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 6 Jan. 1/1: The Tichborne redivivus will very shortly collapse through [...] low water in the money-box.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 6 Apr. 424: If he heard of some old schoolfellow in ‘low water,’ he would always make a point of calling on him.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Oct. 13/4: I have encountered three similar excitements, and on each occasion the Church was in low water at the time, and sadly in need of a spiritual buck-up.
[UK]G.D.H. & M. Cole Brooklyn Murders (1933) 79: He was certain to be in low water; and she must at once promise to pay all the expenses of the case.
low-toby (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

get low (v.) [a reverse pun on the usu. get high under high adj.1 with other drugs, due to the relaxing effects of marijuana]

1. (US campus) to smoke marijuana.

[US]Z-Link 30 Oct.–1 Nov. [Internet] J.F.K. loved their roast beef sandwiches when he was editor of the Crime. Open ’til 3am, if you’ve been getting low.

2. to inject a narcotic.

[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 111: He had been getting low [...] with his cut-man friend.
keep a low (one) (v.)

to act unobtrusively, to maintain a low profile.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 37: You have to keep a low one over here. This isn’t London.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 68: I’m meant to be keeping a low.
low in the lay (adj.) [SE lay low, to knock down]

extremely poor.

[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford II 113: As, just at present, I’m low in the lay, / I’ll borrow a quid if you please.
low (man) on the totem pole (n.) (also low man on the ladder) [an image of Native American hierarchy]

inferior, second-rate, in a junior or uninfluential position at work.

[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 32: These guys figure a guy with a stable is low man on the ladder.
Augusta Chronicle 15 Jan. [Internet] The pressing question is what the half-million people back home in Georgia’s 12th District need from the freshman Republican congressman – and how a low-on-the-totem-pole legislator can get it for them.
take low (v.)

(W.I./US black) to adopt a humble attitude in order to forward one’s aims.

G.A. Crofutt Guide to Colorado 63: The Spanish Peaks, too, took low.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 488: take low: To be humiliated. Women love to see a man take low.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 33: Havin’ you see him take low was bad ’nuff.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 89: Few Streeters take low, especially with a woman around to witness it.
[UK]D. Wells Night People 96: Don’t take low from no jive cop.
[UK](con. 1950s) M. Thelwell Harder They Come 53: A spirit of compromise, to bite one’s tongue, to ‘take low’, to be flexible, was the most important quality that life taught.