Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hip adj.

[hep adj. (1) or ? the posture of the opium smoker, reclining on their hip and the idea that the term, e.g. ‘are you hip?’, was used as a form of recognition between smokers; a link to Wolof hepi, to see or hipi, to open one’s eyes has been posited. As relating to hipster n. the word had a more specific meaning to jazz buffs/beatniks of 1950s, but now the general use is predominant]

1. sophisticated, aware, in tune with events, ideas and situations; often as hip to.

[US]G.V. Hobart Jim Hickey 15: At this rate it’ll take about 629 shows to get us to Jersey City, are you hip?
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 119: While we argued with him, the conductor got hip to our doings.
[US]Jack Stillman’s Orioles [song title] Hip! Hip!
[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 256: hip (adj.): wise, sophisticated, anyone with boots on. Ex., ‘She’s a hip chick.’.
[US]Helen Humes ‘I Would If I Could’ [lyrics] They might satisfy a square / But I’m too hip you see.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 43: There were a lot of things about H he wasn’t hip to.
[US]‘Lord Buckley’ Hiparama of the Classics 10: You look like pretty Hip Cats, You buddy with me!
[US]L. Bruce How to Talk Dirty 177: I’m not hip to track people.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 73: All that hip shit about revolution.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 39: Every body here is hip to the stud.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 179: He’d been around these hip session musicians and arrangers.
[US]Mack 10 ‘Based on a True Story’ [lyrics] If people out there not hip to the fact.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 12: She could pass as their hip older sister.
[US]N. Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather (ms.) 35: The origin of ‘hip’ whose currency was common enough for it to have appeared in print by 1904, may have derived from the classic age-old pelvic-centered, side-lying opium-smoking position, and may have been used originally as a sign of mutual recognition and reference.
[US]T. Dorsey Hurricane Punch 10: Jeff’s hip not to paw anything.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 44: She was friendly, smartly dressed [...] clearly the hip lady in her weekly fifty-plus knitting group.
[US]Rolling Stone 14 Oct. [Internet] #MAGA! That's hashtag Make America Great Again, in case you didn't believe Mike Pence is hip.

2. (US) insolent, cheeky.

[US]E. Hunter ‘First Offense’ in Jungle Kids (1967) 8: When somebody’s trying to give you advice, don’t go hip on him.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 304: Two stacked broads approached. Everyone attained a hip position [...] In his hip position, Herman says: ‘Hey mamma, you putty thang ... shorr look foine’.

3. (US black) splendid, enjoyable.

[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 41: ‘How ’bout a nickel bag?’ ‘Sounds hip to me.’.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 161: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Heads. Hip. Hot.

4. (US black) in possession of or able to supply drugs.

[US] ‘Honky-Tonk Bud’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 55: So if you want to cop, then let’s talk shop, / I’m hip and can help you score.

In derivatives

hipism (n.)

a slang term used by those who are hip.

[US]Newsweek 30 Oct. 85: For most straights, press reports of the East Village murders added a sinister new word to their glossary of hipisms.

In compounds

In phrases

get hip (to) (v.)

to understand, to recognize, to work out.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 100: Nix on the whiskey fellers. It’s on the dink and will put you there! Get ‘hip’ before it’s too late.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 149: I’m so glad you got hip to yourself at last.
[US]Laurents & Sondheim West Side Story I vi: When you was my age; when my old man was my age; when my brother was my age! You was never my age, none a you! The sooner you creeps get hip to that, the sooner you’ll dig us.
[US]Mad mag. June 47: Let me dig if he’s been boozing, and get hip on what’s the score.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 25: It wasn’t that long [...] before the volunteer teacher got hip.
[US] H. Huncke ‘Oral History of Benzedrine’ Huncke Reader (1998) 341: When they got hip to the pills [...] they became difficult to get.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 2: The IRS got hip to him one time, but they couldn’t find out where he lived.
have one’s hip boots on (v.) [pun on sense 1 above/SE hip + boots]

to be sophisticated, aware.

[US]Sy Oliver & James Young ‘Tain’t What You Do’ [lyrics] So get your hip boots on, and then you carry on.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 4: All the kiddies got their invites and the sweet little old delosis drilling to the pad, all the cats are sounding their righteous squawks about their ‘hip boots’ laced in place, high and fly and too wet to dry.
[US]R.S. Gold Jazz Lex. 246: If one’s hip boots are on, he is ready for any kind of weather, and by extension, for any eventuality.
have one’s hip boots unlaced (v.)

(US black) to be relaxed.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 4 June 11/1: The boys and gals fell in with their hip-boots unlaced and their kicks lined with dough.
hip to the tip

(US black) to the greatest extent, e.g. dressed up in one’s best clothes.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 1: Let all the ickies drape in shape and fall from the pad hip to the tip and most mad.
hip up (v.)

(US) to understand, to appreciate.

[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 39: You people got to hip up that this weren’t no Waldorf-Astoria.