Green’s Dictionary of Slang

star n.1

[the theatrical/film/sports/rock use of star, while obviously linked, has been SE since its early 19C coinage]

1. a conspicuous member of society, who shines out among their peers.

[[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 15 Oct. 717/1: Young Dutch Sam, (a decided star amongst his people) ].
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 31: [He] was by turns mad to become an actor, an architect, a society ‘star’ and a scientist.

2. one who is exceptional within their own world.

Eldridge & Watts Our Rival, the Rascal 195: Some ‘stars’ of the first magnitude in the galaxy of ‘bunco men’ are depicted on our representative portrait pages.
C. Fowler letter 16 Jan. in Tomlinson Rocky Mountain Sailor (1998) 201: [H]e has a very peculiar face, with eyes like a wild man's, a hooked nose and chin to match, and reddish hair, and is called ‘Si’ He certainly is a star .
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 189: star 1. a strong personality; magnetic.
[US]B. Gelb Vanished Brass 150: Courtenay was back in the office, triumphant, a star.

3. (US) a police officer, esp. in New York; thus, collectively, star police [their star-shaped badges].

[US]Sun (N.Y.) Sept. 11 2/4: Recovery of more of Johnson & Co.’s property, and additional arrests. — Officers Davis, of the Star Police, and Relyea and Beaman, of the Independent Police.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ G’hals of N.Y. 5: The company [...] consisted of a small party of stars, or police officers.
[US]F. St. Clair Six Days in the Metropolis 46: [in Boston, Mass.] The ‘star’ laughed and assured him that he was addressing a policeman .
[US]Broadway Belle (NY) 1 Jan. n.p.: A star policeman grabbed me in the act.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Feb. 356/2: The star assuring Frankie that he would find his mother for him before long [DA].
[US](con. 1820s–40s) H. Asbury Ye Olde Fire Laddies xi: New York policemen were so called [leatherheads] until about 1845, when they appeared on the streets wearing star-shaped badges made of copper. For a while thereafter they were known as the Star Police, then as coppers, and eventually as cops.

4. (US black) a man’s favourite woman, a very attractive woman.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 47: Knowin your woman is the star of the Scene.
[US]K. Johnson ‘Vocab. of Race’ in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out 145: Stars. Refers to white women in movie terms, connoting all the glamour associated with movie stars. The term can be used only to label white women, because there are almost no glamorous black female movie stars.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 142: Terms for a sexually attractive woman are all shared with the pimp – main ’ho, [...] star.
[UK]C. Newland Scholar 12: When we goin’ ravin’ star?!
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) 🌐 Star (noun) A girl that’s fine.

5. the most favoured/successful prostitute in a pimp’s string of girls.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 102: Ahe knew [...] the mud-kickers, the stars, the stables and occasional white call-girls — she had been part of these things.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 147: As in most pimp households, the woman is the ‘star’ only by herself out on the street.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 118: Teenage vernacular is heavily laced with expressions borrowed from the pimp’s vocabulary. Terms like [...] star, queen, and stallion.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

6. (US black) a top-level pimp.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 109: Bitch, you ain’t no precious necessity to a player. A star!

7. (W.I./UK black, also star-bwai) an attractive, sophisticated, articulate, brave, well-dressed man; esp. as extended to a leading gangster.

[WI]M. Thelwell Harder They Come 153: You ’ave de heights — dat is to say when you find a faceman who ’ave style. An if ’im ’ave mouth, an’ heart, dat is what dem call a star-bwai.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 9: D. considered himself a star.
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 140: Some ragga star firin’ lick shots into the ceilin’.

8. (UK black) a general term of address, usu. between friends; synon. with man n., e.g. Wha’ apen star? What’s up man?

[WI]S. Baku ‘One Bad Casa’ in Three Plays I ii: Wha happen star? You stayin in dis town?
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 8: Okay star, we know you say you is a top soldier.
[UK]C. Newland Scholar 13: Wha’ you man sayin’ tonight star? What’s the mission?
[UK]N. Barlay Crumple Zone 20: Just fix the door star.

In compounds

star boarder (n.)

(Aus./US Und.) the best-performing prostitute in a brothel.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 12 June 4/1: Mrs B’s star boarder, N.P., was seen having a drink with the flies the other evening.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
star-bwai (n.)

see sense 7 above.

star-fucker/-fucking (n.)

see separate entries.

stargazer (n.)

1. one who ogles celebrities.

[UK]Satirist (London) 6 Nov. 245/2: The chesnut-cab, chesnut-horse chesnut-harness, and chesnut Tom-foolery of the Earl and Countess of Harrington, is the theme of the star-gazers [...] What asses some people make of themselves!

2. (US) a womaniser, a prostitute's client [he walks the streets at night, staring at the girls].

[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 17 Dec. n.p.: The next most important of our ‘star gazers’ is Wm T. [...] who, so soon as the sable goddess draw her invisible mantle over the earth [is] prepared to accomplish such deeds as would cause the heart of the sensitive and virtuous to shudder with horror.

In phrases

star behind bars (n.)

(N.Z. prison) a white-collar criminal who has stolen a great deal of money.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 177/1: star behind bars n. a white collar criminal, esp. one in prison on a huge fraud charge, e.g. the embezzlement of millions of dollars.
stars behind bars (n.)

(N.Z. prison) prison, the image is of an inmate looking out at the night sky.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 177/1: stars behind bars n. prison [from the inmate’s point of view: when he looks out at night, the stars can be seen behind the bars of his cell window.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

stardust (n.)

see separate entry.

starfish (n.)

see separate entry.

star-gazer (n.)

1. the erect penis.

[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 195: A stand or a hardon is an erection or stargazer, which can also be a hedge-whore.

2. a horse that persistently throws its head up; thus star-gazing adj.

[UK]E. Gayton Pleasant Notes I v 17: The Lackey had laid upon his back so, that he was spoyled for a star-gazer.
[UK]E. Gayton Festivous Notes I v 31: He was so bruised by the mule-driver when he lay on the ground, that he was spoiled for a star-gazer.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 80: Star Gazers, [...] horses holding their heads too high in the air.
[US](con. WWI) L. Nason ‘Among the Trumpets’ in Mason Fighting American (1945) 460: That’s a great way to treat an officer and an ally. Give him a star-gazin’ goat [horse] like that!

3. a country prostitute who plies her trade in the open air or under hedges.

[UK]N. Ward London Terraefilius I 27: He [...] peeps more narrowly into every Woman’s Face, than a Moorfields Stargazer does into an Eclipse.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 122: The peaceable street-walkers, including even the fair star-gazers of the night, retired in dismay.
[UK]Sussex Advertiser 14 Apr. 4/3: [We] soon passed a long string of gaggers, priggers, Adam Tylers, fancy coves, autum [sic] morts, gammoners, sweetners, uprightmen, bully huffs, lully priggers, star gazers, and coves of all sorts.
[UK]Satirist (London) 10 Feb. 469/2: Venus is our evening planet, / And star-gazers often scan it.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 86: star-gazers Prostitutes; street-walkers.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 80: Star Gazers, night street walkers.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 195: A […] stargazer, which can also be a hedge-whore – that is one who goes stargazing on her back and receives an Anglo-Indian back. In other words, she has done a rural.
star-gazing (n.)

1. a state of unconsciousness.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 Jun. 24/1: He was prone twice afterwards and was star-gazing when ‘corners’ sounded.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Dec. 24/2: [C]atching ‘Cocker’ at some ‘gallery play,’ he swung the right with piston-rod like precision and sent Tweedie star-gazing.

2. (Aus.) love-making (not necessarily intercourse) in the open air.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 2 Aug. 9/2: They Say [...] That Bill P. and Johnny S. were up on the Dewdrop lookout one night with the two little tabbies stargazing.

3. (US) guesswork.

[US]R. Starnes Another Mug for the Bier 153: Perhaps if the antidotes had been applied instantly they would have saved her. It’s star-gazing.
star hotel (n.) (also star and moon hotel, starlight hotel, stars hotel)

the open air; esp. as sleep in the star hotel v., to sleep in the open air.

[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 20 July 8/8: The benefit to the country was obvious, but to our party, who had to sleep in the ‘star hotel’ without a tent, that which benefited the country was a decided discomfort.
[Aus]Bunbury Herald (WA) 3 June 8/2: To advocate the reading of bad books [...] is like saying it is better to sleep in a stuffy room full of disease germs, and risk illness, than to have a roof at all when the whole range of the ‘Star Hotel’ with its health giving atmosphere is available .
Gosford Times (NSW) 11 June 5/1: We had just comfortably got to sleep under ‘The Stars Hotel,’ when a regular deluge of rain began to fall, and the two tied up horses began to try and tie themselves in knots .
[Aus]Northern Standard (Darwin) 7 Sept. 28/4: And there on the wide earths face / You make your bed, sleep ill or well, / A guest at the blinking Star Hotel.
Press (Canterbury) 2 Apr. 18: ‘To be a dag at,’ ‘to put across a beaut,’ ‘to jerry to,’ ‘ducks’ breakfast,’ ‘to float up to,’ ‘to blow up to,’ ‘to sleep in the Star Hotel’ need no explanation.
[Aus]Kalgoorlie Miner (WA) 4 Mar. 3/1: Nothing has been done of recent times to relieve the pressure for accommodation. Many families, as well as single men are sleeping at the ‘Star Hotel’ (under the stars.
[Aus]Dly News (Perth) 30 May 11/2: Asked by a policeman for his address a man replied ‘The Star Hotel.’ This, it was explained in Perth Police Court today, meant ‘in the open air’.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 240/1: star hotel – outdoors. have a room at the star hotel – ‘put up’ out on the park bench, the ground or what have you.
[NZ] (ref. to 1930s) McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 104/1: sleep in the star hotel open-air slumber under a clear sky, in tramps’ words, c.1932.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 191: sleep in the star hotel/starlight hotel/star and moon hotel Open-air sleep.

In phrases

go star-gazing (on one’s back) (v.) (also study astronomy) [the earlier use, which had languished, has recently reappeared, although without any ‘open air’ implication]

of a woman, to have sex in the open air.

[UK] ‘The Cuckold’ in Tom-Tit Pt 3 2: The Captain upon the Sea prays for fair weather, / Whilst his wife and the mast sail both together, / Star-gazing on her Back at the Moon’s motion, / Whilst the poor Cuckold is at his Devotion.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd series 26: Had an assig. with a Quicunque Vult—a snug little cinder-gabbler. [...] winter caterwauling cursed unhealthy;—too cold to study astronomy.
[UK]‘The Three Degrees of a Rake’s Life’ in Flare-Up Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 276: Star gazing is all the go, / With peasant, peer and commoner.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 195: A […]stargazer, which can also be a hedge-whore – that is one who goes stargazing on her back and receives an Anglo-Indian back. In other words, she has done a rural.
star in the east

used to refer to someone’s flies being undone.

[UK]A. Higgins Donkey’s Years 153: Thornley whispered, ‘Star in the east,’ glancing down at my fly-buttons undone.
stars and stripes (n.)

see separate entry.

stars for studs (n.) [stud n. (2)]

(US campus) a course in basic astronomy.

[US]W. Safire What’s The Good Word? 300: More recent examples [of nicknames for courses] are astronomy’s ‘Stars for Studs,’ art’s ‘Nudes for Dudes,’ psychology’s ‘Nuts and Sluts,’ European civilization’s ‘Plato to NATO,’ anthropology’s ‘Monkeys to Junkies,’ and comparative religion’s ‘Gods for Clods’.