1. a ‘blue stocking’ [abbr. SE blue-stocking, a term that originated c.1750 when a coterie of intellectual ladies – Mrs Montague, Mrs Vesey and Mrs Ord – set out to replace London society’s trad. post-dinner pursuits – card-playing – with more cerebral amusements. Formal dress was no longer required and among those who attended their soirées was Benjamin Stillingfleet, who habitually wore grey or blue worsted, instead of black silk, stockings. Admiral Boscawen, a staunch traditionalist, labelled these events ‘the Blue Stocking Society’; the ladies were called Blue Stockingers, then Blue Stocking Ladies and finally Blue Stockings].
(a) [late 18C–late 19C] an intellectual woman.
(b) [mid–late 19C] (US campus) a puritanical, strait-laced student.
2. the colour.
(a) [19C+] (US black) a dark-complexioned black person [note 18C–19C Louisiana dial. blue, a mix of Indian, black and white, as well as Allen, The Language of Ethnic Conflict 1983): ‘Die Blaue, which Mencken, The American Language (3rd edn, 1936), says was used for black servants by German residents of Baltimore in the 1880s; they changed it to Die Schwarze when the blacks caught on’].
(b) [1960s+] methylated spirits.
(c) [1900s–10s] the sea.
(d) [late 19C+] (Aus./N.Z., also bit of blue) a summons; also used in milit. context, a ‘write-up’ [the colour of the paper on which it is printed; note H. Lawson short story (1899): ‘His character was pretty bad just then, so there was a piece of blue paper cut for him’].
(e) [1930s] (US) a blue poker chip.
(f) [1940s–50s] (US black) the sky.
(g) see blue ruin under blue adj.1
(h) see bluey n.1 (6)
3. the colour of a uniform.
(a) [mid-19C–1900s] a blue-uniformed soldier.
(b) [mid-19C+] a police officer; the police.
(c) [1930s+] (US prison) a prison inmate.
4. in drug uses [the colour of the pills].
(a) [1960s+] (also double blue) usu. in pl., an amphetamine.
(b) [1960s+] a barbiturate.
(c) [1970s] (UK prison, also double blue) an amphetamine-barbiturate mixture.
(d) [1980s+] crack cocaine [poss. mis-reading].
(e) [1990s+] (drugs) an ultra-thin Rizla paper – in a blue pack – used for rolling cannabis cigarettes or to wrap small amounts of cocaine.
5. see blue heaven under blue adj.1
6. see blue pigeon n. (2)
7. see blues n.1
8. see bluey n.1 (2)
[1920s+] (Aus.) to bet on credit.
[mid-19C] to evade capture by the police.
[1990s+] (Aus. Und.) wrongfully imprisoned or arrested.
1. [1930s] (Aus. Und.) to suppress evidence or obstruct police proceedings.
2. [1960s] (Aus.) to take responsibility for someone else’s actions.
see do up brown under brown adj.2
1. far away, off in the distance.
2. (US) in the clear, not guilty.
3. (Aus.) in trouble, in disgrace.
[1930s] (Aus. Und.) to defraud a confederate of their share of criminal spoils.
[1910s] to drink a glass of absinthe.
SE in slang uses
see long-tail blue n. (1)