Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pepper v.

1. to infect with venereal disease.

[UK]‘I.T.’ Grim The Collier of Croydon V i: She hath pepper’d me, I feel it work, My Teeth are loose, and my Belly swell’d, My Entrails burn with such distemper’d heat.
[UK]Davies of Hereford Scourge of Folly 139: Phrina (hot whoore) takes Pepper in the Nose, Because her Noses Pimples some call Poxes, Wherewith she peppers both her friends and foes; So, makes her Nose and Poope, two Pepper-boxes.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Bawd’ in Works (1869) II 97: She is able to Pepper as many as have any dealing with her.
[UK] ‘Peter Aretine’ Strange and True Newes 2: Being terribly Pepered with the French pox.
[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 58: Having so pepper’d him with the Pox, that in a little time he was neither able to go nor stand.
[UK]Present State of Russia I 277: A Woman of the Town [...] having peppered some hundreds of the Preobrazinsky Guards [OED].
[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 87: She could not sleep for laughing in her Sleeve, to think how she had pepper’d off the Spark.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 34: So sure this God, for rage or fun / Has pepper’d every mother’s son.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 47: This god, for rage or fun, / Has pepper’d ev’ry mother’s son.

2. to hit hard; to shoot dead.

[UK]Nashe Pasquil’s Returne in Works I (1883–4) 97: That’s a bragge Marforius: yet if there be any such [...] I wyll picke out a time to pepper them.
[UK]H. Chettle Tragedy of Hoffman III G: If I pepper him not, say I am not worthy to be cald a Duke, but a drawlatch.
[UK]‘Mary Tattle-well’ Womens sharpe revenge 191 I have heard some to brag, as he payd one, hee pepperd another, hee sawced a third, he anointed a fourth, hee scowred a fifth.
[UK]Fielding Joseph Andrews (1954) I 82: I’ll pepper you better than ever you was peppered by Jenny Bouncer.
[Ire]K. O’Hara Midas III ii: I warrant we pepper his jacket.
[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 93: How they powder’d your pums, / And all the way home how they pepper’d your ----.
[Ire]Both Sides of the Gutter part II 16: I have led my ragamuffins where they have been pepper’d.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 298: The Greek their noddles peppers, / Till down they dropp’d upon their kneppers.
[UK]M. Scott Tom Cringle’s Log (1862) 11: The French [are] sufficiently strong to pepper us very decently in the outgoing.
[UK]Comic Almanack Aug. 278: Sum got Pepprd by the John Dams.
[US]True Flash (NY) 4 Dec. n.p.: [P]eppering away right and left, bored him to the ropes.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 Mar. 1/3: Ben succeeded in peppering his opponent in the face.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Jan. 24/1: The Rebel forces had entered the province of Chihli. It is more than probable therefore that they will get well prepared.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend III 133: This is the beggar that peppered the hole for me, and now we will pepper him.
[US]H.L. Williams Black-Eyed Beauty 36: Oh! you peppered the big Johny Bull of a moll!
[UK]Sportsman (London) 8 Dec. 2/1: Notes on News [...] The poor thing [i.e. a squirrel] was again ‘peppered’.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter II 17: ‘Jack is the worst shot in the neighbourhood, he has peppered half the keepers [...] in the county’.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 148: The Grangerfords staid on their horses and capered around the old man, and peppered away at him.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Buffalo Bill 18: ‘Pepper into ’em, then, till I tell the boys here where we're goin’, so they'll be keerful how to shoot’.
[UK]Star (Reynoldsville, PA) 24 Oct. 5/6: Small game that annoys them while waiting for larger game run the risk of getting ‘peppered’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Sept. 24/1: They bore into each other, banged, bashed, roughed and clinched. Joe peppered with his left. Tim smothered mostly till Joe gave a chance, then rushed and swung punches that staggered every time they made impact.
[US]L.A. Herald 22 Dec. 12/2: Wolgast took Picato’s peppering blows smilingly and rushed Frank to the ropes.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 18: Jeff [...] increased the pace, and continued to pepper Coke.
P. Gallico Snow Goose 42: [British speaker] ‘Jerry [...] give us shrapnel and ‘e give us H. E. an’ ’e peppers us from the bloomin’ hatmosphere with Jittersmiths’.
[US]T. Thursday ‘License for Theft’ Ten Detective Aces Sept. 🌐 All you have to do in order to save your fat body from a condition resembling a sieve, due to a large peppering of lead, is to remain quiet.
[US](con. 1940s) G. Mandel Wax Boom 193: The whole Kraut army’ll pepper you.
Csonka & Kiick Always on the Run 42: We’d pepper the cars [with snowballs] until somebody called the police.
[UK]Section Boyz ‘Trapping Ain’t Dead’ 🎵 Manaman ah pepper man easy.
[UK]G. Krauze What They Was 199: Couple man went to smoke one yout, they blatantly peppered the brer, let off a full clip.
[US]F. Bill Back to the Dirt 84: Had to pepper his ass.

3. to tease, to deceive [SE throw pepper in someone’s eyes].

[UK]F. Fane Love in the Dark III i: I cannot chuse but laugh at him. How his Wife pepper’d him!
[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 359: If he could only have been one of his own forefathers, he said, wouldn’t he have peppered that same Lion, and been to him another Brute Tamer with a wire whip.

In compounds

pepper gun (n.)

(US) a shotgun (which sprays its shot) rather than a rifle or pistol.

[US]D.R. Pollock Devil All the Time 140: [H]e still didn’t think much of handguns. He’d rather have a pepper gun or a rifle any day.
pepper-proof (adj.)

(temporarily) free of venereal disease.

[UK]R. Brome Mad Couple Well Match’d I i: A pepper-corne a quarter, if shee be Pepper-proofe.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 88: He is not pepper-proof.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Pepper-proof not Clapt or Poxt pepperd off.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 63: lord sp.: My Lord, this Venison is plaguily pepper’d. your Cook has a heavy Hand. lord. sm.: My Lord, I hope you are Pepper Proof.