Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sooner n.

[all ref. to something or someone that would ‘soon as be/sooner do one thing as another’]

1. (also just as soon dog) a mongrel or any dog that would ‘rather feed than fight’; the same applies to cats; also attrib.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Dec. 11/3: George’s faithful hound, Seldom fed — one of the celebrated Sooner breed, by the way.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 16/1: The only dogs I’ve known drovers to be unkind to were wastrels, ‘sooner-dogs,’ not worth tucker, and such animals are annoying on the road.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 Apr. 1/1: A Fremantle citizen’s sooner chewed up their canine.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 17 Feb. 1/6: [of a racehorse] A ‘sooner’: Billali.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 73: Outback slang terms for dogs include: [...] sooner (i.e. one that would sooner rest than work).
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 239/1: sooner – a dog [...] who is no good.
[US]C. Perry Portrait of a Young Man Drowning (1963) 8: He said he’s a ‘just as soon’ dog . . . He’d just as soon eat as to sleep.
[WI]F. Collymore Notes for Gloss. of Barbadian Dial. 106: Sooner. A mongrel. On asking on one occasion why a ‘sooner’, I was told, ‘He’d sooner bark than bite’.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 183: ‘What’s a sooner Catahoula?’ ‘Hound he grows only down the bayou and jist as soon as he do something, that’s how soon he be in trouble.’.
[Ire]Irish Times 3 Nov. n.p.: The problem with our ferret was that he was spoilt or a ‘sooner’. Instead of terrifying the rabbits [...] our ferret was satisfied to catch one, dine off it and fall asleep [BS].

2. (Aus.) a lazy person, one who would ‘sooner’ lie around than work or, in context, fight.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Bricks’ in ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 31: He slugged a tubby Hun, / Then choked a Fritzie with his dukes, ’n’ pinched the sooner’s gun!
[Ire]B. Duffy Rocky Road 148: He’s a sooner, that fella [...] He’d sooner be a dirty scut than a dacent skin, any day.
[UK]G. Blake Shipbuilders (1954) 60: Aye – the dirty sooners.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 239/1: sooner – a dog, or sometimes a person, who is no good.
[UK]E. North Nobody Stops Me 23: Where’s that blasted Roxy got to. Lazy, loafing old sooner.
see sense 9.

3. (US) an illegitimate child [born too soon for the wedding].

[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 286: sooner: n. A child born less than nine months after its parents’ wedding.

4. (US Und.) one who takes things for granted; a mistaken optimist [they feel optimistic too soon].

[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 261: Everything was rosy, the cush was coming strong and I was patting this ginny on the hump, but I was a sooner.

5. (Aus.) a confidence trickster.

[UK]cited in Partridge DSUE (1984).

6. (US black) a cheap and badly made object; a dirty and unkempt person.

[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1010: Sooner: anything cheap and mongrel; now applied to [...] a shabby person.
[US] ‘The Open Book’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 112: A psalm singing sooner, a guitar picking crooner / and as worthless as tits on a boar.

7. (US) a choice.

[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 175: I’d as soon not be whupped — if I got my sooners.

8. (N.Z.) an ill-behaved, lazy horse.

[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 106/1: sooner a horse jibbing, one that would sooner go back than forward, a lazy horse – or person.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].