Green’s Dictionary of Slang

poke v.

1. (also pock) of a man, occas. woman, to have hetero- or homosexual intercourse.

[UK]Dekker Satiromastix II i: A Rebato [i.e. a linen-covered wire frame to which a ruff was pinned] must be poaked; now many women weare Rebatoes, and many that weare Rebatoes – Must be poakt.
[UK]Parliament of Women 12: That damn’d fowl Italian sin of poking for Generation in the Bowels of their own Sex; to the great Scorn, Contempt, Neglect, and reproach of the whole Commonweal of Women.
[UK]Ladies Delight 3: This rises at a Lady’s Hand, / And grows more strong the more ’tis strok’d / As others fall when they are pok’d.
[US] letter in Duberman ‘Writhing Bedfellows’ in Journal Homosexuality (1980/81) VI Fall/Winter 87: I feel some inclination to know [...] whether you yet have the extravagant delight of poking and punching a writhing Bedfellow with your long fleshen pole.
[UK] ‘They All Be Pokeing At Our House’ in Gentleman Steeple-Chaser 37: The groom he is pokeing the mare every day, / And the butler he pokes our house keeper too they say.
[UK] ‘The Idiot Boy’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 33: It fell out from your poke, good sir, while you were poking Nelly.
[UK]Cythera’s Hymnal in Pearsall (1969) 377: Nor I don’t like to see, though it’s really a lark, / A clergyman poking a girl in the park.
[UK]C. Deveureux Venus in India I 83: Have you not heard how Mrs. So and So is suspected of poking, and yet you have met her every night at the best of houses?
[UK]Grassall Memoirs of Dolly Morton in Mills (1983) 268: Whipping a girl seemed to have an exciting effect on Randolph, for, after switching one, he invariably used to come to me [...] and poke me with great vigour.
[UK]C. Prendergast Sadopaideia 25: I had poked and ‘kissed’ the mistress and had been ‘kissed’ by both mistress and maid.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 213: Boozing and poking and rooting around, jolly enough all right, but not altogether contented.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 172: His efforts to poke her, assiduous, / Met a dense growth of hair most prodiguous.
[UK]K. Amis letter 19 June in Leader (2000) 73: Her other husband coming back and going to kill the second husband for pocking her and her for beng [sic] pocked.
[UK]K. Amis letter 12 May in Leader (2000) 259: Why can’t he take pocking the same way the girls take beng [sic] pocked.
[US](con. 1920s–30s) J.O. Killens Youngblood (1956) 106: Beef stake, poke steak / make a little gravy / Your thing, my thing / Make a little baby.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 220: You think poking some guy in his hairy ass is really living?
[Aus]D. Maitland Breaking Out 143: ‘No Father—I poked a possum.’ He said: ‘You what?’ And I said: ‘I poked a possum. That’s after I got up a goat.’.
[UK](con. 1964) P. Theroux My Secret Hist. (1990) 227: I poked my first girl when I was eight or nine.
[UK] (con. 1940s) D. Farson Never a Normal Man 190: Do you know how long it is since I last poked your mother?
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 215: Ain’t been widowed a week and already he’s pokin’ poon.

2. (orig. US) to hit, to strike.

[US]N.Y. Herald 19 July in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 129: McGraw [...] poked a boy in the jaw.
[US]Van Loan ‘For the Pictures’ in Taking the Count 324: If he makes any funny cracks at me, I’ll just poke him one for luck.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 321: I pokes him one before he has time to pull a gun an overboard he goes.
[UK](con. WW1) P. MacDonald Patrol 44: ‘Fatty got up and came at me again. I [...] poked him hard in the guts’.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 387: He gets drunk all the time and then picks out the biggest cop or dick he can find and pokes him.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 55: Poke, to hit a person.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 6: I guess it’s always a mistake to interfere with a drunk. Even if he knows and likes you he is always liable to haul off and poke you in the teeth.
[UK]R. Rendell Best Man To Die (1981) 9: If anyone had hinted such Jack would have poked him on the nose.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 30: I just poked him in the snoot.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 131: Sugar, he poked her with them guns!
[UK]Guardian Friday Rev. 11 June 15: What do you do, poke ’em in the eye?

3. (US) to drive fast.

[US] in P.R. Runkel Law Unto Themselves 113: Q. How long does it take you to drive from here? A. About two hours. If I poke, maybe two hours.

In derivatives

pokeable (adj.)

sexually appealing/available.

[UK]J. Braine Waiting for Sheila (1977) 101: If there’s a pokeable woman around it grows to a respectable length of six inches.

In compounds

poke-hole (n.) (also poking-hole)

the vagina.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 904/1: C.19–20.
Markelle ‘Muffy’s World of Vagina Euphemisms’ at Starma.com [Internet] pocketbook / poke hole.
poking-stick (n.) [double entendre; a SE poking stick was used to iron a ruff]

the penis.

T. Morley First book of Airs in Wardroper (1969) 162: I have other dainty tricks / Sleek stones and poking sticks.
[UK]Shakespeare Winter’s Tale IV iii: For my lads to give their dears; Pins and poking sticks of steel; What maids lack from head to heel.

In phrases

you don’t look at the mantelpiece when you’re poking the fire (also you don’t look in the mirror when you’re poking the grate)

a phr. meaning that a woman’s looks are irrelevant if she’s sexually available.

[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 18: Oh well, you don’t look at the mantelpiece when you stoke the fire.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 125: ‘You couldn’t say she was much of a cop.’ [...] ‘When you’re stoking the fire, you don’t look at the mantel-piece’.
[UK] Macc Lads ‘Nagasaki Sauce’ [lyrics] You don’t look in the mirror when you’re poking the grate.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 50: Never mind the mantelpiece when your pokin the fire, that’s my motto.
[Aus]P. Carey Theft 238: They say you do not look at the mantelpiece when you are poking the fire so I poked her.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

In phrases

poke (along) (v.) (also poke about)

to walk slowly; to do anything slowly.

[US]T. Haliburton Letter-bag of the Great Western (1873) 33: We have been accused of ‘poking’ our way across the Atlantic, I don’t know how that applies to us, for we kept a ‘straight course,’ ran like the devil, and cleared ‘all the bars’.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England II 89: I was a pokin’ along the road from Halifax to Windsor.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Little Mr. Bouncer 117: I’ll make myself happy, and poke about, and have a look over the premises.
[UK]H. Macilwaine Dinkinbar 32: The pokin’ and the pokin’ along day in and day out as if a man didn’t care if he grew old and died on the road.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Flag of Their Country’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 205: He came down to lunch with the Head. I found him pokin’ about the place on his own hook afterwards.
[US]L. Pound ‘Dialect Speech in Nebraska’ in DN III:i 64: poke, v. Go slowly. ‘He poked along.’.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘His Masterpiece’ in Three Elephant Power 124: You know how a one-eyed beast always keeps movin’ away from the mob, pokin’ away out to the edge of them so as they won’t git on his blind side.
[Aus]J. Dingwall Sun. Too Far Away 52: I’m no champion. I just poke along.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]N. Stephenson Snow Crash (1993) 8: The retards and the bimbo boxes poke along, random, indecisive.
poke-in-the-arse (adj.)

(N.Z.) backward, insignificant.

[NZ]R. Morrieson Pallet on the Floor 75: The old Marshal’ll run around in circles. Murder in this poke-in-the-arse burg.
poke up (v.)

to look up.

[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 5: We poke up and see a whopper nigger eating plum pudding.