Green’s Dictionary of Slang

real adj.

used by a succession of teen generations as an all-embracing term of approbation.

[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 107: That’s one hell of a real fellow.
[US]S. Allen Bop Fables 37: I’ve fixed up a real wild basket of ribs and a bottle of juice.
[UK]S. Selvon Ways of Sunlight 185: My girl is very real. She hated the city, I don’t know why.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 122: ‘I really dig that little chick. I really do. She’s the greatest in my charts.’ ‘Yes, she’s real.’.
[US]Current Sl. V:4 18: Real, adj. Great, enjoyable, incomparable.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 89: I wanna get hooked up with what’s real.
[US]L. Pettiway Workin’ It 112: Karen was down to earth. Plain and simple. She was real!
[UK]Guardian Editor 28 Jan. 10: That type of thinking, where black people equate being down, being real, and being black with just being stupid.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 5: real – honest, authentic: They like Miranda because she’s real.

In phrases

for real

see separate entries.

get real (v.)

(orig. US) to face facts, to abandon one’s unreal fantasies.

[US]Current Sl. III–IV (Cumulation Issue).
[US]Maledicta III:2 222: He is a dizzy queen who doesn’t know when to quit (how to live or when to die) and won’t get real (face facts).
[US]Ice-T ‘Radio Suckers’ [lyrics] You better get real, come on.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 129: They think that they can drag Bruce Robertson down? [...] Get fuckin real you sad cunts!
[UK]Indep. Rev. 17 Mar. 14: Let’s get real here.
keep it real (v.) (also keep one’s shit real)

to maintain one’s honesty, to stick to one’s roots.

[US]A. Heckerling Clueless [film script] (Scene changes to the bathroom, where Murray is getting his head shaved) dionne: What have you done! Oh, my God! Uh! Why did you do this to your head?! murray: Because I’m keeping it real. Because I’m keeping it real.
[US]J. Ridley Everybody Smokes in Hell 36: They were keepin’ their shit real, that’s what they’d tell you.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 6: I wouldn’t be using poncey words like attain an authenticity, innit. I’d be sayin I couldn’t keep it real or someshit.
[SA]Sun. Indep. (S.Afr.) Culture 27 Jan. 11: The movie becomes obsessed with the theme of ‘keeping it real’.
[UK]S. Kelman Pigeon English 39: Keep it real, Ghana.
[UK]Observer 13 Apr. 17/4: His Twitter handle [...] seems to sum up his mission: keeping it real.
keep-it-real (adj.) [prev.]

honest, dedicated to one’s roots.

[US]Source Nov. 144: A lot of these hardcore, keep-it-real niggas might think it’s commercial.

In exclamations

get real! (also be real!)

(US campus) an admonition to be serious, act maturely.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 96: get real (exclam) stop playing dumb.
[US]R. Price Breaks 256: Here he was telling me to hit the road at sixteen. I mean, get fucking real!
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 32: John, are you going fishing this weekend? — Be real, Smitty, I have to study for a test.
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 18: Get real. I’d rather die than vote for a black man.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 230: ‘Y’all niggers going to vote for me?’ [...] ‘Get real, dog. I’m from the projects, dog. That vote shit ain’t for niggers like me.’.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 164: Give me a break! Get real!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

real... (n.)

see also under relevant n.

real A.V. (n.) [ante-Volstead Act]

(US) pre-Prohibition liquor, thus ‘pure’ liquor.

[US]L. Axley ‘“Drunk” Again’ in AS IV:6 440: Some names for intoxicants of various grades and potencies are: real A.V.
real deal

see separate entries.

real McCoy, the (n.)

see separate entry.

real Maginnis (n.) [Maginnis whisky]

(Aus.) the genuine article, the ‘real thing’.

[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘The Boss of the Admiral Lynch’ in Man from Snowy River (1902) 124: I tell you those old hidalgos so stately and so polite, / They turn out the real Maginnis when it comes to an uphill fight.
real man (n.)

1. (US prison) a prisoner well respected by his peers.

Bloch & Geis Man, Crime and Society 516: The real man is the prisoner who ‘pulls his own time’ in the phrasing of the inmate population.
L. Bowker Prisoner Subcultures 14: The ‘real man’ never gives in to the administration.
R. Sparks et al. Prisons and the Problem of Order 39: The ‘inmate code’ which elevates the values of the ‘real man’ into a set of nostrums (do your own time, don’t grass or ‘squeal’, show reserved disdain for the guards) [note] The ‘real man’ [...] displays fortitude and manly self-restraint.

2. (US campus) a macho male.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 4: real-man – stud, macho-man.
real pietro (n.) [? play on stone adv.]

(US) an absolute certainty.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 16: Here you are, John Henry, the real Pietro! [...] play Pump Handle straight and place!
real thing

see separate entries.

real-time (adj.) [SE real time, the actual time during which a process or event occurs; i.e. nothing has been faked or otherwise altered]

(US black) honest, candid.

[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 78: Maybe I just waitin to hear you say it in that real-time way you got.