Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jag n.1

[dial. jag, as much liquor as one can hold, a ‘load’. Note S.F. Alta 4 Aug. 1889 [title] What a Jag Is: ‘An inquirer asks us the meaning of ‘Jag’ applied to inebriety. It is a new slang. In the rural districts the cargo of a wagon that is hauling wood, when [holding] all that the wagon can carry, is called a ‘load.’ When it is less than up to the full capacity it is called a ‘Jag.’ Therefore when a man is less than dead drunk he has not a load on but merely a Jag’]

1. a drunken spree; also attrib.; thus get a jag on ; on a jag

[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 87: Proverbiall Periphrases of one drunk. He’s disguised [...] He has a jagg or load.
[US]St Paul Daily Globe (MN) 20 Mar. 13/1: Ethics of the Jag — Variety of Information concerning Drinks and Drinking.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 280: What can they do when they find a bloke paradin’ the streets with a jag on?
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley’s Opinions 192: The jag is over. Manny a man that looked like a powdher pigeon a month ago looks like a hunchback today.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 24 July 1/1: The boss and his under-strapper [...] wearying of the monotony of work [...] slip out occasionally for a joysome jag.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Johnson’s Jag’ in Roderick (1972) 796: And so the thing would be repeated to the end of Johnson’s Jag.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 75: A friend who is sleeping off the effects of what low people call a jag.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 207: Proud to feel that any drink from my cellars could have produced such a majestic jag.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 273: Some poor mutt of a cabbie, his tongue still burdened by a dying jag.
[NZ]G. Meek ‘Wool, Wether And Wine’ Station Days in Maoriland 75: And this shearer’s roll and six quid as well [...] Went over the ‘crow’ at the bush hotel for a riotous non-stop jag.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 33: Had to pack the chow down to come off a jag.
[US]S. King Tommyknockers (1989) 100: Jag-drinkers frequently come off their binges deeply depressed.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 7: He is on one of his drinking jags when the movie is released.

2. a drunkard.

Indianapolis Jrnl 25 May 15/2: He grabs hold of a tar whom he spots [...] as a ‘jag’.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew’ in From First to Last (1954) 76: The screw brought in a jag — a laughing jag — a guy with his snoot full of booze and who laughed like he’d just found a lot of money.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 179: ‘Six cheers for the Scandanavians,’ whooped a jag.
[US]M. Prenner ‘Drunk in Sl.’ in AS XVI:1 Jan. 70/2: drunken person [...] jag.

3. (also jag juice) a drink.

[US]Daily Public Ledger (Maysville, KY) 24 Feb. 1/4: Conrad Camer [...] is under arrest for selling jag juice without uncle Sam’s permission.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 101: ‘Package? What’s that?’ ‘W’y, a load, a jag!’.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 59: Chi is Jack, you know, an’ jumps from jag to jag like a shammywah.
[US]Ariz. Republican (Phoenix, AZ) 22 May 5/4: Assimilating jag-juice from Alkali Ike’s own private bottle.
[US]G.E. Griffin ‘O’Reilly’ Ballads of the Regiment 69: He drank up all the ‘jag juice’ that the whisky man would sell.
Agric. Jrnl 4-5 314: [headline] Jag Juice from Frozen Apples Contains Most Alcohol.
Orgden Standard (UT) 19 Jan. 6/5: [headline] Caught With Bottles of Jag Juice Police Say.
[UK]B. McGhee Cut and Run (1963) 95: ‘Could ye go a jag?’ he asked [...] ‘C’mon inty the lavvy. Ah’ve a boattle of “scud” here.’.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 65: Gus likes a good jag when he’s clocked off.

4. attrib. use of sense 3.

[US]St Paul Globe (MN) 13 Feb. 21/6: It is but an easy task for the old toper [...] to get aboard what has been dubbed the ‘jag wagon’ [...he] landed safely at the door of a palatial beer jjoint.
[US]Van Loan ‘The Spotted Sheep’ in Taking the Count 94: Give him that front room [...] the one I had the last time I took the jag cure.

5. (drugs) the consumption of a drug, usu. defined by the drug in question; occas. used of other substances, see cite 1915.

[US]C.W. Gardner Doctor and the Devil 39: A Chinaman [...] was freely getting his opium ‘jag’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Ah Dam’ in Roderick (1972) 798: He told me his opium jag was costing him five shillings a day, and seven-and-six a night.
Wasington Herald (DC) 23 May n.p.: [headline] Inspiring an Actress to Act by Giving Her a Perfume ‘Jag’.
[US]V.G. Burns Female Convict (1960) 131: She was really all lit up with a fine dope-jag.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 120: One cigarette, if smoked by those who know the way, will give a thorough ‘muggles jag’ to at least three persons for an entire night.
[US]C. Himes ‘Marihuana and a Pistol’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 372: A marihuana jag is a condition of the mind that rapidly and continually changes while each stage through which it passes contains only the present.
[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 114: We also found the Pumpkin Pie Kid [...] getting over a marijuana jag.
[US]K. Kolb Getting Straight 143: The Messiah bit is wearing thin [...] All you had was an acid jag!
[US]N.Y. Times Mag. 29 Oct. 27: At the end of the Methedrine jag, when she crashes, she will know.
[US]K. Burkhart Women in Prison 447: Jag A drug habit.
[US]D.E. Miller Bk of Jargon 342: jag: An extended drug experience; the equivalent of a trip with reference to drugs other than hallucinogens or marijuana; may particularly refer to cocaine and amphetamine experiences.

6. the experience of taking a specific drug.

[US](con. 1918) L. Nason Top Kick 25: You got another one o’ your coke jags.
Denver Post 2 Aug. n.p.: Police in Pueblo, Colo. and several other cities in the West and Midwest report that juveniles seeking a quick bang and a mild jag spread liquid glue on the palms of their hands, then cup their hands over their mouth and nose and inhale deeply.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 30: No kicks or jag or nothing.

7. in fig. uses.

(a) (US) a period of indulgence, a fit, a spree of any kind.

[US]W. De Vere ‘Jim Marshall’s New Pianner’ Tramp Poems 8: We turned out to celebrate its advent, with a jag on.
[US]P.G. McLean ‘A Long Shot’ Variety Stage Eng. Plays [Internet] I’ve got a hunk of those stunts that would give your mind a jag of languicity.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 153: Chiggers an’ me goes on a [sic] ice-cream jag an’ a cigarette festival.
[US]Eddie Cantor ‘Dixie Made Us Jazz Band Mad’ [lyrics] Dixie filled the whole wide world with rag; / Oh! Dixie gave the world a jazzy jag.
[US]Graham & Graham Queer People 244: Blynn was on a fighting jag and pulled a gun.
[US]E.R. Burroughs ‘Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw’ in Goodstone Pulps (1970) 7/1: He crammed me full of [...] whiskey and I went on a signing jag.
[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 82: People who spend their money for second-hand sex jags are as nervous as dowagers who can’t find the rest-room.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 181: It was like waiting for the accentuated beat of your heart when you’re on a reefer jag.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 824: He went on a reading jag.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 26 Aug. in Proud Highway (1997) 584: Right now I am in the middle of one of the biggest writing jags of my life.
[US]N. von Hoffman We are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against 272: Everyone got on the therapy jag sooner or later.
[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 33: We could make weekend jags up there once in a while.
[US](con. 1968) D.A. Dye Citadel (1989) 145: Regular fucking laughing jag.
[US]S. King It (1987) 862: During a rainy spell [...] the seven of them would go on a mad Parcheesi jag.
[UK]Observer Rev. 11 July 3: As far as reading goes, I’m having a Balzac jag.

(b) (orig. US) a breakdown, an emotional collapse; often as crying jag, lengthy and profound sobbing.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 209: Pop allus gits a cryin’ jag after four drinks.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 119: ‘Aw, it’s only one of his cryin’ jags,’ Mary said.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 15: When authors starts in on that subject it ain’t very long till they’ve got a weeping jag.
[UK]P. Marks Plastic Age 254: A girl got a ‘laughing jag’ and shrieked with idiotic laughter until her partner managed to lead her protesting off the floor.
[US]D. Parker ‘Big Blonde’ in Penguin Dorothy Parker (1982) 199: There was Mrs. Florence Miller who got regular crying jags, and the men sought only to cheer and comfort her.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 283: He’s got a crying jag on all the time.
[US]S. Longstreet Decade 309: Oh, dear, even ginger ale gives me a crying jag.
[US]LaGuardia Committee Report on Marihuana [Internet] A feeling of contentment seemed to pervade, and when one man suddenly got a ‘laughing jag’ they were annoyed at the interruption.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 77: I felt a real laughing jag coming on. [Ibid.] 159: Tears of self-pity poured into my whiskey. I couldn’t control my crying jag.
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 154: It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 16: She went on a crying jag for days.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 25: He soon came to hate his partner for his drunken crying jags at choir practice.
[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 63: You were literally High On War, like it said on all the helmet covers. Coming off a jag like that could really make a mess out of you.
[US]Jackson & Christian Death Row 171: Man, I got there and got on a coughing jag.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 17: Wing ended poor old Cal Greenberg’s imminent crying jag by pouring him a double.
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 223: Half a chance of easing my young sweetheart through her crying jag.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 326: Word came down the line that the weeping Madonna was between jags.
[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 45: I sucked at the air, triggering a coughing jag.

8. a hangover.

[US]Day Book (Chicago) 31 Mar. 5/2: Mayor George harris [...] made his weekly visit to Hastings Saturday night and came back with his ususal Saturday evening jag.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 8: A jag that woulda lasted any ordinary guy for about three years.

9. a drugs party.

[US]Q. Reynolds Police Headquarters (1956) 273: He led them to an apartment where a ‘jag’ (narcotics party) was being held.

10. a trance.

[US]Mad mag. Aug. 8: How many times have I told you not to interrupt my hypnotic jags!

11. the act of injecting oneself with a narcotic drug.

[UK]S. McConville ‘Prison Language’ in Michaels & Ricks (1980) 526: Injection may be described as [...] a jag.

In derivatives

jaggy (adj.)

tipsy, drunk.

Herald (Los Angeles) 24 Dec. 6/2: [cartoon caption] A Plain Tale of ‘Dago Red’ — [...] Carosa Imbibeth of Ye Shining Bottle and Getteth Jaggy.
Lone Hand (Sydney) Sept. 533/2: Certainly, there is a ‘jaggy’ atmosphere in all the white men’s quarters. Yet it is not so much the drinking you see, as the drinking you hear about.

In compounds

jag juice (n.)

see sense 3 above.

jag line (n.)

a police line-up of those arrested as ‘drunk and disorderly’.

[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe on the Job 68: You see ’em [i.e. cloaks] on women panhandlers, on the old hags that camp on park benches, and in the jag line at police courts.
jag parlor (n.)

a bar, a saloon.

[US]Arizona Dly Star (Tucson, AZ) 22 Sept. 4/1: Two mexicans [...] were up yesterday [...] to answer to the charge of drunkenness, and not being able to prove an alibi, were given five days each in the jag parlors of the city bastile.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 225: I never let ’em put my name over the door of any Broadway jag parlor.
[US]York Dly (PA) 23 Aug. 1/1: [He] doesn’t make as much trouble for the cops as the guy who gets pickled in a jag parlor.
jag snakes (n.)

(US) hallucinations from delirium tremens.

[US]St Paul Daily Globe (MN) 18 Nov. 7/5: ‘Jag’ Snakes [...] The next time you see snakes after a three days’ celebration console yourself that they are all in your eye.
[US] in J. Robinson Comics (1974) 161: A fine collection of jag snakes – come see em – den quit [HDAS].

In phrases

get a jag on (v.) (also have a jag on)

to get drunk, to be drunk.

[US]Abilene Reflector (KS) 19 May 7/3: Gentlemen never acknowledge to being drunk. It is a ‘still’ or a ‘jag’ they have on.
[UK]Hants. Teleg. 7 Feb. 9/4: I saw when you came in that you had a tremendous jag on.
[US]St Paul Daily Globe (MN) 18 Nov. 7/5: A big miner witha corn-juice jag on refused to subside.
[US]H. Blossom Checkers 50: Did you ever get a jag on sherry? Well [...] it gives you a ‘beaut.’.
[US]Goodwin’s Wkly (UT) 16 Dec. 25/3: Fill, fill up the flagon. / don’t mind a good jag on.
[US] ‘Word-List From West Brattleboro’ in DN III:vi 454: jag, n. [...] (2) Too much whisky. ‘He had a jag on.’.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 22 Jan. 12/8: One law it are for the wealthy- / Tother’s for the common push / As must never get a jag on— / As gets fined if they do lush.
Popular Mechanics Mar. 404/2: So then they took our hero up and got a mighty flagon / And Scaldy Bill with right good will set out to get a jag on.
Telegraph Workers Jrnl 19-21 299/1: Charlie made a trip to Atlantic City and discovered a new way to get a jag on without the ‘hooch’.
[US]J. Mitchell ‘Professor Sea Gull’ in Joe Gould’s Secret (1996) 21: I can walk up and down in front of a gin mill for ten minutes, breathing real deep, and get a jag on.
[UK]A. Petry Narrows 66: After you drank enough beer you would get a jag on and if you got a jag on you could convince yourself you packed a punch like Old Man Louis.
[US](con. 1911) J. Monaghan Schoolboy, Cowboy, Mexican Spy 182: Every nation in creation, / Gets a jag on but the Jews.
A. Saxton Great Midland 311: ‘Then I’m going to get a jag on tonight.’ As she held her glass up between her fingers, her hand shook slightly, but the whiskey did not spill.
get the jags (v.)

to get depressed.

[Aus]L.M. Palmer-Archer Bush Honeymoon 169: I got the jag last week – couldn’t suffer the old man.
on a jag

1. on a drunken spree.

[US]Railway Carmen’s Jrnl 214/1: If a man wishes to ‘get on a jag’ he will be accommodated at the rate of 15 cents per drink.
[UK]N. Gould On and Off the Turf in Australia 203: As the Americans would put it, he ‘went on a jag.’ Sullivan cleared bars and smashed things generally.
[UK]Punch 21 Feb. 144/1: ‘On a “jag”. It is a technical term for the – the momentary obliviousness induced by too much whisky,’ solemnly explained the girl.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Aug. 22/4: Jovial Party (who is on a jag): ‘No; you ’ave one with me.’.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 18 Aug. 8/3: The young man referred to as having been on a ‘jag,’ was, to put it simply ‘molo,’ ‘sozzled,’ or ‘"inked up to the eyes’.
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 49: For years he had been content with the station ration of rum, but an internal fire now sent him on a jag of weeks.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 151: Young Tolly Sampson gives me two quid, see, and says to keep the mob away from him ’cause he wants to get a bit of sleep. He’s been up all night on a jag.
[UK]P. Boyle All Looks Yellow to the Jaundiced Eye 133: ‘Oh-ho! So you were on a jag?’ Julian chuckled.
[US]C. Whirehead John Henry Days 29: ‘Nah, I'm just on a jag.’ ‘Really? How long have you been on this so-called jag, J.?’.

2. (orig. US) elated.

[US]H. Robbins Stone for Danny Fisher 187: Champion! I was as high as a kite. [...] I was on a jag, walking on air.