Green’s Dictionary of Slang

trade n.

1. (also trading) prostitution, sexual intercourse.

[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1923) 39: Why Lawrence, the Gally would be moord and the blewe Boore so leane, that he would not be mans meate, if we of the Trade were not to supply his wants.
[UK]G. Wilkins Miseries of an Enforced Marriage Act III: In troth, sister, we two to beg in the fields, / And you to betake yourself of the old trade, / Filling of small cans in the suburbs.
[UK]J. Harington Epigrams (1930) No. 368 : I have vsd some traffique in the trade [...] My bark was sometimes steerd with forren ore.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 22 25 Oct.–1 Nov. 187: Of Sodom Ladies, and their Trades.
[UK]New Brawle 10: But your honest house, and trade too, grew quickly too hott for you.
Wandring whores complaint 4: Trading is so dead, that a Womans ware is hardly worth the whistling after.
[UK]J. Lacey Sauny the Scot III i: These damn’d French-Men have got all the Trade in Town; if they get up all the handsom Women, the English must e’en march into Wales for Mistresses.
[UK]Night-Walkers Declaration 8: An Embargo is laid on publick Trade.
[UK]Whipping Tom – Brought to Light 2: He meeting with a demure Crack or Miss of the Town [...] so swinged her Tail, that ’tis thought, she will not be capable of her Trade for some considerable time.
[UK]Farquhar Love and a Bottle IV ii: ’Sdeath! what a Coney-burrough’s here! The Trade goes swimmingly on. This is the great Empory of Lewdness.
[UK]Answer to the Fifteen Comforts of Whoring 7: But now good lack-a-day our Trade’s so bad [...] Our common Whores can scarce their Livings get.
[UK]J. Dunton ‘The He-Strumpets’ Athenianism – Project IV 94: [of gay men] Ye Jilts! ’tis prov’d, and must be said, Your Tails are grown to lewd and bad, That now Mens Tails have all the Trade.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy VI 319: When we’re old and decay’d, / We procure for the Trade.
[UK]Cibber Harlot’s Progress 10: Begone, you saucy Jade [...] Follow the Drury Trade.
[UK]Machine 3: Goddess supreme! Protectress of the Trade!
[UK] ‘Doctor A--- Advice to his Patients’ Button Hole Garland 4: These common Jades, that make a Trade, / In humouring every lustful Blade.
[UK]John F---g Epistle of a Reformed Rake 30: To prevent the Trade being distrest by Sharpers, or what are generally understood by the Technical-name of Bilks.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘A Lesson of Love’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 245: Ye Busy in traffick [...] Can estimate justly all worth – but your Wives; / While th’ Interests of Trade you so anxious improve / You neglect their demands and are bankrupts to Love.
[Scot] ‘Mrs alias Lady, Agnew’ Ranger’s Impartial List of the Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh n.p.: This drunken bundle of iniquity, is about 50 years of age, lusty and tall, and she has followed the old trade since she was about 13.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 48: Miss N—b [...] has not been in trade more than a twelvemonth.
[Ire]‘Shale’s Rambles’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng. in 18C Ireland (1998) 504: So now you maids that love the trade, and now has took the notion, / Apply to me, we’ll soon agree, I’ll put your loom in motion.
[Ire]Spirit of Irish Wit 111: A humped back nobleman [...] told Peg [Plunket, a well-known bawd] it was surprsing that ‘so ugly a B— [...] ever thought of taking up her trade’.
[UK]‘Parody on ‘The Maid of Judah’’ in Fanny Hill’s New Friskey Chanterr in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 339: This was the chaunt of a girl in full trade, / [...] / ’Twas a very long time since she’d been a maid.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 8 Jan. n.p.: ‘The Procuress’ [...] Lor, Whip, why what a fuss you make / About our trade’s great impropriety.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 30: ‘High yallers’ were scarce there. Except for such sweetmen that lived off the low-down dark trade.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 328: When three shrill, bepainted women climbed into Tommy’s cab one night, he took one genial glance at them and said: ‘How’s trade?’.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 40: When the FBI took over the enforcement of laws against white slavery in interstate commerce, the trade, for all practical purposes, was smashed.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society 90: I did some trade on the side with his type.
[Aus]‘Geoffrey Tolhurst’ Flat 4 King’s Cross (1966) 86: ‘Carla,’ she said, as though tasting it. ‘That’s real fancy. Unusual, too. Should be a good name in the trade’.
C. Sellers Where Have All the Soldiers Gone 156: ‘My old lady was a whore and my two older sisters took up the trade’.
[US](con. 1870s) J. Weeks ‘Inverts, Perverts, & Mary-Annes’ in Journal Homosexuality (1980/81) VI Fall/Winter 120: By the 1870s, any sort of homosexual transaction, whether or not money was involved, was described as ‘trade.’.

2. a prostitute’s client.

D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 30 May. 16: He’s [i.e. a white client of black prostitutes] just a piece of cheap trade himself.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 6 Nov. [synd. col.] This goes for those who bring ‘prospects’ or known ‘trade’ from Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island and in particular Mississippi, Georgia [etc].
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 40: They take their trade to flea-bag hotels.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 192: All her johns and trade were the same. They were all some kind of big shot.
[US]Winick & Kinsie Lively Commerce 41: Prostitutes call their clients ‘johns,’ ‘suckers,’ or trade.’.

3. (gay) a man with whom one has (commercial) sex, a male prostitute; a male prostitute’s customer; thus piece of trade under piece n.

[US] Transcript Foster Inq. L.R. Murphy Perverts by Official Order (1989) 42: Feiselman [...] accused him of frequently ‘calling for trade’ in the Y.M.C.A. lobby.
[US]M. West Drag (1997) Act II: Of course, I don’t go flouncing my hips up and down Broadway picking up trade or with a sign on my back advertising it.
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 16: trade: General term for one who wants to be ‘blown’ without reciprocating, and with no commercial implication per se. Divides into subordinate classes, such as gay trade, rough trade, commercial trade and possibly also dirt.
[UK]J. Gielgud letter June in Mangan John Gielgud’s Letters (2004) 233: Gorgeous Italian boys, gents and trade alternately.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 100: As long as the hustler goes only with queens [...] he is himself not considered ‘queer’ — he remains, in the vocabulary of that world, ‘trade.’.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 199: trade passive activist; nonreciprocal sex partner, usually straight.
[UK]Flame : a Life on the Game 67: We ended up having trade. [Ibid.] 111: ‘If you want any trade,’ he said, ‘there’s always the Garden.’.
[US]R. Shell Iced 196: ‘Trade’ is a gay term for somebody who is willing to engage in sexual encounters with gay people.
[US](con. 1950s) E. White My Lives 108: ‘Trade’ – men who could be ‘serviced’ though of course they’d never reciprocate since they were real men.
[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 71: In New Zealand there have been many terms for a young male street worker. These include school bag, street solicitor, merchandise, Kleenex, commercial, trade, street trick, and Illegal Tegel.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 105: ‘Is that some bona fresh trade I can vada?’.

4. one who works as a prostitute.

[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 31: You’re just a piece of trade.

In compounds

trade curtain (n.)

(N.Z. gay) the door of a public lavatory cubicle.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 64: In the carsey (toilet), a cubicle door was called a trade curtain.

In phrases

do for trade (v.)

(gay) to perform fellatio without reciprocation; note gay trade under gay adj.

Ford & Tyler Young and Evil 157: Picked me up on Eighth Avenue and did me for trade in Christopher Street [GS].
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 8: do for trade: To do without reciprocation.
F.J. Oliven Sexual Hyg. and Pathol. 443: A homosexual can be done (or blown) for trade, i.e., he does not reciprocate [GS].
‘J. Coriolan’ Sand Fortress (1976) 126: If he wanted to be screwed long and hard, that’s what he got; and if he wanted to do me for trade, he got a big succulent clean dick to swing on and a full load of spunk [GS].
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]K. Vacha Quiet Fire 172: That night the captain and I got drunk and I did him for trade [GS].
take it out in trade (v.)

(Can./US) to have sexual intercourse as the ‘price’ of taking a woman out.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 233: take it out in trade To copulate.