Green’s Dictionary of Slang

show n.

1. [early 18C+] (orig. US) a matter, an event, an affair, e.g. good show, poor show, the whole show.

2. [mid-19C] (UK Und.) a facial expression.

3. [mid-19C+] (Aus./US) a chance, an opportunity, e.g. give him a show, give him a chance.

4. [late 19C-1910s] a home.

5. [late 19C+] (orig. milit.) a fight, usu. in milit. context: a battle, a military engagement, a war.

6. [late 19C-1910s] (Aus.) a lit. or fig. business.

7. [1920s–30s] (UK Und.) any form of crime.

8. a place targeted for burglary.

9. see holy show n.

In phrases

give the show away (v.) (also give away the show, give someone’s show away)

[mid-19C+] to betray a secret, to reveal one’s or another’s plans.

no show (also no show and fisho)

[late 19C; 1960s+] (US/Aus.) no hope of success.

put on show (v.)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) to humiliate in public.

run the show (v.)

[late 19C+] to take charge, to direct operations or activities.

sling the show (v.)

[1910s] (Aus.) to leave a place; to abandon a situation.

stand a show (v.)

[mid-19C+] (Aus./US) have a chance.

In exclamations

over goes the show!

[late 19C–1900s] an excl. of dismay when faced by a sudden disaster.

SE in slang uses

In compounds


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

showdog (n.)

see separate entry.

showhouse (n.)

see separate entry.

show pony (n.) [SE show pony, one that looks good in shows but may be less useful in practical life]

[1940s+] (Aus.) one who cares more for appearance than performance.

show stopper (n.)

1. [1950s+] (camp gay) a particularly attractive young man.

2. [1980s+] a very attractive woman.


see separate entries.

show tunes (n.) [SE show tunes, the songs performed in a musical]

[1970s] (US gay) noises made during intercourse or fellatio.