1. (orig. US) a matter, an event, an affair, e.g. good show, poor show, the whole show.
|Newcastle Courant 20 Jan. 2/2: The Carolina packet [...] arrived here from London [is] making a good Show by the Help of her Passengers.|
|Coquette 138: Well, Charles, the show is over, as we yankees say; and the girl is my own.|
|Bradford Obs. 25 Sept. 7/4: But should young wife / Gaze on the bloody show — / While cracking shot and gashing knife / Ply fiece and fast below?|
|Before the Mast (1989) 43: When you get back make a ‘bloody show’ of these fellows.diary 2 June in Gosnell|
|Holmes Co. Republican (OH) 15 May 1/6: ‘Boys [...] this is a mighty poor show’.|
|‘’Arry on the Elections’ Punch 12 Dec. 277/2: Make him boss of the Show, and by Jingo, he’ll show the old Jokers some fun.|
|‘’Arry in Switzerland’ Punch 5 Dec. in (2006) 98: The Bullanger boom was a fizzle. They say he’s mopped out; I dunnow. / But it wouldn’t surprise me, my pippin, to see him yet bossing the show.|
|Mord Em’ly 72: Settle it yourself [...] It’s your show.|
|Boy’s Own Paper 18 May 513: ‘Queer show, eh?’ said Reggie.|
|N.Y. Eve. Journal 11 Dec. in Unforgettable Season (1981) 6: He is the whole Swiss cheese at this meeting [...] the whole show.|
|Gentleman of Leisure Ch. xi: When my Aunt Julia married Sir Thomas, the whole frightful show was pretty well in pawn.|
|Truth (Perth) 1 Oct. 4/7: If he’s badly ‘narked’ at that, / You may know, / That the ‘bally koshermen / Queered the show’.|
|Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 7: He is the one big brain in the whole show, and he happens to be an honest man.|
|Bulldog Drummond 50: Go to bed, little girl [...] this is my show.|
|(con. 1916) Her Privates We (1986) 3: You were in the last show, weren’t you.|
|Star Trib. (Minneapolis MN) 3 May 16/3: No conversation between loggers could go on very long without the use of the word ‘show’. A haywire show or a bum show is a place where logging is difficult.|
|(con. 1919) USA (1966) 639: It’s not every day you get a chance to see a show like this.Nineteen Nineteen in|
|High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 334: Big Mac was the boss and this was his show.|
|Capt. Bulldog Drummond 245: He’d be up here faster than lightning, and I couldn’t keep him out of the show.|
|Augie March (1996) 191: Anyway, it was Padilla’s show.|
|Sel. Letters (1992) 299: A chap here has been picked up for passing a note in a male bog on York station – pretty poor show, what?letter 2 Feb. in Thwaite|
|He who Shoots Last 49: Don’t gimme dat. Youse ain’t leavin’ me outa dis bloody show.|
|(con. 1940s) Loner 133: We never have anything to read, which I reckon is a bloody poor show.|
|Fixx 198: It was a damned good show all round.|
|Curvy Lovebox 122: He’s star of the whole show. He’s top banana.|
|Guardian 14 July 18: No need for language, Peter. Poor show.|
2. (UK Und.) a facial expression.
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 18/2: In about half an hour he came back with a ‘show’ on his ‘mug’ that he thought all could be made right.|
3. (Aus./US) a chance, an opportunity, e.g. give him a show, give him a chance.
|Burlington Hawk-Eeye (IA) 23 Aug. 2/6: They will, of course, give him a fair show.|
|Mississippi Free Trader (Natchez, MS) 14 July 2/7: Every democrat was willing to give him a fair show, and none were disposed to prejudice his chance.|
|Calif. Police Gazette 17 Apr. 1/4: All we’ve got to do now is keep shady, and if we stick to each other like men we’ll find a show some day to make the riffle.|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 30/2: It was rather ‘hot’ and did not give much show of a chance for present ‘graft’.|
|Travel and Adventure in Alaska 309: Many of the common expressions are taken from mining operations and experiences. [...] ‘Show,’ or ‘color,’ from the indications of gold in gravel or sand, are words used in various shapes. ‘I have not a show,’ means I have no chance.|
|Luck of Roaring Camp (1873) 96: But come, what do you say to a little game? Give us a show to double this hundred.|
|Wanderings of a Vagabond 275: He shook his clenched fist at our windows, and muttered between his clenched teeth, ‘If I’d a had a fair show, them’uns couldn’t a whipt one side o’ me’.|
|Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 2 Feb. 3/1: In New York, being a scholar and a gentleman, he hasn’t got the ghost of a show.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Jan. 20/1: [W]e have determined to give the ancient heroes a show, and […] put them on a fair-footing with the more fortunate spirits who managed to hang on to the thread of life until the poetical ghoul of the Nooze was kittened.|
|Robbery Under Arms (1922) 120: We were to be defended, and a lawyer fetched all the way from Sydney [...] so when the judge came up we should have a show for it.|
|‘Stiffner and Jim’ in Roderick (1972) 125: For God’s sake give me a show.|
|Sun (NY) 5 Mar. 25/1: That insidious town [...] always counted me among the also-rans before I had a show to find out where I was at.|
|Sketch (London) 22 Feb. 18: ‘If they gits yer “dial” in the Rogues’ Gallery yer don’ stand no show at all’.|
|Lord Jim 65: You silly fool! Do you think you’ll get the ghost of a show when all that lot of brutes is in the water? Why, they will batter your head for you from these boats.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Dec. 31/2: [S]he chased it all round the yard with the axe, but she didn’t have no show; it was alligator first, rest nowhere.|
|More Ex-Tank Tales 145: You haven’t got a ghost of a show to win the 100-yard sprint.|
|Types From City Streets 36: A bloke ain’t got no show wid a gal if he ain’t good–lookin’.|
|Osteralia ‘The Skiters’ Apr. n.p.: We’re goin to sock the blighters / If we ’arf a show.|
|West Broadway 35: ‘Nobody ever tried to keep me down [...] nor deprive me of a living or a fair show’.|
|‘Gila Monster Route’, in Hobo 195: A poor, old, seedy, half-starved bo / On a hostile pike without a show.|
|Three Hostages in Buchan (1930) 859: People who have led his kind of life have their ordinary self so well managed [...] that the subconscious rarely gets a show.|
|A Man And His Wife (1944) 10: The dog went for me but he never had a show.‘The Making of a New Zealander’ in|
|Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 141: Don’t s’pose you could manage to cash a fifty for us, mate? asked Sam hopelessly. Not a show, mate.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.|
4. a home.
|Hants Teleg. 29 Sept. 11/6: He calls [...] his lodgings his ‘show’.|
|Marvel 17 Nov. 470: It’s the chap who’s been dossing at my show for a week past.|
|Magnet 13 June 15: That’s Solly Abram’s show.|
|Sporting Times 13 Mar. 1/2: He managed to get clear away, not only with the ‘dough’ / But with all the choicest portables of value in the show.‘Lady Friends’|
|Me And Gus (1977) 49: I generally have a tin of golden syrup at my show, if any visitor drops in.‘Vilet Again’ in|
|(con. 1910–20s) Hell’s Kitchen 120: Show ... a place, a house.|
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 102/1: show house.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|
5. (orig. milit.) a fight, usu. in milit. context: a battle, a military engagement, a war.
|Elder Conklin and Other Stories (1895) 154: Samson wouldn’t have a show with a man quick on the draw who meant bizness.‘Eatin’ Crow’ in|
|Barrack-Room Ballads (1893) 199: What was the end of all the show, Johnnie, Johnnie? Ask my Colonel, for I don’t know.‘The Widow’s Party’|
|Greenmantle (1930) 135: I’m not in this show for honour and glory.|
|Look Homeward, Angel (1930) 344: In three days more we’ll be out of the bloody show and back home on leave.|
|Jockeys, Crooks and Kings 126: But when the United States went into the show [...] he accepted a commission.|
|On Broadway 6 June [synd. col.] Bogart Rogers [...] forwards these bits of aviation slang: [...] A battle is a show.|
|Of Love And Hunger 48: If it’s only the war [...] My brother had a damn fine time in the last show. Went out to Egypt [...] Just one long binge-up.|
|intro to ‘The L.O.B. Song’ in Banglestien’s Bar n.p.: They will be available [...] in the event that a unit runs into a very rough show.|
|Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 41: If it came to a show he knew he could hold his own with anybody.|
|Rum, Bum and Concertina (1978) 147: The Captain [...] went booming on about destroyers during ‘the first show’.|
6. (Aus.) a lit. or fig. business.
|Dead Bird (Sydney) 26 Apr. 2/2: ‘Tomorrow will take care of itself right enough but I’m d—d if it’ll keep those blessed bailiffs out of my show ’.|
|Straight Goer (1915) 34: ‘There’s nothing stuck up about him [...] I thought perhaps he’d want to boss the show, but he doesn’t’.|
|Moods of Ginger Mick 40: An’ Jupp, ’oo owns a copper show, an’ arsts us out to dine.‘The Push’ in|
|B.E.F. Times 8 Sept. (2006) 226/1: I ran a little show / Hawkin’ rags and bones at Wigan.|
7. (UK Und.) any form of crime.
|Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 79: I’d like ter do a ‘show’ wen I gits out — free or four thou’ — an’ I’d settle it all on ’er, strike me pink.|
|Crooks of the Und. 241: ‘Doing a show’ is merely another term for committing a burglary.|
8. a place targeted for burglary.
|‘English Und. Sl.’ in Variety 8 Apr. n.p.: Show—Place to burgle.|
9. see holy show n.
to betray a secret, to reveal one’s or another’s plans.
|Era (London) 7 Dec. 17/3: I’m not the man to give away the show, you bet.|
|Worcs Chron. 4 July 5/6: Some of the latter, ‘Truth’ points out, are already beginning to give away the show.|
|£19,000 229: I gave the name of Brown to your boy because I didn't want to give the show away.|
|Marvel 12 Nov. 7: I can tell by their attitude whether your young friend gives the show away.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 22/1: A silly person dubbed him [i.e. a cockerel] once / The Herald of the Day; / Day is my name, and in the morn / He gives my show away.|
|Ulysses 617: In fact, without giving the show away, he himself once upon a time if he cared to, could easily have . . .|
|Eve. Teleg. (Angus, Scot.) 23 Nov. 3/3: Married women who have taken the advantage while their husbands have been in steady employment are afraid some of their neighbours will give the show away.|
|Western Morn. News (Devon) 2 May 2/1: Mr bevan has said quite enough to give the show away.|
(US/Aus.) no hope of success.
|Western Wilds 185: ‘You tell an infernal lie,’ bawled the preacher, and they clinched. Well, of course a thin Boston bran-bread chap had no show agin one o’ our corn-fed men.|
|N.Z. Observer and Free Lance (Auckland) 20 Mar. 23/1: No show in that direction, old boy.|
|Coburg Leader (Vic.) 23 Nov. 4/2: C. W. has no show with L. L. while Packie is about.|
|Punch January 10 33/2: But how was I to know there’d be no show for guava jelly made from sea-weed – pure sea-weed without any adulteration, mind you?|
|Word for Word 235: No show and fisho, I’d say.|
|Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 129: It’s got no show with anyone who’s flogged cars for Harvey Wilson for six years.|
|Lingo 93: NO SHOW, being without hope of success.|
|Drawing Dead [ebook] A no show. Wasn’t the first time [...] won’t be the last.|
(Aus. prison) to humiliate in public.
|Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] On show. Ridicule publicly. As in ‘to put on show’.|
to take charge, to direct operations or activities.
|Cornhill Mag. 72 246: We are gaun to elec’ a commy-tee and run the show.|
|Sporting Times 25 Aug. 1/4: I’ve been out of a crib / For a matter of six years or so; / In fact, since we’ve been married, I’m telling no fib, / I’ve been out of work, that’s why the show / Has been run by the missis with her bit of brass.‘An Ungrateful “Missis”’|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 17/3: Ellen she ses it’s gettin’ on to dark, an’ she sort o’ shies off me. Thet gits my back up – ‘I’m runnin’ this ’ere show,’ ses I; ‘ther boss is in town, an’ I’m off.’.|
|Heart of Darkness 49: A neglected gap was all the gate it had, and the first glance at the place was enough to let you see the flabby devil was running that show.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Dec. 33/2: The highly-sanctified Christian still is running the show on that lovely isle; / While the Pagan hustles and sweats for nil, he smiles on him with a glad kind smile.|
|Adventures of a Boomer Op. 41: Who’s running this show?|
|‘A Woman’s Way’ in Chisholm (1951) 88: ’Ow will they mix together I dunno. / It all depends on ’ow I run the show.|
|Little Men, Big World 188: Who’s running the show?|
|All Bull 85: Nine times out of ten it is the sergeant who runs the show.|
|(con. 1969–70) F.N.G. (1988) 68: The big guys run the show and the ones that run it most are the ones [...] way back in the Rear.|
|Powder 329: Wheezer was running the show, here.|
(Aus.) to leave a place; to abandon a situation.
|Digger Smith 15: First off, young Jim [...] / Narks the ole man a treat, an’ slings the show.‘Before the War’ in|
(Aus./US) have a chance.
|Story of a Bad Boy (2004) 96: The longshoremen gobbled up all the work, an’ a outsider like me didn’t stand a show.|
|Western Avernus (1924) 220: My house is full up now. You might stand a show at the Arizona Hotel.|
|Such is Life 91: Wouldn’t you stand a better show for work on the other side of the river?|
|Black Cat 14/1: I didn’t stand a show. He’s a big guy — twice as big as me an’ strong’s a horse.|
|Once Were Warriors 10: A bookless society didn’t stand a show in this modern world, not a damn show.|
an excl. of dismay when faced by a sudden disaster.
|Marvel 22 Dec. 643: Hallo! Over goes the show!|
SE in slang uses
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(Aus.) one who cares more for appearance than performance.
|(con. 1941) Gunner 160: He was a good bloke, a bit of a show pony but he was always willing.|
|Lex. of Cadet Lang. 342: usage: ‘Robbo thinks he’s a superwad but he’s really just a show pony — no staying power.’.|
|How to Shoot Friends 39: I’d rather be backed up by one hated arsehole who can stick fat than a hundred popular showponies who can’t keep their mouths shut.|
|Chopper 4 210: I’ve always been a bit of a show pony with a flair for the dramatic.|
1. (camp gay) a particularly attractive young man.
|Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 229: Dish can also mean a show-stopper attractive man (the concept of eat = fellate).|
2. a very attractive woman.
|Fixx 170: I was [...] escorting Catherine (now, there was a showstopper).|
|Portable Promised Land (ms.) 156: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Showstopper. Hotstepper. Crumbsnatcher. Rumpshaker.|
see separate entries.
(US gay) noises made during intercourse or fellatio.