Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mug n.1

also mugg
[apparently from the 18C drinking mugs, bearing a grotesque human face; Liberman (2008 164b) notes Scots mudgeon, a grimace]

1. in context of physical features.

(a) (US Und.) the nose.

[UK] ‘Flash Language’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 18: Nose, mugg.

(b) the human face.

[UK]J. Gay Trivia (1716) Bk III 46: Thy ruin’d Nose falls level with thy Face, Then shall thy Wife thy loathsome Kiss disdain, And wholesome Neighbours from thy Mug refrain.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Mug, the Face. Cant.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 166: Face. Mug.
[UK]G. Colman Yngr John Bull V ii: Och! bless your mug!
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 14: The Porpus kept guard / O’er his beautiful mug.
[UK]F.F. Cooper Elbow-Shakers! I i: Yet scarce had I fond hope began to hug, / When you stept in, and show’d your ugly mug.
[UK] ‘Conversation Between a Flea and a Musquitto’ in Quid 264: Musquitto he got handsome face, Flea got ugly mug.
[UK] ‘Charming Mot’ in Nobby Songster 40: I own that her mug is attractive.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 4 Feb. 2/2: The mugs of both combatants bespoke their handy work.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 July 1/3: Trainer renewing his visitations to Thacker’s mug.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Ask Mamma 289: I am moch pleased, sare, with the expression of your mog. I tink, sare, you are de ’andsomest man I never had de pleasure of lookin’ at.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 25/1: He soon returned with a smile on his ‘mug,’ indicating success.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 21 Sept. n.p.: Two or three other ‘dips’ whose ‘mugs’ were strange to me.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Times of James Catnach 138: A broad grin on his black mug.
[UK]Cremorne III 81: She’s an ugly old mug.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer 27 May 10/3: This is the way a New York paper roasts an association umpire: ‘What on earth makes Kelly wear a mask while umpiring? It would be impossible to spoil that mug of his, even if his breath did fail to change the course of the ball, which is hardly probable.’.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 8 May 7/1: From the Slang Dictionary — The jug-ular vein is near the ‘mug’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 6/4: And now the Right Rev. Henry Bath, President of the Wesleyan Conference (we think that’s all of him), stands a good chance for a bath in a gutter next time he shows his sanctimonious mug out St. Kilda way.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 39: Git onto deh mug on deh blokie.
[UK]H. Nevinson ‘Sissero’s Return’ in P.J. Keating Working Class Stories of the 1890s (1971) 63: Sissero ‘ad a mug almost as good as a white ’un to look at.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Nemesis and the Candy Man’ in Voice of the City (1915) 121: I haven’t seen yer mug on any of the five-cent cigar boxes.
[US]Sat. Eve. Post 14 Mar. 11: That mug of his would stop an eight-day clock.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Private Agitator’ in Ade’s Fables 4: I want to pull Mugs at all the scared Country Girls peeking out of the Wagon Beds.
[UK]Darewski & Wimperis [perf. Vesta Tilley] A Bit of a Blighty One [lyrics] I think about my dugout / Where I dare not poke me mug out.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 101: Come on, Mistah Bag. Le’s tail along back to Harlem. Leave black woman ’lone wif her gin and ugly mug.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 59: I coulda spit in his mug, de donkey!
[UK]K. Amis letter 10 Feb. in Leader (2000) 42: Looking foward to seeing your Ugly mugg next Satuday therll be a Hot time in the old Town then.
[UK]P. Bowman Beach Red 41: I’m walking along and all of a sudden I come mug to mug with two sons of bitches.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘The Disgrace of Jim Scarfedale’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 127: He’d always had a bit of pain screwed into his mug.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 218: This right darling bird took a shine to old ugly mug.
[UK] in P. Fordham Inside the Und. 88: He doesn’t know my ugly mug.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 115: Show them two mugs, including yours, and strike out.
[UK]K. Lette Foetal Attraction (1994) 215: You’ll be famous. Get your mug on the front page.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 111: The woman herself had a fairly spooky mug [...] like a halloween mask.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] The media splashed my mug across the television and newspapers.

(c) by metonymy, the individual.

[UK] ‘Crib and the Black’ Egan Boxiana I 481: I’m down upon Crib’s mug, Bill, he’s sure to win the day.

(d) the mouth.

[UK]‘Peter Corcoran’ ‘King Tims the First’ in Fancy 27: Speak, Mrs. Tims; open thy mug, my dear; / Mouths here are made to speak.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 165: Hold your mug, you old nigger.
[UK]Era (London) 26 Jan. 10/3: His left [...] went well home on Weston’s mug.
[UK]Montrose [...] Rev. 29 July 6/2: From the slang of the prize ring we get ‘mug’, the mouth; ‘dominoes’, the teeth.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US] letter in Silber & Sievens Yankee Correspondence (1996) 153: I told him to dry up or I would smash his mug for him.
[UK]Dundee Courier 26 Feb. 7/3: Here I am in this cursed old garison, without a drop to wet my mug.
[US]E.W. Townsend Chimmie Fadden 53: ‘Hold yer mug,’ I says.
[UK]Marvel 15 Dec. 589: Shut your mug!
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/5: Any one can learn enough of the [criminal] vocabulary to make himself understood. But to speak the language is more difficult. It is spoken from the corner of one’s ‘mug,’ with appropriate movement of the eyebrows and hands, palms down.
[UK]Hotspur 11 Jan. 47: Shut your mug, you hee-hawing Homer!
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]T. Thursday ‘Big Squawk’ in Smashing Detective Mag. 15 Apr. [Internet] All you have to do is keep your mug shut and go blind.
[UK](con. 1950s) J. Byrne Slab Boys [film script] 122: Shut yur ugly mug, you!

(e) the head.

[US]W.G. Simms Border Beagles (1855) 336: Butt Bull, and get the worst of it. See whose head’s the hardest, you b—h, and be off with your mug broken.

(f) (UK Und.) a coin (which bears a monarch’s face on one side).

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 87/1: Having to ‘sling’ all, if not more than our profits, to those harpies of ‘coppers’ who’ll never leave us [...] so long as there’s a ‘mug’ to squeeze out of us.

(g) a grimace.

[UK]E.R. Lancaster Manager’s Daughter in Oxberry Budget of Plays I (1844) 110/1: Who does he suppose was to cut comic mugs before noblemen, without being paid double sals?
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 109/1: Many were the queer ‘mugs’ put on by those who had been ‘gone through’ [...] Artful..shook with suppressed laughter at the victim’s bewildered and doleful phiz.
[Ire]J.M. Synge Playboy of the Western World (1979) II 51: He’d be [...] making mugs at his own self in the bit of a glass we had hung on the wall.
D.H. Lawrence Widowing of Mrs. Holroyd I 26: Oh, indeed! You think I’ve got to pull a mug to look decent? You’d have to pull a big ’un, at that rate .
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Coonardoo 169: The obstinate little mug Mollie had drawn her face into.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 809: mug – The face; a grimace.

(h) a picture of a person, esp. in police records; thus mug book below.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 9 July 2: He had his mug taken in fireman’s clothes.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 20 July 3/1: A man who has ‘served time’ behind the bars, and whose villainous looking ‘mug’ adorns the rogue’s gallery of every pentitentiary.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 17: Then I got to go to a picture garage an’ get my mug taken for the Niles Electric rogues’ gallery.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 187: My ‘record’, my ‘mug’ (picture) and my Bertillon measurements were in the gallery.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Red Wind’ in Red Wind 1946 17: Even if we don’t have his mug here we’ll make him in hours.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US] ‘Burglar Cops’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 115: I will have to [...] take someone down to headquarters for his mug.
[US]‘Blackie’ Audett Rap Sheet 165: Right behind him on the wall, along with a bunch of other mugs, was my own picture, staring me square in the face.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 125: She had looked at the mugs of criminals until her head swam.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 21: He couldn’t make a deathbed mug ID.
[US]P. Cornwell Hornet’s Nest 19: The duty captain lifted another plastic-sheathed page of hard-boiled mugs up to the light.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 210: I want to see everything he’s got on the Matthews boy. Mugs, crib sheet, anything he can find.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 117: They’ve got my mug in a thousand copshops.

2. a fig. container [i.e. one into whom one can ‘pour’ any nonsense].

(a) a fool, a dupe, orig. the victim of a corrupt card-game; thus mug’s game n.

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 336: Old fusty mug went out upon business.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 6 Jan. 78: A rare tippet here, Bill – a guinea to a shilling – pipe the tile – twig the mug – stall you beggar, stall.
[UK]Paul Pry (London 15 Aug. n.p.: The lady fancied she’d got a ‘mug’ a swell who was somewhat green at the game. Fred thought her equally innocent,.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III/2 193: We sometimes have a greenhorn wants to go out pitching with us – a ‘mug,’ we calls them.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 500: I was taken by two pals (companions) to an orchard to cop (steal) some fruit, me being a mug (inexperienced) at the game.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Sept. 13/1: Young Weiss [...] has arrived in Brisbane again after a successful tour among the Northern ‘mugs’.
[UK]H. Newton ‘Bai Jove’ [lyrics] No, industry isn’t our forte, / We to no sort of toil devoted, / Like those ‘mugs’ of the working-man sort.
[UK]E.W. Rogers [perf. Marie Lloyd] G’arn Away [lyrics] Yer think yer’ve got me for a mug, well I’m sure, / Strike me up a mulberry, what d’yer take me for, Eh!
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Stiffner & Jim’ in Roderick (1972) 124: He held that the population of the world was divided into two classes — one was the spielers and the other was the mugs.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 12 May 1/1: A gilt-edged mug was recently driven by ‘Sport’ to more joy than he anticipated [...] the gudgeon, after being drugged and scaled for £25, was deposited in the waiting cab.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 81: I’m simply doing this for a syndicate of mugs.
[US]C. M’Govern By Bolo and Krag 19: All the mugs thought I couldn’t play poker and buck the monte man’s game worth thirty cents.
[Aus]L. Stone Jonah 77: She told me her age was five-and-twenty, / Cash in the bank of course she’d plenty, / I like a lamb believed it all, / I was an M.U.G.
Truth (Wellington, NZ) 6 Apr. 7/5: She looked round for fresh mugs to conquer.
[UK]W. Sickert New Age 19 Mar. 631: His band of ‘wraughters’ or ‘rorters’ [...] whose duty it is to jostle the ‘mug’.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 118: Last night we were done down, trampled on, had for mugs by a crowd of dirty blackguards.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: I didn’t take my gun from the mug’s back for a moment.
[US]N. Davis ‘Kansas City Flash’ in Ruhm Hard-Boiled Detective (1977) 71: You mugg, are you makin’ this up?
[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 2 July 4/4: So, out to crop the wisdom I did sow, And with much daring took a ‘gay’ in tow. / But this was all the harvest that I reaped, / I touch the ‘mug’ - he squeals - and in I go!
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 174: You’re a mug. [...] Let the capitalists fight their own wars.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 26: I don’t want Junior to be a mug like me.
[UK]F. Norman Fings II i: Well, in Nineteen Thirty-two I leaves the smalltime to the mugs.
[UK]Galton & Simpson ‘Going Down’ Hancock’s Half-Hour [TV script] I may look a mug, but I know how to use myself. (Clenches his fist).
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 31: He is not going to be such a mug as to tie himself down.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 105: You mugs / what are you.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 87: The mugs could look after all that.
[UK]Indep. Mag. 22 Jan. 14: But if we all thought they were going to be any different we’re the mugs, aren’t we?
[NZ]A. Duff Jake’s Long Shadow 210: Go and converse with your God, ya religion-struck mug.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Warner no mug.

(b) anyone not directly involved in the underworld, thus, de facto, a gullible fool, a (potential) victim.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘A mug’ is any kind of citizen. [...] It has a slightly contemptuous meaning .
[UK]O.C. Malvery Soul Market 290: A few of the men — and these were the better dressed — were professional ‘tale-pitchers’ [...] went off every morning to the West End of London in search of plunder, or ‘mug-finding,’ as they called their profession.
[UK]Wodehouse Gentleman of Leisure Ch. xvii: ‘That’s the worst of it,’ he admitted, ‘the having to seem a mug at the game.’.
[US]Wash. Post 21 Jan. 2/7: Mug – Usually a citizen.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 332: mug : Anyone not of the Underworld.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 89: What a cissy poofter mug!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 45: In the end all the mugs start earwiggin’ and the store jacks fall . . . shit, man, it was the best go you ever saw and we had to stall.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 87: It was kinda convenient for him that a lotta mugs didn’t know his real moniker either.

3. a lit. container.

(a) a pipe.

[UK]W.H. Smith ‘Thieves’s Chaunt’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 120: There is a nook in the boozing ken, / Where many a mug I fog.

(b) (US) a chamberpot [abbr. member mug under member n.1 ].

[US] in Beer Civil War Letters 42: He died very easily, as nearly all do that dies with the Diarhea. He died while on the mug and so easy that they hardly knowed that he was gone [HDAS].
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.

4. in context of violence.

(a) (US Und.) a strong hold placed on a victim when robbing them, usu. an arm lock or a chokehold.

[UK] Sessions Papers 26 Nov. n.p.: I apprehended Roberts [...] he said. ‘You want me for putting the mug on, do you? I will put the b-y mug on you.’ [...] mug is slang used by thieves; it means garrotting [DU].
[US]H. Leverage ‘Dict. Und.’ in Flynn’s mag. cited in Partridge DU (1949).
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 323: Mug, A crushing arm-lock.

(b) (US, also mug man) a thug, a violent person, a crude loutish person [mug v.1 (2a)].

[US]H.L. Williams Joaquin 130: Those three ugly mugs with him are of the band, I’ll bet.
[UK]Leeds Times 8 June 6/4: His father, Old Pepe, is a right down ‘ugly mug’ [...] when he gets a notion there’s wrong done him.