Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wide adj.

[SE wide (of the mark), going astray, deviating from the proper course (of life/action); prior use f. 16C is SE]

1. (also wide-oh) ‘sharp’; also as adv. (see cite 1914).

[UK]H.W. Montague Monsieur Mallet 13: ‘Hi! hi! You’re wide!’ – said Jerry with a leer.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. XL 502: I got in company with some of the widest (cleverest) people in London.
[UK]Music Hall & Theatre Rev. 16 Feb. 13/1: ‘Never in this Wide Wide World.’ We like the title, but can say the world is too wide for some of us.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Chivalry’ in Punch 20 July 177: The modern young man must be wide-oh! he’s never a spoon or a flat.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 88: Lunnun’s a very wide place, an’ there’s some wide people in it.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Corinna’s Courage’ Sporting Times 3 Nov. 1/4: She’d got her napper screwed on right, and, being very wide, / She learnt how to do typewriting, then she put on lots of side.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 26 Jan. 4/8: Wide Mister, snide Mister Geary.
[UK]J. Masefield Everlasting Mercy 3: Silas Jones, that bookie wide, / Will make a purse five pounds a side.
H. Hershfield Abie the Agent 21 Apr. [synd. cartoon strip] We got to hammer up Benny Sparkbaum’s ‘Collapsibles’ [...] Watch the game — be wide waked up.
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 179: Yankee Smith — or ‘Chicago’ Smith, is a ‘wide’ man, a man who never speaks until he has made sure that no one can over-hear.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 12: I met the clerk of the hotel who looked a very wide lad, a typical gangster.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 259: Some people think I’m a mug, but I’m pretty wide all the same.
[UK]S. Jackson An Indiscreet Guide to Soho 113: They divide humanity into two classes, ‘wide’ (smart in the criminal sense).
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 26: The real wide man kidded to be soft till he was ready to have it off.
[Ire]T. Murphy Sanctuary Lamp in Plays: 3 (1994) II ii: No, babies are wide, Har, babies are shrewd. Well, they aren’t fools.
[Scot]I. Welsh Glue 44: Dinnae git fuckin wide wi me, hen.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 259: Ah, don’t worry, Rosser, I’m woyid.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 18: They thought i was being wide.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 65: He’s a wide cunt.

2. lax, loose, immoral.

[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 50: ’E’s as wide as Broad Street.

3. (Scot.) stupid, foolish.

[Scot]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 8 Sept. 3/2: He’s so wide that if it were raining soup the poor boob would be running round with a fork.

4. aware of.

[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 24: He was as wide a boy as they made them. Just to prove it he walked across the road in and out of the traffic half a dozen or so times.
[UK]S. Jackson An Indiscreet Guide to Soho 49: Another lad is ‘Biff,’ who talks big out of the corner of his mouth about [...] how ‘wide’ he is in all matters of the world.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 186: He had to show the swede-bashing sods he was wide and knew his graft.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 13: I could tell by his laugh he was wide to what he had given me.
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 150: His heart sank, expecting the ah’m-wide-fir-your-game-cunt line when they were alone.
[Ire]L. McInerney Blood Miracles : ‘Young wans? You wouldn’t be wide to them’.
[Ire]Breen & Conlon Hitmen 217: ‘What happened to this fella [i.e. a designated victim] being brought to us?’ [...] ‘It’s not happening [...] He’s wide to it’.

5. (Irish) careful.

[Ire](con. 1930s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town 21: A rager blone – four horses and two sprassies. Wide with the makes. Still. (In translation: ‘A country woman – four half crowns and two sixpences ... she’s careful with her money’).
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. 🌐 Be wide (phr): be careful. Be dog wide (phr): be extra vigilant.

In derivatives

wideness (n.)

1. perspicacity, intelligence.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘On the Shelf and Off It’ Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1: A youthful sprig of the nobility [...] had inherited all the paternal possessions, barring wideness.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 174: Audrey with her wideness, her snappy way of dressing.

2. audacity.

[Scot]I. Welsh Glue 96: These wankers widnae huv that brains tae think ay it or the wideness tae dae it.

see separate entries.

In compounds

wide-awake (adj.)

see separate entry.

wide-boy (n.)

a minor villain, often dabbling in ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes; also attrib.

[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 106: They were all Wide Boys, and only Mugs worked and saved money.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 14: The ‘wide boy’ with money burning in his pocket acquires a taste for good living.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: Tosher comes in. He is the ponce, wide boy, big mouth, coward, humorist, flash dresser, all in one.
[UK]B. Kops Dream of Peter Mann Act III: Misers! Whores! Wideboys or Jokers!
[UK]A. Burgess Inside Mr Enderby in Complete Enderby (2002) 69: There were criminal-looking coppers there, with wide-boy tashes.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 201: Howell was the draughtsman, a new breed of criminal, one of the truly wide boys.
[Ire]B. Geldof Is That It? 109: He was a likeable, shrewd young wide-boy with a large American car.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 164: He is a man of parts [...] street chronicler, wide-boy.
[UK]Guardian Guide 8–14 Jan. 52: His glowing perma-tan and super-sharp, wide-boy whistles.
[Aus]S. Maloney Something Fishy (2006) 24: An old boy, a wide boy and a bean counter.
[UK]R. Milward Apples (2023) 75: [A]ll these wide-boys he knew from school.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 45: I sunk myself in with the expat community [...] and, basically, flushed the laughable wide boy out.
wide man (n.)

1. (also wide chump, wide con) a swindler, a con-man.

[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 243: ‘Daisy’s only just come out of stir,’ said Lionel. ‘I bet she’s got gelt out of the warders. What a woman! [...] She’s what I call a wide chump.’.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 74: He was a wide man, with an eye for a snip and a mug to take it that amounted almost to genius.
[US]S. Longstreet Decade 317: The wide cons, the hustlers, the wise broads are steering clear of him.

2. (UK Und.) a professional thief.

[Ire]J. Phelan Tramp at Anchor 98: A Wide man — i.e. a professional thief — would take the push, and the probable sorting-out.

In phrases

come wide (v.)

to get the better of.

[Scot](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 237: Wide, as in ‘to come wide’ – to get the better of, to outsmart.
gone to the wide (adj.) (also gone to the races)

(Aus.) looking foolish.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Mar. 7/4: If someone makes a fool of himself, the digger describes him as ‘gone to the wide,’ or ‘gone to the races’.
half-wide (adj.)

reasonably intelligent, aware of what goes on and thus, in certain contexts, corruptible.

[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 204: This class are generally regarded by their more astute brethren the expert thieves, as ‘half-wide’ – or, in other words, foolish thieves.
[UK]P. Hoskins No Hiding Place! 190/2: Half-wide Mug. Man only partially crooked.
[Ire]J. Phelan Tramp at Anchor 151: Nothing could be ‘hung on my door’ — blamed on me — because I was ‘half wide.’.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 20: Playing the half-wide mug on ten bob an hour.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 111: ‘What are they like? Half-wide?’ ‘They’re all right, Fred. They do what they’re told.’.
play wide (v.)

1. (Aus.) to avoid, to keep at ‘arms length’.

[Aus]R.G. Barratt ‘Wellington’s On the Other Foot’ in What Do You Reckon (1997) [ebook] I played them wide. I knew once I started going into their place they’d be in mine and I’d never get them out.

2. to act in a ‘clever’ manner.

[Scot]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] Don’t play wide with me, pal, I’ll give you your head in your hands to play with if you start that patter in here.
put someone wide (v.)

to inform, to ‘put in the picture’.

[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 102: Here, Johnny [...] you’re a straight boy, and I’m going to put you wide – ’cause I want you to do me a favour.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 23: A bloke drummed it for me and put me wide. Let her pick him up one night and she lumbered him home. And while he’s there he takes a butchers’.
[Ire]J. Murphy A Picture of Paradise in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) Act I: I put you wide, didn’t I? Showed you the ins and outs?
wide as...

extremely cunning or ‘sharp’; usu. punning on a well-known local thoroughfare.

[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 267: He thinks he’s as wide as Regent Street, but really he’s the sloppiest sort o’ slack-back that ever give sixpence at a country fair for a purse wi’ three half-crowns in it.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 164: He thought he was as wide as Broadway (as clever as they make them).
[Ire](con. 1920s) P. Crosbie Your Dinner’s Poured Out! 218: That fella is as wide as a gate.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 45: As wide as Leith Walk that cunt.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

wide load (n.)

(US campus) someone with large hips and buttocks.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 71: Many metaphors used in slang enhance their meaning by cultural allusions. Wide load for ‘someone with large hips and buttocks’, for example, alludes to the required signs on oversized trailers and cargo in transit on public roads and applies the image of a slow-moving, cumbersome vehicle to a person.
wide-on (n.) [on the pattern of the male hard-on n. (1), the image is of a gaping vagina]

of a woman, sexual excitement.

[US]Jenkins & Shrake Limo 138: ‘See the redhead over there in the two-ounce dress? I gave her a little tongue-o, wham-o a while back—on the back of the neck. [...] I think she got a wide-on.’ .
[US](con. 1966) P. Conroy Lords of Discipline 228: Hell, there are broads with wide-ons all over the place.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 338: I’ve heard that line before. Usually by a cow with a wide-on who wants it filled.
Twitter 23 May 🌐 RTs, even in outrage, give Hopkins such a wide-on.

In phrases

give someone a wide (v.) [SE give a wide berth]

to avoid.

[Putnam County Journal 28 Jan. 3/1: Bunko men are with us. Give them a wide street [DA]].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Dec. 44/2: ‘Take it from me, [...] if yer wants ter keep out of slough, give the slops a wide. [...] Yer can’t give ’em too wide a wide,’ he says impressively, a word with each tap.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 82: If it was left up to me, I’d give those headbangers a wide.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 48: We would always give Roy a wide, wouldn’t serve him if we could.
wide place in the road (n.) (also broad place in the road, wide spot in the road) [its unimportance in the eyes of those who drive through]

(US) a derog. phr. for a small town or hamlet; also attrib.

[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 164: wide place in the road, n. phr. A hamlet. ‘It’s not a town; it’s just a wide place in the road.’.
[US]A. Baer Two & Three 11 Mar. [synd. col.] Three years ago, Wichita falls was only a wide spot in the road. The depot was only a couple of loose ties in the track.
[US] in J.F. Dobie Rainbow in Morning (1965) 86: The town’s just a wide place in the road.
[US] ‘Sl. among Nebraska Negroes’ in AS XII:4 Dec. 320/2: Besides more individual sobriquets there are: ‘Crack in the Track,’ ‘Stop (or ‘Spot’) in the Road,’ ‘Wide Place in the Road,’ ‘Broad Place in the Road,’ ‘Narrow Place in the Road,’ and ‘Whistle Stop.’.
[US]C. Rawson Headless Lady (1987) 27: Waterboro, according to the road map, is a wide spot in the road (Pop.: 5,000 to 10,000).
[US]C. Howard ‘Enough Rope for Two’ in Best of Manhunt (2019) [ebook] A half-hour later, they passed a wide place in the road called Separ.
[US]J. Thompson Texas by the Tail (1994) 169: Big Spring was a cattle town [...] Just another wide place in a dusty road.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 201: one-horse town. A small and unimportant town, a wide place in the road.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Phantom Blooper 218: It hasn’t changed. It’s still just a wide place in the road. It’s still just another hillbilly half-town, clean and quiet, the kind of place that falls off maps.
‘Miss Kitty’ at 23 Apr. 🌐 I battle ignorance five days a week at four different colleges around west Georgia & east Alabama. I’m insanely busy but love what I do, and I love the little ‘wide place in the road’ town where I live.