Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pigeon n.1

1. as a woman.

(a) a young woman.

[UK]A. Day Eng. Sec. II (1625) 80: Antaphrasis, when a word scornefully deliuered, is vnderstood by his contrary, as [...] of a blacke Moore woman to say: Will yee see a faire pigeon? [OED].
[UK]Gesta Grayorum (1688) 19: He do provide for a Mess of the Yeomen of the Guard [...] eight Loins of Mutton [...] and for every Gentleman-Pensioner [...] Coneys, Pidgeons, Chickens, or such dainty Morsels.
[UK]T. Duffet Empress of Morocco Act III: Jove in disguise has been a Sculker On Earth to find him out a Bulker [...] Which shews no Game i’th’ Upper Region, Can be compare’d to the sweet Pigeon.
[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 237: He was, next day, to give what we emphatically call a spread* (*Flash for Entertainment) and that some pigeons were expected to compose a part of the entertainment.
D. Jerrold Story of Feather 117: ‘Oh, she’s a sweet, quiet little pigeon’.
[UK]Paul Pry (London 15 Aug. n.p.: A half- bred Cure [...] to be seen at a certain house in the Smyrkes-road, who is re-quested by Paul not to be so ‘fast’ in drawing the stray pigeons away, because if he can't catch them himself he may let others do so.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Oct. 12/3: Lillian Cooper is a delightfully young, fresh, pretty Marguerite. And the plump pigeon’s plumage, though traditionally correct, is decorative and up-to-date.
[Ire]Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 116: Is that you, pigeon?
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 203: [She] was only interested in soiled doves—Borstal girls. Borstal was a philanthropist who gave money to establish two reformatories—one for boys and the other for girls—for first offenders. I think Miss Van was of the opinion that our crew was composed of dirty pigeons.
[US]P. Di Donato Christ in Concrete 52: Between us pigeons – is it true, Dame Katarina, that you once rubbed bellies with the Devil?
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 217: You sure got the ups on us pigeons.
[US]D. Goodis ‘Professional Man’ in Best of Manhunt (2019) [ebook] ‘I packed her in.’ ‘No,’ Ziggy said. His tone was incredulous. ‘Not Pearl. Not that pigeon’.
[UK]Galton & Simpson ‘The Picnic’ Hancock’s Half-Hour [radio script] Not far, my little pigeon.
[US]R. Stone Hall of Mirrors (1987) 56: Anyhow this here girl ain’t like that. Are you, pigeon?
[UK]G. Greer Female Eunuch 265: The basic imagery behind terms like honey, sugar, dish, sweety-pie, cherry, cookie, chicken and pigeon is the imagery of food.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 111: Lookit here, little pigeon, you got no cause to wee-wee.

(b) (Aus.) a prostitute.

[[US]Owl (NY) 25 Sept. n.p.: [He] is trying to make people believe he goes to see pigeons, but instead of pigeons is all the while rumning after the girls].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 31 Jan. 3/5: A pair of Pigeons.—Marin Randall, one of the Pitt-street promenaders, was charged by Eliza Butterworth, another frail fair one, with assault and robbing her of a watch and locket valued at ten pounds; each of the litigants appeared in their gaudiest costume.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 8 July 5/4: ‘The pigeons’ however who house at this shelter are not very particular.

(c) (US black) a woman who trades sex for drugs.

[US]Ebonics Primer at [Internet] pigeon Definition: a person that sucks dick in return for money or drugs. Example: That pigeon is trife because she’ll dick for a hit.
[US]in J. Miller Getting Played 74: ‘She’ll call him a scrub, he’ll call her a pigeon...Somebody playing too much’.

(d) (US campus) a lazy, worthless woman.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov.

(e) (US teen) a promiscuous young woman.

[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] pigeon [...] 2. a girl who goes with all the guys, whether or not she has a boyfriend, usually just for sexual favors.

(f) a woman’s breast.

[UK]J. Baker Shooting In The Dark (2002) 88: Her pigeons are several sizes too small for a bra.

(g) (US teen) an unattractive young woman.

[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] pigeon ugly girl. ‘Quit mackin’ on those pigeons over there!’.

2. in Und. uses.

(a) (orig. UK Und.) one who is susceptible to a confidence trick or other variety of fraud.

[UK]G. Harvey Pierce’s Supererogation 157: The Fox, the finder; as wily a pigeon, as the cunning Goldsmith, that accused his neighbour, and condemned himselfe.
[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 1 I v: Sure hees a pigeon, for he has no gall.
[UK]Dekker Gul’s Horne-Booke 35: If you fall to dice after Supper [...] you are to cherish the unthriftinesse of such yong tame pigions, if you be a right gentleman.
[UK] ‘The Committee of Safety’ Rump Poems and Songs (1662) II 101: Brandriffe a harmless and innocent Pigeon.
[UK]Cheats of London Exposed 12: When a stranger enters the room, they all, to use their own phrase, stag him [...] and discern if he is a pidgeon.
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist I 75: And this was the language which the pretenders to the Philosopher’s Stone used to bubble their pigeons with.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘Is’t My Storey’ Collection of Songs I 92: I’ve sat up all night in the morning, / ’Mongst black legs, and coggers, and pigeons, and noodles.
[UK] ‘Landlady Casey’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 153: Let rooks and pigeons mingle.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 102: A flatterer may play what game he likes against the pigeons of high life!
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 67: [He] dispatched his leg to London [...] to bring back a well-fledged pigeon to be plucked under his own eye.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) I 40: I was often tempted to tell the pigeon whom they [i.e. card sharps] plucked.
[UK]Crim. Con. Gaz. 25 Aug. 3/2: I was easily plucked, and to all the metropolitan sharpers, Jew money-lenders, and swindlers I was a pigeon .
[UK]R. Barham ‘The Black Mousquetaire’ Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 3: Being much more of pigeon than rook, he / Lost large sums at faro.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 90: A few keen-witted fellows [...] were on the lookout for ‘pigeons’.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. II 28: In a low whisper, he tells Carlton that ‘the pigeon is coming’.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 99: There are gentlemen who [...] are as plainly and clearly dupes as though they carried pigeon inscribed in legible characters on their hat-bands.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Apr. 3/4: The pigeons were the last on the list, and a pair of regular ‘pouters’ they were.
[UK]Sportsman 30 Aug. 2/1: Notes on News [...] [He] ‘cleared out,’ with 200,000l., leaving behind to his pious ‘pigeons’ [...] something like 12l. 10s. to pay all demands.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 Oct. n.p.: He would always make a clean breast of the conspiracy, and the ‘pigeon’ [...] has invariably been arrested.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 138: These gentry never let a fat pigeon escape their fingers until they have plucked him clean.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 13/4: ‘Three ter von to you, as a favour, seein’ ash how id is our first dealings,’ replied the anxious metallician as he mentally gloated over the well-feathered pigeon he was about to pluck.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 191: They way they led that pigeon about the course would have given points to a Savoyard with a tamed bear.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 14 Feb. 8/2: A plump, well-featured pigeon [...] was clean plucked for a thou. by the smart pokerites.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Jan. 1/5: Two Labour lags who lounged hard by laughed so immoderately that they almost let the pigeon go unstripped.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 14 Feb. 9/1: The baker boy seems a real sport or a pigeon for the three girls, as they often go to the Harbor and leave him at the Port.
[UK]E. Wallace Squeaker (1950) 153: There was silence till Jim returned and the lift had carried the pigeon out of sight.
‘Leslie Charteris’ Brighter Buccaneer 10: It was his one regret that he never had the additional pleasure of knowing exactly what his pigeons said when they woke up and found themselves bald.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 109: The ‘Black Ring’ marked him on their list of prospective ‘pigeons’.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 136: I wish you weren’t going to California [...] My favourite pigeon.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 231: If he’d been around and we had any reason to suspect murder, he’d make a pretty good pigeon – except that he would have used a knife.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 80: They are always on the look-out for ‘pigeons’ [...] from whom they can scrounge a drink, or whom they can rob.
[US]J. Thompson ‘Sunrise at Midnight’ in Fireworks (1988) 167: You could have milked your pigeons for a fortune.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 299: pigeon. [...] a mark or gambler’s victim.

(b) (UK Und.) ‘Pigeons – sharpers who, during the drawing of the lottery, wait ready mounted, near Guildhall, and as soon as the first two or three numbers are drawn, which they receive from a confederate, ride, i.e. ‘fly’, with them to some distant insurance office where there is another of the gang, commonly a decent looking woman; to her he secretly gives the numbers, which she insures for a considerable sum’ (Grose, 1796).

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII .
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London 45: He has been among the Greeks and pigeons, who have completely rook’d him, and now want to crow over him.
[UK]Levant Herald 22 Feb. ‘Gambling Table at Constantinople’ n.p.: The police agents... made a sudden razzia... Catching some of the croupiers, bonnets, and pigeons in fragrante delicto [sic] [F&H].

(c) (UK/US Und.) a professional gambler.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 96/1: We found a few ‘pigeons’ and ‘ropers’ lolling around the room, but play had apparently not commenced.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 22 Sept. 3: Two to eight players (six of whom are pigeons or Japs).
[UK]Sporting Times 22 Feb. 2/4: Real Ladies ... 4. Pigeon Sharps ... 10.

3. (orig. US) an informer [abbr. stool-pigeon n.1 (3)].

[[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 135: So fellows who ran or rode with news surreptitiously obtained, received the name of pigeons, from their occupation].
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 12 May 2/7: The Mayor of Philadelphia having discovered that an old pigeon known as Bill Forebaugh was accustomed to point out his officers to the different knucks who arrived in the city, determined to put a stop to this new lay.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 66: Pigeon, a thief that joins in with other thieves to commit a crime, and then informs the officer, who he pigeons for, and for this service the officer is supposed to be occasionally both deaf and blind.
[UK]G.R. Sims Mysteries of Modern London 44: He doesn’t want him to fall into the hands of a rival gang. So he has put a spy on to watch, and inform him if any overtures are made to the ‘pigeon’ by any other members of the ‘flash mob’.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘White as Snow’ in Detective Story 18 Feb. [Internet] How do you know he isn’t a pigeon? You‘re too friendly altogether with people you pick up.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 142: That club brings many unwillingly to become pigeons. [Ibid.] 259: Stool-Pigeons, Stools, Pigeons [...] —police informers.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Nevada Gas’ Spanish Blood (1946) 139: You know what you are, Johnny? [...] A pigeon, Johnny. A pigeon.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 184: Rats, pigeons, stooges, short faders and crap catchers.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 77: But Greek had a distaste for pigeons and he hesitated.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 37: Hip got no enemies except maybe Red Shirt Charlie; but he ain’t no pigeon.
[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle 26: I never seen such a bunch of pigeons on black militants.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 71: In the underworld, a canary is another kind of ‘singer,’ i.e., an informer, a.k.a. nightingale, pigeon or rat.

4. attrib. use of sense 3.

[US]L. Block Diet of Treacle (2008) 114: They don’t do a pigeon routine. They don’t dare. They don’t want to be cut off.

5. (US) a person, esp. as a target for murder.

[US]J. Archibald ‘Downed on the Farm’ in Ten Detective Aces Nov. [Internet] It was the old pigeon’s spouse or one of his checker pals rubbed out Boo Boo Hiff.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘The Death of Me’ I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 100: As far as Grafton knows, he potted the right pigeon.
[US]D. Pendleton Boston Blitz (1974) 76: What if the pigeons could finger me? Have you forgot what the rap is for kidnapping.

6. see blue pigeon n. (2)

7. see yardbird n.2

In compounds

pigeon drop (n.)

see separate entry.

pigeon-hawk (n.)

(Aus.) a confidence trickster.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 14 Dec. 1/1: Friends of Mine / ‘Whispering Willie The Pigeon-Hawk’.
pigeon-house (n.)

(Aus.) a brothel.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 30 Apr. 1/1: The meanderings of the mounted cop generally pull up at the pigeon-house [and] the trooper spends much time in tracking down breaches of the piece [sic].

In phrases

blue pigeon (n.)

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

pigeon pair (n.) [the pigeon’s brood is usu. one male, one female]

1. a family whose children are a boy (born first) and a girl.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.

2. any male and female pair.

[UK]H. Fludyer Letters 130: Everybody wantin’ to dance with ’er but not a chance as long as Mr. Dick was by ’er side, a pretty pigeon pair.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Wordless Play’ Sporting Times 10 Nov. 1/4: The characters, a pigeon pair, / A lover and his lass.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
pigeon’s milk (n.)

1. the subject of a fool’s errand which apprentices are sent on, trad. on 1 April.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Pidgeon’s Milk. Boys and novices are frequently sent on the first of April to buy Pidgeons Milk.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.:
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Elgin Courier (Scot.) 2 Jan. 4/1: Child’s Dissolving Views [...] That pigeon’s milk is a marketable commodity. That strap-oil is good for sharpening penknives.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Graphic (London) 1 Apr. 14/3: Long ago, ere Lady Maud was wrapt in silk / She was sent through Sandy Groves for pigeon’s milk.
[UK]G.F. Northall Warwickshire Word-Book 174: Pigeon’s milk. A nonentity. Greenhorns are often sent to a shop for a ‘pennyworth of pigeon’s milk’.
[UK]Marvel 26 Jan. 16: I say, prop-the-moon, can you tell me where I can buy some pigeon’s milk?

2. (N.Z./UK Und.) unspecified but high quality alcohol.

[UK]‘Jerry Abershaw’s Will’ in Fal-Lal Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 16: So vhile another dose of pigeon’s milk went round, / St George’s tenor did begin to toll.
[UK]Sporting Times 10 Apr. 1/1: The ‘potent draught’ with which Mr Gladstone binged himself up during his three hours’ [...] speech , was [...] a commixture of pigeons’ milk and Blue Ruin.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 156: pigeon’s milk Good liquor.
pigeon-’tomach (n.) [play on SE pigeon-chested]

(W.I.) a woman with larger than average breasts.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

In phrases

pigeon-brained (adj.)


[UK]Glasgow Herald 10 Aug. 4/5: That, with a few pigeon-brained exceptions, is the stern decision of the community.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 30 Dec. 4/1: No, no, my pigeon-brained friend, it won’t do.
[US]Bellow Falls Times (VT) 29 Oct. 4/7: Of all the pigeon-brained, spavined, blind-staggerin’ aggrevations [sic] [...] they take the fleet.
[US]S.F. Call 13 Mar. 6/4: Our little peanut Mayor [...] and his pigeon-brained [...] School Board.
[US]Hawaiian Star 8 July 4/1: Such inane modes [...] will have more far-reaching results than those accruing to the pigeon-brained spendthrifts.
Cook Co. News (Grand marais, MN) 7 Nov. 7/1: Not mud-slinging [...] and calling names, like that pigeon-brained, pot-faced [...] MacBeard.
Scotsman 29 Aug. 13/1: Victor M’Lagen is his pigeon-brained, but good-hearted, overseer.
pigeon-livered (adj.)


[UK]Shakespeare Hamlet II ii: It cannot be But I am pigeon-liver’d, and lack gall.
[Ire]Dublin Eve. Post 29 June 3/4: Let not, therefore, any Grub Street garretteer, to amuse pigeon-livered London cuckolds [etc].
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) III 310: He was not so pigeon-livered, as to retire without an effort in my favour.
[UK]Manchester Mercury 7 Sept. 2/4: These brave men [...] who are [...] ashamed of serving the ‘pigeon-livered creature’ whom Bonaparte calles King of Saxony!
[UK]Mons. Merlin 23 May 4/2: Are your senses playing bo-peep with the ghost of some pigeon-livered coast captain, eh?
[Ire]Freeman’s Jrnl 17 June 2/3: No wonder the Times should wax wrathful, and dencounce the —‘short-sighted, pigeon-livered Conservative’.
[UK]Lancaster Gaz. 2 Apr. 4/3: I am pigeon-livered and lack gall — I think a drop of porter wouldn’t hurt me!
[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 7 Dec. 2/1: Brown [...] returned to Kansas to upbraid his pigeon-livered associates.
Enniscorthy News (Wexford) 20 May 2/5: Arnold and McLaughlin, each of whom was to kill a Cabinet officer, grew pigeon-livered and ran away.
[US]N.Y. Herald 23 Nov. 8/5: Let us see whether the pigeon-livered policy of our State Department will in the end succeed.
[UK]Dundee Courier 23 Dec. 2/4: These perpetrators of barbarous murders are pigeon-livered.
[US]Ft Worth Dly Gaz. (TX) 31 July 3/4: He slouched about here and there, too pigeon-livered to be at war with society.
[UK]Edinburgh Eve. News 27 Sept. 4/1: A Yankee Editor Denounces Britain: [...] ‘A pigeon-livered, white-lipped coward among the nations [...] A cringing boot-licking flunky to the strong’.
[US]Forest Republican (Tionesta, PA) 28 June 2/1: A lot of pigeon-livered, bald-headed [...] cranky old editors.
[UK]Liverpool Dly Post 14 July 5/8: Ministers would have been called a set of timorous, pigeon-livered politicians.