Green’s Dictionary of Slang

broke adj.1

also broke-ass, broken, bruk
[orig. image was of creditors physically ‘breaking’ a debtor]

out of funds, impoverished, poor.

Stowe Three Fifteenth Century Chronicles 127: This Sir. T. Lodge braky and professe to be banquerooute in his maioralitie to the grete slandar of the citie.
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 177: The name of Broker was well given to you: for you were Broak before you set up.
H. Peacham Worth of a Penny (1687) 3: Others there are again, who match themselves for a little handsomeness [...] and sometimes drawn in hereto by broken Knaves.
[UK] ‘The Ranting Wanton’s Resolution’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1880) 480: When this Gallant’s broke, / I’ve another bespoke.
[UK]‘Englands Joy’ in Euing Broadside Ballads No. 99: The broken Cits no more shall lick their Chops, / They’l turn agen Blue apron’d men.
[UK]Wycherley Country-Wife I i: I have known ’em, when they are broke and can lose no more, keep a-fumbling with the box in their hands to fool with only.
[UK]N. Ward ‘A Trip to Jamaica’ in Writings (1704) 154: Three Broken Tradesmen, who had lost their Credit.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 63: A pretty engine to preserve bankers and insurers from breaking, and when they are broke, that they will pay all their debts as far as it may stand with their convenience.
[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 188: A broken tradesman, who had good business till he fell into gamesters hands.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: alsatians the Inhabitants of these two Places [i.e. Higher and Lower Alsatia] broken Tradesmen, extravagant Spendthrifts.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Dead Alive (1783) 5: Alas! he is all broke – and ma foi – I am all broke again.
[UK]Belle’s Stratagem 5: I am broke to my last shilling.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. III 34: I am broke, flat broke! I haven’t a dollar left!
[US]Killers 7: I’m dead broke!
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 43/2: He had parted with everything of value that he had with him upon meeting her, and was now completely ‘broke’.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 372: When he got broke, he never hung about the tables, or tried to borrow stakes from any one.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 16: I [...] then shipped for Cincinnati, where I remained until I was very near broke.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘The Rigadoon’ Dagonet Ditties 120: The young M.P. had run in debt, / Was ‘broke,’ and could not pay his bet.
[US]T. Dreiser Sister Carrie 512: I’m ‘broke’ now.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 38: Chuck, I’m dead broke, gimme a drink.
[US]J. Lait ‘One Touch of Art’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 210: And you’re broke? I thought youse actors get a lot o’ money.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 120: I’m broke, boss. I ain’t got a cent.
[Aus]‘William Hatfield’ Sheepmates 65: Though he was the ‘brokest’ of the party of eight, he was the cheeriest.
[UK]G. Greene Gun for Sale (1973) 10: Have you brought the money? I’m broke.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 84: It wasn’t like the joint went broke for being so hincty.
[UK]K. Amis letter 20 June in Leader (2000) 234: I shdn’t ask unless I was broak.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 72: He made incredible twenty dollar bets to win, and before the seventh race he was broke.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 12: Out of a job. Broke and hungry.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 44: She had come to his house broke and sick.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 124: A small huddle of soldiers who were broke [...] would come once a fortnight.
[UK]L. Kwesi Johnson ‘Double Scank’ in Mi Revalueshanary Fren (2002) 4: ‘I a look a money, Buzza; / come fahwod wid some dunny.’ / di breddah seh him bruk.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Ed Leary’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 124: He [...] figured I was probably broke and could use a couple of drinks.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 21: Being broke and savagely divorced, Stranahan took the coupons.
[US]Source Oct. 167: You can best believe that I’m not falling in love with no broke nigga.
[US]J. Ridley Love Is a Racket 129: Everyone of them walks out broke-ass and near butt-naked.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 37: I never really knew what he was talkin about cuz he was always broke.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Pager’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 5 [TV script] Maybe you could let a little something go till the payday, because you know right now we some broke-ass niggers.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 24: Look, John is always broke [...] he owes me two weeks now.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] Why the hell did I have to get knocked up by a broke journo?
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 13: ‘The man on the news said he was sending the country broke’.

In phrases

broke to the wide (adj.)

absolutely penniless.

‘Duke Tritton’s Letter’ n.p.: I rambled over to the Rubbity Dub and had a pint of Oh My Dear. In fact I had several and finished up in the dead house, broke to the wide. But they left me my Willy Wag and gave me a bit of tucker.
[UK]Sporting Times 2 May 1/4: Grannan, after winning pots of money at the game, has just died in New York—in the familiar vernacular, ‘broke to the wide’.
[Aus]C.H. Thorp Handful of Ausseys 163: Just a quid ter carry me on sarge. I’m broke to the wide, dinkum.
[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Golden Scorpion 231: An’ not a ‘oat’ in me pocket— not a ‘bean’! Broke to the wide.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: Broke to the wide. Financially embarrassed; devoid of cash.
[UK]Dundee Courier 2 Sept. 11/5: She was ‘broke to the wide’.
[UK]G. Kersh Prelude to a Certain Midnight Bk I Ch. x: The Tiger Fitzpatrick [...] muttered: ‘I’m broke to the wide.’.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 30 Apr. 4/2: There are many other Aussie terms for the penniless state: ‘Broke to the wide’ [...] ‘on the outer’.
flat broke (adj.)

see separate entry.

go for broke

see separate entries.

stone broke (adj.)

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

broke-dick (adj.) (also broke-ass) [SE broke + dick n.1 (5), i.e. impotent]

(US) worthless, useless.

[US]W. Fisher Waiters 74: Just another broke-ass waiter. Like the bear—nowhere.
[US]F. Salas Tattoo the Wicked Cross (1981) 208: Beat on the punk, / knock him around, / bloody him up, / make him bawl like a broke-dick-dog.
[UK]J. Carr Bad (1995) 64: This dude gets out looking sharper than a broke-dick dog.
A. Balfour Union-management Relations in a Changing Economy 377: The supervisor reiterated that he was going to get the grievant’s ‘black ass fired.’ The supervisor further disparaged the grievant by stating that he was a ‘broke ass nigger’.
[US]Monkeywrench [album title] Clean as a Broke-Dick Dog.
[US]Texas Monthly Oct. [Internet] Things that break or don’t work are invariably called ‘broke-dick’.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 27: I’m po as a broke-dick dog.
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 11: Ya gotcha hair all blown out and duddied up lookn like a broke ass Steve Harvey and shit.
[US]D. Reed Darker Side of Paradise [ebook] That’s a load I can’t help you carry...even the bread. I'm as broke as a broke dick dog.