1. of an individual or individuals.
(a) a person; often used of a young woman, usu. in a sexual context; esp. as hot number
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 26 Feb. 1/4: Well, Benney, you're a nummer — you’re always in luck.|
|Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 34: Reynolds, La Brie and Shinnick are bad numbers. I don’t trust them.|
|To Kiss the Crocodile 220: Yes, you’re more his number, Loulou.|
|Idiot’s Delight 22: bebe is a hard, harsh little number who shimmies.|
|Rendezvous with Fear 38: A little fat number called Doan.|
|Tomboy (1952) 164: I’ll take the number in the green sweater.|
|Nunnery versus Fuckery 48: It would take more than a casual fuck to get this little number out of his system.|
|Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 106: I’m tied up with a little number down at the fruit shop.|
|Alfie II i: You’re a soft number, mate.|
|Thief 386: Here comes Helen with this tall, red-haired number.|
|Belfast 111: Two numbers came sallymandering along [...] bold and pretty.|
|Foetal Attraction (1994) 57: Fancy a bit of rumpity humpity with that little number.|
|Cutty, One Rock (2005) 16: How old could that little blond number be over there with those two hoods?|
|(con. 1991-94) City of Margins 126: ‘You still with that hot-to-trot number?’.|
(b) a person, in a non-sexual context.
|Little Sister 47: He’s a little squatty number.|
|Absolute Beginners 23: This crazy latin American number was lumbering all over the furniture.|
|Spidertown (1994) 91: ‘Rico?’ ‘Tall guy? Used to run the place on Brook? A good number, man. Dependable.’.|
|Snitch Jacket 56: You’re a dangerous character [...] A nasty little number right out of Central Casting.|
(c) (US gay) a potential or actual partner for casual sex, picked up from the street, bar or baths.
|City of Night 188: Look at that number near me, hes been staring a hole through me.|
|Faggots 40: He showed me where he strings up a number, on his gallows, erected right there, in his own apartment.|
|Flame : a Life on the Game 109: A big, butch number was sitting opposite me.|
|Queer Sl. in the Gay 90s 🌐 Number – A trick; a casual sex partner.|
|Gayle 85/2: number n. person with whom one is involved/sleeping with, someone to whom one is attracted, generally indicating a transient relationship (That’s a cute number with Jack tonight).|
(d) (US) a romantically involved couple.
|Feast of Snakes 5: Her sister and Jon Lon had been a number.|
|Dead Long Enough 112: She had not yet quite written off the possibility that they, she and Harry, might still in some way be some kind of a number.|
2. an item of clothing, e.g. a dainty pink number.
|Real Charlotte I 22: The shop windows... had progressed... to straw hats, tennis shoes, and coloured Summer Numbers.|
|World I Never Made 191: Let me show you some of our numbers.|
|On Broadway 21 Feb. [synd. col.] Jane Pickens Waldorfing in a little number with diamond shoulder straps.|
|Lowlife (2001) 150: A sixty-guinea Dior number.|
|Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 269: Vicki came in, clad elegantly in a flimsy black number.|
|Llama Parlour 187: I would’ve dressed for the occasion too. Something that goes with the colour of puke. A little beige number, I think, with flecks of orange.|
|Guardian Sport 26 Mar. 12: The order clearly stated that the hair-pieces should be skinhead style and sending over a few hundred leftover Ruud Gullit numbers [...] was not what I had in mind.|
3. in fig./abstract senses.
(a) in general, a thing, place or situation, defined by context.
|Boss 205: He tells me my light’s goin’ to flicker out inside a year. That’s a nice number to hand a man!|
|At Swim-Two-Birds 179: That’s the number, said Slug, plenty of moss.|
|Long and the Short and the Tall Act I: It’s going to be a dodgy number as it is.|
|Down These Mean Streets (1970) 253: God, if you’re up there, I don’t dig this number.|
|Serial 19: Why didn’t they just leave the whole number up to Pierre?|
|Guardian Sport 18 Sept. 16: Looks a handsome little number.|
|Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 192: She reached out and took the hundred, even though she knew that it was a bad number for her.|
(b) a scene or performance in a fig. sense, a display of excessive emotion.
|Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 11 Sept. 20/3: ’Aw, can that boohooin’ number, son’tchuh?’ he says to his wife , who’s dabbing away at her wicks.|
|Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 12: do a number – To get mad; make a scene; to tell somebody off; blow your cool.|
|Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1994) 49: She does this number about how she forgot her purse up in her room.|
|Wiseguy (2001) 178: Stacks Edwards [...] starts doing his ‘black dude’ number.|
|(con. early 1950s) L.A. Confidential 332: This deep freeze number is driving me crazy.|
|(con. 1964–8) Cold Six Thousand 251: I’m having a crisis of faith here, I’m doing this revisionist number.|
|Zero at the Bone [ebook] Hogan’s Statesman passed the intersection and returned to the highway by way of a bottle-shop car park [...] and came out the way it had entered. This little number almost exposed Swann.|
(c) a job or task; esp. in phr. cushy (little) number, an easy job.
|Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 64: Back goes the big lummox to get a new number.‘Charlie the Wolf’ in|
|(con. 1940s) Ain’t it Grand 77: He didn’t just give Bert a rollicking, he fired him, and I lost my cushy number.|
|(con. 1950s–60s) in Little Legs 160: I got another nice little number, handling snatch-backs.|
|Vinnie Got Blown Away 30: Got exams at school, did computers then got her number at BA. [Ibid.] 47: Got a nice little number.|
|(con. 1943) Coorparoo Blues [ebook] ‘Didn’t you have some cushy number well away from the whizzbangs?’.|
(d) belief, commitment.
|Story Omnibus (1966) 121: He had plenty of will-power, I imagined, but I didn’t put a big number on that.‘This King Business’|
(e) (US black) a jail sentence, a life sentence.
|Green Ice (1988) 31: I’ve had a number. I’ve got a record. Manslaughter.|
|Book of Negro Folklore 355: Here I is, bowed down in shame, / I got a number instead of a name / Here for de res’ of my nachul life, / An’ all I ever done is kill my wife ...|
(a) one’s house [a number on a door].
|Girl Proposition 110: She considered it a great honor to have some melancholy Person with an unusual kind of Hair come up to their Number and eat about $2 worth of Chow.|
5. a reputation.
|Mad mag. Oct. 46: In three pens he’s made a number for himself.|
6. (drugs) a marijuana or hashish cigarette.
|Narcotics and Hallucinogens in Spears (1986).|
|Puberty Blues 115: Wayne went off to the parking lot with Danny and Gull to blow another number.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 171: A marijuana cigarette [...] number, toke, reefer, skoofer.|
|Up the Cross 96: There was no way [...] the snowies would part with even the odd little number.(con. 1959)|
|Iced 149: I had just rolled myself a night-cap number.|
|Shame the Devil 104: Newton picked a rolled number out of his bag of dope.|
|What It Was 59: She produced a number and fired it up.(con. 1972)|
7. a style, a way of living, a pose, e.g. the ageing rocker number.
|Underground Dict. (1972) 140: number [...] Psychological game.|
|Carlito’s Way 117: He wanted to retire and get away from it all — you know, one of them numbers.|
|Chili 53: He’s always liked to argue. At least that was his number driving to Monterey.|
|Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 351: Those northern whites must’ve worked a mojo number on their minds.|
|Layer Cake 70: He’s bought himself this big house, the whole number, swimming pool, whirlpool, three-car garage.|
8. see numbers, the n.
see top number under top adj.
1. to make and smoke a marijuana or hashish cigarette.
|Fields of Fire (1980) 248: Hey man, wanna do a number?|
|🌐 In my time I heard it refered to as ‘doing a number’, go figure...posting at SciForums.com 21 Apr.|
|🌐 In my 30s, ‘doing a number’ meant sharing a ‘joint’, or marijuana cigarette, with one or more friends.‘Doing a Number’ on West Virginia Northern Community College|
2. of cannabis, to take effect.
|Requiem for a Dream (1987) 34: This is some nice hash. Uh huh. Its really doin a number on my head.|
1. to make a fuss, to become emotional; to subject someone to emotional blackmail or at least some form of moral, friendship or ethical pressure.
|Serial 14: How to get even with Leonard for doing that absolutely unbelievable number on her [Ibid.] 27: If Kate was going to do a number like that on him, he’d take his daughter to dinner instead.|
|GBH 18: ‘Don’t do a number on me, Dennis. Everybody down there knows what our relationship is’.|
2. to harm.
|N.Y. Mag. 12 Dec. 42/1: During the blackout, they really did a number on us. They took all our drugs. They ripped out our storefront. [...] Three weeks later, we were burglarized again.|
|Full Contact 136: ‘What happened?’ ‘Somebody did a number on him, Jack — maybe like somebody tried to do on you’.|
|(con. 1954) Tomato Can Comeback [ebook] I hadn’t realised how nervous I’d been through the fight,. [...] It did a number on my stomach.|
|Broken 207: ‘They did a real number on you’.‘Sunset’ in|
3. to manipulate emotionally, esp. through sexuality; to cheat, confuse or deceive someone.
|(Alabama Labor Council) Proceedings 60: A governor who we had every reason to believe was supportive of the labor movement, did a number on us.|
|London Fields 97: I’d say she really did a number on Guy Clinch. No half-measures there. It beats me how she keeps a straight face.|
|Body of Evidence (1992) 174: If he was, it’d probably be soprano after the number you done on him.|
|Powder 393: She’d told him what a big number she was doing on the band.|
|🎵 You really fucked me Kim / You really did a number on me.‘Kim’|
|Southern Style 7: Didn’t stop him doing a number on me, though. Smoother than a peeled onion, our Jock. [...] Still, it had to happen: every London virgin eventually gets fucked.|
|Viva La Madness 158: He’d [...] not told them the reason. Let their heads do a number on them.|
4. to flirt, to entice someone with sexual behaviour.
|Spectator Winter 15: Her big baby blues were too busy doing a number on my bloodshot brown ones.|
|Tattoo of a Naked Lady 7: She was doing a number on a grape Popsicle to make your peter wish it was frozen on a stick.|
5. to have sexual intercourse.
|Tales of the City (1984) 21: ‘He and me did a little number last month on his house boat in Sausalito.’ ‘A little number?’ ‘Fucked.’.|
|Wiseguy (2001) 93: We got a really great-looking hooker [...] She used to do numbers for Ralph Atlas’ clients.|
6. to beat savagely.
|Cogan’s Trade (1975) 119: These two guys [...] hadda go out and do the number onna guy that runs a card game.|
|Close Quarters (1987) 20: I get about half a chance I’m gonna do a number square on his nappy fucken head.|
|personal correspondence 7 July: doing a number on his head can mean either repeated blows, kicks, etc to head, [...] doing a number on the ribs is more tightly tied to physical violence.|
|(con. 1973) Johnny Porno 304: Get your busted as down the bar [...] so’s I can see for myself the number this guy did on you.|
|Old Scores [ebook] ‘They sure did a number on you. See that frothy blood. That’s an embolism. You’ve got a collapsed lung’.|
7. (US) to get married.
|House of Slammers 93: Me and the bitch gon’ do the number.|
8. to break, to cause harm (other than through deliberate, person-to-person violence).
|Way Past Cool 113: Done a total number of your cool jacket. Yo! Maybe Mom could sew it?|
|Keepers of Truth 176: The dust does a number on my sinuses.|
9. to hurt severely.
|Alphaville (2011) 11: The rib shot has done a number on him.|
1. to understand another person absolutely, despite all their possible evasions and excuses.
|Bleak House (1991) 775: Whenever a person proclaims to you ‘In worldly matters I’m a child’ you consider that that person is only a-crying off from being held accountable, and that you have got that person’s number, and it’s Number One.|
|Chicago Poems 28: You don’t throw any scare into me. I’ve got your number. I know how much you know about Jesus.‘To a Contemporary Bunkshooter’|
|Hand-made Fables 25: They felt that they had her Number.|
|Home to Harlem 14: Sweet Harlem! Harlem, I’ve got you’ number down.|
|Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 102: ‘She’s got your number,’ I said. ‘She says you’re a worrier.’.|
|Fowlers End (2001) 53: I had his number—Costas didn’t fool me for a moment.|
|(con. c.1930) Early Havoc 48: ’I’ve got your number I’m not afraid of you’.|
|Cockade (1965) I iii: She’s got your number ’Oskie ... I always thought you were a stinking bastard.‘Prisoner and Escort’ in|
|Snowblind (1978) 208: Canadian Jack had had the Hawk’s number from the beginning.|
|Minder [TV script] 46: They had my number down when I arrived, chum, I’ll tell you that. They said ‘Here, that geezer is completely healthy.’.‘Get Daley!’|
|Mooi Street (1994) 217: Any fool voel who wants to come and tackle my tomatoes, feel free. Because why? Because I got your bladdy number, jong!‘Smallholding’ in|
|Straight Outta Compton 58: ‘What did you do to LeRoy?’ Rooster asked. She was thinking: ‘He’s got your number now.’.|
|Therapy (1996) 102: Oh, yes, this guy has my number alright.|
|Lush Life 219: I hate that, people day projects kid, projects girl, like everybody’s got your number .|
2. to know something disadvantageous about; to place someone in a difficult position.
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 66: I guess I got yer numbers now, so in future yuh pay in advance!|
|Gilt Kid 179: They got our number all right.|
|Cool Customer 146: You needn’t bluff, fellow [...] We’ve got your number.|
|Among Thieves 218: He’s saying the way he got off so light was that he got everybody’s number now.|
|Ringolevio 205: Soho wasn’t particularly hospitable any longer because the coppers now had his number.|
|Pugilist at Rest 218: He’s going to wish he never heard of me. I got his number. He’s mine!|
|(con. 1943) Coorparoo Blues [ebook] The bulls had his number – some bastard had shopped him – and he was done for if they nabbed him.|
anything or anyone seen as serious, important etc.
|Generations 91: And he puts down this very heavy number and his mind is so fucked up and I just get very uptight.|
|Blood Brothers 184: Look, there’s this very heavy number goin’ down with my father and uncle.|
|Shaun Traynor 🌐 Pessimistic, serious, truly beautiful, I recommend Port Authority to my readers with the proviso, it is a heavy number.|
|S-wine 🌐 This heavy number is from Sicily so hence the whopping 14% volume.|
a sexually attractive woman or in gay use man, also her or his telephone number, esp. if written on the wall of a phone booth.
|in Ragtime Songbook (1965) 55: Say gal, you’re sure a red hot number.|
|Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge 186: To think of some of the hot numbers I’ve turned away on account of you!|
|Short Stories (1937) 180: He said she was a hot number, but lousy.‘A Practical Joke’ in|
|Parm Me 33: I told Francey all about this girl [...] and what a hot number she was.|
|Scrambled Yeggs 134: Hot number, that Gloria. Really hot!|
|Godfather 15: She was a ‘hot number’ this daughter of his.|
|Ladies’ Man (1985) 181: In that place any girl became a hot number.|
|Double Whammy (1990) 45: A very hot number [...] Don’t tell me she’s already got your dick in a knot.|
|Official Dancehall Dict. 25: (H)ot-number a sexy female: u. de gal Sharon deh a hot number.|
|(con. 1970s) My Lives 191: In those days gay guys divided other gay men into three categories: forget-it; hot numbers; and sisters.|
|(ref. to 1963) Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 60: Marie Anselmo was a hot little number. That’s what we would have called her back in 1963. [...] Nowadays the kids have shortened it to just ‘hottie’.|
(US prison) to finish one’s sentence.
|Prison Sl. 107: Kill a Number also Number and Parole to Next Number To complete a prison sentence.|
to understand another person, to assess a situation.
|N.Y. Age 11 Jan. 10/4: Don’t act so mart, we knew your number from the start.‘Observation Post’ in|
|Old Story Time II v: She is a distress to me, you see, Missa Mac? But I know her number.|
1. a phr. meaning that one dies.
|Hooligan Nights 62: Nuvver step and your number’s up.|
|A Tall Ship 11: I think our number’s up, old thing. Thorogood bent and slipped his arms under the surgeon’s body.‘Crab-Pots’ in|
|(con. WWI) One Man’s Initiation: 1917 (1969) 143: The shells were coming in so thick I thought my number’d turn up any time.|
|Gangland Stories Mar. 🌐 ‘So he made a deal with Dimples and Clam’s and Bert’s numbers were put up.’.‘Mob Murder’ in|
|McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (2001) 34: When you number’s up, rich or poor, you got to go.|
|Lead With Your Left (1958) 25: The cemeteries are full of ex-cops. When our number comes up we go with the wagon too.|
|Numbers (1968) 13: When your number comes up —.|
|Buttons 34: Somewhere, I’d see the guy who’d shot me – who’d tried to murder me – and his number would be up.|
|Death Row 278: And that is one thing you never know: when your number is up.|
|Foetal Attraction (1994) 259: Before he flew off to bomb and strafe the Hun, until the night his number came up.|
|Guardian G2 14 Oct. 3: But the kid’s number was obviously up.|
2. a phr. meaning that one is in trouble or has reached a point from which one cannot escape.
|Psmith in the City (1993) 121: The absurd idea that all was over, that you meant all you said — briefly, that his number was up.|
|Greenmantle (1930) 430: I knew there was no choice. With Blenkiron crippled we were pinned to the castrol. Our numbers were up all right.|
|(con. WWI) Soldier and Sailor Words 211: Number Up, To Have One’s: To be in trouble.|
|Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 42: His number’s up and you’d better get on the winning side.|
|Corner (1998) 22: When his number came up, it was the result of neither a Western District patrolman’s vigilance, nor the business end of a stickup boy’s nine millimeter.|
|D. Telegraph (Sydney) 22 Apr. 🌐 The moment Jackie O was told her number’s up .|
(UK prison) voluntary solitary confinement for the sake of a prisoner’s safety; child molesters, rapists etc. choose this in preference to the ‘natural justice,’ i.e. violence of their peers.
|Inside 7: ‘Want to go “on the numbers?”’ the officer asked.|
1. to trick, to deceive.
|in DAS (1975).|
2. with a n., to act in a given manner, usu. in order to deceive.
|Breaks 195: He had been anticipating the number I’d pull on him five years later.|
|(con. 1964–8) Cold Six Thousand 20: Let the backup do it [i.e. frighten a witness]. Have him pull a cop number.|
|Life 418: This little French fucker [...] was trying to pull a number on Lil.|
(US und.) to mark down for punishment, assassination, etc.
|Whiplash River [ebook] ‘You have to help us, Benny,’ Quinn said. ‘And have Logan James put a number on me too?’.|
(drugs) to prepare a marijuana cigarette; thus rolled number n.
|Campus Sl. Mar. 3: roll a number – to roll a marijuana joint.|
|Iced 149: I had just rolled myself a night-cap number.|
|Shame the Devil 104: Newton picked a rolled number out of his bag of dope.|
(orig. milit.) an easy job.
|Buffalo Commercial (NY) 19 Jan. 12/2: The navy hold the belief that the chaplain of a warship has ‘a soft number’.|
|N&Q 12 Ser. IX 347: Soft Number. Easy job.|
|(con. WWI) Soldier and Sailor Words 263: Soft Number, A: An easy job.|
|Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MS) 27 Feb. 14/2: Chalky Wright [...] gets a soft number on the same card.|
|Teachers (1962) 184: It’s a nice soft number – stockbroker’s hours, gentlemens’ holidays.|
SE in slang uses
As specific numbers
(US drugs) heroin.
|Traffic In Narcotics 313: Number 8. Heroin.|
|ONDCP Street Terms 16: Number 8 — Heroin.|
(N.Z.) the best; the strongest; the most likely to succeed.
|Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 77/2: Number Eight the best, strongest, most likely to succeed; from the thick gauge No. 8 fencing wire used on farms.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].|
the Fleet prison, situated at 9 Fleet Market, London.
|Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 128: No. 9 ― Fleet-market the Fleet prison. ‘You’ll find him always at home, at No. 9’.|
see separate entries.
(US) very bad (cf. number ten thou adj.).
|Times Recorder (Zanesville, OH) 13 Mar. 10/5: Numbah Ten [...] once meant the worst. No more. The real worst is now Numbah One Thou and will stand until somebody finally coins Numbah One Mil.|
|Fields of Fire 252: VC bac-bac Phony? Numbah fucking One Thousand.|
|(con. 1967) Reckoning for Kings (1989) 54: First Sergeant number fucking one thousand.|
(US short order) a steak.
|Ft Wayne News (IN) 2 Feb. 7/1: Bowery Eating House Lingo [...] A steak, ’number seven’.|
1. a lock of hair shaped like the figure 6 and twisted from the temple back towards the ear.
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
2. (US, also number 6) Thomson’s Compound Tincture of Myrrh and Capsicum, a popular household remedy [it was regularly listed as the sixth medicine in the firm’s catalogue].
|Forest Life I 83: We stick to thoroughwort,—balmony,—soot tea,—‘number six,’—and the like.|
|A Stray Yankee in Texas 122: His old woman doctored me, and give me ‘number six’.|
see separate entries.
|Traffic In Narcotics 313: Number 13. Morphine.|
|Traffic In Narcotics 313: Number 3. Cocaine.|
|ONDCP Street Terms 16: Number 3 — Cocaine; heroin.|
masturbation, whether by oneself, a partner, or as ‘executive relief’ i.e. from a ‘masseuse’ or prostitute.
|5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.|
see separate entry.
(US) an accountant.
|High Tension 61: But a big blond number chaser seen some of Beckett’s time sheets and took to weeping red ink.|
an accountant or statistician.
|New Anatomy of Britain 497: Kenneth Keith, a brusque number-cruncher who had come into banking from accountancy .|
|Indep. Information 10–16 July 66: Straight denigration of the number crunchers isn’t too difficult to find.|
|Indep. Rev. 24 Mar. 7: The number-crunchers [...] have discovered that in the last couple of years, the average age at which British senior managers are made redundant has fallen.|
|Black Swan Green 57: Us number-crunchers are making a killing!|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
see under numbers, the n.
(Aus.) when the result is known.
|‘Tasma’ In her Earliest Youth III 228: ‘And then your children, a growing family, you know, you have two already,’ suggested the agent blandly. ‘Yes, we’ve got two,’ said George meditatively; ‘and as for the family, it’s the same as with everything else – you never can tell till the numbers are up.’.|
|Tom Pagdin Pirate 13: ‘Are you goin’ to run away in ’er?’ [...] ‘You never can tell,’ replied Tom, ‘until the numbers go up’.|
|Ashes of Achievement 199: He thinks the chances are in favour; I’m inclined to think they’re against. And my guess is as good as his, before the numbers go up.|
|Defectors 181: You can expect a few sharp counter moves [...] You’ll be hard at it until the numbers go up.|
|Winners can Laugh 123: The numbers were up and that’s what the bookies pay on [AND].|
|More You Bet 8: When a dispute or question had been resolved it might have been said that ‘the numbers are up’.|