Green’s Dictionary of Slang

make like (a)... v.

1. (orig. US) to imitate, to pretend to be, to behave like or as if; thus make like a chicken, ...duck (cf. make a noise like... under noise n.1 ).

[US] in S. Lanier Poems (1884) 171: Then he [...] made like he neither had seen nor heerd [DARE].
[US]Chicago Trib. Graphic Section 26 Dec. 7/1: Jive Talk [...] Make like a boid — go away.
[US]S. Lewis Kingsblood Royal (2001) 5: A nigger hash-hustler in a dump like this making like he was at the Ritz!
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 168: Acosta hadn’t been told that Coombs was set to make like a swan.
[US](con. 1943–5) A. Murphy To Hell and Back (1950) 9: He shouldn’ta been makin’ like a pigeon. He oughta kept his head down.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 39: Make like you didn’t know me and was telling somebody all about it.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 280: A fat old fairy in a Japanese kimono makes like a geisha girl.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 1: Now your girl friend calls you up, and you have to bathe and eat before you are ready for a show date. ‘Knock a statue act chick, I’ve got to make like a fish and knock a scarf and then we can cruise on over to the righteous flick.’.
[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 3: I been watchin’ for half an hour and whisperin’ and makin’ like a mole.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 57: Look, least we don’t make like with wings on the back.
[US](con. 1950s) McAleer & Dickson Unit Pride (1981) 51: Just gimme my mail and never mind making like J. Edgar Hoover.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 19: Aw, look at her. [...] Trying to make like I’m not your big love.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 36: I would have gotten something less than pure kicks to get busted making like a broad.
[US]Current Sl. IV:2 8: Make like a sheepherder, v. To leave (From ‘Let’s get the “flock” out of here’).
[UK](con. 1940s) I. Agnew Loner 134: That knocked Crawford’s arse in. He was on the point of blowing a gasket, but was forced to make like Noddy.
[US]J. Webb Fields of Fire (1980) 220: Make like a mole and get into your hole, Senator.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 134: I’ve been making like a bouncer keeping everybody from tearing your joint down.
[US]S. King Christine 356: Make like a tree and leave, Jimmy, okay?
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 129: Jill St. John [...] has her hair all piled up on top of her head so she can make like Shelley Winters. [Ibid.] 202: She makes like a bakery truck and hauls buns out of there.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 125: We made like it was fun hanging out together.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 452: Ed saw Vachss make heat, make like he was smoothing his trousers.
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 143: This woman should just make like a turtle — shut her gob and pull her head in.
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 345: Make like Baskin-Robbins and give me a little taste.
[US](con. 1949) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 162: Most people don’t ask a thing. They make like nothing’s wrong, or they look away.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 125: Make like a fish Have a bath.
B. Reed ‘The Meat Axe by the Kitchen Door’ in Passing Strange (2015) 13: He’s been lying doggo all day [...] on the couch in the TV lounge [...] making like all he’s doing is watching the box.

2. (US, also do a..., imitate a...) as part of a number of phrs. all of which mean ‘go away’, ‘get lost’, e.g. make like a fart and blow away, ...dragster and lay rubber, ...drum and beat it, ...banana and split, ...cow pat and hit the trail, ...paper doll and cut out, ...tree and leave, ...rubber and roll on [an extensive selection can be found in Maledicta IV, 1, pp.40–42].

[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 9/2: Imitate a tree – Leave.
[US]Don Woody ‘Make Like A Rock’N’Roll’ [lyrics] Well let’s make like a tree and leave, / Let’s make like a storm and blow, / Let’s make like a chicken and fly this coop, / Let’s make like a rock’n’roll.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 155: Make like a tree and leave Leave a place.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2 34: Make like a banana [and] split [...] make like a paper doll, and cut out, v. to leave [...] Make like a tree, branch out and leave, v. To leave, go.
[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 86: ‘Make like a tree and leave!’; ‘make like a bee and buzz!’.
[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 300: Nobody need friends like you, Gilligan. Do a homo and blow ... boy.
[UK]K. Lette Mad Cows 204: Make like de snake’s willy and lie low.
[US]J. Lethem Motherless Brooklyn (2000) 311: To both of them and to you I say: Put an egg in your shoe and beat it. Make like a tree and leave.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 125: Make like a tree and leave Quit the scene, take off, vamoose.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 115: Make like an amoeba and split!

In phrases

make like a baby and head out (v.) (also make like a foetus and head out)

(US campus) to leave.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct.
Witchouse [film script] Tony and I are going to make like a baby and head out so get your goddamned clothes on and we can all do it together.
at milly.org [Internet] So, in mid-January, the day arrived when both Bradley and Susan were both free to make like a baby and head out.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 5: make like a foetus and head out – leave.
make like an alligator and drag ass (v.) (also make like horseshit and hit the trail) [pun on drag ass v.]

(US) to leave.

[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 210: Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.
Taglines Galore [Internet] Make like an alligator and drag ass.