Green’s Dictionary of Slang

heat n.


1. in the context of emotion [hot adj. (1); note Shakespearian heat, sexual or amatory enthusiasm].

(a) sex appeal, pornography; thus give the heat, to make sexual advances.

[UK]J. Bale Comedye Concernyng Three Lawes (1550) Ciii: What wylte thou fall to mutton? [...] Rank loue is full of heate where hungrye dogges lacke meate.
[UK] ‘Narcissus, Come Kiss Us!’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 37: The ladies the more did desire a new heat, / But alace! it was out of his power.
[UK]Fletcher Elder Brother IV iv: lilly: You have given him a heat, Sir. miramont: He will ride you The better, Lilly.
[UK]Whores Rhetorick 172: The obscenity appears, of power to raise a luxuriant heat, and a beastly appetite.
[UK] ‘The Brewer’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy I 32: The Black-smith cannot be compleat, / Unless the Brewer do give him a heat.
[T. Betterton] Amorous Widow 62: To take the fresh Air, quotha! Ah, I rather believe ’twas to take a Heat, you Witch.
[UK]Only True and Exact Calendar title page: Miss Sally Jenkins is here [...] Gentlemen may be sure to run their Heats with Ease and Pleasure.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 168: There once was a passionate Celte / Who’d an urge to know how a cock felt. / One went in, hard and straight, / But her heat was so great / That she found she had caused it to melt.
[US]I. Shulman Cry Tough! 172: The other women he shacked around with were dampers for his heat.
T. Wolff ‘Sanity’ in The Night in Question 78: ‘He was totally selfish, totally out to please himself. That gave him a certain heat. A certain power’.

(b) sexual excitement [? f. sense 1a].

[UK]W. Adlington (trans) Golden Asse 15: Then I vnable to sustaine the broylinge heate, whiche I was in, ranne vpon her and kissed the place, where she had thus layd her heare [hair].
[US]J.H. Griffin the Devil rides outside 279: Her eyes know heats and the pleasure of rutting.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 11: They work up such a heat they’d screw the kitchen stove.
[US]D. Jenkins Rude Behavior 369: ‘He said his assignment in the beginning was to distract me from you in case there was some heat between us’.

(c) (US campus) constr. with the, the best, the most attractive.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 5: heat – good-looking: She’s the heat. She’s got blue eyes, blond hair, and one hell of a body.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 5: THE HEAT – the best.

(d) excessive emotion, e.g. enthusiasm, terror.

[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 318: Get a glimpse of a man running with that kind of heat and you know that he’s going to vault any fence or crash any door to get there first.

2. in the context of drink or drugs.

(a) (US) a drink.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 43: {Scene in a barroom:} Munroe might buy Jeff a ‘heat’ before entering the ring.
[US](con. 1900s) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 101: Say, Bones [...] what do you say to a smoke and a heat?
[UK]E. Cross Tailor and Ansty 49: He is equal to every occasion, be it man or event or notion. If the Pope walked in he would offer him a ‘heat of the tea’.

(b) (US tramp) the crude alcohol that is drunk in solution as a substitute for alcohol.

[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 149: I knew how much it hurt to refuse the derelict the price of a can of heat.

3. in fig. use as pressure [hot adj. (5)].

(a) (orig. US Und.) intensive police activity of any kind; pressure, esp. on criminals from the police.

[US] in Collier’s 8 Aug. 30: Police agitation is ‘heat.’ [HDAS].
[US]J.E. Hoover Persons in Hiding 114: Get going! This is G-man heat!
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 25: There wouldn’t be no heat pullin’ up ’n some flatfoot hollerin’.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 79: We’re only wanting you to stop with us till the heat blows off a little.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 58: Generally whores are not a good deal. They attract heat and most of them will talk.
[UK]C. MacInnes Mr Love and Justice (1964) 165: The heat’s on at the station to find this boy.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 43: Cafferty and I remained in Belfast until the heat blew off a little.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 17: I would probably bring down some heat.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 28: You don’t think I’m going to let you bring that heat down.
[Aus]B. Ellem Doing Time 191: heat: police activity, especially after a crime; for example, ‘the heat is on’.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 90: I was drawin’ some heat in Cleveland.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 18: Junkies appreciated the crack epidemic for the heat it drew off their traffic.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 278: Fred decided to get rid of the lodgers until the heat had gone off.
[Aus]G. Disher Crosskill [ebook] [N]ow the heat was off and he was back in Melbourne.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 159: There’ll half be a bit of heat on him for a few days — he knows that.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 86/1: heat, the n. 1 police activity.
[Aus]B. Matthews Intractable [ebook] Denning was permitted to live there on the proviso that he did not draw heat to the place.
[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 73: [V]erb phrases like to bring the heat down (to attract the attention of the police).
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 73: He’s [...] got his funds all spun and spendable, smart lawyers and accountants to keep the heat off.
[US]S.A. Crosby Blacktop Wasteland 123: There was going to be major heat coming down after such a brazen robbery.
[Ire]Breen & Conlon Hitmen 34: Hutch had fled to escape the heat from the drug-related murder.
[Aus]A. Nette Orphan Road 39: ‘Dad agreed to help Bennett stash the diamonds until the heat was off’.

(b) pressure, irrespective of its source.

implied in put the heat on
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 11: I lived off the stick three months [...] when the heat was on.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 48: Think of the heat we’d have saved.
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 26: You gettin’ heat from somebody?
[UK](con. 1971) W. Sherman Times Square 59: I’m thinking of opening up a massage parlor [...] but with all the heat from the guineas, I’m not sure.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 318: Too bad the case won’t get reopened and really make him squirm. Not that I’d want to see you stand heat for it, though.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 186: I dunno if he got bored of me, or the heat were off with his lad or what, you know?
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 41: ‘Hey, ya hear Fitzy’s taking some heat’ ‘Really? For . . .’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] ‘I’ve just started the agency.’ ‘And there’s too much heat on you to run it’.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Zero at the Bone [ebook] There were rumours of [...] a fallout between the detective branches, heat from above due to the rising crime rate.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Shore Leave 224: As the watch commander, he’d be wearing heat for the escape.

(c) physical violence.

[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 81: If he hadn’t come across I was goin’ to give him the heat. [Ibid.] 108: If anybody starts anything around here, I’m goin’ to give ’em the heat first an’ talk afterwards.

(d) (US Und.) a police record.

[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 264: I have so much heat (police record) that the bulls are constantly stopping me.

(e) as the heat, a police officer, or the police in general.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 332/2: A police car is a ‘load of heat’.
[US]Kip Tyler & The Flips ‘Wail, Man, Wail’ 🎵 Somebody called the heat / They threw us in jail.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 37: He never tipped my name to the heat.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 1: The heat comes, I’m dead anyway.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 109: You could spend all your time on your main lady [...] knowing the movements of the heat, giving up a little dick.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 181: She had the rentacop half convinced [...] until the real heat arrived.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 195: Mac was the heat, since once a cop always a cop.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 86/1: heat, the n. 1 the police.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 43: I was now on the side of the angels. The Po-Po. The Fuzz. The Heat. the Big Blue Machine.

(f) (US) problems, difficulties, trouble, bad feeling.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Tobias the Terrible’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 115: There is afterwards plenty of heat between the parties [...] everybody is very indignant.
[US]J. Blake letter 15 July in Joint (1972) 104: He looked like nothing but heat to me.
[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Heat — Problems, arguments or battles between the show, or its people, and townsfolk.

4. (US) weapons, arms.

[US]C.G. Givens ‘Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 133: heat, n. Pistol.
[US]C. Himes ‘His Last Day’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 292: Why, the little sucker trembled so that he could hardly hold his arms above his shoulders, and just because a guy had a heat in his face.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 135: Hide the heat if you go out.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 57: You’ll be throwing that old Thirty-two heat around.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 116: I pumped the heat at him. Blanks!
[US]C. Bukowski Erections, Ejaculations etc. 245: Duke [...] got the heat, a .45.
[US]J. Ehrlichman Witness to Power 353: Nixon knew then that far more ‘heat’ could result.
[US]Ice-T ‘Six in the Morning’ 🎵 And me and my crew we were known to get ill / We carried heat for protection but not to kill.
[US]Source Nov. 170: Some would argue that carrying heat puts your life in greater danger by encouraging you to go looking for beef.
[US]50 Cent ‘Wanksta’ 🎵 When you play me close, fa’ sho, I’ma pop my heat, / Niggas say they gon murda 50, how We ridin round wit guns the size, of Lil’ Bow Wow.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 155: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Burner. Heat. Nine.
A$AP ‘Bath Salt’ 🎵 Addie in the Caddy with the heat on cock.
[UK]K. Koke ‘Destiny’ 🎵 Press my buttons and I press my heat. Oct. 🌐 There are many terms for guns [in grime music], for instance, usually single syllable words that can be dropped quickly: heat, skeng, shotty, pumpy, glock, gat, and so on.
[US]T. Pluck Boy from County Hell 348: Andre cleared and checked weapons. ‘You sure you don’t want any heat?’.

5. gunfire.

J.T. Farrell ‘Guillotine Party’ in Coll. Stories (1937) 181: He poke a gat into Marty’s guts and say here get pie-eyed or we’ll pump the heat into you.
[US](con. 1969) M. Herr Dispatches 15: A too classic hot landing with the heat coming from the trees [...] sweeping machine-gun fire that sent men head down into swampy water.

6. (US Und.) constr. with the, the electric chair.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

7. electricity.

[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 184: Everybody knew the heat was turned off much of the time.

In compounds

heat-packer (n.) [pack v.1 (3)]

(US Und.) a gunman, an armed gangster; thus heat-packing adj.

[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 149: A blaster. Heat-packer. Gunman.
G. Jenkins Unripe Gold 19: Sneaking about like a heat-packer with a Browning and laying a guard out cold.
[UK]Guardian Guide 18–24 Sept. 5: This heat-packin’ Philadelphia hardnut had two objectives.

In phrases

catch heat (v.)

(US) to get into trouble.

[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 188: I caught a whole bunch of heat.
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 98: He caught plenty heat because of you.
[US]Dr Dre ‘187’ 🎵 You catch heat from fuckin’ with the d-r-e.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 11: He’s catching heat downtown.
[UK]J.T. Fisher Wheel of Fortune 135: Invariably he’d catch heat for being out on a race night.
get a heat on (v.) (also have a heat on)

1. (US) to get drunk, to be drunk.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 54: Fedinck gets an awful heat on in Paris. Goes to a swell blowout and returns to his hotel lit up like a church.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Heat-on, drunk.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Madame La Gimp’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 239: She seems to have about half a heat on from drinking gin.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 392: You ain’t lived till you get a heat on with Manischewitz Wine.
A. Prible Pitching in the Promised Land 157: I just wanted to get a heat on, relax with the boys.

2. to get intoxicated on drugs.

[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 309: have a heat on. To take drugs, either once or habitually.
give someone (the) heat (v.)

(US) to place under (verbal) pressure.

[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 125: If you were outside and somebody gave you the heat, you couldn’t fight back and slug them.
[US]M. Baker Cops (1986) 270: Your wife or girlfriend will give you all kinds of heat about doing what you do for a living.
give (the) heat (v.)

to murder, to kill.

[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 515: Giving the heat to another mug who got soft with cold feet.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 199: Give the heat.
heat’s on

a phr. meaning the police are exerting exceptional pressure on the community.

[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 139: The heat’s on, Red — but after to night all the heat’ll be over.
[UK]B. Reckord Skyvers III iii: cragge: Wot’s up? jordan: The heat’s on.
pack heat (v.) [pack v.1 (3)]

(US) to carry a gun or other form of weapon (see cite 2001 Looser).

[US]R. Chandler ‘Trouble Is My Business’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 200: You know any crooks that pack that kind of heat?
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 130: He did fine till he started packing heat.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 123: Whistler had never heard of a place where the local cops didn’t get very upset about private dicks [...] packing heat. So no gun.
[US]Snoop Doggy Dogg ‘Pump Pump’ 🎵 Now just back up, don’t act up, I pack up much heat.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 30: Maybe he’s carrying a gun (packing heat, as they say).
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 133/1: pack heat to carry a firearm or some related weapon, such as a pump water bottle filled with a mixture of sugar and boiling water, or a pump bottle filled with polystyrene balls dissolved in turpentine or petrol.
C.T. McNeely ‘Assisted Living’ in ThugLit Sept. [ebook] Chuckie sat there packing more heat than a fucking volcano.
put the heat on (v.)

to pressurize, to threaten.

[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 235: put the heat on — Bring heavy pressure to bear.
[US]H.L. Court ‘Live Bait’ in Spicy Detective Stories Nov. 🌐 She was scared some of Beretti’s pals would put the heat on her for what she did.
[US]E. Wilson 21 July [synd. col.] The police have put the heat on [burlesque] for the rest of the convention season.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 170/1: Put the heat on. [...] 2. To intensify police activity within a given area or throughout the underworld generally; to spur an anti-crime campaign; to publicize racket operations; to begin a widespread hunt for a wanted criminal. 3. To apply drastic measures, especially upon prospective victims of extortion.
[US]W. Hopson ‘The Ice Man Came’ in Thrilling Detective Winter 🌐 If they put the heat on me for it, I’ll put the heat on you and Moose.
[US]M. Spillane Return of the Hood 83: He wanted to put some real heat on Eddie for a big bundle.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 259: Last Friday I was in Peoria, to put the heat on ‘Toby’ Samoosh, who fell far below his sales quota.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 88: Throw Down To threaten a person with a weapon, usually a gun or knife. […] (Archaic: put the heat on).
take the heat (v.)

(orig. US) to accept responsibility.

[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 188: He’ll be hitting the headlines soon. He’s getting paid big for taking the heat.
[US]Jenkins & Shrake Limo 235: Cooper [. . . .] had an idea that he might call Marcie and say that he and I were looking for Cindy in different places. That way, he would take the heat .
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 44: Takin heat be Gordon’s job.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 127: You’re gonna have to take the heat for the accident.
take the heat off (v.)

to relieve pressure on (a person).

[US]Life 10 May 78/2: Nik decided to run in and take the heat off the Searles brothers.
[US]Billboard 28 Aug. 45/1: What we are after is to stop rackets and take the heat off our members.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 220: The braintrusters in Washington figured they could take the heat off Democrat exposures by torpedoing the dishonest Republicans.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 156: If they started blasting each other it would certainly take the heat off me.
[US]Wkly World News 12 July 27/3: Mrs. Clinton is intent on creating a diversion to take the heat off the President.
A. Spencer Body Cartel 183: It’ll take the heat off my ass for a little bit. I can escape to some tropical paradise.
N. de la Pena Contagion 96: I think we should play dumb [...] and allow the feds to get some of the credit, which will take the heat off of us.
turn on the heat (v.) (also turn (up) the heat (on))

1. (orig. US) to pressurize, to put pressure on.

[US]‘Paul Cain’ Fast One (1936) 212: I’m going to turn on the heat [...] only this time I’m going to make it pay.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl. 53: turn on the heat – put on pressure; take extreme action.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 244: turn on the heat [...] to put the pressure on a criminal.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 229/1: Turn on the heat. 1. To increase and intensify police activity, [...] to apply drastic measures. 3. To subject to third degree police examination.
[US]J. Thompson Criminal (1993) 86: With the newspapers turning on the heat.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 188: And man, did Flo turn on the heat!
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 28: By my magic powers I turn on the heat.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 13 July 8: So who turned up the heat in the Big Apple?
[UK]Indep. 29 Feb. 1: Senator John McCain turned up the heat in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday.
B.G. Webb Secret War 221: LBJ had directed them to turn up the heat on North Vietnam.

2. (US) to cover or shoot with a gun.

[US]C. Martinez ‘Gats in the Hat’ in Gun Molls Sept. 🌐 He smiled as he noticed the outlines of a rod through the fancy fabric. ‘Going to turn the heat on someone?’.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Prison Parlance’ in AS IX:1 28: turn on the heat. To begin to shoot.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 244: turn on the heat To shoot.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 229/1: Turn on the heat. [...] To threaten with a gun; to shoot.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

on heat (adj.) (also in heat) [SE on heat, usu. applied to female animals, esp. bitches]

of a woman, sexually excited; occas. of a man.

[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) VI 1271: I was on full heat, and on her return resumed feeling both their cunts again.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 59: Chaleur (Être en). To be amorous; ‘to be on heat’.
[Aus]‘Worribee Madge’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 36: She’s lousy, she’s poxy, she lives on the street, / Whenever you meet her she’s always on heat.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 43: Lesbians in heat are more combatative than the ordinary garden variety male.
[US] ‘Charlotte the Harlot’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) xviii: She’s dirty, she’s vulgar, she spits in the street, / Why whenever you see her, she’s always in heat. / She’ll lay for a dollar, take less or take more.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 7: Aren’t my frillies sweet / does it make you get just a little on heat.