Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pass v.

1. (also pass up, put a pass) to ignore, to have no interest in, to reject or say no (to); esp. in phr. I’ll pass, as a response to an offer or suggestion [SE pass by].

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Innocents at Home 332: I’ll have to pass, I judge.
[US]A.H. Lewis Wolfville 217: J’inin’ the church in my case is mighty likely to be a bluff. An’ so I passes it up.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 141: He wanted me to cover the whole state of Illinois [...] but I passed and he paid me off.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Call of the Tame’ Strictly Business (1915) 107: What’s this? Horse with the heaves? I pass.
[US]Alaska Citizen 28 Aug. 7/2: He passed up the home girls as though they were pikers.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 57: If you thinks more of your cigarettes than you do of me, smoke ’em. I pass.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 314: It did hurt to have all my old friends practically pass me up.
[US]W.R. Burnett Dark Hazard (1934) 26: He had passed up better ones than her out of laziness long before he was married.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 39: I’ll pass this time.
[US]B. Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run? (1992) 257: I knew you wouldn’t mind if I passed up the opening tonight.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 126: I think I’d better pass. I’ve been on whisky all day.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 640: To-day, in this heat, he had thought maybe there would be somebody who had passed up chow.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 16: I pass with six niggers and eight micks.
[US]D. Goines Daddy Cool (1997) 45: The idea of passing up such a sweet thing bothered him.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 152: Maybe we should pass on the grass.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 122: They weren’t sayin’ too much to look at, so Kleinfeld passed.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 22: I decided not to pass it up.
[UK]B. Chatwin Songlines 42: ‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘I’ll pass.’.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 55: He would have passed up a visit to the Louvre or the Prado in favour of ten minutes alone with a knicker catalogue.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 15: It was quality blow, couldn’t afford to pass it up.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 165: I’ll just go ahead and pass on the Sport.
[UK]Guardian 8 July 3: She passed on the chocolate biscuits, but was happy to drink the Tetley.
[US]J. Ridley Love Is a Racket 31: How you gonna pass it up? Forty dollars? How you gonna pass that up?
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 81: Johnson’s cool. But I think I’ll pass on the Wilson Boulevard crawl.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 274: He could’ve thought what he wanted, when he saw her, and still passed her up.

2. in senses of SE pass as/for.

(a) of a light-skinned black person, to pose as white.

[[UK] in C. Chesnutt House Behind The Cedars (1995) intro. i: In a letter to his publisher in 1899 Charles Chesnutt described the plot of The House Behind The Cedars succinctly thus: ‘It is the story of a colored girl who passes for white.’].
[US]Van Vechten ‘Introduction’ in James Weldon Johnson Autobiog. of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912/1927) viii : That he ‘passes’ the title indicates.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 64: He knew swell white folks in politics, and had a grand automobile and a high-yaller wife that hadn’t no need of painting to pass.
[US]N. Van Patten ‘Vocab. of the Amer. Negro’ in AS VII:1 30: passing. V. v. Passing for white.
[US]A. Lomax Mister Jelly Roll (1952) 3: Louise, the oldest daughter, so fair she could always pass.
[US]S. Lewis Kingsblood Royal (2001) 64: What’s this about colored people ‘passing,’ if they’re light enough?
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 151: All four of the other children were light-skinned, the girl Margery being light enough to ‘pass’.
[WI]L. Bennett ‘Pass Fe White’ in Jamaica Labrish 212: An a nice wite bwoy she love, dah – / Gwan wid her like sey she pass.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 75: Papa [had] far too much yellow in his complexion to pass.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 219: Course, we always did have some peolas, an’ everybody know most of these whitefolks is passin’.
[US]P. Beatty White Boy Shuffle 119: We missed you at the family reunion! Aunt Tessy wanted to know if you was still passing for Armenian.
[UK]Guardian G2 14 July 14: The playwright urges that European as well as Asian actors be cast in the Anglo-Indian roles, since many can ‘pass’ for white.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 151: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Brown. Bronze. Beige. Ebony. Mocha. Mahogany. Mulatto. Quadroon. Octaroon. Oreo. Creole. Cocoa. Caramel. Café-au-lait. Colored. Passing.

(b) of a homosexual, to appear heterosexual to those one encounters; similarly of a transsexual, to ‘pass’ as a woman or man.

[[UK]Duncombe Dens of London 78: Hatton Garden. Extraordinary Case— A Man-Woman. [...] ‘She may have more than one reason for dressing in that manner, and passing as the husband of the woman Watson, and I wish it was in my power to imprison her’ [...] ‘They always passed as man and wife; and more over, Chapman smokes; and whenever Watson gives her any offence, she beats her and blackens her eye.’].
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 142: It would have been a simple thing for these men to ‘pass’.
[US]Maledicta III:2 236: Drag queens [...] assert real freedom must mean freedom for the wildest people, not merely those who wish to conform, to pass.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

3. (Aus.) to pawn stolen goods [SE pass on/over].

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Aug. 47/2: There, in ’is ’and, was some rings an’ other hangings of a flash cliner. Good stuff it was, too! [...] ‘’Arf’s yours if you’ll pass ’em for me,’ he says.

4. (S.Afr.) to deal illicit drugs.

[UK]D. Lytton Goddam White Man 71: Passing is passing the dagga which people smoke. Lots of money in that business.

5. (US campus) to become unconscious (from drink or drugs) [SE pass out].

[US]W. Safire What’s The Good Word? 304: If I do too much brew, I’ll get wicked-faced, boot, and maybe even pass.

In phrases

pass up (v.)

see sense 1 above.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

pass a sham saint (v.)

to play the hypocrite.

[UK]N. Ward Secret Hist. of Clubs 303: How to file a Drunken Cully; Sweeten an Old Letcher; Whedle a constant Customer [...] and how to pass at once a Sham-Saint and a Maidenhead upon a loose Quaker.
pass (someone) one (v.)

(Aus.) to punch, to slap.

[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Oct. 1/1: During the inky interval a well known bookmaker attempted to fondle his fiancee [and] having cuddled the wrong kleiner in the gloaming he was ‘passed one’.
[Aus]Punch (Melbourne) 27 Sept. 4/2: her goal-kicker wanted ter tike ther ball ‘ome and show it to ‘is tart to let ‘er see ‘e ‘ad touched it; ‘e wudn’t drop it, so Baldy passed ‘im one, as fair a bump’s I ever seen.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis Songs of Sentimental Bloke 86: I wish’t I ’ad ’im ’ere to deal wiv now! / I’d pass ’im one, I would! ’E ain’t no man!
G.H. Lawson Dict. Aust. Words n.p.: PASS ONE - To deliver a punch.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Halfway to Anywhere 106: ‘By cripes, you got a hide, reckoning I ought to miss passing that bloke one because you’re struck on Polly Tanner’.
pass oneself out (v.)

(Aus.) to commit suicide.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Dec. 10/1: Then – poor man – he went home, gave his last pay to his wife, and passed himself out.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Aug. 12/2: The average bush-worker says, from sheer force of habit, that drowning is a comfortable way of passing yourself out.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Nov. 16/4: There an unfortunate, full up of life, took matters into his own hands and passed himself out.
pass out (v.)

1. to die.

[UK]D.L. Sayers Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1977) 37: There’s a bit of a muddle about the exact minute when the old boy passed out.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 220: Pass Out, To: To die.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. (Aus.) to disqualify.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 May 24/2: M.L. League of Wheelmen made a beautiful bungle over the disqualification of Sutherland, picked to go to Paris and ‘passed out’ for demanding ‘appearance-money’ from two sport bodies.

3. (Aus.) to knock out.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 July 36/2: I told ’im ’ow they useter go through blokes for their gilt, an’ showed ’im where one passed me out with a bottle be’ind the ear.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Fat Girl’ in Fact’ry ’Ands 151: He promised to show Feathers a ‘boshter knack for passing out gazobs’.
[Aus]L. Esson Woman Tamer in Ballades of Old Bohemia (1980) 62: You’re all talk. Bongo Williams got nine months for topping off a mob o’ Chows with a bottle. He passed out four of them.

4. to fall asleep, usu. as a result of drink or drugs.

[US]W.R. Morse ‘Stanford Expressions’ in AS II:6 277: passed out—intoxicated; failed.
[US]J.A. Shidler ‘More Stanford Expressions’ in AS VII:6 436: A drunkard is a ‘funnel,’ ‘tank,’ ‘blotter,’ or ‘sponge’; he ‘passes out’.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 151: He stayed up till about ten and then we’d all pass out together.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 247: A glue-sniffing kidnapper, passed out with one hand dangling.
pass the bone (v.)

(US campus) to share experience, to pass on information.

[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 21: Pass the bone: Sharing one’s knowledge and past experiences with someone else.
pass the pikes (v.) [SE turnpike, a toll gate; villains who had passed this barrier might presume themselves free of effective pursuit]

to be out of danger.

R. Sanderson sermon 24 Apr. in Works II 45: Neither John’s mourning nor Christ’s piping can pass the pikes.
[UK]R. Herrick ‘His Cavalier’ Hesperides 31: This a virtuous man can doe, / Saile against Rocks, and split them too: / I! and a world of Pikes passe through.
[UK]J. Tatham The Rump IV i: Stand here and admire; You are beholding to me, I have past the pikes to meet you, and swet for’t.
[UK]J. Hacket Transfig. (3rd Ser.) n.p.: There were many pikes to be passed through, a complete order of afflictions to be undergone [F&H].
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: To pass the Pikes, to be out of Danger.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
pass the sleep medicine (v.)

(US) to knock out.

[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 168: He’s just a big stiff. I’ve seen ’m fight, an’ I can pass him the sleep medicine just as easy.