Green’s Dictionary of Slang

car n.

1. (US) an airplane.

[US]B. Fisher Mutt & Jeff 3 Oct. [synd. cartoon] Some aeroplane company loaned him the car. He’s so high you can’t see him.

2. (US prison) in a prison, a group of inmates who associate to run money-making schemes, dominate other prisoners, and otherwise ‘rule’ the institution [the image of the prisoners driving/sitting in the same car].

[US]L. Stavsky et al. A2Z 18/1: car – n. a loyal clique of prison inmates: He hung with the toughest car.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 254: I’ve never had any use for gangs, but being part of a car makes doing time easier.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 11: Cliques, gangs, crews, cars . . . cut to the chase and what you have are guys that are scared to death and willing to fight to the death to deny that fear.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 157: My latest home [...] and the rest of the prison are run by a loose coalition of woods and skinheads known collectively as the Car. They even have an organizational mission statement of sorts: ‘If you’re not in the Car, then you’re out of the Car’.
[US]Prison Slang Mommyblogger 2 Mar. 🌐 It’s time to put a heat wave on his ass. Get the grapes on this guy from your ace-duces and whoever you have in the car.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] ‘Whose car are you in?’ ‘I’m doing my bones with Eme now’.

3. a group of prisoners who pool their supply of drugs.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 83: The Car [...] A group of several inmates who get together to do drugs, usually marijuana. Most always, the car consists of a group of friends.

4. see Cadillac n. (2b)

In compounds

car crash (n.)

a disaster, an absolute failure.

[Ire]Eve. Herald (Dublin) It’s Friday! 21 Feb. 14/4: [I]n the hands of rookie John Strickland what we get is an absolute car crash of a movie.
[UK]Dly Teleg. 7 Feb. 28/8: [Y]esterday’s programme seemed to me somewhere between a badly missed opportunity and a total car crash.
[Ire]J.-P. Jordan Joys of War 106: [T]he full extent of the car crash that was my home life hit me .
[US]A. Kirzman Giuliani 132: That his constituents were witnessing this car crash [i.e. a divorce] was of little matter to him.

In phrases

drive the car (v.)

(US prison) of a prisoner, to purchase the day’s supply of marijuana for a small group of friends; (see cit. 1992 for details).

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 84: Drivin’ also Drivin’ the Car When several inmates get together to do drugs, the person who is furnishing the drugs is said to be drivin’ the car. [Ibid.] 84: Hitchin’ also Hitchhike, Hitch a Ride and Getting a Free Ride Refers to someone who is using drugs furnished by someone else rather than paying for them himself. If someone was ‘in the car’ and did not pay for the drugs he was using, he would be hitchin’ or getting a free ride.
in the car

(US prison) on good terms.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 38: In the Car [...] When a person is a friend to someone.
[UK]Guardian Editor 28 May 20: In the car: To be in a tight circle of friends.
out of the car

(US prison) on bad terms.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 38: Out of the Car When he no longer is a friend of the person, group or clique, he is said to be out of the car.

SE in slang uses

In compounds


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

car jockey (n.) [jockey n.2 (4c)]

(US) a car-park or garage attendant.

R.I. Aldrich ‘Miscellany’ in AS XXXV:2 159: car jockey. From a student theme, Oct., 1956: ‘My last job was car jockey — I just had to drive the cars wherever the garage told me’.
carnapper (n.) [play on SE kidnapper; modern use, esp. Filipino]

(orig. US) one who steals a car for joy-riding (rather than for resale), and then dumps it or returns it to the place from where it was taken.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 183/2: since ca. 1955.
Soap Opera Central 22 July 🌐 Erica made up a story that the carnapper returned the car because he must have realized that it was her car and wanted to avoid any further trouble.
Newsboy’s Newsroom [Philippines] 13 May 🌐 A suspected carnapper was arrested at his residence in Marawi City last week after authorities acted immediately on a complaint.
car-ringing (n.) [ring v. (1k)]

the practice of altering a car for the purposes of using it as a getaway vehicle, hold-up van, etc. or for reselling it to an unsuspecting customer.

[UK]Motor Trader 12 Jan. in DSUE (1984).
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 182/2: since ca. 1950.
car surfing (n.)

(N.Z.) a game based on jumping from one car bonnet to another.

[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 43: car surfing Jumping for fun from car bonnet to car bonnet. Mid 1990s.

In phrases

get on the cars (v.) [SE streetcar]

(US campus) to start.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 14: get on the cars To begin; to make a start.