Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dust v.1

[image of knocking the dust from someone’s coat or jacket]

1. to thrash, to beat up, to hit hard.

[UK]Passenger of Benvenuto n.p.: Blows have a wonderful prerogative in the feminine sex [...] if (which is a rare chance) she be good, to dust her often hath in it a singular, unknowne, and as it were, an inscrutable vertue to make her much better, and to reduce her, if possible, to perfection [N].
[UK]Farquhar Love and a Bottle V ii: Tell me presently, where your Master is, Sirrah, or I’ll dust the secret out of your jacket.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) II 128: You’ve dusted many a Trojan’s buff.
[US]H.L. Williams Three Black Smiths in Darkey Drama 4 30: I’ll dust your thick wool!
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn (2001) 333: So she took and dusted us both with the hickry.
[UK]Sporting Times 4 Jan. 6: They cared not a ‘cuss’ for what England said / To their ‘dusting’ Slavin, poor fellow, / To their ‘bashing’ and kicking a stranger’s head.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 109: The ’ole lot [...] dusts ’im over proper.
‘Bartimeus’ Long Trick 23: One of Fritz’s shore batteries got our range [...] Dusted us down properly.
[US]C.J. Lovell ‘The Background of Mark Twain’s Vocabulary’ in AS XXII:2 90: dust, v. To whip; to thrash.
[US]Time 30 Jan. 14: [Miners] dusted one of [the district leader’s] lieutenants with an old shoe for trying to talk them back to work [W&F].
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: dust v. to beat up; to completely defeat.
[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself (1985) 300: Ying wouldn’t give me the Del Mar number even though I threatened to [...] dust his chop suey ass.
[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 17: Dus’ to attack, even kill someone: u. to dus’ de bwoy dem.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Collateral Damage’ Wire ser. 2 ep. 1 [TV script] That boy we dusted down over in that school lot.

2. (US) to defeat.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 242: He and his crew dusted a squad from Harlem.

3. to kill, to murder.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 203: dust, v. – to kill.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 271: I might have to dust somebody, some jiving motherfucker.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 61: Dem try fe dus’ me outside Shortie’s.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 332: I’m on LAPD, and I just dusted an A-rab.

4. (US campus) to humiliate, to insult.

[US] P. Munro Sl. U.

In phrases

dust (off) (v.)

1. to finish off.

[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 385: A considerable part of the fortune that remained to Morrissey after he had been dusted off by Vanderbilt was expended in vain efforts.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 71: Dusted To have consumed and finished an amount of any drug.

2. (US) to beat up.

[US]L. Berg Prison Nurse (1964) 111: You should have let me dust him off, boss.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 64/2: Dust off, v. 1. To administer a dust-off [i.e. a beating] to.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Peacock Valhalla 23: Goddam you Dallas! You say that one more time I’ll dust you off.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 55: I’m gonna dust that niggah off when I catch him.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 27: I dusted im off, good. Gave im a country stompin.

3. to kill.

[US]J. Archibald ‘Bird Cagey’ in Popular Detective Jan. [Internet] He could have waylaid Drupe and dusted him off.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 82: This guy Magro is a poor unfortunate kid that happened to get caught dusting off another poor hood.
[US]Ice-T ‘Cop Killer’ [lyrics] I’m ’bout to dust some cops off.

4. (US Und.) to trick, to deceive.

[US]C. Rawson Headless Lady (1987) 34: There aren’t many beefs the way I duist ’em off.

5. (US, also give someone the dust off) to reject, to snub.

[US]Berrey & Van Den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]F. Kohner Gidget 97: [Parents] can be trying [...] I dusted mine off a long time ago.
dust someone’s jacket (v.) (also dust someone’s back, …cassock, …coat, …doublet, …drabs, …linen; take the dust out of someone’s jacket)

to thrash, to beat someone up.

[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 156: This rascal’s jacket I had dusted, / If Jupiter could have been trusted.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker (1925) I 142: But i’fackins, Mr. Clinker wa’n’t long in his debt – with a good oaken sapling he dusted his doublet, for all his golden cheese toaster.
[UK]Smollett Humphrey Clinker 26: Prankley, shaking his cane, bid him hold his tongue, otherwise he would dust his cassock for him.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Dead Alive (1783) 36: I’ll not dust the rascal’s jacket this bout.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe World in a Village (1794) 39: I’ll see if I can’t dust his jacket.
[US]Balance 18 Mar. 82: Col. Smith will never again way lay Chatham with a large club, to dust his jacket.
Staunton (VA) Eagle 28 Aug. 4: Go in peace, or I will dust thy jacket with this horse-whip.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 69: A man is supposed to have ‘Got his dose’ when he has been well thrashed. Thence probably comes [...] ‘dust his jacket well’.
[UK]R. Barham ‘The Merchant of Venice’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 52: Old Shylock was making a racket, / And threatening how well he’d dust every man’s jacket.
[US]J.C. Neal Pic-nic Sketches 48: It’s no use sending me to school for the old man to cure his dyspepsy by dusting my jacket.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 June 3/2: Mr Obee [...] took the whip from his hand [and] dusted his jacket with two or three smart cuts.
[US]T. Haliburton Season Ticket 297: I do owe you a quiltin’ [...] if I don’t dust your drabs for you, if ever I come across you, then my name ain’t Peabody.
[UK]Northampton Mercury 20 May 7/4: He would dust his jacket well, / For coming her to see.
[UK]Fun Sept. n.p.: The difference is I dusts his [coat] off his back, and he dusts mine on my back [F&H].
[UK]London Standard 10 Mar. 6/2: The prisoner had been seen at a public-house [...] with a stick in his hand, and was heard to say, ‘If I happen to meet the miller to-night I will take the dust out of his jacket’.
[SA]B. Mitford Fire Trumpet II 144: ‘Say, sonny,’ remarked the cabman [...] ‘The Kernel’s dustin’ your guv’nor’s jacket, ain’t he?’ For the row going on upstairs was in a measure audible in the street.
[UK]Chelmsford Chron. 4 Dec. 2/6: The defendant [...] used bad language, and said he would take the dust out of his jacket.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 134: dust one’s linen (or coat), v. phr. To punish one.
[US]G.A. England ‘Rural Locutions of Maine and Northern New Hampshire’ in DN IV:ii 72: dust yer back, v. phr. Wrestle; throw a man. ‘Fer two cents I’ll dust yer back!’.
[UK]‘Ian Hay’ Lighter Side of School Life 190: He’s not a bad lad, as lads go, but he wants his jacket dusted now and then.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 168/1: dust [one’s] jacket To beat a person up.
dust the road with (v.)

to beat up thoroughly, to defeat comprehensively.

[UK]Marvel III:53 5: Watch them cops dust the road wiv him fer his bloomn cheek!