Green’s Dictionary of Slang

screaming adj.

[SE scream; note 19C Adelphi Theatre playbills, which advertised a ‘screaming farce’]

1. first-rate, splendid, amazing.

[UK] ‘Letter of R.H.B’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1847) 156: Post going off, God bless you, all well, and in screaming spirits.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
R.H. Newell Orpheus C. Kerr I 78: You play a screaming hand, my son / And push an ugly cue.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 350/2: To have a girl all of his own, as he said, was a ‘screaming lark’.
[Aus]Wagga Wagga Advertiser 23 Oct. 4/2: That’s just the bare outline of the plot, but we can work it into something screaming, you and I.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Cloven Foot I 125: ‘Well,’ cried the manager, radiant, ‘a screaming success.’.
[UK]Hull Packet 25 June 2/6: Bud attempted to become what was called in society a screaming success.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 70: Screaming, first-rate;‘a screaming farce,’ one that make the audience scream with laughter.
[US]World (N.Y.) 3 May 4M: Now, ‘Tin Pan Alley’ is considered a term of reproach by the Tin Pan Alleyites. They prefer to designate it as ‘Melody Lane.’ But that is a poetic fancy that those who go down that way to hear the ‘new, big, screaming hits’ do not indulge in.
[NZ]Truth (London) 18 June 1678/3: Slang terms: [...] screaming, serene, ship-shape, slap-up, slick. splendiferous, stayer, stilton, stunning, swell [etc] .
[UK]A. Christie Secret of Chimneys (1956) 220: How perfectly screaming! And I have married you! What are we going to do about it?
[US]D. Parker ‘From the Diary of a New York Lady’ in Parker (1943) 136: We both fell asleep in the car – too screaming.
[UK]Stage (London) 15 Feb. 5/4: Adam Faith is a screaming sucess.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

2. very funny.

[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 241: That ‘stunning’ and ‘screaming’ new farce.
[UK]‘New Church’ Times 8 May (2006) 61: ‘Over the Top’. A Screaming Farce.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 199: He must say the screamingest things!
[US]E. Clark Innocence Abroad 135: The samples he gives of the letters are screaming!
[UK]Chips 12 Sept. 1: How about that screaming story of a chicken crossing the cross-roads, sir?

3. a general intensifier, utter, extreme.

[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 438: If ever I saw a screaming storm brewing, there it comes.
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Sea-Side’ Punch 10 Sept. 111/1: I’m to stay in the doldrums at ’ome! It’s too much of a screamin’ old lark.
[US]‘Paul Cain’ Fast One (1936) 200: You started having the screaming heebies and the Doc gave you a shot.
[US] ‘Imaginary Diseases’ in AS XXII:4 Apr. 305/1: screaming shits (the). An imaginary disease in which death is accompanied by horrible pain. It is commonly found in expressions such as: ‘I’d rather die with the screaming shits.’.
[US](con. 1943–5) A. Murphy To Hell and Back (1950) 71: I’ve got the blue, screaming willies.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act I: What do you want? A screaming miracle?
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 31: What I put up with for six months [...] was enough to send a man fair round the screamin’, meth-drinkin’ bend.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Jubb (1966) 26: Screaming Jesus, you’ve only got to look at her and she’s on her back.
[US]C. Durden No Bugles, No Drums 11: The screaming hungries hit us about an hour after we’d smoked.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 161: Only a total screaming asshole waits for a slowpoke.
[UK]Guardian Media 18 Oct. 7: Nor is she [...] the ‘screaming right-winger’ she fears she comes across.
[Aus]T. Winton Turning (2005) 137: Men who cried gave her the screaming creeps.

4. (US) of clothing or colours, loud, bright, garish.

[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 31 May [synd. col.] Screaming vests appeared to be the most dominating factor of male attire.
[UK]Daily Tel. 20 Feb. 17/1: Spring colours are bright pink and screaming green with khaki chino skirts for women and khaki chino trousers for men.

5. blatantly homosexual; usu. as screaming queen

[US]Homosexuality & Citizenship in Florida 26: Glossary of Homosexual Terms [...] screaming bitchor flaming bitch: An exhibitionist who outwardly proclaims his homosexuality and his homosexual inclinations.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 74: stereotype effeminate homosexual [...] screaming-bitch [...] -mimi.
[UK](con. WWII) J. Robinson Jack and Jamie Go to War 100: I could see the screaming pansies all around, hear the insulting remarks.
[US] in Walking After Midnight (1989) 169: She has the preconceived notion about limp wrists and screaming Nellies.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 146: The screaming mincer lept on her back and started flailing away at her head with his puny little fists.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 297/2: screaming loud and camp.

As a general intensifier

In compounds

screaming queen (n.) (also screaming faggot, ...fairy) [queen n. (2)/faggot n.1 (3)/fairy n.1 (3)]

an ostentatiously effeminate homosexual man.

[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 236: Screaming faggots in silks and satins, high heels and high colour.
[US]Kerouac letter 4 Feb. in Charters II (1999) 112: They went on a week jaunt to London I hear to see the angry young men who I imagine are a bunch of screaming fairies from the sound of it.
[US]Lavender Lex. n.p.: screaming faggot:– See Faggot.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 214: Out-and-out screaming queens — mothers are never hip.
[US]J. Lahr Hot to Trot 171: If you don’t straighten up [...] you’re going to have a screaming faggot for a son.
[US]Maledicta III:2 235: Some outrageous types are deliberately screamy (or screaming) queens.
[UK]Burbridge & Walters Breaking the Silence 14: I thought it would be a crowd of screaming fairies.
[UK]Indep. 19 July 9: The kylie minogue-obsessed screaming queen.
[UK]Observer Rev. 28 May 16: Liberace’s legacy has been to make it all right to be a screaming queen onstage.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle 93/2: screaming queen n. 1. an obvious homosexual 2. gay man who speaks loudly in public places in an affected, camp manner, usually for the purpose of drawing attention to himself.
screaming uglies (n.)

(US campus) an extremely messy or ugly look.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 5: screamin’ uglies – looking extremely disheveled, unkempt: After studying all night, she’s got the screaming uglies.

In phrases

In exclamations

screaming yellow zonkers!

a general excl.

[US]B. Adler Vietnam Letters (2003) 21 June 156: There is something wrong with the water and it’s just killing everyone. Screaming yellow zonkers!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

screaming eagle (n.) [the image engraved on it]

(US) a GI discharge button, issued after WWII.

[[US]K. Munroe Forward, March 20: Have you enlisted under the banner of the screaming eagle?].
[US]Newsweek 18 Mar. 34/1: ‘Ruptured duck’: GI for the discharge button which ex-service men wear in their lapels, also, ‘homecoming pigeon’ and ‘screaming eagle’ .