Green’s Dictionary of Slang

syph n.

also sif, siff, siph, the syph(s)

1. syphilis.

[US]Wyoming Democrat (Tunkhannock, PA) 22 Mar. 2/1: Was the disease taken from a nigger dance house in Harrisburg [...] Is secondary syph getting better?
[US]St Paul Globe (MN) 7 Oct. 7/7: [advert] Anti-Syph — Is Dr Cole’s discovery for the cure of syphilis.
[US]Star Trib. (Minneapolis, MN) 11 July 3/1: [advert] My Anti-Syph treatment is purely a vegetable formula which does the work thoroughly.
[US]DN IV 113: Syph, abbrev., syphilis.
[US]Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer 40: And die of the syph in a hospital at thirty.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 99: She turned out to be a goddam whore and he got the siph off’n her.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Sif, syphilis.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 83: I looked at my cock [...] ‘Don’t tell me you’ve got the syph,’ I said.
[UK]J. MacLaren-Ross ‘A Bit of a Smash in Madras’ in Memoirs of the Forties (1984) 289: [We] stopped at a chemist’s shop that had posters up on the walls, outside, advertising cures for siph.
[Aus]‘All the Nice Girls’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 24: But she’ll leave you on the rocks / With a bloody good dose of pox, / Syph Ahoy!
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 280: This here’s the clap line. We get stuck first. Those with syph come after us.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 588: ‘Did you ever have it, Lootenant?’ ‘Have what?’ ‘The syph.’.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 55: I hope who ever it is she’s with has got a dose of siff.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 86: She’s also got a dose of siff ya dig?
[US]R. Abrahams Deep Down In The Jungle 116: He went to a place called ‘Dew-drop Inn.’/ He asked the broads to give him cock for a lousy fin. / She took Shine upstairs and she gave him a fuck, and all this pats. / He came out with the syphs, the crabs, lobstertoes, and a hell of a case of the claps.
[Aus]P. White Solid Mandala (1976) 191: Johnny Haynes was [...] asking for trouble of the lime-coloured woman, wife or whore, who was going to give him syph or a stroke.
[US]R. Stone Hall of Mirrors (1987) 334: The old man’s paralysed with siph.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 80: They’re [i.e. Indian girls] none of them any good [...] Rotten with syph. [Ibid.] 157: Them mankey whores [...] no’ a one of them as isn’t rotten with siff.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 206: siff syphilis.
[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 94: He was strictly bush league, Turd [...] When he ran a string of girls, he got the syph.
[US](con. 1970) J.M. Del Vecchio 13th Valley (1983) 88: Askin if their little Joey-boy is [...] rottin with the sif.
[US]S. King It (1987) 312: He didn’t have leprosy, you dummy [...] He had the Syph.
[Ire](con. 1930s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 217: It was goodbye for you. You had ‘siff’.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 498: Fuckin queerboy, if you gave me the syph, I’ll kill you!
[US]T. Pluck ‘Six Feet Under God’ in Life During Wartime (2018) 188: ‘I oughtta put you out of my misery. But I think the syph will do you just fine’.

2. attrib. use of sense 1, disgusting, repellent.

[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 143: Like as not some syph coon spit on ’t.
[SA]A. Lovejoy Acid Alex 77: What a siff woman! [Ibid.] 235: I didn’t like the idea of spiked-out arms all siff with tracks and chalk lumps like a junkie laaitie.

3. a syphilitic.

[US]J.H. Griffin the Devil rides outside 202: ‘Rosza Leachebach had to leave the Opera on account of her sickness. She's a syph, you know’.

In derivatives

syphy (adj.)


[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 476: We don’t want a bunch of syphy old bags around infecting our boys.