Green’s Dictionary of Slang

it n.1


1. sexual intercourse.

[UK]Shakespeare Hamlet IV v: Young men will do’t, if they come to ’t; By Cock they are to blame.
[UK]Rowley & Shakespeare Birth of Merlin (1662) II i: Her name is Joan Go-too’ t, I am her elder, but she has been at it before me.
[UK]R. Brome Northern Lasse III ii: Put her to’t I say, to’t directlie.
[UK]R. Brome Antipodes V v: He had / Well put her to’t within.
[UK]J. Shirley Captain Underwit IV ii: Did you euer doo’t with her.
[UK] ‘Amorous Dialogue Btwn John & his Mistress’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 67: For after our joys, he would make us sad, / For taking it where it ought not to be had.
[UK] ‘The Converts’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1968) IV 153: An antiquated lord / A walking mummy in a word [...] By pox and whores long since undone, Yet loves it still and fumbles on.
[UK]‘Of a Good Wife & a Bad’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 303: Some Women are sick, and some are sound [...] And some will take it on the Ground.
[UK]Proceedings against Capt. Edward Rigby for intending to commit the Abominable Sin of Sodomy, on the Body of one William Minton 7 Dec. 2: Putting his Tongue into his Mouth askt him, if he should F--- him [...] and said, That the French King did it.
[UK]Penkethman’s Jests 48: One old Gentleman who had married a fine young Lady [...] ask’d her, if she had consider’d what a crying Sin it was in a Woman to cuckold her Husband? – Lord, my Dear, says she, what d’ye mean? I never had such a Thought in my Head, nor never will. No, no, reply’d he, – I shall have it in my Head, you’ll have it somewhere else.
Kick him Jenny 17: Jenny was at Heart contented, Vow’d when she felt the Kiss he gave her, To yield [...] And, smiling, bid him, Do it clever.
[UK]Nancy Dawson’s Jests 1: Nancy was good at it, for that either standing or lying, her movements were excellent.
[UK]Nocturnal Revels I 52: Lady Loveit [...] much disappointed in her amour with Lord Atall, desires to be [...] well mounted this evening.
[UK]Morris et al. ‘Song’ Festival of Anacreon (1810) 39: Just six weeks we’ve married been, [...] Take all you have done for me, quoth Nell, / ’Tis only once a night, / Just two and forty times you’ve done ’t.
[UK] ‘Wha’ll Maw Me Now?’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 262: I wae gae by the sodger loon, / The sodger dit it a’.
[Scot] ‘Toasts & Sentiments’ Burns Merry Muses of Caledonia (1843) 161: Here’s of it, and to it, and to them that can do it: and those that can’t, may they never come to it.
[UK] ‘When A Girl’s About Sixteen’ Flash Chaunter 7: When once she’s had it she is worse, / Never pleasing, always teasing.
[UK] ‘Is It Anybody’s Business?’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 142: Is it anybody’s business if any man should choose / To ask a lady for it, and the lady don’t refuse.
[Ire] ‘The Day that Paddy was Breeched’ Yankee Paddy Comic Song Book 2: For soon I’ll take a wife — / To do it long I’ve itch’d [...] More power to your small clothes, / And Ireland too, I say; While a shot she’s got in locker, / Sure she never will say die.
[UK]Arthur West [perf.] ‘The Captain called the Mate’ 🎵 he captain called the Mate, and the Mate said, ‘Oh / I’ll go and ask the steward,' so he went below / The steward called his servant, and the boy said, ‘No.’ / So she had to go without it after all.
[UK]Illus. Police News 15 July 4/1: The last turn was ‘Yours Truly, Flirtie Florenstein’ [...] who sang a very suggestive lyric, entitled, ‘But I’m too young to do it yet’.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 206: Passionné (or passionnée), m. and f. A sexually passionate man or woman; ‘one who loves it’.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 10 Aug. 3/6: ‘Foolish?’ said one Crown-street demi-mondaine to another. ‘Why, she was too foolish for words. When she first came to Sydney she actually gave away the worth of a couple or three hundred quid before she knew she could sell it’.
[US]Bawdy N.Y. State MS. 5: Here’s to it, and at it, and at it, and to it, / And to it, and it again. / For the man that gets to it, / and then dont do it, / May never get to it again.
[US] in Green & Laurie (1951) [song title] No One Could Do It Like My Father.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 86: She had that cream gown on with the rip she never stitched. Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I’m dying for it. [Ibid.] 701: Always having to lie down for them better for him put it into me from behind the way Mrs Mastiansky told me her husband made her like the dogs do it.
[US]Victoria Spivey ‘How Do You Do It That Way?’ 🎵 And when the rooster and the hen go to the barn to play / Oh the hen has chickens, how do they do it that way?
[US]Blanche Calloway ‘Just a Crazy Song’ 🎵 Oh, you’re a wow! / Aw, do it now, / Oh, good and strong, / You gotta make me cry, / Oh, you know how, / Oh, give it now.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 23: I knew a Polish beast once. She loved it.
[US]J.P. Donleavy Ginger Man (1958) 10: Tell me, what’s it like to have it steady?
[UK]K. Amis letter 28 Sept. in Leader (2000) 688: Firm title: I WANT IT NOW (it being several things, but chiefly IT). That should wow them.
[UK](con. 1940s) J.G. Farrell Singapore Grip 184: If you think you’ll get it from her [...] I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Go West Young Man’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Anyhow, right in the middle of it, d’you know what she said to me?
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 134: Some people live for doing ‘it’ [...] They’re hyper-sexed.
[UK](con. 1860s) P. Ackroyd Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 106: I used to kill them with ‘I Don’t Suppose He’ll Do It Again for Months and Months and Months’. I never saw the dirt in it, not me.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 8 May 7: I had to wait until my late teens to ‘do it’.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 90: Some of the girls [...] They’re gonna sell it, can’t say I blame them.
[UK]M. Herron Secret Hours 208: ‘[U]ncross your legs and offer it up for the good of the Service’.

2. the male genitals.

[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 12 16–23 Aug. 113: Had not the Wenches Voice been heard by one of the Apprentices, saying; It’s in; It’s in.
[UK] ‘Loves Masterpiece’ in Adlard Fruit of That Forbidden Tree (1975) 82: He felt under her smock. / Although he did touse her, / Although he did rouse her / Until she backwards did fall, / She did not complain / Nor his kindness refrain, / But prayed him to put it in all.
[Scot]Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland (1892) 20: Dinner Sentiments [...] Club it in. Scold it in. Drive it in. Mould it in. Hold it in. Still there’s more to follow.
[UK] ‘Put It In’ in Bold (1979) 188: My mind I’ll tell you by and by, your love my heart doth win, / And presently I down will lie, O then boy put it in.
‘Cat’ [broadsheet ballad] 🎵 I burst into laughter and spoiled the fun / but Nelly kept crying push it in John.
[UK] ‘Cupid’s Battering Ram’ Rambler’s Flash Songster 21: But when he produced it so potent and red, Rub a dub. / In fear and amazement the maid would have fled.
[UK]‘Experiences of a Cunt Philosopher’ in Randiana 15: ‘Hold on, Emma, that’s enough, let’s put it in now’.
[UK] ‘Wake at Kildare’ in Bold (1979) 234: He stuffed her up with whiskey and he stuffed her up with cake, / And he stuffed it up wee Nellie coming home from the wake.
[UK]Lustful Memoirs of a Young and Passionated Girl 33: I am getting so I hardly dare turn over in bed at night for fear of breaking it off.
[US] in P. Smith Letter from My Father (1978) 44: We would like to see ‘it’ ‘clear up’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 694: Still he hasnt such a tremendous amount of spunk in him when I made him pull it out and and do it on me considering how big it is.
[US] in P. Smith Letter from My Father (1978) 239: The men looked as if they could never get ‘it’ up again.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 20: There was a young fellow named Skinner / Who took a young lady to dinner. / At a quarter to nine / They sat down to dine; / At twenty to ten it was in her.
[US]J.P. Donleavy Ginger Man (1958) 28: When she had a few drinks she got frightfully crude [...] Asked me how big it was.
[US]Southern & Hoffenberg Candy (1970) 153: When it was in the goodie he changed his tune quickly enough.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 205: Just touch it once? Will ya just touch it once?
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 204: If ever you’re out with a party and you’re not getting anywhere, whip it out and wap it in her hand.
[UK] ‘Abdul Abul Bul Amir’ in Bold (1979) 1: One night this bold Russian had bathed it in rum, / Then powdered his fine grinding gear.
[UK]P. Barker Union Street 193: He was fumbling with his flies [...] He seemed to be in no doubt that he – and It – were welcome.
[UK]Kirk & Madsen After The Ball 311: If you want it sucked stand up and put it through.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] Cut it off, put it in his shirt pocket like a little cigar.
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 52: I hadn’t stuck it in yet.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 10: Yeh. rirly, no messin, ee shagged the sheep. Took is bleedin overawls dahn an rammed it strite up.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hollywood Fuck Pad’ Destination: Morgue! (2004) 249: Luis whipped it out. Luis pissed in the driveway.
[SA]IOL News 5 Dec. 🌐 The racist myth that African men are rampant sexual beasts [...] unable to keep it in our pants.

3. a person of ambiguous gender.

[UK]Thrale Thraliana i Dec. 356: Peggy Pitches is fallen in Love with a Creature called by People in Contempt The It—as his figure & Dress are so Equivocal many Folks take him for a Woman. What will not a Wench fall in Love with?
[US]E. Torres Q&A 109: ‘Bobby, please. I’m very upset. I want her with me,’ Montalvo pleaded, his voice cracking. ‘Send her, him—send it home’.

4. one who has no sexual feelings.

[UK]Thrale Thraliana i Dec. 356: Mr Thrale is fallen in Love really & seriously with Sophy Streatfield—but there is no wonder in that: She is very pretty, very gentle, soft & insinuating [. . . .] A man must not be a Man but an It to resist such artillery.

5. a chamberpot.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 602/2: C.19–20.

6. the female genitals.

[UK]Cythera’s Hymnal 3: ‘Now keep good time,’ she said, ‘and try / To shove a hole right through it’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 25 Jan. 1/2: ‘There’s only one in it — that’s me,’ as the bold lover sang to the blushing girl whose affections he had captured.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 58: Cela [...] 2. The female pudendum; ‘it’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 730: If he wants to kiss my bottom Ill drag open my drawers and bulge it right out in his face as large as life he can stick his tongue 7 miles up my hole as hes there.
[US]Lil Johnson ‘Hand Off It’ 🎵 You didn’t want it when you had it / So I got another man. / Keep your hands off it / It don’t belong to you.
[US](con. c.1897) in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 611: But she h’isted up her petticoat / And showed it to us all.
[US]H. Whittington Forgive Me, Killer (2000) 52: They used to stand on street corners peddling it when they weren’t any more than thirteen.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 131: ‘The day I’ll part with it for a mouthful of whisky, you can hang the flags out’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 187: She had creamed herself wet and slimy and my middle finger was in ‘it’.

7. (US) a fool or an unpleasant person, a term of contempt.

[US]DN I 419: It. A worthless felllow. ‘An awful it.’.
[NZ]Eve. Post (Wellington) 9 Mar. 2/7: When a girl [in New York] says of a man that he is ‘a perfect it’ she means he lacks those qulities which would make him interesting.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 42: it, n. A word of contempt expressing that one is something less than a human being; hence an idiot, a dolt.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 199: It, a word of contempt expressing that one is something less than a human being.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 515: ‘Look, boys, it wants to join up with me,’ the King said.
[WI]L. Bennett ‘Tree-Mile Bus’ Jam. Dialect Poems 109: Yuh can cuss me, yuh can beat me, / Yuh can call me all de ‘it’.
[US]B. Gutcheon New Girls (1982) 136: My dear, it must be a little drunk out.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 93/1: it n. a person whose general behaviour is considered so socially unacceptable as to be almost subhuman (cf. thing).

8. (orig. US, also Mister It) the acme of fashion, the ultimate, usu. when applied to a person, e.g. he really thinks he’s it.

[US]Ade Artie (1963) 4: I was ‘it’ from the start.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 68: Then Sweet William [...] stuck his feet up on the brass rail, ate toothpicks and thought he was it.
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Them was the Days’ Jarrahland Jingles 169: I promise yer I was just IT [...] When up I brings me plumber’s kit, An’ gives ’em dinkum gabbie.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Fifth Wheel’ in Strictly Business (1915) 69: You are It, Annie.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 26: It’s out for a traipse with me new knock. ’N’ ain’t she It and a bit! She i-z — is. Lovely girl.
[UK]T.W.H. Crosland ‘Wounded’ Coll. Poems 122: Our little lot, they say, is ‘it,’ / And not a bunch to stick at trifles.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 35: Three months ago there arrived at The Elms the most dangerous man in England — the it of its.
[Aus]Canberra Times 17 Apr. 8/7: He gave himself that inimitable and indescribable air [...] of being ‘it’.
[US]N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 266: Later the coon things and the nigrah sounds were it.
[UK]M. Marshall Travels of Tramp-Royal 276: And you should have heard it talk.
[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 650: She’d teach him a new way to – / Bring up the children who thought they were it.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 264: So long as you don’t give a girl twins or VD you think you’re just it.
[US]E. Hunter Blackboard Jungle 364: This is it, Rick thought. This is really it.
[UK]P. Willmott Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 164: I want to be it [...] with my name mentioned every day in the papers – when that happens you are it.
[US]M.S. Brookins ‘Aspiration’ in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out (1972) 381: Big Time was it. He was in, baby — really what was happening.
[US]R. Woodley Dealer 144: ‘That motherfucker Jimmy ain’t nothin. He’s got a fuckin attitude that he thinks he’s Mister It’.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 175: Very rude people who’ve managed to save the fare and think they’re it.
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 76: I had to pay rent, I had to buy clothes, I had to live ... and school, college just ain’t it.
[Ire](con. 1970) G. Moxley Danti-Dan in McGuinness Dazzling Dark (1996) I iii: Here’s her nibs [...] She thinks she’s it.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 4 Aug. 9: They think they’re it.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 20: [He] is such a dickhead and who [...] so thinks he’s it.
[UK]K. Richards Life 138: What are going to do at that age when most of the teenage population of everywhere has decided you’re it?

9. (US) money.

[US]C.L. Cullen Taking Chances 138: He had it in every pocket. Said I to him: ‘D’ye remember that neat 100 to 1 thing you pulled off in Washington.’.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 40: ‘Has your grandfather got a lot to leave?’ I asked Roper. ‘He’s lousy with it.’.
[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 40: Her folks really got it.

10. a cover-all for such special qualities that are required for social or professional success.

[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 63: In the Commercial Agencies he was Rated AA Plus A1, which meant that he had it in Bales.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 241: I was watching your work to-night, and I said to myself, ‘That boy was born with it. A bit of experience, a few tips from an old hand, and he can go anywhere’.
[US]T. Wolfe Web and the Rock 325: Well this was ‘it’ [...] Yes, this was ‘it’ – but unmistakenly itself, in it’s own way – Saturday night here every night and all the time.
[US]J. Brosnan Long Season 67: [W]hen the booing started; some, reasonable critics, probably said, ‘Guess he didn’t have it tonight’.
[US]J. Bouton Ball Four 386: [N]ow Jim Owens knows what I mean when I say there are days when I just don’t have it.

11. sex appeal [note that although the term was popularised in Elinor Glyn’s It (1927), see R. Kipling ‘Mrs Bathurst’ (1904) for earlier use. Cited as such in the OED and by Andrew Lycett in Rudyard Kipling (1999) who adds ‘Possibly he gleaned this idea from Lord Milner, who had courted Glyn’].

[UK]Kipling ‘Mrs. Bathurst’ Traffics and Discoveries 352: ‘Tisn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just It. Some women’ll stay in a man’s memory if they once walk down a street.
[US]Helen Kane ‘Is Anything Wrong In That?’ 🎵 But I don’t understand a bit, / When he said, ‘Baby, you sure have It’.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Trouble Is My Business’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 175: I guess you still have it.
[US]A. Kober Parm Me 15: Looka here, William, I know you got plenty sex appeal and It.
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 70: She has It, this one [...] I feel the old attraction, the old urge.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 5: give it – exude an active, available sexuality: She gives it, and she knows it.

12. a person.

[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] He knows a Good Thing When He Sees It 🎵 Then he stood it a supper at Scotts / And bought it a bottle to please it.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 120: When are you going to marry It?
[US]C.S. Johnson Shadow of the Plantation 81: ‘This here baby is my daughter’s baby [...] The father paid the doctor’s bills and give it clothes’.
[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 28: I must admit, I’d love to bone it.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 91: Fuckin tits on it, mun.

13. a sexually available female; esp. used generically.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 1 Feb. 12/1: They Say [...] That Killy was seen [...] in the park with someone's wife. What does this mean, Kill? It's old enough to be your mother!
[US]H. McCoy They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in Four Novels (1983) 25: With all of it running around loose [...] a guy would have better sense.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 76: There’s a mile of it out there. Long as you’ve got a nice white shirt on and your black bow tie and you’re sober and speak nice, they’re all over you.

14. ejaculation.

[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 694: When I made him pull it out and do it on me.

15. (US) excrement.

[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 42: ‘They want to mess in the street, like horses,’ I said. ‘See, they do the work of horses [...] so they want to have the right to drop it in the street, just like a horse.’.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 75: Don’t cover me with it, Bill, it’s up to my shoes now.

16. (US Und.) death; also fig. use.

[US] ‘Und. “Lingo” Brought Up-to-Date’ L.A. Times 8 Nov. K3: IT: Death.
in J. Olsen Black is Best 78: ‘[T]hat plane started slipping down thataway and them motors just a-screaming and a-squalling. I really thought it was our last ride. I’d done made up my mind this was it’.
[US]P. Maas Serpico 116: [H]e went into a long, sickening skid, a line of parked cars loomed up in front of him, and he thought this was going to be it.
[US]L.K. Truscott IV Dress Gray (1979) 264: He figured any minute the Big wazoo was gonna come down and call his number, and that was gonna be it, man. It.
[SA]IOL News (Western Cape) 27 May 🌐 When they took out their gun I thought that this was it.

17. a ref. to a casual, picked-up partner as opposed to a lover.

[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 146: It’s most marvellously gorgeous. I’d like to make it.
[Aus]R. Park Poor Man’s Orange 188: Where did you find it, Harry? [...] Christ almighty! It’s a virgin, that’s what it is!
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 123: ‘Look what’s coming!’ ‘Isn’t it gorgeous!’.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 24: it (pron., n.): Used by homosexuals in reference to a heterosexual ‘number’ or ‘pickup’ instead of calling such him or he; also used in a derogatory way to refer to another homosexual who is considered on the ‘outside’ of any little group or association of ‘queens’.
[Scot]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: I mean, it’s into me big time, I can tell – it's a lassie after all.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 293/2: it a short-term sexual partner.

18. virginity.

[US]Johnny Messner & His Orchestra [instrumental title] She Really Meant To Keep It.
[US]Maledicta 1 (Summer) 17: As to her virginity, she is saving it, sitting on it, or planning to take it to Heaven with her.

19. (US) a dose of an addictive drug.

[US]H. Gold Man Who Was Not With It (1965) 239: We’re looking for our friend [...] You know him. Needed it bad, fierce.

20. (US black) the quintessence of black spirit, sensitivity etc.

[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 194: Now, man, that alto man last night had it.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 243: it Quintessence of things black; the indefinable spirit, vitality, heart of a person or thing or event.
[US]G. Tate ‘Adeva’ Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 113: Adeva’s got It – that black woman t’ang to be exact – and got no inhibitions when it comes to flaunting it.

21. masturbation.

[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 60: How many times did you lie in bed and do it to yourself?

22. a scapegoat, one who has been chosen/singled out [ext. of the use in children’s games].

[US]R. Daley Target Blue 491: The Planning Division staff had culled Personnel Bureau statistics for a bilingual college graduate living in the 24th Precinct, and had come up with Juris. Juris was called in and told, ‘You are it’.

23. the last straw, something absolutely unacceptable.

[US]D. Spivey ‘If You Were Only White’ 264: Paige was outraged by the decision. That in combination with his lower pay was absolutely it for him.

In compounds

it girl (n.)

an attractive and devotedly party-going young woman, her primary qualifications being her looks and her family’s wealth; coined much earlier, but esp. popular in late 1990s/early 2000s; also attrib.

[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 29 Jan. 19/2: Peggy (it girl) Moore.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘A Patriotic Short’ Pat Hobby Stories (1967) 132: The girl of the year, the It girl, the Oomph girl, the Glamour Girl.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 28 July 8: What are your views on your ‘It girl’ tag?
[UK]Guardian Rev. 19 Feb. 4: Drat! I think to myself: if only I hadn’t left Cecelia, the It-girl/heiress/celebrity daughter [...] in the Met Bar.
[UK]Observer Mag. 19 Aug. 3: Perhaps you see a one-time It-girl in her twilight years. Perhaps you see a grumpy old crone.
[UK]Sun. Times News Review 6 Feb. 2/1: You would probably expect a former It girl to be looking for a Beemer or a Bentley.
it man (n.)

(US) a male sex symbol.

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 6 Sept. [synd. col.] Rudsy Valerntino, the greatest of the Pash Princes, Sheiks, Stage Idols and ‘It’ men.

In phrases

at it

1. fighting, lit. or fig.

[UK]‘W.S.’ Lamentable Tragedie of Locrine II iii: How now, my captain and the cobbler so hard at it? Sirs what is your quarrel.
[UK]Massinger Unnatural Combat II i: beaufort: They are at it. captain: That thrust was put strongly home.
[UK]Etherege She Would if She Cou’d IV ii: Hey Jilts! they are as good at it Already, as the old one i’faith.
[US]C. Schultz letter Travels (1810) II 13 Apr. 146: This was too much for the first, and at it they went like two bulls.
[US]National Advocate (N.Y.) 1 Feb. 2/3: Green specs knocked his hat a little aslant on the top of his head and stood a la Fuller. ‘Oh! thank ye,’ said Tom, ‘I’m your man for a cubana.’ So at it they went.
[US]J. Neal Down-Easters I 99: Two o’ the stubbedest fellers ever I did see, and always at it!
[Ire] ‘A Week’s Matrimony’ Dublin Comic Songster 292: And we went at it both ding dong [...] Abuse came first, and then the blows.
[US] ‘How Mike Hooter Came Very Near “Wolloping” Arch Coony’ in T.A. Burke Polly Peablossom’s Wedding 151: I rolled up my sleeves, an’ Arch rolled up his’n, and we was gwine at it reg’lar.
[UK]Beds. Times 31 July 2/5: [from Spirit of the Times (NY) ] I looked at Tom [...] as he said to me, ‘Shuck yourself.’ We warn’t long in sheddin’our superflus kiverin’ and at it we went.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 115/2: I and Curly now got at it, and this gave Joe an opportunity of jumping to his feet and of ending in a real sockdolager.
‘Lewis Carroll’ Through the Looking-Glass 144: ‘They’re at it again!’ [...] ‘Who are at it again?’ she ventured to ask. ‘Why the Lion and the Unicorn of course,’ said the King. ‘Fighting for the crown?’.
[UK]G.A. Sala in Living London (1883) Jan. 5: Now they are all ‘at it,’ figuratively speaking, with hammer and tongs, brickbats and bludgeons.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 159: A ring had been formed in the straw-yard, at it we went, hammer and tongs.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Between Rounds’ Four Million (1915) 39: ’Tis Jawn McCaskey and his missis at it again.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 281: In the street the disturbance had now become terrific. Both sides were hard at it.
[UK]N. Jacob Man Who Found Himself (1952) 139: Aye – tha’s been at it agean, seemly! [...] Ah ’ope tha walloped ’im this time!
[Aus]N. Lindsay Age Of Consent 25: Damme, Edmund’s at it again.
[Ire]G.A. Little Malachi Horan Remembers 10: Donocha jumped for his pike which he kept handy, and before you could speak they were at it – slash and cut, cut and slash.
[UK]H.E. Bates Darling Buds of May (1985) 75: Somebody’s at it. Somebody’s catching a packet.
[US]Cab Calloway Of Minnie the Moocher and Me 30: I’d get angry as hell and go after him and we’d be at it.
[UK]P. Theroux London Embassy 119: They’re at it again. Fight like cats.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 99: I used to work for him when I hired in. From day one, we’ve been at it.
[UK]Guardian Guide 5–11 Feb. 12: Even the vicar is at it. He has (apparently) recently decked someone.

2. indulging in sexual intercourse.

[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Philaster III i: ‘Why should you think the Princess light?’ ‘Why, she was taken at it.’.
[UK]Rowley & Shakespeare Birth of Merlin (1662) II i: Her name is Joan Go-too’ t, I am her elder, but she has been at it before me.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) IV 90: Turning To look for Dido and her squire, / All in a chamber finely matted, / He very fairly spy’d ’em at it.
[UK]Dialogue Between a Married Lady and a Maid III: I came in, said she, to take off thy upper Petticoat, lest, by its being rumpled, the Guests of the Wedding should perceive that you have been at it already.
[UK]D. Gunston (ed.) Jemmy Twitcher’s Jests 66: Then he forced her to another door; and another after that, and would fain have been at it.
[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 108: The ’Squire’s servant [...] told the landlord and landlady that his master and mistress were at it hammer and tongs.
[Scot] ‘The Patriarch’ Burns Merry Muses of Caledonia (1965) 88: How lang, she says, ye fumblin’ wretch, / Will ye be fucking at it.
[UK] ‘The Patent S--t-Pot’ Cockchafer 32: For weeks they did keep up their amorous sport [...] Till one night they were all at it hard, on the floor, / When the mistress arrived, with a knock at the door.
[US] ‘Red Light Saloon’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 76: Her room, she led the way to, / She pulled down the curtains, and at it we flew.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 86: Must have been that morning in Raymond terrace she was at the window, watching the two dogs at it.
[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 63: We’d go at it four, five times a day [...] go at it front and back.
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 142: We went at it again, trying it dog-fashion this time.
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 8: I gathered that hubby had been a lusty cat, perhaps not very honest, who’d chased around with some other women; Mrs. Gifford intimated that she’d caught him at it.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 7: I have been at it since I was thirteen, or maybe even twelve.
[UK]T. Parker Frying-Pan 141: He caught me fucking his wife, right at it we were.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 327: Bloody hell! [...] they’re bang at it! Bang at it!
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 109: He was one of Rena’s most regular clients. Everybody’s at it.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 2 June 1: When it comes to sex, most of us have never seen another couple actually at it.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 133: Her mother was at it before she was out of ankle socks, she was no slouch on the couch.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 178: We need Chrissy and pepper in the sack and at it for this deal to work.

3. involved in something illegal, or bad.

[UK]Cibber She Would and She Would Not II i: I’m afraid there will be Mischief, Sir, they are all at it, helter skelter.
[Scot]J. Arbuthnot Hist. of John Bull 75: The squirters were at it with their kennel water.
I. Pocock Omnibus I i: Och, what, you’ve been at it again, have you?
[UK]J. Greenwood Tag, Rag & Co. 81: But soon as I got to bed of nights I had no sooner dropt to sleep than I was hard at it, playing ‘nap’. [...] The confounded cards haunted me to that extent that I felt that if I didn’t have a change they’d ruin me again.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 17 July 4/2: [headline] ‘Jack the Ripper’ At It Again [...] A Woman Murdered and Mutilated in Spitalfields.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Something Similar’ Sporting Times 4 Jan. 1: I heard mother say, and she said it with pain, / That you’d been on the drink, and were at it again.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Nov. 13/2: The mild and docile Kanaka [...] has been at it again. [...] [H]e lifted her to the ground, and pounded her head with a 19lb. stone till she was dead.
[UK]Marvel 6 Jan. 684: ‘They’ve been at it again, Mr. Gasken!’ [...] ‘Who have?’ Gasken asked innocently. ‘The villains – the – the robbers!’ Tremaine cried.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 15/3: The peacefully-disposed anti-militarists in Maoriland have been at it again. Recently they created a disturbance by turning a firehose on a meeting [...].
[UK]W. Holtby Anderby Wold (1981) 169: Have you seen this week’s Northern Clarion? By Jove, your little friend’s been at it all right.
[Ire]S. O’Casey Juno and the Paycock Act III: Joxer an’ you at it agen? – when are you goin’ to have a little respect for yourself, an’ not be always makin’ a show of us all?
[US]N. Algren Somebody in Boots 189: Here, niggers – at it again?
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 83: They’re all at it, like ticks on a mad dog.
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 41: My god they’re at it agane.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 80: She’s only been at it [i.e. heroin dealing] for a few months.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 25: If a firm was at it, then they would obviously wait for him to pass by.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 64: Any face you saw there you could reckon was at it, as they say.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 122: There must be fifty of them we know are bang at it.
[UK](con. 1950s–60s) G. Tremlett Little Legs 129: You’ve been at it.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 64: They’re all at it. Every one of them, he says, raising his voice in rage, – fucking Jackie Trent.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 290: A lot of people reckon he’s bang at it. They seize ten kilos but only three end up on the charge sheet.
[UK](con. 1982) N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 270: The boys would be ‘at it’ almost on a daily basis. They robbed anywhere that held cash or valuables.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 199: I could name a hundred cops who’ve been at it, more or less [...] A thousand.

4. sexual excitement; kissing and cuddling.

[UK]Mme D’Arblay Diary and Letters (1904) I 221: What! at it again! [...] This flirting is incessant.
[US]J.J. Hooper Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs (1851) 178: His lips produced such an explosion as might have resulted, had he kissed Miss Winny. ‘Ha!’ exclaimed an old fellow [...] ‘at it a’ready ’squire!’ [...] Miss Winny turned red.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 25/1: I collared them at it — right at it, inside the door way [...] I’ve just ‘collared’ that little Tommy kissing her inside the doorway.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 July 28/1: Writer has forgotten ‘The Jewess’ in which Nance cuddled and kissed to much purpose. If people want to see her at it, they should induce her to revive that play. It will make up for all the love she hasn’t made in her other parts.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 83: [S]he’s warm and soft and all those feminine things and she can get you at it there’s no doubt.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 126: Go at it To neck [...] Go to it Have sexual intercourse.

5. drinking heavily.

[UK]T. Shadwell Epsom Wells II i: I protest and vow I could not help it: My Neighbour Fribble is a very merry man, I could not forbear, we were at it, Tory Rory, and sung old Rose, the Song that you love so, Duck.
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd se. 27: ‘A regular guzzler’ — ‘Always hard at it’.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 31 3: I smelt him [...] that he’d been at it.

6. involved in an argument, emotionally moved.

[Ire]Freeman’s Jrnl 21 June 2/2: Representation of Tralee - Mr Sadleir ‘At It’ [...] Mr Sadleir will give any number of promises, and — keep them.
[UK]Shields Dly Gaz. 5 Nov. 2/3: Russophobia ‘At It’ Again [...] Flying rumour and vague anticipation, by the old craze that Russia is plotting our destruction.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 157: Then at it they would go, tooth and nail, after the good old fashion.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 10: Well, that did freeze ’er off fur a bit, but, bless yer, she were soon at it agin!
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 1423: They’re going to complain! At it again, folks!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper XL 3 114: Oh dear! Oh dear! Now there’s another at it!
[Ire]S. O’Casey Plough and the Stars Act IV: There, she’s at it again. She’s been quiet for a long time, all th’ same.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Big Brother’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Are you two at it again, are you?
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 124: A black geezer talkin like that, get ’em at it.

7. teasing, provoking.

[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 16: You and Long-Boy still at it, huh?
[Ire]R. Doyle Snapper 144: They were laughin’, yeh know. The whole gang o’ them. They’ve been at it since – yeh know.

8. addicted to narcotics.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 41: The kid’s old man was bang at it and she ended up getting a habit as well.
get it in (v.)

of a man, to enter a woman before sexual intercourse.

[US] ‘Root, Hog, or Die’ G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 142: We went up to her room, and my prick it quickly rose, / Before I got it in the bitch, I shot it all over her clothes.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 353: When she looked at his swiver / They had to revive her, / But when he got it well in, she just sighed.
[UK]P. Willmott Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 56: I got on the bed with this bird and got it in.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 319: She didn’t care what he dreamed of so long as he got it up and in and she would take over from there.
get someone at it (v.) [at it sense 7 above]

to tease, to drive into a fury.

[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 38: I often wonder whether you’re potty or just getting me at it.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 151: What he did’nt realise was that the boggie was getting him at it.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 108: And by the way, where have you been, for heaven’s sake? You’ve really been getting me at it.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 207: You’re getting me at it.
go at it (v.)

to fight.

[US]NWA ‘Fuck Tha Police’ 🎵 But take off the gun so you can see what’s up / And we’ll go at it, punk.
go to it (v.)

1. to have sexual intercourse, to pet.

[UK]Rowley & Shakespeare Birth of Merlin (1662) II i: Her name is Joan Go-too’ t, I am her elder, but she has been at it before me.
[UK]R. Herrick ‘Upon Cock’ Hesperides 250: Cock calls his Wife his Hen: when Cock goes too’t, / Cock treads his Hen, but treads her under-foot.
[UK]Wandring Whore I 11: He gave her forty shillings and a gold ring beset with diamonds, before they went to’t; for she told him, for whores and Hackney Jades, their hire must be pay’d before strieing [?] them.
[UK] ‘Song’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy II 199: They stripp’d to go to’t, ’twas hot Work, and hot Weather; / She kindl’d a Fire, and soon made him blow.
[UK]Morris et al. ‘Song’ in Festival of Anacreon (1810) 39: So they stript in a trice, and to’t they went / As hard as they could drive.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 126: Go at it To neck [...] Go to it Have sexual intercourse.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Broken’ in Broken 21: [H]e used to clamp his hands over Danny’s ears when Big John and Eva was goin’ at it.

2. to fight.

[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 184: Straight she began and went to’t handfisty [...] and dang down all the gear: The dishes and dublers went flying like fury.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ ‘Dangerous’ Tell Them Nothing (1956) 55: Me and Dusty went to it. So what? [...] Girls can fight.
have it (v.)

see separate entry.

have it all on (v.)

see separate entry.

have it away (with) (v.)

see separate entries.

have it for (v.)

see separate entry.

have it in (v.)

see separate entry.

have (it) off (v.)

see separate entry.

have it on someone (v.) (also have it all over someone)

see separate entry.

have it up (v.)

see separate entry.

put it about (v.)

to indulge in a wide-ranging sex life; to work as a prostitute.

[UK]C. Lee diary 2 May in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 107: She must be putting it about. Just think what would have happened if you’d married her.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 82: She puts it around a bit but she’s trez bonzer.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Russians are Coming’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Just so he can get out there and put it about a bit!
[Ire]S. Heaney Midnight Verdict 31: Men [...] stand by their wives when they put it about. Facilitate their womanly drives.
[Ire]P. Howard PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids 21: She’s probably putting it about a bit too much.
put it in (and break it) (v.) [the erect penis ‘breaks’ after orgasm]

of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]A Weeks Loving, Wooing and Wedding [song] She fancy’d John could put it in / and that did Jinny soften. / On Wednesday then the Lovers met, / and Johnny prest her home t’it.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I:11 24: Kissing is a great Temptation / And F—ll—g an Abomination. / But ah! my Friends, that Putting in / Is a most beastly deadly sin].
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 18 June n.p.: ‘If I put it in twice,’ said he, ‘it will be seventy five cents, madam, as it is very long!’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues III 208/1: To enjoy the sexual favour [...] put it in and break it.
[Aus]R. Macklin Queenslander 10: ‘Fuck her, of course.’ ‘Do you mean all three at once or one at a time?’ ‘I don’t care, as long as I can put it in.’.
put it to (v.) [note Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost (c.1595): ‘If their daughter be capable, I will put it to them’]

to have sexual intercourse with.

[US]Venus’ Miscellany (NY) 31 Jan. n.p.: ‘I should think your wife would be putting it to you for dancing so much.’ ‘Well she might, replied the old gent, ‘for I have been puttng it to her this forty years’ .
[US] in T. Dreiser in Riggio Diaries (1982) 297: Her brutal lust. ‘He’s got me down & he’s putting it to me.’.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 118: He put it to her six or seven times.
[US] in G. Legman Rationale of the Dirty Joke (1972) I 61: Mama’s on the bottom, / Papa’s on the top, / Baby’s in the cradle, / Hollerin’ ‘Put it to her, Pop’.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 203: Some were fiddling, some where fie-deling, / Some were fucking on the bar room floor, / But I was up in the northeast corner / Putting it to the Winnipeg whore.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 88: anal intercourse [...] put it to somebody.
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 426: We have just seen Deputy Sheriff Palmer putting it to a colored woman [...] in the back seat of his patrol car.
put it up (v.)

of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

[UK] ‘Put It Up’ Rambler’s Flash Songster 30: They on some pretty damsels call, resolved to put it up. / That funny little well fledg’d place, / That causes so much bother, / And if you do not like it there, / Your nose put up the other.
[UK] ‘Stop the Cart!’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 4: ‘Bring back the bed!’ — ‘How can I, when I’ve just now put it out?’ — ‘Why, then I’ll make Giles put it up again!’.
[Aus]G. Disher Deathdeal [ebook] ‘He [...] wanted to put it up me tail and bashed me when I said no’.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 15: So I reckoned Friday night, put it up Kelly.
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 9: More likely I come off the dole than put it up an Asian bird.
put it up to (v.) [‘it’ being a fist or boot]

1. (US) to attack verbally, to criticize.

[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 25: Father put it up to me.
[US]Van Loan ‘One-Thirty-Three – Ringside’ Taking the Count 76: ‘I wish you’d done your thinking before we made this match!’ [...] ‘There you go again! [...] always putting it up to me!’.

2. (Irish) to attack physically.

[Ire]Leinster Leader (Naas, County Kildare) 21 Dec. n.p.: The defendants continued to hurl abuse [...] At this point she called for assistance. ‘They refused to go home and they put it up to us,’ she said [BS].