Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fox n.1

[stereotypical positive/negative characteristics of the animal]

1. (also Mr. Fox) a cunning, duplicitous person.

[UK]Becon Early Works Parker Soc. (1843) 253: O insatiable dogs! O crafty foxes! What craft, deceit, subtility, and falsehood use merchants in buying and selling!
[UK]Greene Blacke Bookes Messenger 9: The olde Foxe that knew the Oxe by the horne, was subtill enough to spie a pad in the straw, and to see that we went about to crossbite him.
[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 2 (1630) IV iii: The old Fox is so crafty, we shall hardly hunt him out of his den.
[UK]J. Taylor St Hillarie’s Teares 7: The meaner sort of Tradesmen, cursing those devowring Foxes, the master and Wardens.
[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 26 22–30 Nov. 222: The Fox hath Smoaked him.
[UK] ‘Arsy versy’ Rump Poems and Songs (1662) II 152: Thus the Foxes of Sampson that carried a brand / In their tails, to destroy and to burn up the land.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew.
[UK]N. Ward ‘A Walk to Islington’ Writings (1704) 72: In a hovel adjoining, a cunning sly Fox, / Stood shov’ling of money down into a Box.
[UK]N. Ward Vulgus Britannicus I 8: The Fox will Bask, and Rowl and Stretch, / To bring his Prey within his Reach.
[UK]New Canting Dict.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) I 221: This old fox was nearly sixty years of age.
[UK]Thackeray Yellowplush Papers in Works III (1898) 282: Old fox! he didn’t say he had paid.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 126: I’ll be bound now, the old fox came straight home to earth.
[UK]F.C. Burnand My Time 379: The Doctor’s a sly old fox [...] and all he wants is some more tin.
[US]Uncle Daniel’s Story of ‘Tom’ Anderson 157: The old fox (for he was very sly) said: ‘Yes, missus, I’s—I’s jes’ seein’ how many is here.’.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 11: fox A clever person.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 6 Apr. 433: It does not always follow that though a man writes a book about a certain country he has been there. Authors are sometimes foxes.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) I vii: Crafty though the old fox was, the other’s surprise and agitation was too genuine to be questioned.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 190: I thought she was a fox, even though crazy.
[US]J. Tully Bruiser 37: He’s a fox – lot of brains.
[UK]A. Wright Under the Whip 26: It was only too plain what was in the old fox’s mind.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 192: The whole contented clan of white-collar foxes.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 44: Once a fox, always a fox!
[US]E. Torres After Hours 28: Kleinfeld is a fox.
[Aus]J. Davis Kullark 65: You sly ol’ fox, where’d you get that?
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 113: If New York loves anything, it’s displaced young foxes of little material means.

2. an artificial sore.

[UK]Mayhew & Binny Criminal Prisons of London 305: Daring youths [...] were constantly in the habit of making ‘foxes’ (artificial sores).

3. (Aus.) a lie, nonsense.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 July 14/1: [T]he prize was £50 and not £100. And it was awarded, but all the rest is ‘foxes.’.

4. (US Und.) a tramp who rides on passenger trains by tricking the conductor as to his/her legitimacy.

[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 31: Ramblers are further subdivided into two classes: ‘Foxes’ are termed those who ride within the coaches by citing hat checks, by occupying vacant berths, and by resorting to other tricks of cunning.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 79: Fox.–A ‘rambler’ who rides, in a train, on forged or stolen hat checks or conductors’ identification slips, or in the toilet of a passenger car.

5. (US Und.) an escape, either from the police or prison.

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.

6. (orig. US black) a girl, a woman, esp. an attractive and sexually active one; thus superfox n., an extreme example [backform. f. foxy adj.1 (3)].

[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 102: ‘Ain’t she tough? A real looker, right?’ ‘Yeah, she’s a real fox.’.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 112: His life was on the line and he was thinking about some fox.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 143: Stone fox. She look good and she be ready.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 187: A guy wearing about half a grand’s worth of leather on his back makes his way across the street, a sleek, slender, and blonde fox riding his arm.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Wind & Monkey (2013) [ebook] What a little fox [...] Innocent as the day is long. But that much sex appeal, she makes Elle Macpherson look like the bride of Frankenstein.
M.E. Dassad ‘Chickenhawk’ at [Internet] This little fox, she let out a blood-curdling scream, but the locals weren’t going to mind, and if they did they weren’t going to say anything.

7. a womanizer.

[US]Yank (Far East edn) 24 Mar. 18/2–3: Some of today’s teen-agers – pleasantly not many – talk the strange new language of ‘sling swing.’ In the bright lexicon of the good citizens of tomorrow [...] A boy given to hugging the girls—sentimental little rascals, some of these lads—is a ‘wolf on a scouter’ or an ‘educated fox.’.

8. (US prison) the passive partner in a lesbian relationship.

[US]in R. Giallombardo Social World of Imprisoned Girls 189: The fox is supposed to iron [her lesbian partner’s] clothes and give him [i.e. her] respect [HDAS].

9. (US campus) a sexually attractive person of the opposite sex.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 120: Fox A sexually attractive person, female.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 2: fox – handsome, attractive male.
‘Valley Girls’ on Paranoiafanzine [Internet] So, like, which of these dudes is the fox?

In compounds

fox-catcher (n.)

a drunkard, thus fox-catching, drinking.

[UK]J. Taylor Juniper Lecture 120: What, are you awake, good man Foxe-catcher: are you in any better humour than you were last night.
[UK]‘Mary Tattle-well’ Womens sharpe revenge 211 Another that had been late at Foxe-catching, was going (or intending) home to his Lodging.
fox-drunk (adj.)

drunk but still cunning.

[UK]Nashe Pierce Pennilesse 60: The seventh is Goate drunke [...] he hath no minde but on lecherie: the eighth is Fox drunke – when he is craftie drunke.

In phrases

fox around (v.)

(US) to sneak about, to act in a surreptitious manner.

[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 107: So all you did was not report a murder [...] and then spend today foxing around so that this kid of Geiger’s could commit a second murder.
[US]J.M. Cain Mildred Pierce (1985) 384: That’s why you been foxing around!
[US]N. Davis Sally’s in the Alley 111: He foxes around and tests it.
fox in the bush (n.) [the negative stereotype of Jewish cunning]

(US) a derog. term for a Jew.

[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 178: A fox-in-the-bush got his place beside grandma.
play the fox (v.)

1. to cheat, to sham, to dissemble.

[US]J.P. McEvoy Showgirl 14: You might just as well bang them on the nose with the truth at the start [...] sometimes they outguess a poor girl, if she starts to play fox.

2. to vomit [var. on flay the fox v.].

[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 235: To catch a fox is to be very drunk while to play the fox is to vomit, shed your liquor.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

fox’s breakfast (n.) (also fox’s brekkie)

(Aus.) a look-around and an act of urination.

[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] Vital Aussie Vernacular [...] A Look-Around and Pee; A fox’s breakfast.
[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] Luke’s fourbie bedded down and a fox’s brekkie under the belt, we were ready to hit the frog and toad.
fox’s sleep (n.) (also foxing) [the belief that a fox sleeps with one eye open]

an air of indifference to what is going on.

[UK]Sir J. Barrington Personal Sketches III 171: Mr. Fitzgerald, he supposed, was in a fox’s sleep, and his bravo in another, who, instead of receding at all, on the contrary squeezed the attorney closer and closer [F&H].
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 14: Foxing v. To be half asleep. Gen.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 169: Fox’s sleep, or foxing a purposely assumed indifference to what is going on. A fox is said to sleep with one eye open.

In phrases

chase the fox (v.)

(US) to take a container to a bar to have it filled with beer; the container is then taken home.

[US]World (N.Y.) 22 Jan. 17/2: She was engaged in . . . ‘chasin’ der fox.’ The basket and its contents were the fox. She drew out an empty three-quart tin pail and set it down. [the barman fills it with beer.] She [...] reconstructed the fox by [settling] the tin pail in the basket, so [...] it wouldn’t shake or spill, and then ‘chased it.’.
skin the fox (v.)

to vomit.

[UK]London Jilt pt 2 116: I heard the German several times make water, for tho’ he had so swingingly skinned the Fox there was still in his Body humidity enough remaining.