Green’s Dictionary of Slang

right adj.

[note Williams refs. to the 17C use of right to mean whorish, immoral]

1. (UK/US Und.) reliable, trustworthy, (from the criminal’s point of view); thus corrupt (i.e. of a police officer).

[UK]Head Nugae Venales 251: She had a Daughter which was more Handsom than Honest, and much more Witty than Wife, in short, both Mother and Daughter were as right as my Leg, and as good as ever twang’d.
[UK]T. Walker The Quaker’s Opera I i: Qu: What hast thou got? Poor: Sir, you may have what you please, Wind or right Nantz or South-Sea.
[UK]Stamford Mercury 2 May 4/1: I swear by G—d ’tis beastly / Thus (like an Essex calf) to treat poor Priestly.
[UK]Reading Mercury 11 July 2/3: Your stomach aches? [...] Take a good dose of right Nantz.
[UK](con. 1703) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 38: It’s right Nantz. I keep it for my own drinking.
[UK]G.M.W. Reynolds Mysteries of London III 4/2: There’s no doubt that you was then a right sort of blade.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Jan. 3/3: A large muster of the right sort were moving towards the [cock]pit.
[UK]H. Kingsley Recollections of G. Hamlyn (1891) 364: He was one of the right sort once himself, I have heard; but he’s been on the square for twenty years, so I don’t like to trust him.
[UK]Morn. Post 18 Dec. 3/3: A troop of gaol-birds right and tight / [...] / At the Thieves’ Kitchen made a night.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 86/1: The only detectives then in the town were Jemmy Childs, Bob Hartley and Jack Stubbs. Bob Hartley being considered easiest to make ‘right’.
Greenock Advertiser 15 June 4/1: ‘Why Judge, “Bunt” was a right man all around. [...] He wouldn’t squeal if he knew where all the stolen money in the world hid’’.
F. Gilbert First She Would and Then She Wouldn’t [ballad lyrics] I thought it was ‘right’ and so I had / The banns put up ‘on spec’.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 152: ‘I got de joint open at dat, but [...] I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t know der was a right guy on de beat’.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 11: Chi is goin’ to be ‘right’ for the likes o’ you an’ me as long as the gang is in power.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 160: It was lucky for the up-town investigator [...] that some of the gorillas knew he was ‘right’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 415: Right. All right, O.K. Good reputation with gang, bosses and fences. One who can be trusted.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 22 June 12/3: [of a regular narcotics user] ‘Very few drug shops will turn down good money, if they know you are “right”’.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 62: right, adj. 1. Trustworthy, loyal. 2. Willing to overlook a law violation for a price.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 72: One of the banks in Reno was regarded by confidence men as a ‘right jug’.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 227: If a right copper can be bought by one man, he can be bought by another.
[US] in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 117: Do you think that well-known guns could graft with impunity unless they had someone right?
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 291: I even met that Rudy Black cat [...] I knew he wasn’t right.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 84: A beater is always on time. If a guy is right he don’t rush.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 101: And the Family Affair bag from this fall. Dag, that was right.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 81: Yo, your kite was right!! Chic, ya off the hook, and on some real shit.

2. (Aus./N.Z.) safe, secure; lit. and fig.

[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Feb. 2/3: Baily succeeded in getting home a terrific body blow, which regularly doubled Hough up. (Baily’s backers making their minds up that all would be right) .
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 29 Oct. 3/3: I’m as right as the bank [...] and a good deal righter than some banks I could mention.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Mar. 10/1: Anyhow, Mr. Anderson has got to windward of the coloured ‘push’ for a surplus, and a bit of ‘stuff,’ so he’s pretty right on it.
[UK]Aberdeen Press 21 June 7/4: ‘Got the blessed defunct?’ said the undertaker [...] ‘Right and tight,’ answered the buffer.
[US]Inter Ocean (Chicago) 25 Jan. 34/7: New Yorker’s Experience in a Brace Game [...] [I mailed] friend in New Orleans his bit in a money order for putting me right.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 68: Oly for glittering Gold winning on Thursday we’d have been right.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 92/2: right secure state philosophically important to traditional Kiwi person; I’ll see you right reassurance that hospitality or a loan will be extended; she’s right/ she’ll be right/she’s jake/ she’s apples/she’s sweet/ too right all emphasising that all is secure and settled.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] You’ve got an ex-cop for a Police Minister now. He’ll see you old blokes right, won’t he?
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 29: The use of terms like she’ll be right, mate, she’ll be apples, take it easy, and don’t bust a gut, are often presented as evidence of an economically undesirable casualness.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
[Aus]Australian 9 Feb. [Internet] We also teach them Australian slang, an explanation of some of the slang they might hear for example, ‘she’ll be right, mate’.

3. (US Und.) justifiable, e.g. an arrest that follows a crime one actually did commit.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 119: Unquestionably a real thief would rather have an arrest on a good rap than on a bum one. When the rap is right, he knows what to do and how to go about it. He knows whom he must square. But in a bum rap he is entirely at sea.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 194: right fall Legitimate arrest.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 41: Right Whack Just deserts.

4. sober.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Consistent Consort’ Sporting Times 13 June 1/4: He’s not one when he’s ‘cannoned’ to pay for a round, / And he doesn’t do that when he’s right.

5. sane, mentally balanced; usu. in negative to mean insane, e.g. not right, and usu. in combs. e.g. right in the wits, right in the head.

Preston Herald 17 Nov. 5/4: The male prisoner conducted himself in an eccentric manner [...] but his wife asserted that he was right enough.
[US]Van Loan ‘McCluskey’s Prodigal’ in Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 267: The next time I get at these fellows I’ll be right, or —.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 719: Is he right in his head I ask.
[UK]E. Garnett Family from One End Street 109: Mr Hare [...] asked Mr Ruggles if that boy of his was ‘all right’ – ‘his eyes you know’.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 114: Frankie dealt the fastest game in the Near Northwest Side when he was right.
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 58: You seem like a pretty right kind of a guy. I’d like to tell you a few things.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 483: Rita was a small bubble-breasted, bleached blonde who Rusty claimed was not quite right.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 245: She doesn’t know what she’s saying [...] She hasn’t been right since she came back.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 254: Just when you thought she was a complete innocent or ‘natural’ or maybe even not quite right in the head.

6. (US) respectable, honest, dependable.

[UK]R.L. Stevenson Kidnapped 248: I’m no a right man at all; I have neither sense nor kindness.
[US](con. 1910–20s) D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 120: Right ... proper and genuine.
G.H. Coxe ‘The Death Club’ in Complete Stories 15 Dec. [Internet] ‘Captain Galpin down at headquarters is a pretty right guy.’ ‘He’s so honest it hurts.’.
[US]C. McCullers Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1986) 129: Nobody [...] would ask a right young girl to sit down to the table where he was drinking with another man.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Weed (1998) 178: I know you’re a right kind of fella.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 143: You’re one right Dago, Joey.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Wind & Monkey (2013) [ebook] ‘You’re right, mate’.

7. (US) drunk or intoxicated [the inference is that the sober/drugless state is ‘wrong’].

[US]M. Prenner ‘Drunk in Sl.’ in AS XVI:1 Jan. 70/1: right.
[US]J.A. Williams Night Song (1962) 68: He can wail when he’s right, but he ain’t consistent any more.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 8: right – an ideal degree of drunkeness: I felt right last night.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 167: Back at the hotel [...] slamming to stay right.

8. (US) good, in good spirits.

[US]W. Burk Thief 291: You might say I was feelling pretty good that night. Feeling right.

9. of a confidence trickster’s victim, thoroughly ensnared.

[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 217: Once you qualify a sucker, make sure he’s right.

10. (US black) of a woman, very attractive.

[US]Simon & Burns ‘Old Cases’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 4 [TV script] I ain’t seen a female that fine since. I gotta say, shorty was right.
[Aus] J.J. DeCeglie ‘Death Cannot Be Delegated’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] She was a right piece [...] Skin like fresh cream.

In derivatives

rightness (n.)

(US Und.) defiance of authority.

[US]T. Runyon In For Life 246: I judged men by the ‘rightness’ of their thinking, by the degree of their defiance of authority.

In compounds

right copper (n.) (also right cop) [copper n. (3)/cop n.1 (1)]

a corrupt police officer.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 335/1: right cop, n. A police officer who is in on the graft; one who will ‘do business.’.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 62: right cop, right D.A.. One who will accept bribes.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 193: right cop A policeman who will accept a bribe.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 178/1: Right copper. A policeman who will accept bribes or offer limited cooperation to the underworld; a policeman who shuns use of third degree methods and is scrupulously fair in his relations with criminals.
right croaker (n.) [croaker n.5 (1)]

(US) a doctor who is willing to write prescriptions for narcotic drugs, patch up wounded villains and perform other illegal services.

[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 93: To him [i.e. the racketeer], a physician or surgeon is only a ‘croaker’, a ‘right croaker’ if he is the sort who will treat a fugitive criminal’s wounds or injuries without notifying the police.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 108/1: right-croaker. A physician or dentist who will sell drugs to an addict; one who will sail, or turn, or write scrip.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 178/1: Right croaker. A physician who does business with the underworld, treating wounds without reporting to police.
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 314: right croaker. A doctor who sells narcotics illegally.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
right grift (n.) [grift n. (2)]

(US Und.) working confidence tricks after bribing the police and thus without fear of arrest.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 117: A special form of fixing is known as ‘right grift.’ This refers to a situation where absolute immunity is guaranteed in so far as the police detailed to a particular spot are concerned.
right guy (n.) [guy n.2 (1)]

1. (US, usu. Und.) a trustworthy person, esp. in criminal terms.

[US]St Paul Globe (MN) 15 July 10/1: Randall claimed that it was occasionally necessary for him to do a ‘job’ [...] to convince his associates that he’s a ‘right guy’.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 61: What with treating the gang and being a right guy generally.
[US]Van Loan ‘Won Off the Diamond’ in Lucky Seventh (2004) 279: You’ve done a right guy an injustice.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 117: I never met or heard of anyone yet who ever admitted that they were wrong [...] They all insist that they are right guys and square crooks.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 124: We branched out into a stronger organization and were known as ‘right guys’.
[US]B. Frame Crown Jewels are Missing 43: You won’t find anything wrong with him. He’s a right guy.
[US]‘Toney Betts’ Across the Board 104: Leo the Bum stood up in the Hinds trial and is fundamentally a right guy.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 172: He’s a right guy.
[US] (ref. to 1917–18) H. Berry Make the Kaiser Dance 101: In World War I parlance, a man who was on the square was the real goods—in other words, a right guy.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 89: I’m here for information, and I hear you’re a right guy.
[Can]O.D. Brooks Legs 8: He was a right guy.

2. (US prison) a popular prisoner, respected by his peers.

[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 60: Yuh gotta listen to the right guys who were sent up [...] Your brothers are right guys!
[US]C.B. Hopper Sex in Prison 116: The inmate code is followed by ‘right guys’ and not by all prisoners. ‘Right guys’ are the inmates who stick together, and a man has to earn his way into the fold.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 38: Most of his trouble seems to stem from trying to prove to others that he’s a right guy.
right joint (n.) [joint n.] (US Und.)

1. a safe criminal haunt or establishment.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 178/1: Right joint. Any establishment or prison operated in conformity with the established ethics of the underworld, as a saloon from which police and stool pigeons are excluded.

2. a prison, esp. one considered to treat prisoners fairly.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
right one (n.)

1. something that is an exceptional example of its type, usu. humorous or bizarre.

[UK]Midnight Spy (c.1929) 62: [of a blow] If you nag, I’ll tip you such a right one, that I’ll make you believe the devil’s come for you before your time.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 51: Mr. Harrison, a right one and never at fault.
[UK]Empire (Sydney) 27 July 5/5: A very clever man / We see has reached our isle / ‘’Tis a right ’un and a tight ’un,’ / said Derby with a smile.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 3 Oct. 1/4: [of a horse] Titan, the right ’un, was head of the string.
[UK]P. Allingham Cheapjack 39: They look all right-’uns to me.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 21: Once he had been a right’un and had boxed with Johnny Basham.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act I: smith: Read us one out, Bammo. / bamforth: Here’s a right one. Get this.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 49: She’s a right one, she is. She’d skin your prick like a banana.

2. an admirable person (or animal).

[[UK]Fletcher Monsieur Thomas (1639) I i: This last wench was a faire one: A dainty wench, a right one].
[UK]Paul Pry 18 Dec. n.p.: F—W— [...] is a stunning good sort, but at times follows the example of his horses, by kicking over the traces. But being a right’un, we shall allow him to wet his eye, or both.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Competitive Examination’ in Punch 1 Dec. 253/2: We wants it made easy for right ’uns, and nice for the nobs — and wot ’arm?
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 223: [of a horse] After you’d got your money down on the right one [...] the flash ’ud come in on one of the other skates.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 164: She was a square one and a right one.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 41: She was a proper bramah, a smasher, a right one.

3. (Ulster) an unpredictable person.

[Aus]A. Weller Day of the Dog 38: Got a right one here, he thinks.
[UK]M. Dibdin Dying of the Light 78: We’ve got a right one here, thought Jarvis.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
right screw (n.) [screw n.1 (2c)]

a corrupt prison warder.

[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 4: This [...] can only be effected by the connivance of a ‘screw,’ or warder – who, when accessible to a bribe, is termed a ‘right screw’.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 178/2: Right screw. (P) A prison guard who handles smuggled letters, contraband, etc., often for bribes, sometimes gratis.
right sort (n.)

see separate entry.

right stuff (n.)

see separate entry.

right town (n.)

(US Und.) any town or small city where the authorities – police, local politicians – have been bribed into allowing criminal activity to flourish.

[US]Wash. Post 11 Nov. Misc. 3/5: In the heyday of the criminal tribes who roamed this country [...] Toledo was known as a ‘right town’ and a good place to hide out.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 22: These [small] cities, known as ‘right towns’, are indelibly identified with the big store.

In phrases

get one’s head right (v.)

1. to get drunk or intoxicated by drugs.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 3: get one’s head right – get high: ‘I guess I’ll get my head right this weekend’.

2. see SE phrs. below.

get right (v.)

1. (US black) to become drunk or intoxicated by drugs.

[US] ‘Sl. among Nebraska Negroes’ in AS XIII:4 Dec. 317/1: Among adjectives [...] High, ready, sent, right, lushed refer to various stages of intoxication.
[US]C. Cooper Jr ‘Yet Princes Follow’ in Black! (1996) 236: Roy [...] made Ely a drink. ‘Take this,’ he said [...] ‘Get right with the world, man.’.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 240: Fran [...] runs a game on Buster to get right.

2. see SE phrs. below.

have someone right (v.)

(US Und.) to buy protection from an official.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 298: To have (someone) right. To buy protection from an official [...] Also used of cities, banks; etc.
make (one) right (v.) (also make oneself right)

(US black) to feel good, esp. as a result of drug use.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 246: make (one) right Feel good (especially from getting high).
make (someone) right (v.)

(UK Und.) to bribe, to corrupt.

[UK]Liverpool Mercury 14 Jan. 38/2: There are, in Liverpool [...] and other seaports, police ‘made right’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

right bower (n.) [Ger. bauer, peasant, which can be seen as a ‘knave’; orig. used in the card-game euchre for the two highest cards – the knave of trumps, and the knave of the same colour, called right and left bower respectively]

1. in cards, the knave of trumps; also fig. use.

B. Harte Heathen Chinee At last he put down a right bower, / Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 13/2: In a betting case tried in the Tamworth (N.S.W.) Court, the Bench of magistrates, one and all, professed that they did not know the meaning of a ‘right bower,’ or ‘The Devil’s Prayer Book.’ Sweet innocents; to see the exceedingly loose leg the elderly elders of that elderly town flourish when down in Sydney on ‘urgent business,’ is enough to —.
[Aus]A.A. MacInnes Straight as a Line 264: Good old Jack! Knew he was the Right Bower of something! [...] but did not know it was the trumps!
[US]J.F. Dobie A Vaquero of the Brush Country 173: His ‘right bower,’ Charlie Bawdre, dying from a bullet wound, staggered into the hut.
[NZ]N. Hilliard Maori Girl 257: ‘Your deal, Alec.’ ‘Here’s just the boy to turn up a right bower!’.

2. in fig. use: a preferred suitor.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Nov. 25/3: She has to attend to too many to be really dangerous, unless one can win his way to the expensive and irksome position of ‘right bower.’.
[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Quinton’s Rouseabout and other Stories 231: In the meantime the foreigner had become infatuated with the fresh beauty of Kate Leeson, and for months he had looked upon himself as the ‘right bower.’.

3. (US) a deputy or second in command.

[US]Goodwin’s Wkly (Salt Lake City, UT) 9 Aug. 14/1: Freddy Robsinson [...] Richett’s right bower, will see the ladies are properly entertained.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 21 Mar. 1/1: Henry C. Schwab, president of Rothschild & Company, and his right bower [...] assistant superintendant of the store.
[UK]L. Thomas Woodfill of the Regulars 38: Besides being the captain’s right bower, he was one of the most popular fellows.
[UK](con. late 19C) J.T. Edson Gentle Giant 166: An expert cowhand, Mark was known as Dusty’s right bower.

In phrases

get one’s head right (v.)

1. to come to one’s senses.

[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 79: You got history with him, how about getting his head right about this.

2. see sl. phrs. above.

get right (v.)

1. (US) to pull oneself together; to re-establish one’s reputation.

Dly Bulletin (Honolulu, HI) 14 Nov. 4/1: One man named Sifas [...] got angry and smashed a canoe. He came to us [...] to know how he should get right again.
[US]H. Blossom Checkers 48: You take a paralyzed oath [...] that if you ever get right again you’ll ‘salt your stuff’ and be a ‘tight-wad.’.
Mrs Grundy (Tracy City, TN) 18 Feb. 1/4: He is wrong with the people, he should get right with himself.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 18: get right – Tighten your game.

2. (US campus) to get ready.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 4: get right – get ready: I’m getting right for my date tonight.

3. see sl. phrs. above.

In exclamations

right arm!

(US campus) a parody of the 1960s slogan right on! excl.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 65: You didn’t study for the test? Right arm!