Green’s Dictionary of Slang

right adj.

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

1. [mid-19C+] (UK/US Und.) reliable, trustworthy, (from the criminal’s point of view); thus corrupt (i.e. of a police officer).

2. [mid-19C+] (Aus./N.Z.) safe, secure; lit. and fig.

3. [20C+] (US Und.) justifiable, e.g. an arrest that follows a crime one actually did commit.

4. [1900s] sober.

5. [mid-19C+] 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.

6. [1910s+] (US) respectable, honest, dependable.

7. [1930s+] (US) drunk or intoxicated [the inference is that the sober/drugless state is ‘wrong’].

8. [1970s] (US) good, in good spirits.

9. [1980s+] of a confidence trickster’s victim, thoroughly ensnared.

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

In derivatives

rightness (n.)

[1950s] (US Und.) defiance of authority.

In compounds

right croaker (n.) [croaker n.5 (1)]

[1920s–50s] (US) a doctor who is willing to write prescriptions for narcotic drugs, patch up wounded villains and perform other illegal services.

right grift (n.) [grift n. (2)]

[1900s–20s] (US Und.) working confidence tricks after bribing the police and thus without fear of arrest.

right guy (n.) [guy n.2 (1)]

1. [late 19C+] (US, usu. Und.) a trustworthy person, esp. in criminal terms.

2. [1950s+] (US prison) a popular prisoner, respected by his peers.

right joint (n.) [joint n.] [20C+] (US Und.)

1. a safe criminal haunt or establishment.

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

right oil (n.) [oil n. (2c)]

[1920s+] (Aus.) the honest truth, true facts.

right one (n.)

1. [early 19C; 1930s+] something that is an exceptional example of its type, usu. humorous or bizarre.

2. [mid-19C–1940s] an admirable person (or animal).

3. [20C+] (Ulster) an unpredictable person.

right screw (n.) [screw n.1 (2c)]

[late 19C+] a corrupt prison warder.

right sort (n.)

see separate entry.

right stuff (n.)

see separate entry.

right town (n.)

[1910s–40s] (US Und.) any town or small city where the authorities – police, local politicians – have been bribed into allowing criminal activity to flourish.

right twirl (n.) [twirl n. (2)]

[late 19C] a corrupt prison warder.

In phrases

get one’s head right (v.) [1950s+]

1. to get drunk or intoxicated by drugs.

2. see SE phrs. below.

get right (v.)

1. [1930s+] (US black) to become drunk or intoxicated by drugs.

2. see SE phrs. below.

have someone right (v.)

[1940s] (US Und.) to buy protection from an official.

make (one) right (v.) (also make oneself right)

[1950s+] (US black) to feel good, esp. as a result of drug use.

make (someone) right (v.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) to bribe, to corrupt.

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. [late 19C–1920s] in cards, the knave of trumps; also fig. use.

2. [1900s] in fig. use: a preferred suitor.

3. [1900s–80s] (US) a deputy or second in command.

In phrases

get one’s head right (v.)

1. [1950s+] to come to one’s senses.

2. see sl. phrs. above.

get right (v.)

1. [late 19C+] (US) to pull oneself together; to re-establish one’s reputation.

2. [1980s] (US campus) to get ready.

3. see sl. phrs. above.

right and fly (adj.)

[early 19C] all in order, completed.

In exclamations

right arm!

[1970s] (US campus) a parody of the 1960s slogan right on! excl.