Green’s Dictionary of Slang

lip n.1

1. as communication.

(a) cheek, impertinence.

[UK] C. Cotton ‘The Present State of Bettyland’ in Potent Ally 29: Censures upon one another’s Dressing and Behaviour; Punctillio’s of Ceremonies when to give the Lip, and when to give the Cheek.
[UK]J. Wetherell Adventures of John Wetherell (1954) 17 Aug. 61: Gag the rascal I say, gag him with a pump bolt and stop his damned lip.
[UK]Navy at Home II 22: D—n your young eyes, do you ‘give lip’ — I’ll break your d—d young head.
[US]N.Y. Times 30 Aug. 2/6: A new word. — A youth named Thompson tried yesterday for an assault, stated as a reason that the complainant was rather lippy, ie., full of lip.
[UK](ref. to 1819) Manchester Times 28 Oct. 2/1: Just published: The Bairnsla Fuak’s Annual [...] for 1819 [...] A Cumpany we Widda Wagjaw, Fanny Frumper, Betty Barrellweight and Lindy All-lip.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]London Dly News 25 Sept. 5/1: Did the driver think to ‘flummox’ us by his lip, because he thought we weren’t fly to him?
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 285: He looked out for a ‘cheeky answer,’ a ‘bit of lip’.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 40: Don’t you give me none o’ your lip.
[UK]Leicester Chron. 5 July 12/4: I’ll smash your physog for you if you give me any more lip.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 6 May. 1/3: So See took the trip in a different ship, / And the Governor kept his hair on, / Preferring to skip the Premier’s ‘Lip’.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 4 Sept. 3/3: Cheek & brass & brass and & lip, / Contemptuous to see.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Outside and Declined’, Sporting Times 8 Aug. 1/3: If other men give ‘lip,’ then there are consequences dire.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Hitched’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 78: This white-’aired pilot-bloke – but gives it lip.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Black Gang 307: And if I ’ave any more o’ your lip, I’ll pull it off.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 73: Never take lip from any woman. Remember when you put ’er in ’er place, you’re doin’ some other poor cove a good turn.
[UK]M. Harrison Reported Safe Arrival 126: An’ if I ’as any lip from these ’ere Sarf Africans, they’ll git a clip rahnd the lug-’ole.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 51: I don’t take no lip off no trim.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 81: Any more lip from you and I’ll come and bash your face in.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 198: She was ghuddamned if shed take any lip from anybody.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 214: Women’s Lib. Nothin’ but lip.
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 165: ‘Why are we doing this?’ they ask me. ‘Because I say so. If I get any lip you suckers are running.’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 4: lip – disrespect, backtalk.
Skins ser.1 ep.3 [TV script] Watch your lip .
[US] N. Flexner Disassembled Man [ebook] If she’s giving you lip [...] it is your duty to act with authority.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 81: The big mouth. He gave me some lip.
[UK]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] One was gamer than the other. She’d be full of lip.

(b) (US) a lawyer, esp. in criminal practice [the concept of ‘talking back’ (as in cheekiness) in defence of a client].

[US]C.G. Givens ‘The Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 133: lip, n. Lawyer.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Nevada Gas’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 145: The big lip. Mister Take the Witness.
[US]C.B. Davis Rebellion of Leo McGuire (1953) 195: Why don’t you go to the judge and tell him you don’t want the case and let him put another lip on the job?
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 127/1: Lip. A lawyer. ‘The lip took a hundred skins (dollars) and never showed (appeared) in court.’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 42: Christ! I thought, a deep South Nigger ‘lip’.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 157: Where is he? The lip?
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 239: A lip also is an attorney specializing in criminal cases.

(c) lies, deception.

[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 8: She’s a sight for sore eyes, ain’t she? And if you think I’m giving you lip, you oughta see her go to town on a dick.

2. in musical contexts.

(a) (US) musical ability, esp. as a player of brass instruments.

[US]Century Dict. n.p.: Lip ... the power or facility of adjusting one’s lips to the mouthpiece of a metal wind-instrument.[...] the term is used in a general sense to indicate his method and style.
[US]Metronome in R.S. Gold Jazz Lex. (1964) 193: He’s got the ideas, but his lip’s weak yet.
[US] in S. Allen Bop Fables 23: What condition is your lip in? [HDAS].
Buerkle & Barker Bourbon Street Black 40: When he gets out, his lip is ‘down’ and he never quite makes the good gigs again.

(b) a brass player.

[US]N. Proffitt Gardens of Stone (1985) 6: The boy who had played Kennedy’s funeral — the best lip on post.

In derivatives

In phrases

give it lip (v.)

1. (also give lip, give some lip) to be cheeky.

[UK]D. Haggart Autobiog. 20: I was [...] giving him plenty of lip.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England I 21: It’s them cussed navigators [rooks] [...] a givin’ lip to frighten folks.
[UK]Lancaster Gaz. 19 Sept. 3/3: Complainants commenced to give us some ‘lip’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Mar. 10/1: Where’er you are, just ‘give it lip,’ / Smack Clootie on the crown, / And you will find, sir – take our tip – / They cannot put you down.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 12/3: Humph! Arouse the lay! / Let it trip! / Make it hum! Away! / Give it lip! / Quarrel over fence, / Had these two, / How it did commence / No one knew. / Both the parties shook / Fists, no doubt; / Sal, a hammer took, / Laid Liz. out.
[UK]Kipling ‘Black Jack’ in Soldiers Three (1907) 102: Mulvaney has given O’Hara more lip than any man av us.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 24 Nov. 116: ‘Don’t you give me any more of your lip,’ he growled.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 302: Walking about with his book and pencil here’s my head and my heels are coming till Joe Cuffe gave him the order of the boot for giving lip to a grazier.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 161: I will, if he gives me any more of his lip.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 173: The police [...] clobbered him for giving them lip.

2. (Aus.) to speak out loud.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 May 6/4: Not only did Barnes slab up the sides of his well of poetry with this kind of thing, but he ‘gave it lip,’ so to speak, as he paced the floor of his prison house.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.].
E. Dyson ‘Two Battlers and a Bear’ in Lone Hand (Sydney) Dec. 150/1: ‘Sing that, you — sing it out, give it lip’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 30 July 1s/2: Five times I’ve battled for a Council seat [...] I’ve given it lip where’er the voter lurks.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
have a lip (v.)

to be cheeky.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Oct. 14/3: If I use blanky bad language it’s because you’ve got a blanky lip.
less lip (also none of your lip)

don’t be so cheeky.

[UK]Chester Chron. 19 Aug. 3/5: The plaintiff said [...] ‘Go about your business.’ Defendant replied, ‘Give us none of your lip, Stephenson’.
[UK]Chester Chron. 30 Dec. 4/1: I’ve an idea, my man, that you’re one of the wharf-rats; and, if so, the less lip the better.
[US]A. Greene Glance at N.Y. II ii: None of your lip, old fellow.
[UK]Liverpool Mercury 22 July 5/4: You never saw me do any wrong, and I’ll have none of your lip.
[US]H.L. Williams Black-Eyed Beauty 43: I want none of your lip, Miss Howard!
[UK]Derbyshire Times 24 Sept. 3/6: I want none of your d—d lip.
[UK]Bucks Herald 8 Oct. 6/1: Defendant said, ‘None of your lip,’ and [...] Defendant then hit the boy.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn (2001) Don’t you give me none o’ your lip.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 37: ‘Two bob? Wot for?’ Lizer asked. ‘Cos I want it. None o’ yer lip.’.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 9 June 2/1: We don’t want none of your lip. We’ve had enough of you.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 19 Oct. 3/5: Now then [...] None of your lip, saucy.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 16 Sept. 4/6: He said to me, ‘I don’t want none of your detonative lip!’.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 14 Mar. 1/3: [headline] none of Your Lip!
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 41: Now then none of your lip my lad.
[UK]Guardian 14 Jan. 32: ‘Less lip,’ I says.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

lip action (n.) (also lip dancing, lip music)

(US) oral sex.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 63: Lip Action also Lip Dancin’ and Lip Music Two men kissing each other. Also used to mean oral sex.
lip-burner (n.)

(US) a very short cigarette butt.

[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 29/1: LIP-BURNER. A private’s butts — or even less.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Lip burner, cigarette stub.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 127/1: Lip-burner. A very short cigarette butt.
lip canopy (n.) (also lip brow)

(US) a moustache.

[US]J. Archibald ‘Meat Bawl’ in Popular Detective Aug. [Internet] He has a lip canopy something like Schikelgruber’s.
[UK]Eve. Standard (London) 29 Nov. 47/1: The assorted bristles and whiskers [...] lipbrows, soup-strainers, cookoie-dusters.
lip-loyalty (n.) [SE lip service]

(Aus.) insincerity.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Apr. 4/2: There, on the soil of their forefathers, husband and wife – father, mother, and children fill one common grave, thanks to British interference, which never (so lip-loyalty assures us) wages war against either the helpless or against woman.
lip rug (n.) [rug n.1 (1)]

(US black) a moustache. Issue 30 [Internet] Then there was Hitler, who certainly didn’t do much for the lip-rug.
lip service (n.)


[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 687: [...] adopted, mid-1960s, ex US.
lip shield (n.)

(US) a moustache.

[US]R. Lardner ‘Three Kings and a Pair’ in Gullible’s Travels 44: Bishop and his lip shield are invited if they’ll set in a three-dollar seat.
lip wrestle (v.) (also mouth wrestle)

(US) to indulge in passionate kissing.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 86: to kiss passionately [...] mouth wrestling.
[US]Simpsons [Fox-TV] I’m tired of watching you guys lip-wrestle [HDAS].
Toukie ‘Could’ve Been’ Toukie’s Fanfiction Page [Internet] What’s wrong Elizabeth? Are you embarrassed to see the two of them lip wrestle?

In phrases

dance on someone’s lips (v.)

see under dance v.

slip with the lip (v.)

(US black) to talk rudely, aggressively.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 10: Look here chappie, don’t slip with the lip. Pause while I drop anchor and hip your ship. I’m straight able and know my way around. Just a fly time kitty who can naturally go to town. I might sound frantic real crazy or like a blow top. But I am going to crash much ether before I stop.