Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pickle n.

1. a state of drunkenness.

[UK]J. Howell Familiar Letters (1737) I 5 July 220: I am sorry to have found Jack T. in that pickle, and that he had so far transgressed the Fannian Law, which allows a chirping Cup to satiate, not to surfeit, to mirth, not to madness [...] Jack T. I fear will die in a Butt of Canary.
[UK]Farquhar Beaux’ Strategem V i: Enter squire sullen, drunk. [...] sir charles: But I presume, sir, you won’t see your wife tonight; she’ll be gone to bed. You don’t use to lie with your wife in that pickle?
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 155: We drank hard, and returned to our employers in a pretty pickle, that is to say so-so in the upper story.

2. a difficult, troublesome person, often a child but by no means invariably; ‘an arch, waggish fellow’ (Grose, 1785); also an amusing individual.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 119: If the little gentleman is a pickle, they will lay the blame on your bad management.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Consolation (1868) 176/1: ’Twas but a piece of Cupid’s fun: / That urchin is a very pickle.
[UK]F. Smedley Harry Coverdale’s Courtship 28: Harry, restraining a strong inclination to lay his horsewhip across the young pickle’s shoulders.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 66: pickle A smart fellow.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 7: The rest were terrible pickles, the most unlucky children I ever saw.
[US]Harper’s Mag. lxxvi 140: Tummas was a pickle – a perfect ’andful [F&H].
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ Punch 15 Aug. 76: Riparian rights? That’s the patter of Ahab to Naboth, of course; / But ’tis pickles like you make it plausible, louts such as you give it force.
[UK]Derry Jrnl 12 Nov. 6/1: ‘Airy-fairy Lillian’ had married Dick Mosty nearly nine years ago. In those days Beratrice had been something of a pickle.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ It’s Up to You 76: Just then a little old Dutch pickle floundered out where we were and began to bite the top off the surf.

3. (also dead pickles) in pl., nonsense, rubbish.

[UK] ‘The Cadger’s Ball’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 148: Bunn’s blaze of triumph was all pickles / To this wegetable shandileer.
[UK]Referee 5 July in Ware (1909) 195/2: The promoters say that benefit will accrue to our Indian fellow-subjects by bringing before the English people actual representations of the methods of manufactures, amusements, etc., of our vast Indian empire, and will thus serve imperial interests. That, of course, is all pickles.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. xiv: What do you know about the circus? Ain’t it all to the pickles?

4. (orig. US) the penis; thus pickle lugger, as a term of abuse, a masturbator [resemblance to a pickled gherkin].

[US] in Randolph & Legman Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (1992) II 677: I gave her a nickel to suck my pickle.
[UK]J. Quirk No Red Ribbons (1968) 198: Perkins, you’re a pickle lugger, you Rebel bastard.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 30: Imo’s pickle was black!
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 322: It’s time to take my pickle and get out of this pickle.

5. a woman of a sour, unpleasant disposition [play on SE pickle, i.e. something/someone ‘sharp’].

[UK]cited in Partridge Sl. To-day and Yesterday (1970) 313: If [a girl] is unpopular, she is a pill, a pickle, a lemon.
Women Speaking Apr. 5/1: If a man doesn’t like a girl’s looks or personality, she’s a [...] pickle, prune [OED].

In compounds

pickle-kisser (n.)

a male homosexual.

‘The Three Stooges’ at [Internet] By the way, was Joe Bessers personna just an act, or was he really a pickle kisser?
pickle parlor (n.)

a bar.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Should Worry cap. 5: He [...] hikes for a pickle parlor and begins to festoon his system with hops.

In phrases

pump one’s pickle (v.)

to masturbate.

[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 199: In any case, we would all agree that to pump one’s pickle or jerk one’s gherkin (Canadian terms, these) is not so satisfactory as to lay a wench.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

In phrases

and no pickles

without a doubt.

[UK] ‘’Arry and the [...] Lady Cyclists’ Punch 15 June 285/1: It’s spruce, and no pickles.
in pickle (adj.) [the contemporary cure for VD, which involved sitting in a ‘sweating tub’]

venereally diseased.

[UK]Jeronimo (1605) Aiiii: I haue a lad in pikell of this stamp, A melancholy discontented courtier Whose famisht iawes look like the chap of death.
[UK]Middleton Chaste Maid in Cheapside II i: I keep of purpose two or three gulls in pickle / To eat such mutton with.
[UK]Jackson’s Recantation in C. Hindley Old Book Collector’s Misc. She left me something that was none of my own, a swinging clap, which laid me up in pickle above six weeks before I was cured.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: In Pickle, Poxt.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Pickle [...] in pickle, or in the pickling tub, in a salivation.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.