Green’s Dictionary of Slang

blue adj.1

[Ware cites a ballad from the reign of George III entitled ‘The All-devouring monster, or New Five per C––t’, attacking a plan to levy a 5% tax on all imports: ‘The effects of the Tax will soon make us look Blue’]

1. (also indigo) miserable, depressed.

[UK] ‘The Wife’s Answer to the Henpeckt Cuckold’s Complaint’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 433: He mutter’d and pouted then, the Widgeon look’d wondrous blew.
[Ire]‘Irishmen’s Prayers to St Patrick’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng in 18C Ireland (1998) 51: Dat makes us in shorrow look pityful blue.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 277: Jenny was jeer’d by Watty, / For looking blue under the Eyes. [Ibid.] V 24: That crafty Crew makes me look Blew.
[UK]B. Martin Eng. Dict. (2nd edn) n.p.: Blue, adj. 2, blank, or cast down; as, he looked blue upon it.
[UK]E. Collins ‘Tale’ Misc. 13: Why, Farmer, why dost look so blue?
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 446: Lest we should lose you, one or both, / And ’gan to look confounded blue.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: To look yellow; to be jealous; I happened to call on Mr. Green, who was out: on coming home, and finding me with his wife, he began to look confounded blue, and was, I thought, a little yellow.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 192: His comrades look’d a little blue, / And so perhaps might I or you.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) III 227: Nunez [...] looked rather blue at this conclusion.
[UK]Carlisle Patriot 9 Dec. 2: The finisher was applied, and Williams went down to all abroad. The swells looked blue.
‘The Tailor’s Courtship’ Bower of Apollo 5: He began to be vex’d, and look’d wonderful blue.
[UK]N.T.H. Bayly Spitalfields Weaver I ii: Upon my life, Brown, you look blue! what is it?
[UK] ‘The Queen’s Marriage’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 324: Melbourne rose and looked blue.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Mar. 3/2: The magistrate forgot one because his cause of drunkenness was the loss of his wife, to which Ryan looked very blue.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 134: Squire Brown looks rather blue at having to pay two pound ten shillings for the posting expenses from Oxford.
[US]C.H. Smith Bill Arp 136: I’ve had my breeches died blue, and I’ve bot a blue bucket, and I very often feel blue, and about twice in a while I go to the doggery and git blue.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ & C. Warner Gilded Age 246: I had forgotten the railroad, dear, but when a body gets blue, a body forgets everything. [Ibid.] 249: I’m sorry I was blue, but it did seem as if everything had been going against us for whole ages.
[UK] ‘’Arry on His ’Oliday’ Punch 13 Oct. 161/1: I am off to the pier / To ogle the girls. ’Ow they likes it! though some of their dragons looks blue.
[Ind]H. Hartigan Stray Leaves (2nd ser.) 257: ‘If our present officers are like them [...] it’s a blue look-out for the Afghans!’.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 238: The fellow looked a little blue.
[UK]Mirror of Life 18 Aug. 3/4: ‘I just heard Cholly Addlepate say he was awfully blue’.
[US]P.L. Dunbar ‘Lonesome’ The Lyrics of Lowly Life 191: Well, I guess I’ll have to own up ’at I’m feelin’ purty blue.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 1: He thought that when he failed to Show Up, she was in her own Room, looking at his Picture and Feeling Blue.
[UK]H.M. Watkins [perf. Mark Sheridan] ‘All the little ducks went quack, quack, quack’ 🎵 Then the usual scene in court - Gus was looking blue.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 39: Some blokes [...] kill demselves when dey get blue.
[UK]A. Brazil Fourth Form Friendship 13: ‘You needn’t look so blue’.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 156: Once in a wile, of course, you get the bad news and forget to mail him the check and he feels blue over it.
[US]K. Brush Young Man of Manhattan 313: Ann’s all right, but she’s awfully blue.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 94: Blue means misery: ‘I’m feeling blue’; but red means having a good time, making whoopee: ‘Let’s paint the town red’.
Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) 6 Aug. 18/1: Up on Depression Hill [...] a lad with the reputation of a light flyer [...] is in an indigo mood because a certain matron played his own game.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 153: I was still feelin’ blue over the rookie.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 126: ‘That tune gives me the willies.’ ‘I like it [...] It’s just as blue as I feel.’.
[US] ‘Honky-Tonk Bud’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 59: ‘What you say is true,’ said Stern, looking blue, / ‘But it’s in the the public eye.’.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 35: I felt lonely and blue.
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 326: Hey, don’t look so blue.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 55: It’s got me blue to the bone.
[UK]M. Amis Experience 240: I was frequently as blue as a Larkin line-ending.

2. confused, terrified, disappointed.

[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 21 Nov. 62: You would have look’d as Blue, as you think we do, now so greatly disappointed.
[UK] ‘Battle’ in Fancy I XVII 406: The Chatamites looking blue, almost thunderstruck.
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 12: I am made to look very blue at the Blue Posts.
[UK] ‘The Wonders of the Age’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 227: The parish folks now look quite blue, sir, / It puzzles them what they’re to do, sir.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Cornhill Mag. Jan. 111: The prudent (and sagacious) officer looked blue. But he speedily recovered himself [F&H].
[UK]Kipling ‘Black Jack’ Soldiers Three (1907) 103: Three times Kiss dealt an’ they was blue.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 154: All her well-meant efforts have gone blue on her.

3. (orig. US) a general intensifier, e.g. blue murder, scared blue.

[UK] ‘The Blue Wonder’ Bentley’s Misc. May 451: How they manage to do it, I can’t think! [...] It’s a blue wonder to me!
[US]B.H. Hall College Words 130: He made a blue fizzle [W&F].
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 121: All the Friends of Public Weal were scared Blue and retired behind the Ropes.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 390: Gosh, I’m scared blue!
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 374: Belt blue hell out of him!
[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 250: Bad time uv year fer them right blue northers!
[US]C. Himes Imabelle 88: Jackson banged the bottle on the table and gave Goldy a look of blue violence.
[UK]H.E. Bates A Little of What You Fancy (1985) 483: What the ruddy blue hell are you doing with my flowers?
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 146: He had turned twenty-eight cheerful men into seething blue avengers.

4. unpromising, discouraging.

[US]J.K. Paulding Westward Ho! I 184: It was a blue day when I first put this old rotten tree across my path.
[UK]R. Barham ‘The Merchant of Venice’ Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 48: My account with Jones, Lloyd, and Co., looks rather blue.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 102/1: Things looked rather blue, and was in danger of ‘copping a drag’.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 149: Everything looks blue; I’ve got no partner, and I don’t think there is a dollar in sight.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 266: When we thought it over carefully [...] when we were a bit nevous after the grog had died out of us, it seemed rather a blue look-out.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 20 Mar. 1/6: How they up and agitated / When their case looked very blue.
[UK]W. Boyle Eloquent Dempsy (1911) Act II: Rich uncles are a blue look-out, Brien. Have you nothing better in your mind than that?
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Song of General Sick-and-Tiredness’ in Roderick (1967–9 II) 243: When you get run in, and the world looks blue, there’ll be one to bail you out.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 326: Come on boys, says Martin, seeing it was looking blue.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Rose’ Rose of Spadgers 89: The cause looks blue. Wot more was to be said?
[US]Seabury Report 24: Dreyer began to lose hope; things looked ‘blue’, but his Leader encouraged him. ‘Don't give up hopes,’ he said.

5. see blue-nosed adj. (1)

In compounds

blue boots (n.) [alliteration]

(US) depression.

[US]T. Runyon In For Life 233: At times the stony lonesomes put the blue boots to me.
blue brick (n.) [SE brick, i.e. the walls]

(UK Und.) a prison.

[UK]P. Manning ‘Sl.’ in Kray (1989) 62: If they send you off to prison, you are choked, ’cos you’re in the blue brick, / And if you don’t understand slang in there, you have got to be really thick.
blue fear (n.)

very great fear.

[UK]R.L. Stevenson Treasure of Franchard in Longman’s Mag. Apr. 683: Anastasie had saved the remainder of his fortune by keeping him strictly in the country. The very name of Paris put her in a blue fear [F&H].
blue funk (n.) [funk n.2 (1) + ? the colour of the terrified individual’s skin, which turns a leaden blue-grey]

abject terror, utter cowardice, complete misery; thus blue-funked, utterly terrified.

[UK]Household Words XI 503/2: I was in a greater state of ‘blue funk’ than most boys of fifteen have ever any reason to be.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 196: If I was going to be flogged next minute, I should be in a blue funk, but I couldn’t help laughing for the life of me.
[UK]Macmillan’s Mag. (London) III 211: I was in a real blue funk.
[Aus]C. Money Knocking About in N.Z. 140: I was not entirely free from the sensation known by schoolboys as blue funk.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Little Mr. Bouncer 23: I don’t wonder, Giglamps, that you look in a blue funk!
[UK]E.J. Milliken Childe Chappie’s Pilgrimage 20: A cropper I’ve come, but it shall not be said / That this Johnny’s a cocktail blue-funked off his head.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Story of the Gadbsys’ Soldiers Three (1907) 139: Blayne: What has he got this time.? Anthony: Can’t quite say. A very bad tummy and a blue blue funk so far.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 19 Aug. 4/6: I never saw anyone in such a blue funk as our old and trusty friend.
[UK]H. Macilwaine Dinkinbar 72: The mind in me just went dumb and dead with blue funk.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 8 Dec. 155: I believe he was in a blue funk.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 30 Apr. 1/1: The Midland Junction John Hops have a tender concern for their skins [and] the report of a raging lunatic set them in a blue funk.
[UK]Gem 23 Sept. 21: I’d rather face the music a hundred times than go around in a blue-funk like that.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Play’ Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 47/1: The cops gits busy, like they allwiz do, / An’ nose around until ’e gits blue funk / An’ does a bunk.
[UK]A. Christie Secret of Chimneys (1956) 46: Poor little devil, she was in a blue funk when she wrote that letter.
[UK]Auden & Isherwood Ascent of F6 I ii: The truth is that we’re under-garrisoned and under-policed and that we’re in a blue funk that the Ostnians will come over the frontier and drive us into the sea.
[UK]S. Horler Lady with the Limp 159: He might have been seized with a blue funk.
[SA]H.C. Bosman Cold Stone Jug (1981) II 125: Well you certainly had me in the blue funks [...] I really believed I was going out of my mind.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 135: Servo’s going to be in a blue funk when he finds out you aren’t where you can be gotten to easily.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 140: You look at someone you’re angry with for putting you in a deep blue funk.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 124: The shrewd bloody jackaroo decided to climb a tree [...] but if you ask me he was in a blue funk.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 308: It was too early yet to say whether what he had was a genuine psychotic depressive reaction or just some sorta blue funk.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 167: To be in a funk, or blue funk, is to be in a state of great fright.
[Ire](con. 1945) S. McAughtry Touch and Go 89: What was needed here were signs of blue funk, plus proper appreciation of the majesty of the police.

In phrases

look blue (v.)

1. to be astonished or surprised.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-Bk (1991) 110: Blue. [...] To look blue, to be surprised, disappointed, or taken aback, with a countenance expressive of displeasure.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

2. to look miserable, to look nervous.

[UK] ‘The Wife’s Answer to the Henpeckt Cuckold’s Complaint’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 433: He mutter’d and pouted then, the Widgeon look’d wondrous blew.
see sense 1.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. IX 106/1: While Mars look’d as bluff as Bellona look’d blue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ Punch Almanack n.p.: Scissors! don’t they goggle and look blue.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

blue... (n.)

see also under relevant n.

Pertaining to the police

In compounds

blue and pewter (n.) [his blue uniform and pewter buttons]

a policeman; the police.

[UK]Leeds Times 8 Aug. 6/4: Punch & the New Police [...] [Punch] had just knocked the constable, who comes apprehend him for the murder of his wife and child, on the head [...] when he was unseasonably interrupted by the appearance a blue-coated, pewter-buttoned, big-fisted, heavy-footed, marble-hearted, leather-headed Jack-in-office, who, without mercy or remorse, commanded both him and his patrons to ‘move on’.
[Ire]Freeman’s Jrnl (Dublin) 10 Nov. 3/7: If, however, an unfortunate old woman [...] endeavours to obtain scanty subsistence by selling fruit in the street, the blue-coated, pewter-buttoned, brass-hatted army is upon them in a moment.
[UK]Carlisle Jrnl 6 Jan. 5/3: Pitcher, the bloated blue bottle, with his swallow-tailed blue and pewter buttons.
[Ire]Dublin Wkly Nation 16 May 9/1: Did the vigilant policeman who detected the drunken disloyalty of Eliza Tyrrell believe that his comrades in blue and pewter buttons would be excited to rebellion by her asseverations?
[UK]Newcastle Courant 9 Sept. 6/5: A pretty stew we’d have been in if that inferal dona’s shrieking had fetched the blue and pewter.
[UK]Derbys. Times 24 Dec. 11/2: We grew desperate. It mattered not to the myrmidon. His brothers in blue and pewter were within call, and our our expulsion at their hands was a foregone conclusion.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 22 Sept. 3/3: An active and intelligent officer in blue, with pewter trimmings, scented the air.
Dly Herald (London) 7 Feb. 2/2: There is something specially wicked about men doing an act of cruelty in khaki or in vermilion, but not if it is done in dark blue with pewter buttons.
blue-and-white (n.) (Aus./US)

1. a police car, painted in those colours (e.g. in New York City, Washington, DC).

[[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 19 Dec. 11: The Killjoys were cruising — In blue and white cars].
[[US]Chicago Trib. Mag. 17 Mar. 5/3: As I left the theater, a blue-and-white squad car was waiting at the stoplight].
[US]N. De Mille Smack Man (1991) 55: A favorite sport of a lot of patrol-car cops was called ‘nick the pimpmobile.’ Another dent or two on the blue-and-white didn’t make much difference.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 230: blue and white [...] 2. Squad car.
[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 107: A blue-and-white with a pair of jakes pulled up to the curb.
[UK]N. Blincoe ‘Ardwick Green’ in Champion Disco Biscuits (1997) 8: He looked outside as the smoke cleared and saw nothing but blue and whites. Police cars.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 117: Murphy got out of the blue-and-white, and walked down the block.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 181: A passing blue-and-white surprises Davey and his gang.
[Aus] G. Johnstone ‘No Through Road’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] They’ve got some fucken black thing, unmarked, and a blue and white.

2. a police officer in such a police car.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 230: blue and white 1. Police.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 185: The blue-and-whites keep a constant, rolling vigil, scooping up the drunk, deranged, and dangerous.
[US]Staten Island Advance (NY) 8 July 🌐 Danny says ‘the blue and whites’ – slang for uniformed police officers – don’t bother with marijuana misdemeanors.
bluebelly (n.)

see separate entry.

blue bird (n.)

see separate entry.

blue bottle (n.)

see separate entry.

blue boy (n.)

see separate entry.

blue bunnies (n.) (also blue jeans)

(US black) the police.

[US]L. Stavsky et al. A2Z 9/1: blue jeans – the police: See any blue jeans? [...] blue bunnies – the police: You bust caps here and the blue bunnies all over you.
blue cap (n.) [metonymy]

1. a police officer.

[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 35: You go through an iron gate, but a bluecap is with you instead of a redcap.

2. see also general uses below.

blue coat (n.)

see separate entry.

blue code (n.)

(US police/prison) the refusal among law enforcement officers to give information adverse to one of their own; the ‘blue wall of silence’ .

[US]P. Earley Hot House 282: Nearly all, they decided, could be trusted to follow the so-called ‘blue code,’ an unwritten pact between law enforcement officers that requires them to never say anything incriminating against a fellow officer.
blue devil (n.)

see separate entry.

blue duck (n.)

(Aus. und.) a policeman.

[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 20 Sept. 6/4: If the operator in ‘jemmies’ [...] has the bad luck to be knapped, frisked, and bagged by a blue duck, a crusher, or an MP — that is to say, if he be arrested, searched, and locked up by a policeman, he is in due course in for patter, or awaiting trial.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 6 July 13/1: They Say [...] That Ted should not give the tart a blue duck, then Burglar Bob could not get in on him.
bluefoot (n.)

(UK black teen) a blue-uniformed police officer.

[UK]J. Cornish Attack the Block [film script] 41: Then Moses got shiffed by the feds and them things attacked the bully van and savaged the bluefoot so we jacked the van.
blue heeler (n.) [SAusE blue heeler, a cattle dog]

1. (Aus.) a police officer.

[Aus] [Channel 7 TV series title (Aus.)] Blue Heelers.
[Aus]Sun-Herald (Sydney) 28 July n.p.: Mr Moroney took the view that an officer living and working full-time in the area would be an effective way to curb burglaries, anti-social behaviour and the growing number of road offences. [...] The next phase is to select a ‘blue heeler’ to start work.
[US]A.Y. Phillips Grey’s Christmas 137: He knew the term Blue Heeler was a derogatory Aussie word for policemen.
[Aus]J. Miller Lingo Dict.

2. see also general uses below.

bluejacket (n.)

see separate entry.

blue lamp boy (n.) (also blue lamp) [the blue lamp that hung outside UK police stations; note 1949 movie The Blue Lamp]

(UK, often juv.) a police officer.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘When Duty Calls’ Sporting Times 13 May 1/3: His victim to the ‘blue lamp’ did not go.
[UK]I. & P. Opie Lore and Lang. of Schoolchildren (1977) 395: Nicknames current among boys [...] Blue Lamp Boy.
blue light (n.)

1. see separate entry.

2. see also general uses below.

blue light special (n.)

see separate entry.

blue man (n.)

a policeman.

[US]E. Aarons Gang Rumble (2021) 41: ‘I spoke to the blue men I [...] told Vallera about your rumble’.
blue meanie (n.) [Blue Meanies, the ‘villains’ of the animated film Yellow Submarine (1968), featuring the Beatles]

a police officer; thus the establishment in general.

[US]M. Clifton in Pratt Vietnam Voices (1984) 392: When the ‘Blue Meanies’ broke their heads [...] they’d begun to learn.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 242: [addressed to a policeman] Oh, you’re so cute when you’re all mad! You blue meanie!
[UK]K. Hudson Dict. of the Teenage Revolution 20: Blue meanies. The police.
blue pig (n.)

1. see separate entry.

2. see also general terms below.

blue suit (n.) (also blue suiter) [the uniform]

(US) a uniformed police officer.

[US]D. Pendleton Executioner (1973) 39: You want to get yourself a blue suiter, Chopper?
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 198: I can bring in two more of you bluesuits for the two weeks.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 13: I reeeeel-ly like mature detectives as opposed to cocky young bluesuits.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 28: A bluesuit moved in hard.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Hollywood Fuck Pad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 243: Russ and two bluesuits blockaded the car.
bluetop (n.) [the flashing light on the top]

a police car.

[US]D. Simon Homicide (1993) 421: He takes in the swirl of bluetops surrounding his crime scene.
blue ’un (n.)

a policeman.

[UK]Sporting Times 13 Feb. 1/3: It took four thousand policemen to help the Queen open Parliament [...] and only a brace of blue ’uns to to take the Gasper from the Saw-sneaker’s Arms to Clerkenwell.
blue wall (of silence) (n.) (also blue curtain (of silence))

(US) the police practice of concealing misconduct by fellow officers.

A. Niederhogger Behind the Shield 4: [T]he ‘blue curtain’ of secrecy [has] screened most police organizations and prevented the researcher from gaining the necessary entrée into the life and world of the police.
[US]M. McAlary Buddy Boys 78: The so-called Blue Wall of Silence was cracked, he insisted. Cops were turning in other cops [...] 134: He would not crack the Blue Wall of Silence. Rats did that.
G.J. Chin NYC Police Coruption intro. xxviii: [A]t first blush it seems odd that the police would resist efforts to ensure integrity in their ranks, odd that public servants would quarrel with the decisions of higher civilian authority. That they consistently do so seems to support the existence of the ‘Blue Wall of Silence’.
[US]D. Lehr Fence 216: The police perjury, nicknamed ‘testilying,’ was believed to be a by-product of the stand-together police culture that was responsible as well for the blue wall of silence. [...] it was all about us versus them.
M.F. Armstrrong They Wished They Were Honest 113: The mythology of the ‘blue wall of silence’ was well accepted among all knowledgeable professionals. Cops like Phillips didn’t talk.
[US] (con. 2015) in J. Fenton We Own This City 71: ‘Instead of one cover-up behind that blue wall after another cover-up behind that blue wall . . . and one lie after another lie, now we see the truth’.

Pertaining to drugs

In compounds

blue boy (n.)

see separate entry.

blue cheer (n.) [the laundry detergent Blue Cheer and/or the rock band of the same name]

(US drugs) a capsule of LSD cut with methamphetamine or some other form of ‘speed’.

[US]Current Sl. III:1 4: Blue cheer, n. Refinement of LSD.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]D.E. Miller Bk of Jargon 336: blue cheer: A type of LSD.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 113: Ben and Jimbo took some acid, Owsley blue cheer . . . they ain’t never been the same.
[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 33: The best drugs from four counties: [...] Acapulco Gold, blue cheer, orange sunshine.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 3: Blue cheers — LSD.
blue devil (n.)

see separate entry.

blue dragons (n.) [the packaging]

(US drugs) barbiturates.

[US]Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH) 16 Mar. 2/6: The barbiturates are identfiied as ‘red devils,’ ‘pinks,’ ‘goof balls,’ ‘barbs,’ ‘downers,’ ‘candy,’ ‘peanuts,’ ‘yello [sic] jackets’ and ‘blue dragons.’.
[US] in Spears Sl. and Jargon of Drugs and Drink (1986).
blue heaven (n.) (also blue) [colour of capsule/tablet + play on the popular song ‘My Blue Heaven’ (1927)] (drugs)

1. amytal barbiturate.

[US]H. Braddy ‘Narcotic Argot Along the Mexican Border’ in AS XXX:2 89: Such figures of speech as blue heaven (sodium amytal).
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 223: They also take Amytal (‘blue heaven’).
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 88: John carried Red Birds, Yellow Jackets, Purple Hearts, and Blue Heavens in quantity.
implied in blue angel
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 178: Pills – bennies, goofballs, red devils, yellow jackets, blue heavens.
[UK]L. Pizzichini Dead Men’s Wages (2003) 222: Amytal were the Blue Heavens he did not believe in, Nembutal were the yellow jackets he once had worn.

2. LSD.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970).
[US] S.N. Pradhan Drug Abuse.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 3: Blue heaven — LSD.
bluejay (n.) [the capsule’s colour]

(US drugs) a capsule of sodium amytal.

[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 222: Bluejays are sodium amytal. Redbirds are seconal. Yellow jackets are nembutal. Goofballs are one of the barbiturates laced with benzedrine.
blue lady (n.) [‘Blue ladies were often packaged in a box lined with ice-blue velvet, in which the separate pieces of the syringe were laid out. This was the ultimate accessory to have in prison’ Looser (2001)]

1. (N.Z. drugs/prison) an all-glass hypodermic syringe, some with a woman’s picture eteched on the side; considered a luxury / high status item in prison.

[NZ]B. Payne Poor Behaviour 74: He [...] stroked the blue lady, he picked it up and held it to the light, admiring the contours and the markings on the side, marvelling at the tiny .24 gauge needle and the way the plunger slid so smoothly into the barrel.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 21/2: blue lady n. 1 (also blue nurse) a 10cc hypodermic syringe with a glass barrel, a glass plunger and a chrome lug nut (the piece that holds the needle). Often these glass syringes were tinted blue, and some had a picture of a woman etched on the side.

2. (N.Z. prison) a drink based on methylated spirits.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 22/1: blue lady 2 a drink made from methylated spirits.
blue lagoon (n.)

(N.Z. prison) injectable halcion in liquid form.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 22/1: blue lagoon n. halcyon in liquid form for intravenous injection.
blue moons (n.)

see separate entry.

blue mystic (n.)

(US drugs) a synthetic drug popular in the Ecstasy and club drug scene.

[US]Microgram Bulletin XXXVII:1 16: The synthetic, 2,5-dimethoxy-4-(N)-propylthiophenethylamine (2-CT-7), also known as ‘Blue Mystic,’ is a common drug in the Ecstasy and club drug scene.
blue sky (n.)

1. see separate entry.

2. see also general terms below.

blue star (n.)

(drugs) a variety of LSD, emblazoned with a blue star symbol.

Linda ‘Blue Star Scare’ on PullMyDaizy 🌐 Over the course of two weeks earlier this month, headlining the daily bulletin announcements were warnings of a drug known as the Blue Star. This drug was said to be a dose of LSD blotted onto a blue star printed on a paper tab. It was supposedly making its way through the student body.
blue velvet (n.) [the ‘smoothness’ of its effects]

(drugs) a mixture of an antihistamine and paregoric.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 48: blue velvets A combination of elixir terpin hydrate (a turpentine derivative in a high percentage of alcohol), codeine and tripelennamine, an antihistamine.
[US]Hardy & Cull Drug Lang. and Lore.

In phrases

blue de hue (n.)

see separate entry.

blue sky blond (n.)

see separate entry.

General uses

In compounds

bluebacks (n.) [its colour]

1. (US) money issued by the Confederate States of America.

[US]E. Willett Cotton Thief 21: His pockets appeared to be well lined with greenbacks, as well as bluebacks.
[US] ‘South-Western Sl.’ in Overland Monthly (CA) Aug. 128: The Rebels had their ‘bluebacks’ for money.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 291: The Confederate notes bore, for the same reason, the name of Bluebacks, which was, however, soon exchanged for the slang term of shucks.
Family Herald 8 Feb. 227: If you obey me you shall have a blueback [F&H].
[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) 20 Sept. 17/5: ‘Bluebacks,’ now out of date, was akin to ‘greenbacks.

2. (S.Afr.) money issued briefly by the Orange Free State.

[UK]Trollope South Africa II 458: Bluebacks as they were called were printed, and the bankers issued little scaps of paper, – ‘good-fors’ as they were called – representing minute sums of money.

see separate entries.

blueberry pie (n.)

see separate entry.

bluebird (n.)

see separate entries.

blue billy (n.)

1. a blue handkerchief with white spots, worn and used at prize fights [billy n.3 ; ‘Before a set to it is common to take it from the neck and tie it round the leg as a garter, or round the waist to “keep it in the wind”’ (Hotten, 1867). The blue billy made its way to New York where it was defined in a detective manual (c.1870) as ‘a strange handkerchief’].

[UK]W.A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 115: The new term for handkerchiefs is a Billy, for which pickpockets have peculiar terms known only in the trade. [...] blue billy, which is a blue with white spots.
[UK] ‘Leary Man’ in ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue (1857) 43: And you must sport a blue billy, / Or a yellow wipe tied loosely / Round your scrag for bloaks to see / That you’re a Leary Man.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 359: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Blue-billy. – A strange handkerchief.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]A. Morrison Hole in the Wall (1947) 67: With bright handkerchiefs over their shoulder – belcher yellows and kingsmen and blue billies.

2. refuse ammoniacal lime from gas factories [the colour].

[UK]London Jrnl Arts & Sciences XII 81: The refuse lime liquor of the gas-works [...] is named in many of the aforesaid works blue-billy liquor.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Reports from Committees 9/2: I suppose that it is something in the nature of the refuse which got the name of ‘blue billy?’ No; the ‘blue billy’ was the lime mixed with the tar, and the ammoniacal liquor, and all the impurities of the gas.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Scot]Death of Blue Billy in Chambers’s Journal 17 Dec. 812: Blue billy is the technical name given to the lime rendered foul in the purification of the gas [F&H].
blue boar (n.) [? the notorious Blue Boar tavern in London, sited on the corner of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road, next to the St Giles rookery, and thus a centre of lowlife]

a venereal bubo.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions .
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 685: ‘Ungrammatical twaddler, was it, Sir?’ said Pott. ‘Yes, Sir, it was, [...] and blue bore, Sir, if you like that better.’.
[UK]‘I Have Kised the Biggest Whore’ in Flash Olio in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 190: If you’ve got the thing, beware! / Or to Eady [a well-known VD specialist] I must bear, / With a great blue boar!
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
blue bolus (n.) [SE bolus, a pill, thus UK var. on pill n. (1e)]

(UK Und.) a leaden bullet.

[UK]‘Jerry Abershaw’s Will’ in Fal-Lal Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 16: This popper cured the charley! vhen we crack’d the doctor’s ken / Vith blue boluses he never did digest O.
bluebottle (n.)

1. a form of facial spot or pimple that denotes drunkenness.

[UK]Pierce Egan’s Life in London 27 May 975/1: The defendant drew the attention of the Magistrate to her nose as a proof of her being a drunkard [...] ‘Look at the blue-bottles on her nose; they are as thick there as they can lay.’ Magistrate: ‘We have nothing to do with either grog-blossoms or blue-bottles; you are bound to support your wife’.

2. (UK juv.) a defeatist, a whinger.

[UK]A. Brazil Luckiest Girl in School 138: ‘We may throw up the sponge if Joyce is off!’ mourned Olave Parry. ‘Shut up, you blue-bottle!’ snapped Winona.

3. see separate entry.

blue boy (n.)

see separate entries.

blue broadway (n.) [the blue sky + image of Broadway, New York, then in its prime, as an earthly version of paradise]

(US black/Harlem) Heaven.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
blue butter (n.) [the mercury on which it was based]

an ointment used for the treatment of venereal sores.

[UK]Popular Medicine 384: Venereal Disease [...] In this state of the parts, blistering is often very useful, and the ointment of white precipitate, or the blue butter, with one drachm of powdered camphor [...] will be dfound an excellent application.
[UK]London Lancet 439/1: A papermaker [...] applied to me with a venereal sore throat [...] His brother, a sailor, came home from the sea. Jack having ascertained how the land lay, and thinking the land-lubber of a doctor who had his brother in tow, was not giving him enough of the ‘blue butter’, advised him [etc.].
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
blue can (n.) [blue n.1 (2i)]

(Aus.) a can of Foster’s lager.

T. Wheeler Australia: A Travel Survival Kit 55/1: So in the Northern Territory the locals refer to Fosters as the ‘blue can’.
Google Groups: aus.followup 2 May 🌐 Also in the N.T. most people purchase cans/stubbies of beer by the colour of the label, you don’t ask for a can of ‘Victorian Bitter’ you ask for a ‘green can’, Fosters = ‘blue can’.
Google Groups: alt.drugs.hard 22 Apr. 🌐 You’ll hear of beers described as Green Can (Vic. Bitter/VB), Red Can (Export), Blue Can (Foster’s). Sort of an Aboriginal dialect for ‘beer’.
Aus. Land Rover Owners 9 Sept. 🌐 Did you [k]now, the difference between the green cans and the red cans is the tapping point on the vat they use to fill them.
blue cap (n.) [metonymy]

1. a Scotsman.

[UK]Shakespeare Henry IV Pt 1 II iv: He [that sprightly Scot of Scots] is there too, and one Mordake, and a thousand blue-caps more.
[UK]Hist. Edward II (1680) 39: A rabble multitude of despised Blue-caps encounter, rout and break the Flower of England.
P. Fisher ‘A Dangerous Voyage’ in Carpenter Verse in English from Tudor & Stuart Eng. (2003) 253: Those Bannick-eating Blew-capps.
[UK] ‘Jockie’s Lamentation’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 331: Yet General Lashly past the Tweed, / With his gay gang of Blew-caps tall.
[UK]in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 93: Although he could neither write nor read, yet our General Lashby cross’d the Tweed, With his gay gang of blue-caps all.
[UK]Antidote Against Melancholy in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 133: And her resolution she had set down / That she’l have a Blew Cap, if ever she have any.
[UK]‘L.B.’ New Academy of Complements 280: Some keep their Quarters as high as the gates / With Shinkin ap Morgan, with Blue-cap or Tege.
[[UK]‘The Scotch War’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 93: A geud faith a gat a ged Beaver then, / But it’s beat into a blew-cap again / By a red-coat].
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy III 101: With Shinkin ap Morgan, with blue-cap or Teague, / We into no Covenant enter, nor League.

2. see also police terms above.

blue cheek (n.)

a style for facial hair whereby all whiskers were shaved off, leaving the cheek ‘blue’.

[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 48: There were three fashions for whiskers [...] ‘blue cheek’ (the whisker shaved off, and leaving the cheek blue) [etc.].

see separate entries.

blue chips (also Bluebird chips) [a popular NZ brand of potato chips (crisps)]

(N.Z. drugs/prison) a $10 note.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 21/2: Bluebird chips (also blue chips) n. pI. a $10 note [drug dealer's slang].
bluecoat (n.)

see separate entry.

blue devil/devils (n.)

see separate entries.

blue duck (n.) [dead duck n. (1)]

1. (Aus.) a lost cause, a failure.

[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 10: Blue Duck, no good; no money in it.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 5 Jan. 4/7: Napolina vos vot you calla der blue duk, and his nam was mud.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Done for the Double’ Three Elephant Power 131: Time and again he had gone out to race when, to use William’s own words, it was a blue duck for Bill’s chance of keeping afloat.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 5 Aug. 8/3: Shortly before the bell Steele marked in easy kicking distance. It looked a bit of a ‘blue duck’ for West, but Wally just kicked.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 24 Nov. 4/3: Just when most of us were thinking that he was a bit of a blue-duck, along he comes and wins another two in a row.
[NZ]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 209: ‘Having a good time?’ ‘She’s a blue duck.’.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 182: I’m a blue duck as far as you’re concerned. I’m a dud.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

2. (Aus., also bluey) a rejection, also as v. to disappoint (e.g. a lover) [rhy. sl blue duck = chuck n.2 (2) / chuck v.2 (1)].

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 22 Feb. 12/2: They Say [...] That Chris B had a blue duck from his tart last Sunday night, and was seen down at the Semaphore talking to L B. [ibid.] Roy J got a blue duck from Ethel T recently. She was seen out with Willie H.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 10 May 10/2: They Say [...] That Sausage R. and his little. laundry girl are still going good; Sooner than blue-duck him she knocked off work at 6.30 p.m, and got the sack.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 20 Mar. 4/3: Jimmy B. hasn’t got over the bluey True Blue gave him six weeks ago .

3. (N.Z.) a (baseless) rumour.

Press (Canterbury) 2 Apr. 18: A ‘blue duck’ was a rumour.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 16/2: blue duck rumour, especially a baseless one or a dud; chiefly Kiwi army WWI, developed from Australian for anything not coming up to expectations.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
blue envelope (v.) [the packaging of a note of dismissal + ? sense 4]

(US) a note of dissmisal from a job, thus get the blue envelope, to be dismissed.

[US]News & Citizen (Morrisville, VT) 6 Mar. 4/2: The blue envelope has been the emblem of misery on the New York Central since 1868.
[US]New Ulm Wkly Rev. (MN) 2 June 6/4: Then whisky got the better of him and he went to the dogs [and] he got his blue envelope.
[US]Sun (NY) 2 May 4/3: 400 emplyess [...] have been discharged. The men who got the blue envelopes were employed in the carshops [...] and machinery departments.
[US]Ade People You Know 85: We was so strong we killed the rest of the Bill, so we got the Blue Envelope.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 115: If my city editor knew what I’ve passed up, I’d get the blue envelope sure.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 2 May [synd. col.] No week passed without someone dropping out via the ‘blue envelope’ for some peccadillo or other.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 6/1: Blue envelope – Cancelling a vaudeville act in America.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 28 July [synd. col.] The late, red-haired Steve O’Grady, migratory reporter, always lived in terror of the blue envelope.
blue-eyed (adj.)

see separate entry.

blue-eyed boy/soul/soul brother (n.)

see separate entries.

bluefoot (n.)

see separate entry.

blue-foot nigger (n.)

see separate entry.

blue goose

see separate entries.

bluegown (n.) [metonymy; prostitutes confined in a house of correction wore a blue dress as their uniform]

a prostitute.

[UK]J. Whetstone Promos and Cassandra III vi: la: Teare not my clothes my friends, they cost more than you are aware. be: Tush, soon you shal haue a blew gown, for these take you no care.
[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 2 (1630) V i: Your Puritanicall Honest Whore sits in a blue gowne [...] Doe you know the Bricke-house of Castigation [...] the Schoole where they pronounce no letter well but O?
[UK]Newcastle Courant 21 Oct. 2/3: William Hamilton, a Batchelor, about 80 Years old [...] was married in Cannongate to Jean Lindsay, a Blue-gown’s daughter, of about 20 Years of Age.
[UK]R. Nares Gloss. (1888) I 88: It [i.e. a blue gown] was the dress of ignominy for a harlot in a house of correction.
[Scot] (ref. to 1790) J. Strang Glasgow and Its Clubs 195: Many beggars might be seen prowling about [...] and among these might also be observed one or two Blue Gowns.
bluegrass (v.)

see separate entry.

blue gum (n.)

see separate entries.

bluehair (n.) (also bluehaired) [the bluish tint that old ladies sometimes have put into their otherwise grey hair]

(US campus) an old person, usu. female.

[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 184: Can the infrastructure handle the influx, especially the touchy blue-hairs from the North, those Brahmins with the hearing aids and astonishingly shaped spectacle frames?
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 298: One of the old ladies, a hearty blue-hair straight out of Central Casting, Grandma Division, drew close.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]J. Stahl Happy Mutant Baby Pills 226: Grandma Essie [...] she’d spank me for BO, and it was like being beaten by a Cro-Magnon bluehair.
bluehead (n.) [? it has a bluish tinge]

(US) strong and illicitly distilled whisky.

[US]Spirit of the Times (NY) 6 Sept. 7/1: I thought I would ask you if you wouldn’t swallow a ‘slug’ of carthage blue-head.
Spirit of Times (NY) 26 Dec. 544: Judge Lister – with a gallow of ‘blue-head’ under his shirt.
blue heeler (n.) [SAusE blue heeler, a cattle dog; the Fosters can is predominantly blue]

1. (Aus.) a can of Fosters lager.

Airways Sept./Oct. 38: Asked by a grizzled local [...] if he would like a ‘blue heeler’, the sternly non-drinking Duffy said yes [...] he was handed a frosty can of Fosters beer.

2. see also police terms above.

blue hen’s chicken (n.)

see separate entry.

blue jacket (n.)

see separate entry.

blue Jews (n.) [the trad. colour + play on stereotypical Jewish names, i.e. Levi-Strauss]

(US gay) a pair of blue denim Levis, usu. tight.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
blue john (n.) [such milk has a slightly blue tinge] (US)

1. skim milk.

[[UK]Fortnights Ramble through London 54: The poorest skimmed milk I ever drank in my mother’s dairy was far suprior to this cockney beferage, Indeed the milk in the country participtates not of the beautiful blue particular to this].
[US]Overland Monthly (CA) III 129: North Carolinians call skim milk ‘Blue John’ [DA].
[UK]N&Q VIII 62: Blue-John is a thin blue milk that has been skimmed.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:ii 127: blue john, n. Inferior skim milk; or sour milk. ‘She brought blue john for our coffee.’.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 349: blue John (noun phrase), milk deficient in butter fat, so that it has a blue tinge.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 121: De white folks all got faces look lak blue-John and de niggers had de white mouf.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 228: blue-john: n. Skim milk.
[US](con. 1950-1960) R.A. Freeman Dict. Inmate Sl. (Walla Walla, WA) 13: Blue-John – creamless or watered milk.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 198: blue John, n. – skimmed milk.
[US]R. Wilder Jr You All Spoken Here xiii: They make the national tongue as homogenized and bland as blue john and grits.

2. sour or nearly sour milk.

[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:i 70: blue John, adj. Sour. ‘That milk’s blue John’.
blue johnny (n.) [his uniform + generic use of proper name]

(US) a Northern, Unionist soldier.

[US]W. Hilleary diary 20 June in A Webfoot Volunteer (1965) 203: The boat landed but ‘nary’ ‘Blue Johnny’ stepped ashore to receive the kiss of his patient wife or pining sweetheart.

In compounds

blue light (n.)

1. see separate entries.

2. see also police terms above.

blue mark (n.)

a bowl of punch.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 51: A glum old fellow, who did not relish the wordy contest as the smell of the blue mark (as they call a bowl of punch).
blue-metal (v.) [SE blue metal, small pieces of stone, used in street-fights]

(Aus.) to throw pieces of stone, esp. in a street-fight.

[[Aus] ‘Fanny Flukem’s Ball’ in Bird o’ Freedom (Sydney) in J. Murray Larrikins (1973) 39: There was Paddy down from Gipps Street [...] And Ginger down from Glebe way, / With blue metal in his socks. [Ibid.] 40: Then Paddy [...] Socked Micky from the Rocks, / While Ginger made things lively / With the metal in his socks].
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 22 July 1/7: The sermon was so effective that the crowded cheered Sydney vociferously [...] Here they would have blue-metalled him.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 July 14/1: I knoo too bloomin’ well I wuz on me lonesome, but I’ll be blue-metalled if I made a splash in anythin else but a Pat’s puddle ’ole.
blue Monday (n.)

see separate entry.

blue moon

see separate entries.

blue-nine (n.)

(S.Afr.) a petty thief or confidence trickster.

[SA]M. Dikobe Marabi Dance 24: Blue-nines rob people by saying they are police. [Ibid.] 44: Not like blue-nines who spend the money they steal from the people on dagga and swanky suits.

see separate entries.

blue ocean (n.)

(S.Afr.) methylated spirits.

[SA]D. Muller Whitey 108: It’s the vlam. I can smell you’ve been drinking the blue-ocean, ou pellie.
blue one (n.)

1. (Irish) a ten-pound note.

[Ire] (con. 1950s) B. Behan Confessions 238: I threw down the tenner. ‘A blue one, be Jaysus!’ said Michael.
[Ire]B. Behan ‘The Catacombs’ in After the Wake 97: A blue one, be jasus.

2. (Scot.) a five-pound note.

[Scot]I. Welsh ‘A Smart Cunt’ in Acid House 186: Well worth a fiver. [...] come oan. Bet ye a blue one.
blue-pencil (v.)

see separate entry.

blue pig (n.)

1. see separate entry.

2. see also police terms above.

blue pigeon (n.)

see separate entries.

blue pill (n.) [SE blue, lead + SE pill/pill n. (1e)]

(US) a bullet.

[US]‘Jack Downing’ Andrew Jackson 27: They bravely pop’d their blue pills at one another at six feet distance.
[US](con. 1843) Melville White-Jacket (1990) 68: If they hit him, no doubt he would not feel it much, for he was used to that sort of thing, and, indeed, had a bullet in him already; whereas, I was altogether unaccustomed to having blue pills playing round my head.
N.-Y. Trib. (Letter from Missouri) 10 Nov. n.p.: Between blue pills, halters and the penitentiary, we shall soon work off this element of rascaldom and horse-thieves [F&H].
[UK]J. Keane On Blue Water 135: Cra-a-a-ck went the other five rifles, and another blue-pill took him [i.e. an alligator] about a foot behind the shoulde.
blue plum (n.) (also blue plumb) [plumb, a small piece of lead + pun on the fruit]

a bullet; thus give one a taste of plum, to wound or kill with a bullet; thus surfeited with a blue plumb, wounded by gunfire.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Blue plumb, a bullet; surfeited with a blue plumb, wounded with a bullet: a sortment of George R—’s blue plumbs, a volley of ball, shot from soldiers firelocks.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 310: I had rather not have given Conkey Jem a taste of blue plumb.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 10: Blue Plum, a bullet.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 20 Sept. 6/4: If he carry lead poison, or blue plums, the affair is more serious, for the possession of a revolver implies a readiness to use it .
blue pointers (n.) [the blue pointer shark or joc. suggestion that the point of the penis turns blue with cold when swimming]

(Aus.) short male swimming trunks.

[Aus]B. Moore ‘Aus. Sl.’ paper presented to Leicester U. Slang Workshop, Sept. 2012 n.p.: The speedo variety [of trunks] developed an extraordinary number of risqué or simply curious synonyms: blue pointers (with allusion to the shark) [etc.] .
blue ribbon/ribboner (n.)

see separate entries.

blue room (n.) [its lack of light + once incarcerated there, one feels sense 1]

1. (US Und.) a punishment cell.

[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 11: Freedie had no aching Desire to move out of the Blue Room into the Calaboose.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: blue room . . . cell in brig.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 28: Concepta shouted a farewell. ‘Up the blue room.’.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 258: For seventy-two hours they kept me in the blue room and the things a bunch of tough coppers can do to a guy who won’t talk makes me shaky when I remember it.
[US]K. Burkhart Women in Prison 444: Blue room Solitary confinement cell painted blue.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 10: The hole in the past had no bed, mattress or light and had a drain hole in the center of the floor that was utilized as a toilet. A person placed in this type of hole would not see daylight for weeks at a time. (Archaic: blue room, coop).

2. (Aus.) an interrogation room in a police station.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 31/1: Blue room. 1. The back room in a police station where suspects are examined by proper or, frequently, by third degree methods. 2. (P) The solitary confinement chamber in which excessively harsh punishments are inflicted. ‘The screws (guards) kicked The Lunger’s brains out in the Blue Room ’cause he wouldn’t stand for buckwheats (discrimination) in the shop.’.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxii 6/1: blue room: An interrogation room in a police station.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 21: Blue Room Police interview room.
blue ruin (n.) [blue tape /blue ribbon n. etc + SE ruin; i.e. its effects]

1. (also blue) gin, esp. second-rate gin, thus blue-ruined, drunk.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Blue Ruin, Gin.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Blue Ruin. Gin. Blue ribband; gin.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff All at Coventry I ii: Eat raw beefsteaks, drink a glass of blue ruin and bitters before dinner.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 63: Witnessing great numbers of society swallow blue ruin like water, at the gin-spinners.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry III iii: log. Here, Landlord, more blue ruin, my boy! sal. Massa Bob, you find me no such bad partner; many de good will and de power me get from de Jack Tar.
[Scot]W. Maginn ‘The Wine-Bibber’s Glory’ in Blackwood’s Mag. Jan. n.p.: ’Tis the bond of society – no inebriety / Follows a swig of the Blue.
[Ind]Bombay Gaz. 12 Dec. append. 10/4: Does he know the what Blue ruin is? if he does, can he convey the same ideas in so complete and elegant a manner by any circumlocution.
[US]Mass. Spy 31 Oct. n.p.: They become enamoured of blue ruin itself. They hug the black Betty that contains it, to their bosoms.
[UK]Satirist (London) 10 Apr. 6/2: A large body of blue-ruined looking men, armed with swords, pistols, muskets.
[UK] ‘A Shove in The Mouth’ Regular Thing, and No Mistake 61: I toddled to see you in trib; And brought belly-timber, with a little of blue, / Stowed under my camesa and bib.
[UK]R. Southey Doctor 344/2: Old Tom, which rises above blue ruin to the tune of threepence a glass, and, yet more fiery than Old Tom, [...] gin and brimstone.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Mar. 22 2/1: You will find some of the greatest suckers in America swigging blue ruin.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 18 Feb. 4/1: Gin was in demand, and a Charley [...] sallied forth in quest of the blue ruin.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 71: They took their tightener, – viz., a bag of brown lap, [...] a nob o’pannum, a wedge of beeswax, and a go of blue.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd series) 277: She is uncommonly fond of blue ruin.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 24 Jan. 6/2: He hurries to the ‘boozing ken’ to regale himself with two-penceworth of ‘blue ruin’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Jan. 3/1: [He] might be well to do in the world, were he not in the habit of exercising his calling as a painter upon his own nose, by repeated doses of ‘blue ruin’.
[Scot] in J. Strang Glasgow and Its Clubs 583: Dat blue ruin, as de Inglishman call it, do always put my whole head toujours into one flame.
[US]Venus’ Miscellany (NY) 31 Jan. n.p.: Mellow with blue ruin.
[UK]G.A. Sala Gaslight and Daylight 263: The stuff itself, which in the western gin-shops goes generally by the name of ‘blue-ruin’ or ‘short,’ is here called indifferently, ‘tape,’ ‘max,’ ‘duke,’ ‘gatter,’ and ‘jacky.’.
[US]H.L. Williams Ticket-of-Leave Man 10: Boys of tender age, but with features as hard and stern as men of fifty [...] were drinking ‘blue ruin’.
[UK]Sportsman 4 Feb. 2/1: Notes on News [...] Shall we simply run away from both [milk and water] and take to ‘blue ruin’.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 359: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Blue ruin. – Bad gin.
[UK]Western Times 25 Dec. 2/5: Blue devils, blue ruin, red noses, red tape.
[US]Petroleum Centre Dly Record (PA) 26 Mar. 2/2: You can afford to stand the ‘blue ruin’ for the whole crowd.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 9: White Satin, or Blue Ruin, or Med’cine - Gin.
[UK]Leics. Chron. 24 May 12/3: The woman broke her neck by tumbling downstairs when she’d had too much ‘blue ruin’.
[US]Nye & Riley Railway Guide 167: They have perforated more outrages on Blue Ruin than we are entitled to put up with.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 10: Blue-Ruin, bad gin.
[UK]Regiment 19 Sept. 368/2: [T]he vendors of ‘Blue Ruin’ are but seldom asked to cater for Britain’s Warriors.
[UK]Marvel 10 Mar. 170: Half a go of white satin, please, otherwise blue ruin, or, to give it its more common and less poetical term, gin!
[Ire]Joyce Finnegans Wake (1959) 39: Divers tots of hell fire, red biddy, bull dog, blue ruin and creeping jenny.
[US](con. 1820s) W.E. Wilson Wabash 228: Abe had no taste for the blue ruin, the bug juice, or the moral suasion that was consumed in those days in great quantities.
[US](con. early 19C) A.J. Liebling ‘The University of Eighth Avenue’ in A Neutral Corner (1990) 35: The fighters joined their admirers in lushing Blue Ruin.
[US](con. 1950-1960) R.A. Freeman Dict. Inmate Sl. (Walla Walla, WA) 13: Blue-ruin – inferior gin of the bathtub vintage; dehorn, etc.

2. brandy .

[UK][C.M. Westmacott] Mammon in London 1 262: He observed [...] that it was a sad raw morning, and proposed a glass of blue ruin, or br-a-a-andy, as he called it.

3. (US) a strong kind of apple-jack, peach-brandy or whisky.

[US]Albany Microscope (NY) 2 June n.p.: E.L. Mallary, formerly a dealer in ‘blue ruin’.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 14 Apr. n.p.: A ‘hog-pen’ for the sale of ‘Jersey lightning’ and ‘blue ruin’.
[US]‘Edmund Kirke’ My Southern Friends 49: The latter region [...] was absolutely packed with thirsty natives, imbibing certain fluids known at the South as ‘blue ruin,’ ‘bust-head,’ [...] and ‘devil’s dye,’ at the rate of a ‘bit’ a glass.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 401: The vilest quarters of New York city [...] where women and whiskey were the marketable wares, and fractional currency (if ever looked at by the customers) was seen with eyes blinded by the ‘blue ruin’ of those depraved districts.
[US]Cultivator and Country Gentleman (US) 10 Dec. 799/1: We rack our brain to invent slang words for various drinks, and bring out such names as ‘forty-rod,’ ‘tangle-foot,’ ‘rot-gut,’ ‘blue ruin’ and ‘Jersey lightning,’ words that would puzzle a foreigner.

4. (US) a hangover.

[US]Judge (NY) 91 July-Dec. 31: Blue Ruin - the morning after.
blueshirt (n.)

1. (Aus.) a farmer or estate owner.

[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).

2. (Aus.) a lazy worker, a slacker.

in Baker Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).

3. (Irish) a member of the Fine Gael party, thus anyone espousing right-wing views [the Blueshirts, a 1930s Irish fascist movement, named for their uniform].

[[Aus]Teleg. (Brisbane) 14 Aug. 9/1: With the exception of one untoward incident, when a small party of half-a-dozen Blueshirts were attacked and maltreated by a crowd, the day passed in practically complete calm in Dublin].
[Ire](con. 1930s) J. Healy Death of an Irish Town 23: Many young men joined up and the first were the sons of ‘Bolshie families’ who would find themselves on the parade grounds with the sons of Blueshirt families.
[Ire] (ref. to 1930s) G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. 🌐 Blue shirt type of guy (n): 1930’s quasi-fascist group.
blueskin (n.)

see separate entry.

blue sky

1. see separate entries.

2. see also drug terms above.

blue-steel (n.) [its manufacture]

(US) a pistol.

[US]Botkin A Treasury of Amer. Folklore 129: He comes [...] with a blue steel in his hand.
Brewer Worser Days 58: ‘Forty-five blue steel,’ said the colored fellow, pointing the gun in the sheriff’s face [HDAS].
blue stocking (n.) [17C blue, used after the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 to denote any diehard Puritan who disapproved of the new moral freedoms]

1. a puritan, esp. a Presbyterian.

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 411: The Black-legs and the Blue-stockings.
[UK]T. Morton A School For Grown Children V ii: You, Sir Arthur, must become a black-leg, and your ladyship a blue-stocking.
A.N. Royall Mrs. Royall’s Pennsylvania I 152: The sole and all-weighing cause of my partiality for the Germans, is their aversion to the gray coats, or, as they are called in Pennsylvania, blue stockings [DA].
[UK] ‘Song of Ennuye’ in Martin & Aytoun Bon Gaultier Ballads 50: I’m sick of blue-stockings.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: He’s one of us now — a regular blue-stocking.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US](con. 1918) E.W. Springs Rise and Fall of Carol Banks 184: You’re advocating a doctrine that would be construed as highly immoral in blue-stocking districts.
bluestone (n.) [SE bluestone, copper sulphate or vitriol]

the very lowest quality of gin or whisky.

[UK]Blackwood’s Mag. June 786: The effects of the mixture of spirits of wine, bluestone, and tobacco-juice [OED].
W.G. Black N&Q Ser. 6 V 348: A witness was asked in the Northern Police Court, Glasgow, a few weeks ago, a question relative to the quality of certain whiskey said to have been supplied to him. ‘It wasn’t whiskey,’ he said, ‘it was nothing but bluestone.’ ‘But what?’ inquired the magistrate. ‘Bluestone, your honour,’ was the answer – ‘poison.’ I heard the question and answer, and there can be no doubt that the word was used as a familiar one [F&H].
[Aus]Kia Ora Coo-ee 15 Mar. 3/3: Who slaps on foments boiling hot, / Rubs ‘bluestone’ on a tender spot; / Whether you want her to or not? / Ah Sister!
[Ire]D. MacDonagh Happy as Larry Act IV: Bluestone poteen, claret cup.
blue swimmer (n.)

(Aus.) a $10 note.

[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 66: Due to its colour the ‘$10’ is sometimes referred to as a ‘blue swimmer’.
blue tape (n.) [tape n.1 ]

gin, esp. second-rate gin.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Tape, red, white, or blue tape, gin, or any other spirituous liquor.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Blue Tape [...] Gin.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].
[UK]Chester Chron. 23 Nov. 3/6: Two tailors were charged with being drunk [...] They wished to excuse their conduct by saying that they had been setting off a brother of the thimble [...] and taken rather too much blue-tape.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 318/1: tape, [...] Blue tape, genièvre.
blue-tongue (n.) [SE blue-tongue, an Australian lizard of the genus Tiliqua, belonging to the family Scincidae; the ref. is to the sleepiness of such lizards]

(Aus.) a roustabout, an itinerant labourer.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Aug. 14/3: A good bushman rarely repeats himself either in swearing or slanging; for instance, the shearer terms the rouseabout variously a ‘loppy,’ ‘bluetongue,’ ‘wop-wop,’ ‘leather-neck,’ ‘crocodile,’ &c.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘An Old Master’ in Backblock Ballads 20: ‘Now,’ he yelled, ‘don’t keep me waitin’! / Pass that whip, you blarsted blue-tongue!’.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).
[US]J. Greenway ‘Australian Cattle Lingo’ in AS XXXIII:3 164: blue-tongue, n. An unskilled handyman.
Blue ’Un (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

blue whistler (n.) [the blue lead in the bullet and the noise it makes; note the Civil War-era cannon named ‘The Blue Whistler’, used at the battle of Val Verde, NM]

(US) a bullet; spec. an extra-powerful shot used in a shotgun (see cite 1888).

[US] in H.C. Lewis Works 93: Loading one barrel with fifteen ‘blue whistlers’.
[US]N.Y. Herald 4 Nov. n.p.: It was Mr. Barbour’s rifle shot that had hit him in the head and caused him to stagger. The pellet of lead passed deep into the brain. The second shot was from the Atlanta drummer, and his thirteen blue whistlers tore the brute’s liver into shreds and made a great hole in his side [F&H].
[US]Barbour Co. Index (Medicine Lodge, KS) 25 Jan. 1/4: ‘What is a blue whistler?’ ‘You put a heavy charge of powder into your cylinder bore shotgun. Cover it with a wad; on top of that you ram in five buckshot, another light wad, five more buckshot, and still five; another tight wad and you have a blue whistler’.
[US]J.C. Duval Young Explorers 25: ‘Old Bess,’ (pointing to the double-barrel on a rack) is in prime order with twenty-one ‘blue whistlers’ in each barrel.
[US] (ref. to 1890s) P.A. Rollins Cowboy 77: Thus a ‘blue whistler,’ because of the pistol’s blued frame, denoted a bullet.
[US]R.F. Adams Cowboy Lingo 168: A bullet was slangily referred to as [...] a ‘blue whistler’.

In exclamations

blue me!

see separate entry.

by all that’s blue! [Fr. parbleu! lit. ‘by (a) blue (thing)!’]

a mild excl. or oath.

[UK]W.N. Glascock Sailors & Saints I 15: The commodore, by all that’s blue.
[UK]Marryat Snarleyyow I 6: I will have an answer, by all that’s blue!’ was the ejaculation of the next six strides.
[UK]Marryat Poor Jack 161: ‘The black cat, by all that’s blue!’ cried the Captain.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Tales of College Life 19: The Governor, by all that’s blue!
[SA]B. Mitford Fire Trumpet III 76: There he is, by all that’s blue!
A. Christie ABC Murders (1980) 197: He swears by all that’s blue that he picked up Cust in the Whitecross Hotel at Eastbourne on the evening of July 24th.
[UK](con. 1820s) J.A. Ferguson Perfect Match Ch. i: By all that’s blue, Andover, I give you my word as a gentleman that I have not spoken more than a score of words to the lady.