Green’s Dictionary of Slang

leather n.

1. the skin [SE until 18C].

[UK]R. Brunne Handl. Synne 3451: Þan wete men neuere, wheþer ys wheþer, Þe Šelughe wymple or þe leþer [glossed skyn] [OED].
[UK]Three-fold Discourse Between Three Neighbours 4: I confess my leather hath been well liquored [...] where Mr. Geffreson sells the excellent Ale.
[UK] ‘A Hymne to the Gentle Craft’ Rump Poems and Songs (1662) II 154: If he be caught he will loose his Leather.
[UK] ‘The Cobler’s Funeral’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 59: Having lain full six days till his Leather was shrunk.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Life’s Vagaries 21: I believe you’re jumping out of your leather.
[UK] ‘We Have Moved & Shoved Together’ Cuckold’s Nest 39: I have often tanned your leather, / And you have shown our h-airs.

2. in physiological or sexual contexts.

(a) the vagina; also attrib.

implied in labour leather
[UK]Passionate Morrice (1876) 91: In Shooelane there is one that selles running leather, the vertue whereof is maintained with liquor of a careless heart; so that hee or shee that cannot play light of loue, shall not be customed there.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk IV 79: At that Queen Juno smil’d and said / [...] / For if they once do come together, / He’ll find that Dido’s reaching leather.
[UK] ‘The Bulls Feather’ in Euing Broadside Ballads No. 23: There’s nere a proud Gallant / that treads on Cows leather, / But may be Cornuted, and wear the Bulls Feather.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Pantagruelian Prognostications (1927) II 689: Many a one’s Yard will hang down and dandle, for want of Leathern Pouches.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I:10 8: And could, without a Wizard’s Sense, / Judiciously infer from thence, / If Madam sate with Ease, or whether / She rode in Danger of her Leather.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy VI 92: But if by chance a Flaw I find, / In dressing of the Leather; / I straightway whip my Needle out, / And I tack ’em close together.
[UK] ‘Dyer of Roan’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) V 193: Bound fast, in Love’s Thong of Whit-leather, Was the Reverend Catholick Brother.
[UK] Burns ‘As I Cam O’er the Cairney Mount’ Merry Muses of Caledonia (1965) 140: The Highland laddie he drew his durk and / sheath’d in my wanton leather.
[UK] ‘The Bit Of Leather’ Cockchafer 46: Lubin quite pleased was, and transported altogether, O. / For he had ne’er before seen a woman’s piece of leather, O [...] With his tool he stood before her eyes, twigging of her leather, O!
[UK] ‘The Frisky Family’ Gentleman Steeple-Chaser 36: The girl’s fond of jock, and lads fond of leather.
[UK]Yokel’s Preceptor 29: Leather, The female centre of attraction.
[UK] ‘Grinding Old Women Young’ in Rambler’s Flash Songster 10: Oh, the tinker’s wife, dropt in for to have a grind, / And the cobbler’s with her old leather.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Dec. 1/1: A leather-chasing lothario definitely vowed to amble to the altar with his south beach girl.

(b) sexual intercourse; thus phr. nothing like leather, nothing is as good as sex.

[UK] ‘Sal Stuff’ in Ri-tum Ti-tum Songster 11: My name is Sal Stuff, / I’m such a mot for leather, / With my twiddle rumpty bum.
[UK]Paul Pry 8 Jan. 7/1: Paul Wishes to Know [...] Why the two girls in Swan lane stand so much in their doorway every evening. Is it all for love of leather.
[UK]Fast Man 7:1 n.p.: ‘huzzah’ inquires if we think the exhibition of 1851 will have any effect upon the price of leather. What sort does Our correspondent mean, dressed or undressed.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 672/2: nothing like leather, nothing like a good copulation, C.19–20.

(c) a run-down whore; a poor, promiscuous woman.

[UK]New Sprees of London 23: If you are not afraid of the glue, or if you have not much ochre about you, you may pick up leather here in plenty, but from such leather, Providence protect us!
[US]A. Pollock Und. Speaks.

(d) (US) the anus.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Prostitutes & Criminal Argots’ in Lang. Und. (1981) 117/2: leather. 1. The anus.
[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 27: leather (n.): The anus; thus, leathering is pedication.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 19: the rectal opening, anus [...] leather (obs, ’30s: comparing the texture of the tissue immediately surrounding the a-hole with leather).
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

3. an item made of leather.

(a) a wallet or purse, or bag.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 30: Come Culls, shall us pike to the Push or Gaff, a rum Vile for the File or Lift to pitter lay or Leather lay; come let us pike, we shall napp a rum Bit; that is, Come Men, shall us go to the Throng, or Fair, a good Town for the Pick-Pockets or Shop-Lifters, to steal Portmanteaus or Leather Bags [...] Come, let us pike to glee for Pitter or Leather.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Aug. 3/2: He went out with sixpence, and he came home, minus a tanner and his leather.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 51: leather A pocket-book; portmonnaie. ‘The bloke lost his leather,’ the man lost his pocket-book.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 Oct. n.p.: I saw Candy Clark and Kid Murphy get a ‘leather’ from a ‘flat’ in the cars.
[US] ‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 459: [as spelt] ‘When we got to Chicago on the cars from there to here, I pulled off an old woman’s leather’ (robbed her of her pocketbook).
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 195: I caught a glimpse of the sucker’s leather.
[US]H. Blossom Checkers 44: I left my leather full of bills [...] in the hotel safe.
[US]‘Billy Burgundy’ Toothsome Tales Told in Sl. 54: From his leather the heavy-hearted black warbler flashed a clipping.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 317: Women kept their leathers in a big open pocket in the back of their dresses.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 2 June 21/2: In the wash joint he produced a brand-new shining ‘leather’.
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 296: Bag – hell! [...] If you started into a jug with a leather that size, you’d get shot before you got to the counter.
Smith’s Wkly 21 May 6/4: I remember meeting [...] ‘Tibby,’ greatest of all Australian ‘whizzmen’ (pickpockets). [...] ‘Blime,’ he roared, ‘I been working with a gay (mug), and taking risks in the ‘rort’ (crowd) for a ‘bloodhoon’ who never lifted a ‘leather’ (wallet) in his life’.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Brakeman’s Daughter’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 503: The sailor loses his leather containing a month’s salary.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 88: The point-out [...] does not have the advantage which finding the leather has.
[US] ‘I Was a Pickpocket’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 76: The dip made away with her ‘leather’ or pocket-book.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxvi 4/1: leather: A wallet.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 35: Leather Wallet.
[US]Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 11: ‘Where the tickets at?’ said Jones. ‘They in my leather’.

(b) a leather ball, usu. a cricket ball or football; in the US a baseball.

[UK]New Joe Miller’s Jest Bk 365: They [i.e. the French] can see no delight at being bowled over at twenty -two yards, or at getting in the way of the ‘leather’ at a much longer range.
[US]Dly Morn. Astorian (OR) 24 Sept. 2/2: You may send in your curved balls and smash the leather in the nose to the right or left field.
[UK]Northern Echo 22 Oct. 4/3: The Saints worked the leather up the field [...] and the finishing touch was left to Costello, who kicked wide of the right goal post.
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 1: Whilst he was banging the leather across the football field.
[US]N.Y. Eve. Mail 13 Apr. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 39: Turkey lay down on three strikes [...] but maybe he didn’t clout the leather after that.
[UK]Dundee Courier 17 May 5/7: Scottish Horsemen Chase the Leather. A football match was played at Pitlochry yesterday [etc.].
[UK]Willans & Searle Complete Molesworth (1985) 245: Go on, Stanley, net the leather.

(c) (US) a shoe; thus lay leather v., to walk.

[[UK]Morn. Chron. (London) 15 Apr. 4/2: [denoting the whole body] Lennox is completely gone in the upper leather [...] before he can peel again he must get new vamped].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 May 22/1: But the Baron of Pott’s Point did not shake / In his patent-leathers for fear, / For he did not go to that tank, and take / And glue to the side his ear.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1002: Therefore, Jelly took a quick backward look at his shoe soles to see how his leather was holding out.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Death with Music’ in Thrilling Detective Feb. [Internet] I laid leather on the sidewalk.

(d) (US) a boxing glove.

N.Z. Truth13 Jan 8/2: Johnson dealt out stoush and knocked Murray topsyturvy, at the same time putting in a number of chance roots with the leather.
implied in leather-pusher
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 23: His thickened nose and slightly puffed eyes from too much leather.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 201: Shit man, now that’s what I call laying on the leather!

(e) (Aus./US) a whip.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 1 Jan. 1/1: Rumors of the existence of a jockeys’ ring are again rife [and] it is alleged a quartette of leather flappers know more than all the owners.
J. Hawthorne Subterranean Brotherhood 188: Still he favored whipping for them; he said the use of the ‘leather’ was really more humane than the dungeon.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 60: He laid the ‘leather’ on my bare hide that day until I fainted. [Ibid.] 112: The ‘leather’ was riveted on a stuffed leather handle about two feet long and four inches in diameter. The strap was approximately three feet six inches long, three inches wide and a half inch thick. It had ten or twelve rivets in the end of it.

(f) (US) a holster; also attrib.

[US]‘Max Brand’ Seventh Man 216: The other slipped his hand down to his gun-butt and moved his weapon to make sure it was perfectly loose in the leather.
[UK]N. Nye Breed of the Chaparral (1949) 124: Tune the leather-slapper, the gunsmoke king of corpse-makers!
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 23: He felt the leather. He took it down from the shelf [...] He slid the two-inch Colt revolver from the black leather holster.

(g) (US) a saddle; thus fork leather v., to ride a horse; hit leather v., to ride off; pull/hunt leather v., to grasp the saddle while riding a bucking horse.

[US]Mad mag. Dec. 22: I’ve been hittin’ leather night and day ... ridin’ ridin’ ridin’!
[US] ‘Jimmie Tucker’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 67: If you can ride that hoss, and not pull leather, / You and my daughter can throw your things together.

(h) (US Und.) a pickpocket.

N. West Cool Million (1954) 28: ‘Some smart leather must have gotten it.’ ‘Leather?’ queried our hero, not understanding the argot of the underworld [...] ‘Yes, leather — pickpocket.’.

(i) (US) by metonymy, a brutal kicking with a boot or shoe.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Hold ’Em, Yale!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 154: They are using the old leather, kicking guys in the stomach.

(j) a leather coat or jacket.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 245: leather, leather piece Leather or leatherlike jacket.
[US]G. Pelecanos Right As Rain 65: He wore a black turtleneck under a black leather, with loose-fitting blue jeans.

4. (US) liver.

Hawk Eye (Burlington, IA) 8 Nov. 3/3: ‘Sleeve buttons,’ [...] is the New York restaurant waiter’s slang for codfish balls. ‘One summer,’ calls for oat meal and milk; ‘twoon other,’ is legal tender for two fried eggs; ‘stars and stripes’ means plate of pork and beans; ‘leather and bake’ is liver and bacon and ‘diamonds’ means meat pies.

5. (US) meat.

[US]R.C. Murphy Logbook for Grace (1948) 16 Sept. 79: The Old Man and the mate soak their bread in coffee or water, swallow ‘leather and wood’ without chewing, and then squirm with the mulligrubs.

In compounds

leather glommer (n.) [the pickpocket ‘lifts’ the sense 3a, while the assistant glom v. (1) or grabs it and takes it away]

(US) a pickpocket’s assistant.

[US](con. 1940s) J. Resko Reprieve 182: The hook [...] extracted the wallet which would be immediately passed on to the leather glommer.
leather lay (n.) [lay n.3 (1)]

(UK Und.) the theft of bags.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 30: Come Culls, shall us pike to the Push or Gaff, a rum Vile for the File or Lift to pitter lay or Leather lay; come let us pike, we shall napp a rum Bit; that is, Come Men, shall us go to the Throng, or Fair, a good Town for the Pick-Pockets or Shop-Lifters, to steal Portmanteaus or Leather Bags [...] Come, let us pike to glee for Pitter or Leather.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving 5: Come Culls, shall us Pike to the Push or Gaff, a rum Vile for the File or Lift to Pitter-lay or Leather-lay [...] that is, Come men, shall us go to the throng or fair, a good town for the pick-pockets or shop-lifters, to steal Portmanteaus or leather-bags.
leather nicker (n.) [nicker n.1 (1)]

(US Und.) a pickpocket.

[US]Ogden Standard (UT) 7 Mar. 12/2: The pickpocket [...] is known as [...] a ‘poke-getter,’ ‘leather nicker’ and [...] a ‘cannon’.
leather-plating (n.)

betting, gambling.

‘Harry Hieover’ Table Talk 49: Many people imagine that jockeys are constantly paid to lose races [...] when it does [happen], it is in some leather-plating concern, and among fourth or fifth rate riders, who have no character to lose.
[UK]New Sporting Mag. Aug. 82: Leather Plating, under the most favourable circumstance, is far from a mirror of chivalry [...] it is a racing thimble-rig ‘ — ‘heads I won, tails you lose’.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall (1926) 10: He then introduced the subject of some leather-plating they were getting up amongst themsleves — quite select — ‘small stakes — just for amusement’.
‘Harry Hieover’ Sporting Facts and Sporting Fancies 388: His horses run at different places, and win a fair average number of those stakes they start for [...] In a year or two he gets tired of leather plating (as most people do).
leather-pusher (n.) (also chamois-pusher)

a boxer; thus leather pushing n., the sport of boxing.

[US]‘Sing Sing No. 57,700’ My View on Books in N.Y. Times Mag. 30 Apr. 5/5: She [...] There’s a dinge scrapper in it [...] He’d make [...] the rest of the chamois-pushers look like goldbricks .
[US]Eve. World (NY) 24 Oct. 16/1: When they [...] are good enough to break into the professional ranks they leave the A.A.U. for the more lucrative paying ‘leather-pushers’.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 28 Oct. 2/3: Central Picture House [...] ‘The Leather Pushersd’ Round Two, Featuring Reginald Denny.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 205: The big thrill I get out of being a leather pusher is the fact that it’s the only thing to date at which I have meant something.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 20 Aug. 2/1: Reginald Denny (of Leather Pusher Fame).
[US]H.C. Witwer Classics in Sl. 75: I made up my mind I wouldst tell this knockout I’m a leather pusher and be done with it! Sooner or later she wouldst find out anyways, prob’ly from seein’ my picture in the papers as heavyweight champ.
[US]H.C. Witwer Yes Man’s Land 266: As far as leather pushin’ is concerned, I’m all washed up.
[US]R.E. Howard ‘Breed of Battle’Action Stories Nov. [Internet] These bone-headed leather-pushers will drive me to a early doom.
[UK]Dundee Courier 29 Oct. 4/5: A Dundee-born laddie [...] is now a full-grown ‘leather-pusher’.
[US]B. Appel People Talk (1972) 385: All the best leather pushers in the unions are going to throw their dynamite in the ring.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Publicity for the Corpse’ in Thrilling Detective Dec. [Internet] [He] was bringing the little leather-pusher to Manhattan.
leather-slinger (n.)

a prize-fighter.

[US]R.E. Howard ‘Pit of the Serpent’ Fight Stories July [Internet] Slade [...] was the shiftiest, trickiest leather-slinger in the whole merchant marine.
Santa Fe Mag. XXXI 78: Tommy Warren, southpaw leather slinger, proved too experienced for Bill Bowler and was awarded the decision after three rounds of furious battling.
leather-snatcher (n.)

a pickpocket.

[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Perfect Crime’ in Penzler Pulp Fiction (2007) 351: You’re too big and clumsy for a dip or a leather snatcher.

In phrases

burn leather (v.)

(orig. US black) to dance; to move fast.

[US]Fats Waller ‘The Joint is Jumpin’’ [lyrics] Burn your leather on the floor, / Grab anybody’s daughter.
[US]Mad mag. Dec.–Jan. 8: We’ll saddle up [...] Let’s burn leather!
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 23: Burn leather 1. Dance. 2. Walk fast or run.
cop the leather (v.)

(Aus. Und.) to suffer punishment.

[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 2 July 4/4: Myself, when young, did eagerly frequent / The company of ‘mobmen,’ and heard great arg-u-ment / Of how to ‘cop the leather,’ and when in ‘smoke,’ / To leave not by the same door as in I went.
give someone the leather (v.)

to kick a person.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Romance in the Roaring Forties’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 33: Dave walks over and starts to give Waldo Winchester the leather.
lay some leather on (v.)

(US) to spank, to beat.

[US]A. Martin ‘Boots and her Buddies’ 4 May [comic strip] If I catch ’im monkeyin’ around with any plane, I’m gonna lay some leather on ’im!
put in the leather (v.) (also put the leather in, put the leather to, stick the leather in)

to kick someone, esp. during a fight.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 July 10/1: Let them rough it on the razzle. Let them put the leather in / When the John Hop’s whistle’s shrilling and it’s time to stay his din.
[UK]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 30: Some punched and cursed, others, [...] ‘put in the leather’.
[UK]F. Norman Stand on Me 47: Stick the leather in [...] Kill the c . . .
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 141: The giant behind me put the leather in.
[UK]K. Bonfiglioli Don’t Point That Thing at Me (1991) 159: Go on, me old mate. Quick. Put the leather in.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 190: C’mon man, put the leather to him.
stretch leather (v.)

to have sexual intercourse; thus get one’s leather stretched v.; stretching-leatherness n.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Rabelais I vi note n.p.: The vigour and stretching-leatherness of the suffering part; for we see but very few women, however weakly they be, but what happily get over the condition you are in [F&H].
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 7: aforer le tonnel. To deflower; ‘to stretch leather’.
throw leather (v.)

to box; thus leather-throwing n., boxing.

[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 83: The wise guys in the leather-throwing business in the U.S. are always on the look-out for some likely-looking guy.
‘Cherifi Outhustles Holmes’ BoxingTimes.com [Internet] The crowd began chanting ‘Hacine, Hacine,‘ as the Frenchman continued to throw leather.
‘NABF Champ Reid TKO’s Coleman’ at BoxingTimes.com [Internet] Teddy Reid lacks technique and defense but he more than makes up for his shortcomings with heart and the ability to throw leather.

SE in sl. use

In compounds

man of leather (n.)

a cobbler.

[UK]Pierce Egan’s Wkly Courier 22 Mar. 4/1: Tom Reedy who had called in to take a whiff and a whet at this lush-crib, felt himself rather annoyed by the slum of the Man of Leather.