Green’s Dictionary of Slang

lit (up) adj.

1. (orig. US, also lighted up) drunk.

[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 42: Every time the general gets lit up, he places his arm around your shoulder, puts his face close to yours, blows ashes in your eyes, and tells you confidentially [...] that he knew your father when the seat of his trousers was ragged.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Can Search Me 37: The house was lighted up from cellar to attic. As soon as I opened the door I found our respected Mayor, Uncle Peter, and he was also lit up.
[US]J. London John Barleycorn (1989) 166: I wasn’t jingled, I wasn’t lighted up.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Carmen’ in Gullible’s Travels 20: They’re all pretty well lit by this time and they’ve reached the singin’ stage.
[US]W.J. Schira diary 21 Feb. 🌐 Am pretty well lit up tonight. I was over to Eivant & had vin Blank Cuaese [? Curacao] & Cognac.
[NZ]G. Meek Chips Off the Old Stumbling Blocks 22: If you’re lit up with whisky you can’t expect them not to see right through you.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 67: Only thing with Otero, he gets lit and wants to raise hell.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Nine Tailors (1984) 245: In got a whole bunch of soldiers, pretty lit-up and cheery.
[UK]G. Greene Brighton Rock (1943) 80: If I hadn’t been a bit lit this wouldn’t have happened.
[US]H.A. Smith Life in a Putty Knife Factory (1948) 73: One night he got vigorously lit and in the early hours reeled to his room in a midtown hotel.
[US]E. Wilson 1 Aug. [synd. col.] [T]hey were always sort of lit up. It seems that alcohol makes some people feel very strait-laced’.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 6 Nov. [synd. col.] Relaxing with his [the dock foreman’s] [...] old lady in his lap, both lit up like an Xmas tree.
[NZ]A.L. Cherrill Story of a N.Z. Sheep Farm 73: Most always Pa comes home all lit up.
[US]Mad mag. Nov.–Dec. 30: [...] mainly getting them lit with plenty grog.
[US]S. Longstreet Flesh Peddlers (1964) 322: You look lit up to me.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 233: Both of us were lit.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 31: They was to come home late, half-lit.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 89: Hedda was half lit when I got there.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 127: The laughter and babble from the well-lit Mansions’ patrons.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 18: Lit: Tipsy from drinking alcohol.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. 11 Oct. 32: He always does this when Maureen’s out and he’s a bit lit up.
[US]J. Ridley Conversation with the Mann 63: Most of the time Pop was too lit up and strung out to find his way from the couch to the floor.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Wire’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 6 [TV script] ‘He’s lit at nine in the morning?’ ‘Or from the night before’.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 231: Lit as he was [...] Dan knew he would be heading for Los Angeles.
[US]Simon & Mills ‘React Quotes’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 5 [TV script] Look at you. Half-lit every third night, dead drunk every second.
[US]S.A. Crosby Razorblade Tears 82: Andy and Oscar had gotten lit.

2. (Aus.) suffering from a sexually transmitted disease.

[Aus]W.H. Downing Digger Dialects 32: lit-up [...] (2) diseased.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: lit-up. [...] a man suffering from venereal disease.

3. (US) showily dressed up.

[Aus]Horsham Times (Vic.) 14 Sept. 7/4: Oh, Ma ’as got ’er flash togs on an’ Sarah’s lit up too.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 106: Rico was wearing a loud striped suit and a purple tie [...] ‘Yes, sir, boss, you sure are lit up,’ said Ottavio.

4. (US drugs) extremely intoxicated by a drug.

[UK]E. Murphy Black Candle 227: Nearly all cocaine dopers write long letters [...] especially after an injection. You get ‘lit up’ then, and your mind becomes unusually alert.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 105/2: lit. Var. of all lit up.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
[US]Mad mag. June 49: This crow whose lit-up peepers bugged me wild.
[US]A. Young Snakes (1971) 49: I want to see you dudes lit up for a change, my treat! [...] It’s better than gettin drunk.
[US]D. Jenkins You Gotta Play Hurt 68: [T]here was no such thing as a good cocktail party unless you arrived conversantly drunk or pharmaceutically lit.
New Directions Program 🌐 Marijuana-using adolescents refer to people who are under the influence of marijuana as being: ‘baked’, ‘wasted’, ‘stoned’, ‘lit’, ‘blazed’, ‘faded’.
[US]T. Dorsey Triggerfish Twist (2002) 87: ‘How do you feel?’ asked Bernie. Coleman looked slowly around the room. ‘[...] lit, torched, burnt, buzzed, [...]’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] A song about [...] snorting coke, getting all lit up.
[Scot]I. Welsh Decent Ride 106: Ronnie, even though eh’s aw lit up, is tons mair calm n happy.

5. excited.

[US]E. Wright letter in J. Nathan Secret Life of the Lonely Doll (2004) 177: They have had the biggest advance sale to shops that Doubleday has ever had [...] They are all lit up about it.’ .
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 227: I was lit up because the present was so uncertain, and nothing seemed to matter.
[US]R. Price Clockers 22: The lit-up look the pipeheads got on seeing him.

6. (US gang) shot.

[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 232: ‘Don’t come any closer or you’ll get lit up.’ They kept coming, so I lowered my piece and fired into the door.
[UK]R. Glasser 365 Days 231: Gunship and a loach got lit up near Qui Nhou.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]Mayor’s Anti-Gang Office City of Houston, TX Street Gang Sl. / Gloss. 9 Nov.: lighting up/lit up Shot.

7. (US) angry.

[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) 🌐 Lit (adj.) 1. Angry.

In phrases

all lit up (adj.)

(drugs) under the influence of drugs.

[US]D. Maurer ‘Junker Lingo’ in AS VIII:2 27: When one has contracted the habit or is under the immediate influence of the drug, he is all lit up, on the gow, or hitting the gow.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 1: All lit up — Under the influence of drugs.
lit to the gills (adj.) (also lit to the guards, looped to the ears, looped to the gills) [to the gills under gills n.1 ]

drunk or intoxicated by drugs.

[US]A. Hardin ‘Volstead English’ in AS VII:2 87: Terms referring to the state of intoxication: Lit to the guards.
H.L. Pease Singing Rails 45: By now I was pretty certain they were lit to the gills.
[Scot]W.C. Williams Autobiog. 323: It was discovered that S — was lit to the gills.
[US]‘Cordwainer Bird’ Bohemia of Arthur Archer’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] She was obviously looped to the ears but on her — it looked just the other side of wonderful.
Annals of Wyoming XXXII-VI 213: Nobody associated much with the old coot, and everybody knew he hadn’t any money for liquor, so ‘how come he turned up at mealtimes lit to the gills’.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 315: Yankee Bill’s looped to the gills!
[US]J. Kelly Apalachin 217: What if they’d seen you, the whole show on view, lit to the gills?
[US]J. & B. Cousins Tales from Wide Ruins 132: I was ‘lit to the gills.’ I just sat there quietly and said, ‘G’night.’ After they left, I could see the bed spinning around the room.
[US]E.D. Hopkins Life After Life 113: I showed up midway through his reading, lit to the gills off reefer, alcohol, and speed.
lit up like a Christmas tree (adj.) (also lit up like a bazaar, a birthday cake, a candelabra, …like a church, a ferry boat, a lighthouse, …like a new saloon, an ocean liner, a show window, a sky-rocket, a store window, a torch, a triumphal arch, high mass, the commonwealth, …like the municipal pier, the sky)

very drunk; intoxicated from drugs.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 54: Fedinck gets an awful heat on in Paris. Goes to a swell blowout and returns to his hotel lit up like a church.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. ii: The girl I dress with had been out to a wine supper and she came splashing into the dressing room lit up like a show window.
[US]NY Tribune 13 Mar. 6/1: You mustn’t tear off the notion that Clifford’s a Mr Lush, that goes and gets himself all lit up like a birthday cake.
[US]S. Ford Torchy 132: But you mustn’t tear off the notion that Clifford’s a Mr. Lush, that goes and gets himself all lit up like a birthday cake and then begins to mix it.
[US]E. O’Neill The Movie Man in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 192: He’ll be all lit up like a torch tonight.
[US]El Paso Herald (TX 8 May 20/2: We was all lit up like a church.
[US]R. Lardner ‘The Water Cure’ in Gullible’s Travels 192: He was all lit up like the Municipal Pier.
[US]J.M. Grider War Birds (1926) 97: He was all lit up like a new saloon.
[US]Sun (NY) 1 Jan. 14/1: Previous New Year’s Eves would have been surrounded by [...] crowds already lit up like a Christmas tree.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 269: Any Gentleman who had it in the back of his Head to go down to the Corner and get all lit up like a Triumphal Arch could always pull a swell Excuse.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 209: On the mad dash home, Rags, which must have been lit up like a Christmas tree, crashes into a fence with his car. [Ibid.] 253: ‘Holy mackerel,’ whispers Nate, ‘you’re lit up like a church!’.
[US]Black Mask Aug. III 31: So I play I’m lit up like a bazaar.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 10/2: Lit up like a lighthouse – Brilliantly inebriated.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘Cocaine Lil’ in Amer. Songbag 206: Along in the morning about half-past three / They were all lit up like a Christmas tree.
[US] ‘Sl. Expressions for Drunk’ in New Republic in AS XVI:1 (1941) 9 Mar. 70: [...] lit up like the commonwealth [...] lit up like the sky [...] lit up like a store window.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 40: We ‘kicked the gong around’ [...] until we were lit up like a Christmas tree.
[US]Betty Boop ‘Barnacle Bill’ [cartoon lyrics] I’m Barnacle Bill, the Sailor. / I’m all lit up like a Christmas tree.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Cancer (1963) 225: About three in the morning Fillmore staggers in [...] lit up like an ocean liner.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Guns At Cyrano’s’ in Red Wind (1946) 209: Take it easy. You’re lit like a ferry boat.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 219: For the ceremony, he was loaded to the gills, lit up like a sky-rocket.
[US]Louis Jordan ‘Barnacle Bill the Sailor’ 🎵 I’m all lit up like a Christmas tree, / Said Barnacle Bill the Sailor. / I’ll sail the sea until I croak, / Drink my whiskey, swear and smoke.
[US]M. Prenner ‘Drunk in Sl.’ in AS XVI:1 Jan. 70/1: lit up like high mass.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 36: Gussie got lit up like a candelabra.
[Aus]‘Geoffrey Tolhurst’ Flat 4 King’s Cross (1966) 45: ‘This is one time when you can hang the lot, light yourself up like a Christmas tree’.
[UK]Guardian 22 Feb. 31/4: You’re lit up like a Christmas tree and not a care in the world.
lit (up) like Broadway (adj.) (also Luna park, Times Square, a White Way)

1. very drunk.

[US]S. Lewis Main Street (1921) 389: They all got lit up like a White Way.
[US]Gleason & Taber Is Zat So? I i: On the level, you’re lit like Broadway.
[US]Chicago Trib. 6 Mar. 15/5: One uv the neighbors was haff drunk. The uther one didn’t beleeve in doing things by haffs — he wuz lit up like Times Square.
[US]K. Nicholson Barker I ii: One more o’ them and I’ll be lit up like Luna Park!
[US](con. c.1925) R. Baylor Detail & Pattern Essays 7: Edmund Wilson compiled a list of words ‘denoting drunkenness . [...] potted loaded for bear canned embalmed honked buried plowed lit up like Times Square’.
[US]Spears Sl. & Jargon of Drugs & Drink 172: ...lit up like Main Street, lit up like the commonwealth, lit up like the sky, lit up like Times Square.
[US]T. Robinson Hard Bounce [ebook] ‘She’s a mess, man. I mean this chick is lit up like Times Square’.

2. very happy.

[US](con. 1970s) J. Pistone Donnie Brasco (2006) 359: ‘That’s good. Sonny happy now?’ ‘Forget about it, lit up like Luna Park.’.