Green’s Dictionary of Slang

poison n.

1. [mid-17C; 19C+] (also rat poison) an ironic term for drink in general.

2. in senses of someone or something harmful.

(a) [mid-19C+] an unpleasant person, best to be avoided; also used semi-affectionately.

(b) [1920s–30s] something that one should avoid, i.e. something suspicious.

(c) [1930s–50s] (US drugs) a doctor who refuses to prescribe narcotics.

3. in drug uses.

(a) [1920s] cocaine.

(b) [1950s+] (drugs) heroin, esp. in its pure state.

(c) [1980s] (S.Afr.) marijuana.

(d) [2000s] fentanyl.

In derivatives

poisonery (n.)

[1900s] (Aus.) a public house.

In compounds

poison counter (n.)

[1900s] (US) a bar counter.

poison people (n.)

[1960s–70s] (US black) heroin addicts, taken as a group.

poison shop (n.) (Aus.)

1. [late 19C+] a (down-market) public house, orig. used by temperance reformers.

2. [1950s] a brothel.

poison shover (n.)

[late 19C] (US) a barman.

In phrases

name your poison (phr.) (also nominate your poison, pick...)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US) an invitation to a fellow drinker to make a choice of drink at a party or in a bar (cf. give it a name under name n.).

put in the poison (v.)

[1920s] to slander, to malign a person’s character, esp. in court.

what’s your poison?

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

poison joint (n.) [joint n. (3b)]

[1930s–40s] (US Und.) a pharmacy; a drug store.

poison-pate (n.) [SE red being a symbolically ‘dangerous’ colour + pate]

[late 17C–early 19C] a redhead; thus poison-pated adj., red-haired.