Green’s Dictionary of Slang

push n.

1. in fig. senses, that which ‘pushes’ or can be ‘pushed’.

(a) sexual intercourse; thus do a push v., to have sexual intercourse [the thrusting movements of the man, but note push in the truck n.].

[UK]Le Strange Merry Passages and Jeasts No. 283 85: A lustie yong labouring fellow ... profest extreame affection to an old decrepitt widdow, and promised her faithfull marriage; but ... when it comes to the Push, I doe not thinke hee’l have her.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:4 23: For many stand a Push, that find / The Weapon leaves no Scar behind.
[UK]Gentleman’s Bottle-Companion 10: Not lean to each party, nor be led astray, / But push at all things in a middling way.
[UK] ‘I Dreamt Last Night As I Lay On My Bed’ in Rambler’s Flash Songster 36: And he said that he wanted a roger. / [...] And when that it came to the push, I found, / That he’d nothing at all to pull out.
[US](ref. to 19030s) B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 88: anal intercourse [...] push (’30s).

(b) a robbery, a swindle.

[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 248: Tho’ now-a-days so bold a push / Would make an honest Hebrew blush.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 262: Push a robbery or swindle. ‘I’m in this push,’ the notice given by one magsman to another that he means to ‘stand in’.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 143: Bank bandits have only once made a ‘big push’ in the City. The raid was made on a van carrying bank-notes to one of the ‘big five’ in Bishopsgate.

(c) influence [var. on pull n. (1a)].

[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 169: His unmentionable days having shown him the fibre of those in the stirrups, he was determined to be among them, and believed in and depended upon push.
[US]H. Ellison ‘We Take Care of Our Dead’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 61: You got no push with me.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 115: Who had the clout, the push, the key to the closets filled with dead bodies?

(d) money [? fig. use of SE, i.e. it lets one ‘push forward’ in life].

[UK]W. Newton Secrets of Tramp Life Revealed 12: ‘Lurkers’ are able to obtain ‘Push’ or money.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘The Rondeau of the Knock ’ in Referee 20 Apr. 7: He took the knock! No more with jaunty air / He’ll have the ‘push’ that made the punter stare.

(e) (Irish) help, encouragement.

[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 174: He’s a grand bloke and I could rely on him to give me a bit of a push.
[Ire]J. McGahern Amongst Women (2009) [ebook] ‘Would you like us to tie the sheaves, Daddy?’ Mona asked. ‘That’d be a great push,’ he said .

(f) (Aus./Irish) a problem, a difficult situation.

[US]Hopper & Bechdolt ‘9009’ (1909) 70: Ye can’t help me [...] nobody can’t. I’m up against the push.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] ‘He knows how the Armits fit. He’ll settle them, take the push off’ [...] ‘Bren got the fucking vaguest what it costs to get the Armits off my back?’.

2. in senses of a crowd or gang.

(a) a crowd, a ‘press’ of people.

[UK]Wycherley Love in a Wood II i: I will not stay the push.
[UK]C. Hitchin Conduct of Receivers and Thief-Takers 15: His Majesty is just going to Parliament-House, which will occasion a Push, alias a great Concourse of People, and they go there to pick Pockets.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 30: In a Fair or Market, where there is a Throng of People, we say, Come Culls, shall us pike to the Push or Gaff.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxviii: A Push A Crowd of People.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving 5: In a fair or market, where there is a throng of people, we say, Come Culls, shall us Pike to the Push [...] Come men, shall us go to the throng or fair.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 260: push a crowd or concourse of people, either in the streets, or in any public place of amusement, &c.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London II i: He’s as quiet as a dummy-hunter in a push.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 62: You go into a push – you keep one peep open for ze coppare.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 13/1: When we got to the Sculpture room there was a great crowd of visitors [...] making quite a little ‘push’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 12 Oct. n.p.: Every push, going to and returning rom the French metropolis, was worked with more or less success.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: I darted into the push, and gave the downey one the office.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 412: Did you stag the milingtary-lookin’ swell with the ’starchios and Piccadilly-veepers, as run his rule over you in the push.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ I Need The Money 12: I traveled with the Andrew Carnegie push.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 123: When all the Push gathered at the Round Table and some one let fall the Name of the High-Binder, they would open up on Rufus and Pan him to a Whisper.
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 622: I started to squeeze out of that push, for air raids now seemed far too trivial to give a thought to.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 152: Push. – A crowd ; a gang or clique, usually of tramps or criminals, but especially applied by ‘pitchmen’ to the crowd attracted by the ‘spiel’ or ‘bally’.
[US]Baker ‘Influence of Amer. Sl. on Aus.’ in AS XVIII:4 253: Sydney Telegraph of July 14, 1936, palmed off on the public as Americanisms current in Australia: [...] push (a crowd).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 167/1: Push, n. 1. A crowd of people, especially as potential victims of pickpockets.
[UK]R.D. Magoffin We Bushies 89: Now you’ve let us down O’Hagen for you’ve joined the city push.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 197: Push Crowd.

(b) (UK Und.) a small gang who mask the activities of a pickpocket by surrounding the victim.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: Some who were good at ‘stalling’ for the ‘dip’ in a ‘push’ were ‘rung’ for others who were used to ‘fly-dipping’.
[US]Little Falls Herald (MN) 31 Mar. 3/3: How to Operate the Shell Game with Profit [...] When the steerer gets the geezer in the push, let the boosters stall until the main plugger cops.

(c) (Aus.) a criminal gang, a gang of tramps; a prison work gang; thus upper-ten push, upper-class criminals and prisoners, also a tramp gang; pushism, the world of such gangs; pushite, a gang member.

[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 15: I one day missed my labour ‘chum’ from his place in our ‘push’ or gang.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 5 July 3/3: He saw Mason (who belonged to the Waterloo ‘push’) armed with a short stick or bar of iron, with which he was engaged belaboring a rival ‘pushite’.
[NZ]N.Z. Observer and Free Lance (Auckland) 11 may 2/4: Mr Northcroft, a magistrate [...] has a wholesome contempt for the ruffianly lout whose ambition is to wear a Sydney bun hat, velvet collar and bell-bottomed trousers [...] and to use language foul and blackguardly enough to entitle him to call himself one ‘of the push’ .
[Aus]Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW) 31 Dec. 2/8: The patrons [...] were not of the most respectable class, rather the reverse: they were called mainly from the ‘pushes’ that then infected Sydney.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Oct. n.p.: A pushite who had been arrested would say he’d been lumbered.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 56: Clarence stood in with the Toughest Push in Town.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 56: She talked of invoking the aid of a younger brother, who was the pride of a notorious ‘push’.
C.J. Dennis Gadfly 14 Feb. 26: And the pushites of old Collingwood appeared in ancient docks / For pelting prehistoric ‘cops’ with tertiary rocks.
[Aus]L. Stone Jonah 56: The police made inquiries, and arrested some of the Ivy Street push, but released them for want of evidence.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 52/1: Mr. ‘Enery’ Bingham, ‘pushite,’ factory worker, walked down the old familiar alley for the first time in six months. To tell the truth ‘Enery’ had been ‘High and Dry’ for that enforced, period at the expense of an impartial government.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 28 Dec. 5/5: Now then all youse outback bushies, / Cockies, townies, pushites, too, / Get yer blanky frames-a-movin', / Come and help old Mother ’Roo.
[US]Ekalaka Eagle (MT) 18 July 2/2: Let us give a little talk in the ‘chain’ — the tramp word for this slang [...] Were you a member of a gang of tramps, you would be a ‘hobo,’ a ‘stiff’ or a ‘burly bum,’ the gang would be known as a ‘push’ or ‘outfit’.
[Aus]E. Dyson Missing Link [Internet] Ch. iv: They must be turned from the joys of the ‘pushes,’ tobacco chewing, and stoushing inoffensive Chinamen with bricks.
[Aus]Advocate (Melbourne) 25 Nov. 24/2: The ‘pushite’ who will use the bottle, the boot, or even the knife and pistol, on the slightest provocation, or without any provocation, must be taught that such pleasant, if forcible, demonstrations have.no place in a civilised community.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 280: There were a hundred and fifty crooks in the push if there was one.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 78: The lads of Plug Alley, mingling with the crowds at the meetings, were apt to fling themselves on a rival push under the cover of patriotism.
[US]Baker ‘Influence of Amer. Sl. on Aus.’ in AS XVIII:4 256: A bonzer sheila and a dinkum bloke got stoushed by a push before the Johns mooched along.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 86: I’d seen a bloke once after a push had shellacked him, and a junk man wouldn’t have given two bob for him.
[Aus]T. Ronan Only a Short Walk 93: I had to go ahead and break up those larrikin pushes.
[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘The Bastard from the Bush’ in Snatches and Lays 83: So down in Jones’s Alley all the members of the push / Laid a dark and dirty ambush for the bastard from the bush.

(d) (US/Aus.) a crowd, thence a clique, a set, among the most celebrated of which was the Sydney Push, or Sydney University Libertarian Society of the early 1960s; thus pushite, a member of a gang or ‘crowd’.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 6/4: He didn’t mind, it seems, parting his little pile to the priestly ‘push’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Bogg of Geebung’ in Roderick (1972) 22: A little ‘push’ of local larrikins [...] wended their way through the old mullock heaps.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 12 May 6/7: Writing the word ‘push’ brings to mind that the American scribes have generally adopted the term in its Australian sense. At first a few timid efforts made it ‘push-gang’ over there, but now it is ‘push’ straight-out. [...] If we wanted to teach something great or beautiful, how slow the world would be to adopt the lesson, abut avidity don’t half express the the way folk embrace slang.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 55: ‘You come ’round lookin’ wise an’ stallin’ fer yerself ’bout bein’ in some swell push’.
[UK]A. Binstead Gal’s Gossip 135: Clearly she does not know our ‘push,’ as the belles of New York say.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 53: push, n. A society affair or gathering.
[UK]D. Cotsford Society Snapshots 179: Mrs Bobbie Bobtail. By the way, I think ‘the boy’ was a bit faked up . . . don’t you? Lady Hauterive (astounded). What boy? One of your ‘push’?
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Them was the Days’ in Jarrahland Jingles 170: To London cold and foggy. An’ there I ’ires an inky ghost To put me pap in writin,’ An’ get the Cockney push on toast, Wot swaller saltbush skitin’.
[US]Seattle Repub. (WA) 30 Dec. 57: He [...] has always been in the front rank of the business push of the city.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Should Worry cap. 1: Not one of this push out here knows a thing about the Tango.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Stoush O’ Day’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 28: Sure of ’is title then, the champeen Day / Begins to put on dawg among ’is push.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 60: [H]his game is to select the biggest, ugliest, loudest-voiced and most villainous-looking assassin in the push.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 20 Aug. 7: The Sandal-Wearing Art Push.
[UK]Wodehouse ‘The Making of Mac’s’ in Man with Two Left Feet 129: Somone in the push starts the cry that’s he’s found a new place, and off they all go to try it.
[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘The Doormat’ in Roderick (1972) 904: She had experienced help and kindness [...] from real larrikins of the old ‘Push’ Previous had belonged to.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Janeites’ in Debits and Credits (1926) 169: ’Eaven knows what sort o’ push they was—little boys mostly.
[UK]Era (London) 1 Feb. 9/3: Ben Travers [...] would like to thank the Aldwych push for their performance.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 263: Anyway, if I did join anything, it wouldn’t be your push.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 20: ‘Would you care to break a window?’ said the Leader of the Push.
[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 144: Ver push giv me cuvver.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 63: The high priests and the scribes, and all the rest of the Government push.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 42: Push: Member of a sect. Now somewhat archaic except in the sense of ‘a member of the literary push’.

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

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 20 Mar. 8/2: William, Alfred E. and Reginald Clarke (grandpa, dad, and uncle of Rutter Clarke, of Adelaide) were a smart push a bit too smart in fact. Years ago they were gold-buyers for a Bendigo bank and [...] the Clarke push grew fat and prosperous.
[US]J. Dixon Free To Love 254: I’m through with him. Through with the whole rotten Carroll push.

(f) (US) a street fight between gangs.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

3. constr. with the, an act of ejection, dismissal.

(a) dismissal from a job; usu. as get/give the push v., to be dismissed, to dismiss; also of a lover.

[UK]F. Gilbert ‘I’ll Say No More to Mary Ann’ [lyrics] The girl that stole my heart has given me the ‘Push’.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 93: She was always taking on new ones, for you got the push in a year or two, arter you got too big.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 64: What is worrying me, Comrade Jackson, is not the thought of the push.
[UK]R. Tressell Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1955) 273: If ’e saw me in it, it would mean the bloody push.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 451: I give him the push. C-couldn’t afford to keep him.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 35: ‘Why’d you leave, then?’ ‘The push.’.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 24: By Christ, you’re a beaut! Lead a man on and then give him the push.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 265: ‘I think Goldilocks has had his chips.’ ‘The push?’ he said.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 169: But Spode told me she had given him the push.
[UK]M. Frayn Now You Know 71: Sometimes I got the push.

(b) ejection from a place, e.g. a public house.

[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 14: Giving mugs and other barmy sots the push.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 69: A few hours, and they [...] were giving you the push.

4. (Aus.) cocoa.

[Aus]Laverton Mercury (WA) 31 Oct. 3/7: Tea is referred to as ‘wash,’ cocoa as ‘push,’ so called from extra inducements having, in past years, been held out in the trade to force it forward.

5. see pushover n. (1)

In compounds

push-note (n.)

1. (US Und.) a one-dollar bill.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 204: He weeded them of a few push-notes.
[US]W.T. Vollmann You Bright and Risen Angels (1988) 313: We could bill them in with something they’ll want to blow every last push-note on.

2. a person who looks like someone else.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 304: push-note. [...] A person who resembles someone else.
push-push (n.) [Trimble, 5,000 Adult Sex Words & Phrases (1966), suggests orig. pidgin use by ‘Americans in foreign countries’]

(US) sexual intercourse.

‘The Iceman and the Cook’ [comic strip] I betcha gotta nice pussy. Whatta you say we make da poosh-a-poosh.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 223: ‘Push-push,’ mumbled Mike, lust, like thick ugly sweat, oozing from his eyes.
[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 264: A craggy-faced, wrinkled old woman [...] waving a finger in his face. ‘No push-push,’ she said severely.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Peacock Valhalla 405: You can have no fun; no push-push.
[US]R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words.

In phrases

give someone the order of the push (v.)

to dismiss from a job.

[UK]Marshall ‘A Meeting on the “Met”’ Pomes 126: He felt like people do who gain the order of the push [F&H].
[UK]Gem 17 Oct. 5: Is it twue that young Lynn has had the ordah of the push – I mean, that he has been discharged by Sir Neville Boyle?
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Work and Whistling’ Sporting Times 27 Aug. 1/4: I’ve decided to present her with the order of the push, / And the hussy then can whistle for her wages!
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 204: THE ORDER OF THE PUSH I have just been discharged from my second English hospital, and am at present on leave pending discharge from the Service.
in the push

(US) moving in fashionable circles.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘In the push,’ is synonymous with ‘in the swim’.
[US]Out West Oct. 240: This same lady [...] considers the user of ‘in the push,’ — synonymous with ‘in the swim,’ — ‘moak,’ ‘cove,’ et cetera, a subject for missionary effort.
make a push (v.)

(Aus.) to leave.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Nov. Red Page/1: She plucks a spray from a passin’ bush, / An’ starts to chew the tip of a twig, / An’ says: ‘I reckon I’ll make a push’. [...] / I says: ‘Oh, w’at’s yer ’urry?’ says I.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

another push and you’d have been a nigger (also another push and you’d have been a chink) [nigger n.1 (1)/Chink n. (1)]

a general insult; the implication (in this context a slur) is that one’s mother was happy to have sex with all races.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (7th, 8th edn) 21/2: C.20.
when push comes to shove (also if push comes to shove) [SE push is seen as less aggressive than shove]

(orig. US) in the final assessment, when all other alternatives have been exhausted.

Central Valley Project of California: Hearings 7-9 Feb. 52: Still, when push comes to shove, there is not just a world order that we are talking about but an American order.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 219: If push comes to shove I’ll bet I’ll become a cage of apes to them.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 2: Your pockets are loaded with ‘scratch’ and if the push comes right down to a shove you got everything covered.
[US]N.Y. Times 26 Oct. SM9: Like Kasper said over in North Carolina after the Clinton dynamiting, ‘If push comes to shove, blow ’em all up.’.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 31: If push comes to shove we can wash him.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 104: When push come to shove, you come out you coat and get down.
[US](con. 1930s–60s) H. Huncke Guilty of Everything (1998) 241: I figured if push came to shove this would be a good headquarters.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 205: When push comes to shove, they don’t give a fuck what people think.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 345: Sometime down the line, push is gonna come to shove. They gotta execute ’em faster than they arrive.
[UK]M. Dibdin Thanksgiving 24: Luce didn’t want to, but when push comes to shove she didn’t say no.
work the push (v.)

(US und.) to pickpocket in a crowd departing an entertainment, e.g. of theatregoers, a circus audience.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 21 Sept. n.p.: Washington ‘gonnoffs’ who at the close of each entertainment ‘work the push’ inside the canvas.