Green’s Dictionary of Slang

water n.1

[early version of waterworks n.]


‘On Newgate Steps Jack Chance was Found’ 🎵 He stood the patter but that’s no matter: / He gammoned the twelve and he worked on the water, / Till a pardon he got from his gracious king.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 15 June 12/1: ‘When she finds the old man’s gone [...] the water will be turned full on at the main’.

In phrases

pump water (v.)

to cry.

[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 108: Folks said Mr. Adams was a very tender-hearted man. Perhaps he was, but I guess that eye didn’t pump its water.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Send Round the Hat’ in Roderick (1972) 476: Those girls are only working you for all you’re worth [...] They can pump water at a moment’s notice.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

water bewitched (n.)

weak tea, punch or any other liquor.

Broadside against Coffee 1: This canting Coffee has his Crew enricht, / And both the Water and the Men bewicht.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 84: Water bewitch’t. i.e. very thin beer.
[UK]‘Whipping-Tom’ Expensive Use of Drinking Tea I 17: I found the Use of ’em was only to sweeten Water bewitch’d with a Lump of Loaf-Sugar.
[UK]Bailey (trans.) Erasmus’ Colloquies 533: As for the Broth, it was nothing but a little Water bewitch’d.
[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 13: Your Ladyship is very sparing of your Tea; I protest, the last Dish I took, was no more than Water bewitch’d.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Sheffield Indep. 12 Dec. 1/3: Perhaps this custom gave rise to the vulgar term water bewitched for indifferent beer.
[UK]Marryat Jacob Faithful I 208: None of your water bewitched.
[US]R.H. Dana Two Years Before the Mast (1992) 46: We were allowed a tin pot full of hot tea (or, as the sailors significantly call it, water bewitched), sweetened with molasses.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 5 July 6/4: She has omitted to put in fresh tea [...] after growing gradually weaker what she gives us to-day is no better than ‘water bewitched’.
[UK]W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-Bk (1991) 721: Water-Bewitched. Bad tea [...] 5-water grog, and the like greatly diluted drinks.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 336: Water-bewitched very weak tea, the third brew (or the first at some houses.) Sometimes very weak tea is called ‘husband’s tea,’ in allusion to the wife taking the first brew, and leaving the rest for her husband.
[UK]Star (Guernsey) 11 June 2/6: The water bewitched, misnamed soup, of a so-called plain cook.
[UK]W.C. Russell Sailors’ Lang. xii: Tea is ‘water bewitched.’.
[UK]Dly Gaz. for Middlesborough 13 May 3/4: Poor people, in illness, often had only milk to exist on, and if they got only water bewitched they would die.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 93: Water Bewitched, liquor diluted with a great deal of water.
[US]J. London People of the Abyss 75: It resembled tea less than lager beer resembles champagne. Nay, it was ‘water-bewitched,’ and did not resemble tea at all.
[US]J. London Road 98: There was one good thing, I must say, about the water — it was hot. In the morning it was called ‘coffee,’ at noon it was dignified as ‘soup,’ and at night it masqueraded as ‘tea.’ But it was the same old water all the time. The prisoners called it ‘water bewitched.’.
[UK]Western Morn. News (Devon) 1 July 7/4: What They Say in the West [...] Water bewitched and tea begrudged (weak tea).
water-bottle (n.)

1. the penis [its urinary function].

[UK]Le Strange Merry Passages and Jeasts No. 125 46: He resolvd, having a winter boote on with an huge large toppe, to force his instrument downward and discharge all into that. [She] in the midst of his careere, catching him suddainly by the Arme [...] with that, his water-bottle spring up, and all besprinkled the table and the opposite company, to the excessive laughter of all.

2. a total abstainer, a teetotaller.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
waterbox (n.) (also watercourse, watergap) [note D’Urfey, Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719): ‘She knew him for a Workman that had the ready skill / To open well her Water-gate, and best supply her Mill’]

the vagina.

[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk I 51: I would have cleft her water-gap, / And join’d it close to my flip-flap.
‘Peter Aretine’ Strange and True Newes 4: That none of this Society discover the Manner and Customes to any but the Society [...] on pain of having their water-gapes stopt, and their A— sew’d up.
[UK]C. Cotton Scoffer Scoff’d (1765) 238: He had through Venus’ Water-Gap / Stuck a Bull’s Feather in his Cap.
[UK]N. Ward Wooden World 52: He [...] is acquainted with the Nature and Depths of all Soundings, but that of his Wife’s Water-Course.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 38: She very readily displays her naked charms, and willingly exhibits Eve’s water gap, without a single fig-leaf.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 182: We have recognised the effects of the flow of this letchwater by referring to the lady’s water-box, -course, -gap, -gate [...], -engine, -works or -mill.
waterboy (n.) (also waterman) [play on take a dive under dive n.1 ]

1. (US) a useless boxer who accepts money to lose fights.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 569/2: waterman n. = waterboy [i.e. ‘an inept prize fighter’].

2. by ext., an informer.

[US]H. Ellison ‘Johnny Slice’s Stoolie’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 81: Somebody put up a case with me as water-boy.
water buffalo (v.) [? echoic]

(US campus) to vomit.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 202: You yakked, you bisoned, you water buffaloed!
water-cart (business) (n.)

weeping; also attrib.

[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 217: ‘Come, come,’ interposed Sam, who had witnessed Mr Trotter’s tears with considerable impatience, ‘blow this ’ere water-cart bis’ness.’ [Ibid.] 608: I’m wery much mistaken if that ’ere Jingle worn’t a-doin’ somethin’ in the water-cart way!
[UK]F. Smedley Harry Coverdale’s Courtship 104: The women did the water-cart business in style – where all the tears comes from I can’t think.
water-closet (n.)

the vagina .

[UK]‘The Plumber’s Ball Cock’ in Gentleman’s Private Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 364: There was in London town, a lovely lady fair, / Whose water-closet was in very bad repair.
water-dog (n.) [the ref. is to Norfolk Broads; note a Norfolk dumpling also means a native of Norfolk]

a Norfolk dumpling, a plain dumpling made from bread dough.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Feb. 3/4: Let us hope that the right rev. gentleman will never have to manufacture for himself, or anyone else, even a billy of tea, a damper, a ‘Johnny-cake,’ or a ‘water dog.’.
water-engine (n.)

the urinary organs, irrespective of gender.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 182: We have recognised the effects of the flow of this letchwater by referring to the lady’s water-box, [...], -engine, -works or -mill.
waterfall (n.) [resemblance]

1. pubic hair.

[UK] ‘The Chapter of Smutty Toasts’ in Icky-Wickey Songster 9: Here’s the pleasant placed waterfall.

2. a neckcloth, scarf or tie with long pendant ends.

[UK]J.H. Newman letter 3 Sept. in Letters and Diaries (1962) XII 268: He [...] looks a striking man in his Jesuit dress, though what his cut may be with a French coat and satin waterfall I can’t tell [OED].
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 280: A gaudy figured satin waistcoat, and waterfall of the same material.

3. false hair.

[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Among the Mormons in Complete Works (1922) 306: I larfed at my wife’s waterfall, which indoosed that superior woman to take it off and heave it at me rather vilently.
Hamilton Spectator (Melbourne) 27 July 1/6: The new slang word, ‘Waterfall,’ applied to the mass of false hair worn by fast ladies, is said by the London Review to be an Americanism.
[US]M.M. Pomeroy Nonsense 41: My waterfall had got under my left ear, making me look as if some ugly man of sin had lifted me one with brass knuckles.
D.L. Cady Rhymes of Vermont (2008) 259: He’d [...] comb and braid a lady’s switch Or steam her ‘waterfall.’.
[US] ‘I Love Somebody’ in T.W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes 51: Wid her reddingoat an’ waterfall, / She’s de pretty liddle gal dat beats ’em all.
water-funk (n.) [funk n.2 (3)]

one who is afraid to go into water.

[UK]Kipling ‘An Unsavoury Interlude’ Complete Stalky & Co. 74: King scowled. ‘One of you was that thing called a water-funk. So now you wish to wash?’.
watergate (n.)

the vagina when wet with sexual excitement.

[UK]E. More Schole House of Women Diii: Salamon sayth, thre thynges there be Seldom, or neuer saturate. Hell the fyrste is of the thre The seconde a womans water gate The grounde of water insacyate.
[UK]Gesta Grayorum (1688) 19: Three hundred able and sufficient labouring Men, with Instruments and Tools necessary for the making clean [...] all manner of Ponds, Puddles, Dams, Springs, Locks, [...] Water-gates.
[UK]Middleton Game at Chess II i: Yet there’s no eminent trader deals in hole-sale But she and I have clapped a bargain up, Let in at watergate, for which I’ve racked My tenant’s purse-strings that they’ve twanged again.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 209: Pertuis, m. [...] 2. The female pudendum; ‘the water-gate.’.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 182: We have recognised the effects of the flow of this letchwater by referring to the lady’s water-box, -course, -gap, -gate [...], -engine, -works or -mill.
waterhead (n.) [lit. one who has ‘water on the brain’]

a foolish person.

[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 89: ‘We’re a load of water heads and worriers’.
[US]S. Longstreet Flesh Peddlers (1964) 48: At COK there were various ways of labeling clients [...] In descending order there were the creep, kook, screwball, shathead, crum-bum and waterhead.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 5: waterhead – a loser.
waterman (n.)

1. see waterboy

2. see also separate entries.

watermill (n.)

the vagina.

[UK] in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 51: Sweet-heart thou hast a water-mill, And these [i.e. the thighs] are the mill-posts.
[UK]Ladies Champion 8: [Marriage is] but two pair of legs in one pair of sheets, with a windmil and watermil, from whence comes no grist vendible.
[UK]Mercurius Democritus 22 May 6: If this be the scowring Irons to invirone my pelting-Irons with your Water-mill, you shall scowre no more for me.
[UK]J. Wade Vinegar and Mustard B2: You could not stay lest you should want water to grind with, but you did grind in your own water mill.
[UK] ‘The Crafty Country Woman’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 34: But the Baker ground his Corn we hear / in a Woman’s Water-mill.
[UK]J.Wilkes Essay on Woman 23: The Water-mills against the Wind-mills for ever; and a fart for the a posteriori men.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Water-mill A woman’s private parts.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 182: We have recognised the effects of the flow of this letchwater by referring to the lady’s water-box, [...], -engine, -works or -mill.
water pad (n.) [pad n.1 (3)]

a thief who specializes in robbing ships on the River Thames.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Water-pad c. one that Robbs Ships in the Thames.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: water-pad one that robs Ships, Hoys, Lighters, Barges or Boats in the River of Thames. The Sixty-third Rank of Villains.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795).
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
water plant (n.) [joc. resemblance]

an umbrella.

[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 309: To my out-and-out friend and companion, Corinthian Tom, I give my spread, my summer-cabbage, my water-plant, but more generally understood as my umbrella.
water-pot (n.)

the vagina.

[UK]London Jilt pt 2 18: There had never been any dabling in our Water-Pots, without my Husband’s knowing it.
water rat (n.)

1. a pirate.

[UK]Shakespeare Merchant of Venice I iii: There be land-rats and water-rats, land thieves and water thieves, – I mean pirates.
[UK]Rowlands Greene’s Ghost Haunting Coniecatchers E3: Another fraternity, viz. Water-rats .
[US]N. Ames Mariner’s Sketches 195: A terrible cock and bull story about their ship having been taken by a pirate [...] We were [...] volunteering to [....] bring in this ‘salt water rat’ by the ears.
G. Bunster in Wkly Times (Melbourne) 8 Sept. 9/2: He had [...] ventured his life, in the disguise of a ‘water rat,’ amongst the long-shore river pirates of Bankside and Bermondsey.

2. a sergeant in the Thames River Police.

[UK]H. Nevinson ‘The St. George of Rochester’ in Keating Working Class Stories of the 1890s (1971) 57: At last a perlice boat with two black-beetles and a water-rat as we calls the Thames perlice and a sergeant, they pick me up.
[UK]E. Raymond Marsh 408: Yah! Two black beetles and a water-rat. Out to prevent some poor blokes pickin’ up a bit of a livin’.

3. (Ulster) a customs officer.

[Ire]M. Ryan et al. No Shoes in Summer n.p.: Each child paraded in fairy dress. I wonder does Cathal Gamble remember being a Water Rat (Customsman) with white uniform cap and real car .
water sneak (n.) (also water sneaksman) [sneak n.1 (1b)]

a thief who works on a river.

[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 293: Water sneak signifies breaking into a vessel.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Water Sneaksman. A man who steals from ships or craft on the river.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 278: water-sneak robbing ships or vessels on a navigable river, or canal, by getting on board unperceived , generally in the night. The water-sneak is lately made a capital offence.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
water sports (n.) (also w.s.)

urolagnia, urinating on a partner for sexual stimulation.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 98: water sports (kwn SF, SM sl, late ’60s) urolagnia, erotic interest given to urine.
[US]B. Judell ‘Sexual Anarchy’ in Blue Boy (Miami) Aug.–Sept. in Jay & Young (1979) 135: The fuck bar seems to be reaching its high noon of popularity and notoriety [...] What goes on in such a place? [...] one can witness and experience cocksucking, regular and fist fucking, water sports, gang bangs, sadomasochism, beer slurping, gum chewing, masturbation, group sex.
[US]A. Maupin More Tales of the City (1984) 51: Water sports. She was real famous for it. [...] She tinkled on them.
[US]Maledicta IX 159: Now we must turn to the piddling nuisances of what is often called W/S (water sports or the erotic games of golden shower queens with urine).
[US]C. Fletcher Pure Cop 90: There’s water sports: golden showers, brown showers.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle 103/1: WS (abbr.) water sports [Classified advertisements]. water sports n. activity where sex involves either being urinated on or urinating on a partner (frequently abbr. to WS in classified advertisements).
[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 74: ‘I dnt bttm for knky fun eva. I do ws,f,tt, cb. nt n2 receiving pain’. Translated this means: I don’t receive anal sex. I offer water sex, fisting, tit torture, cock and ball torture, but I am not into receiving pain.
water sprinkler (n.) [the act of christening with holy water]

(Aus.) a priest; a clergyman.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Apr. 12/4: However it be, the pair are alleged by the priest to be ‘living in sin,’ and are a ‘public scandal.’ You can guess how the water-sprinklers of the parish are discussing the case. Their prayers were exhorted for the alleged ‘unhappy’ sinners that they may come back to grace.
water wagon (n.)

see separate entry.

waterworks (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

blow someone out of the water (v.)

(orig. US) to defeat comprehensively, to overwhelm.

[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 189: Otherwise we’re blown out of the water.
[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 9: It’s our chance to blow the case out of the water.
get one’s water hot (v.)

(US) to get over-excited, to lose one’s temper.

[US]N. Mailer Naked and Dead 163: You got yore water hot. Jus’ don’ push me around.
get someone’s water on (v.)

(US) to pressurize, to intimidate.

[US]H. Hart ‘Papa’s Got Your Bath Water On’ 🎵 I’m going to make you wish you never had been born / I just went uptown, got my gun out of pawn / Don’t start nothing baby, because your papa’s got your bath water on.
[US]Lil Johnson ‘New Shave ’Em Dry’ 🎵 I’m gonna tell you-all women and please understand / Don’t start no three-six-nine with my man / ‘Cause if you do you’ll surely get down [?] wrong / I got a forty-four that puts your waters on.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 55: He’s got your water on already for fencing that stuff. You’re in his pocket.
go through without the water-bag (v.)

(Aus.) to rush, to be in a very great hurry.

[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 89: To go through without the waterbag, to be in a great hurry.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 233/2: go through without the water bag – be in a great hurry.
hold one’s water (v.) (also hold one’s urine) [fig. ref. to restraining oneself from urinating]

1. to be patient, to remain calm; esp. in imper. hold your water! calm down!

[[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk IV 72: She’s much ado to hold her Water; / And counsel’d in that tempting Strain, / I wonder how she could contain].
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 578: hold one’s water, v. phr. To be patient [...] ‘Now, Willie, you just hold your water till the rest of us are ready to go.’.
[US]D. Fuchs Low Company 43: Hold your water [...] What’s burning on you?
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 159: ‘Hold your water,’ Frank warned.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 132: Okay, okay, hold ya water.
[US](con. 1944) A. Myrer Big War 242: ‘When the hell are we going to get the show on the road?’ Klumanski turned around. ‘Hold your urine, Jack. You’ll get there soon enough.’.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 239: Vinnie [...] yelled out to Mary ta fix breakfast and she said ta hold his watta.
[UK]‘John le Carré’ Honourable Schoolboy 151: The word is well done and hold your water.
[US]D.H. Sterry Chicken (2003) 180: Hold your water, boy. You gotta eat foist.

2. to maintain silence under pressure, e.g. from the authorities.

[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 121: He was scared enough [...] But Berg held his water, there’s no deny that.
[US]C. Stella Rough Riders 18: You gotta admit, a lot more guys are making deals than holding their water.
[X] in the water-bag [it is cooler in the water-bag than anywhere else, so the quoted figure is the minimum]

(Aus.) (of temperature) exceedingly hot; preceded by a figure often exaggerated or speculative.

[Aus]Terowie Enterprise (SA) 24 Oct. 2/4: [F]or the encouragement of aspiring new comers it may be stated on the veracity of an old Barrier resident (and that’s a thing not to be doubted) that we may look forward with hope to seeing the glass up to 140 in the water bag before the summer is out.
[Aus]Molong Argus (NSW) 19 Mar. 1/5: [T]he next landing-place is very warm, being considerably over 200 degrees in the water-bag.
[Aus]Leader (Orange) 14 Jan.3/2: Whenever they are stuck for something to say, in order to break a painful silence, they will probably venture the remark ‘Nice Day’ when it is either snowing or 120 in the water bag.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 15 Mar. 12/1: The day had been one of those stifling summer days, a cloudless sky, 160 degrees in the water bag and 120 in the shade.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 73: You wear a heavy suit with a tie when the thermometer registers ‘over a hundred in the water bag’ .
[Aus]J. O’Grady It’s Your Shout, Mate! 72: ‘Stinkin’ bloody hot, she was. About a hundred an’ ten in the water bag’.
[Aus]S. Thorne I’ve Met Some Bloody Wags! 11: It was stinking hot - at least 43°C in the waterbag.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. n.p.: Thirty-seven degrees in the water bag: A hot day. One of the few successful translations from the imperial to the metric measurement of temperature, indicating that the liquid in the canvas water bag is at blood heat.
take water (v.)

1. (US) to back down.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 10 June 2/3: [A]s for journalistic knowledge and experence, the corps of this paper ‘takes water’ for no paper [...] in the country.
[Aus]Sportsman (Melbourne) 10 Jan. 3/1: Joe [...] made an offer to Stop Fitz in Four Rounds without training a day, and counted out £100 as a forfeit to make good a match for £1000. O’Malley [...] could only produce to 8s., so this ardent follower of Fitz had to ‘take water.’ Joe is a hard one to bluff.
[US]N.Y. Tribune 12 June 6/2: No man has ever seen P.C. Knox ‘take water’ [...] or back down from any position.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 54: Any other man to take water the way he did from Butch – why, everybody’d despise him. [Ibid.] 63: Charley Long had taken water. He had been afraid of this smooth-skinned, blue-eyed boy.

2. (Aus.) to leave a bar or public house after spending all one’s cash on drink.

[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 142: TAKE WATER: shearing and bush slang to leave an hotel after a spree or burst ‘dead broke.’.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.