1. in hetero- or homosexual senses, sexual activity, spec. sexual intercourse.
|Juvenal VI 106: Rank Matrons, Dancing to the Pipe, Gig with their Bums, and are for Action ripe; [...] ’Tis downright Lust, and Acted to the Life. [...] Now is the time of Action; now begin, They cry, and let the lusty Lovers in.|
|Banquet of Wit 60: A forward young girl having been debauched, her father applied to counsel to know whether an action would not lie between his daughter and her gallant? ‘Go home, honest man, replied the barrister, I find there has been already too much action between them’.|
|‘A Wife’s Appetite’ Cuckold’s Nest 43: The morn they were wed the maid said to her bunny, / To-night you shall make poor old Roger feel funny. / So she curled it and frizzed it, and made it all right, / Then wrapped it up warm, fit for action at night.|
|‘The Tree of Life’ in Fake Away Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 292: I have it just now at the height of perfection, / Adapted for handling, and fit for an action!|
|Venus in India I 36: We had been in intense action nearly a whole hour.|
|Gay Detective (2003) 86: Two servicemen were wrapped together in a desperate passionate embrace [...] Olsen nudged Francis. ‘Hey, get a load of that action.’.|
|On the Yard (2002) 298: ‘You’re looking for action, and Red’s laying to give you all you can handle.’ [...] ‘You think I bend over [...] for anything with a prick?’.|
|Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 7: Her blue eyes seemed to shine out of her face and she was built for action.|
|Grease 33: They asked a lot of dumb questions, like how many times did we get action.|
|Skin Tight 254: Heading over to Biscayne Bay for some action.|
|Pugilist at Rest 98: I had more action than ever before. Chicks coming and going.|
|You Got Nothing Coming 37: So if you must get some cock action, let the con sitting next to you suck your dick.|
|Woroni (Canberra) 1 Oct. 12/3: Their student representative body (bagma - Bigger Arseholes Get More Action) is shambolic, bordering on preposterous.|
2. in a physical sense, movement indicative of sexuality, i.e. the erotic ‘action’ of the hips or pelvis; cit. 1930 indicates the movement of a woman’s hips as she dances or walks.
|(con. 1900s–10s) 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 329: ‘Jeez, baby, you’ve got some action,’ he said, after they’d been dancing a little while.|
|‘Pete in “No Pay”’ [comic strip] in Tijuana Bibles (1997) 43: Did I have that action! – Why when I shoved the throbbing monster in her gravy receiver I thought she would shake herself apart.|
|Rumble on the Docks (1955) 72: The guys knew he only went for girls with action.|
|in Sweet Daddy 23: Paid her but she would’ve done it for free, she liked my action so much.|
|Maledicta III:2 232: He also may or may not know the following words and expressions: [...] give him the shaft (the action, the rod, the works, etc.).|
|Alice in La-La Land (1999) 120: He watched her action as she walked through the arch to the rest rooms. He couldn’t help himself. No man could help himself from watching that action.|
3. (US) financial transactions, esp. bets and wagers.
|Wolfville 72: He sets in to win Jennie hard. Jim tries to crowd the game an’ get action.|
|John Henry 13: All the time I’m giving this glad speech I’m going down the line mentally to see who will give me quick action on a steam-heated touch.|
|Strictly Business (1915) 79: Know where a fellow could get action on about $9 or $10.‘Poet and the Peasant’ in|
|Hopalong Cassidy Returns 315: ‘Goin’ to show you all some action right soon,’ he boasted.|
|Honest Rainmaker (1991) 68: ‘Play only one race a day, or if you go to the track, play only two or three.’ ‘You call that action?’ the woman said.|
|Reinhart in Love (1963) 46: And ‘action,’ that’s action, which tonight is craps in the second-floor front over Honey Dove’s Turkish Lounge.|
|Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 53: There’s always some lunatic looking around to take the numbers action.|
|Harder They Come 141: Too much action roun’ town fe me play wid no bruk sport who can’t pay me.|
|Wiseguy (2001) 98: Most of our action came from bookmakers, not individual bettors.|
|Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] I’d lost more than that amount in just over two hours on at least three separate occasions. Poker typically, some horse action too.‘Death Cannot Be Delegated’ in|
4. (orig. US black) what is going on; thus a situation or state of affairs, anything exciting, current, interesting, depending on the context, e.g. the chance for sex, a musical performance, a night’s gambling; often used in the greeting, Where’s/what’s the action?
|A. Mutt in Fisher Mutt Complete Compilation (1977) 154: I’m the original hard luck kid. Bet on a horse and get no action. They scratched him.|
|‘Make Me Know It’ [lyrics] Make me know it, baby, I crave some action; / Make me know it, baby, prove what you say.|
|Right Ho, Jeeves 17: If a chap is such a rabbit that he can’t get action when he’s handed the thing on a plate.|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 418: There is very little action of any kind in town with the high shots gone.‘Very Honorable Guy’ in|
|Runyon à la Carte 94: Any action in the way of card-playing, or crap-shooting [...] or betting on baseball games, for The Sky is always moving around the country following the action.|
|DAUL 17/1: Action. Criminal activity. ‘Shape up (be present) tonight, Joe, there’s action — a Brooklyn score (robbery).’.et al.|
|Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 10: Is there action there tonight?|
|All Night Stand 190: I thought you were the one wanting all the action.|
|Street Players 20: You sure get a lot of action when you ride in a hog!|
|Traveller’s Tool 3: The spot on the globe ‘where the action is’ today.|
|Yardie 39: He was using their stuff to [...] take over some of their action.|
|Powder 368: Quietly, Pat had let himself into James and Keva’s suite, hoping he hadn’t missed all the action.|
|Hip-Hop Connection Jan. 73: The tiny elevator is crammed to the limit as it ferries hundreds of fresh-faced b-people to the action.|
|Guardian 23 Nov. [Internet] It seems to me that you have to be where the action is, so that means a large party whose votes actually count in an Assembly and which has a voice, however small, on the national stage.|
|Killing Time in Las Vegas [ebook] You’re a city boy, don’t you miss the action?‘I Want Candy’ in|
5. the potential client for a prostitute, or victim of a confidence trick etc.
|USA Confidential 109: Their regular customers, as well as bellboys and cab-drivers who are their agents, know the numbers, and call whenever there is action.|
|Pimp 33: He gave me the office that some action was coming down the street.|
6. (US) one’s choice, one’s preference.
|On the Yard (2002) 202: When they learn that ain’t your action, there’s going to be a lot of suckers [...] hitting hard.|
|Queens’ Vernacular 17: Action [late ’50s–mid ’60s] one’s ideology, philosophy of living.|
7. the effects of a drug.
|Howard Street 136: That was some boss action, baby. I mean it swung, y’know.|
8. (US) a revolver.
|Die Nigger Die! 70: Wasn’t nobody in the car but me and George Greene and George don’t take no shit off white folks, either. And, of course, I had my action with me, a .38.|
9. manipulations, activities, esp. when illegal or corrupt.
|On the Yard (2002) 243: En gee [...] no fucking good. The loot came down on all my action.|
|(con. 1975–6) Steel Toes 114: One thing about Syd [...] she don’t mind sharin’ the action, we’ll get hooked up.|
|(con. 1980s) Skagboys 429: He’s a tea leaf. He just wanted in on your action, Johnny.|
10. (drugs) the current availability of drugs and opportunity to obtain them.
|Panic in Needle Park (1971) 51: Santo said he could get me a piece any time I wanted, ’cause he’s not married to Tony you know. He has a little action on the side, too, that even Tony don’t know about.|
|Current Sl. III–IV (Cumulation Issue) 1: Action, n. A lot of drugs in the neighborhood; opportunity to obtain drugs.|
11. (orig. US black) a woman.
|Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 47: Ol’ Tree’s got action.|
|Curvy Lovebox 171: What kind of high-class akshon is going to [...] place their lips upon yours.|
|(con. 1986) Sweet Forever 4: Had me a little brown sugar action this morning.|
12. (orig. US black) a response or acknowledgement, whether verbal or physical, esp. when flirtatious.
|Black Players 87: Once she begins to give him ‘action’ (a certain look, a smile, or a verbal response) the pimp goes into high gear.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 227: action, the 1. Exchange or interaction (especially between males and females engaged in seductive overtures).|
|Alphaville (2011) 77: They expected that the offical wheels of justice would grund up the guilty. But neither of them got any action from City Hall.|
13. (Aus. prison) homosexuality.
|Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Action. Homosexual activity.|
1. a woman [piece n. (1a)].
|Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].|
2. a gun [piece n. (3a)].
|Elmira Arms Company catalog [Internet] AYA MODEL NUMBER 53–20 Ga. A lovely round action piece with detachable sidelocks featuring 27" barrels choked IC/Mod. Double triggers, ejectors, and English stock with checkered butt giving 14 3/8" pull. Like new with box. $3995.00.|
(US black, mainly Harlem) ready for anything.
|Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 18: I’m with the issue and down with the action, especially since it’s built on a solid half-traction.|