Green’s Dictionary of Slang

game n.

1. (UK Und.) in the context of sexuality.

(a) sexual intercourse.

[UK]Towneley Mysteries ‘Annunciation’ line 300: Bot it is long of yowth-hede, All sich wanton playes [...] Bot Marie and I playd neuer so sam, Neuer togeder we vsid that gam.
Mirrour of Mirth 35: Finding his wife skilfull in the game, [he] presently spoke in this manner.
[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1923) 23: My gentle Foyst, who makyng good cheere, was so eager of his game, that he would straight to bedde by the leaue of dame Bawde.
[UK]J. Shirley Example II ii: All the ladies you can wish for, / Humble and suppliant for the game.
[UK] ‘The Coy Sheperdess’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 32: Hotly he persued the Game, / Whilst his heart was on a flame.
[UK] ‘A Display of the Headpiece & Codpiece Valour’ Rump Poems and Songs II (1662) 94: How poorly this Fellow has plaid his Game!
[UK]Etherege Man of Mode II ii: Go on, be the Game-Mistress o’ the Town, and enter all our young Fops, as fast as they come from Travel.
‘The London Libertine’ in Dawson Gentility & Comic Theatre late Stuart London (2005) 59: For while the Merchant walks the Change, I can in his little Warren range, / And freely play the Game, / Which I forbear to name.
[UK] ‘The Biter Bitten’ in Euing Broadside Ballads No. 19: The Broker he courted this beautiful dame, / So hot and eager he was at the game; / He said twenty Guineys on thee I’le bestow; / If thou wilst be willing.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus II:5 15: Punks and Beaus [...] crowded in to try their Fortune, / By way of preface to a Game, / Which Modesty won’t let me name.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 24: As I was at the wanton Game, / My pocket they fairly pick’d.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 81: A Girl who was ripe for the Game, / Look’d out for a sizeable Lad.
[UK]Nunnery Amusements 6: A soft nymph lay panting for the game.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 39: She never takes less than a guinea for a dish of tea and a game at tee-to-tum.
[UK] ‘The Rakes of Stony Batter’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 223: Their smiling winning ways, shewe for game their willing.
[UK]Account of Mary M’Kinnon 50: All you maidens who love the game.
[UK] ‘Smith’s Frolic’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 61: She seem’d in a hurry to be at the game.
[UK] ‘The Cards’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 44: The game we shall play shall be at all fours.
[UK]Yokel’s Preceptor 4: The corner of Marlborough-row, Carnaby Market. This is a house of good fame, where good accomodation may be had for a lady and gentleman, at a tip-top charge, and is very snug and private, and where the game of ‘one peg in a hole’ is carried on to a great extent.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) V 934: A feel, a kiss, and a sniff on the lovely motte and then the old game.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 9: Aimer l’homme = to be fond of men; ‘to play well’; ‘to be expert in the game’.

(b) (also daughters of the game) a group of prostitutes, esp. in a brothel; cit. 1672 is a double entendre; used in sing., a mistress (see cit. 1821).

[UK]Nashe Choise of Valentines (1899) 5: I com for game, therfore giue me my Jill.
[UK]Fletcher Chances IV iii: You Lady Leachery, For the good-will I bear to th’ Game, most tenderly Shall be led out, and lash’d.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) II vii: The Court is the bravest place in the Kingdom for sport, if it were well look’d to, and the Game preserv’d fair; but as ’tis, a man may sooner make a set in the Strand.
[UK]Wycherley Love in a Wood I i: Intending a ramble to St. James’s Park to-night, upon some probable hopes of some fresh Game I have in chase.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Game [...] Have ye any Game Mother? Have ye any Whores Mistress Bawd?
[UK]Farquhar Twin-Rivals I i: Now I fly at nobler game.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 131: Go home, ye Fop, where Game’s not dear, / And for half Crown a Doxey get.
[UK] ‘The Sportsman’ Pleasures of Coition n.p.: But rising with the early Morn, / Pursues the nimble Game.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]G. Stevens ‘The Sentiment Song’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 124: Ye Fowlers who eager at Partridges aim, / Don’t mark the maim’d Covey, but mind better Game; / ’Tis Beauty’s the Sport to repay Sportsmen’s trouble, / And there may our Pointers stand stiff in the Stubble.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Game [...] at bawdy houses, lewd women; mother have you any game, mother have you any girls.
[UK]F. Reynolds How to Grow Rich Epilogue: Father, cries Dicky, let’s live near St. James’s – Pall-Mall and Piccadilly! There the game is!
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XVII 38/2: The common cry of scarcity extends even to the game. We are confidently assured, that not a partridge has been seen in any of the brick-fields near London.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Life in London (1830) 47: [fancy-piece] A sporting phrase for a ‘bit of nice game,’ kept in a preserve in the suburbs. A sort of Bird of Paradise!
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 85: ‘Game women,’ prostitutes of the highflyer sort.
[UK]Paul Pry (London 15 Aug. n.p.: Where manly sports are concerned, [we] back him against the field as a dead shot when game is to be bagged.

(c) the world of prostitution; esp. in phr. on the game

implied in daughter of the game
[UK]J. Taylor ‘A Whore’ in Works (1869) II 106: Her shop, her ware, her fame, her shame, her game, / ’Tis all her owne.
[UK]H. Nevile The Ladies’ Parliament n.p.: Stamford she is for the game, / She saies her husband is to blame, / For her part she loves a foole, / If he hath a good toole.
[UK] ‘A Free Parliament Letany’ Rump Poems and Songs II (1662) 185: From a Dunghill Cock, and Hen of the Game.
[UK] ‘Crafty Country Woman’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) I 35: [His] brisk and jovial Wife is counted of the Game.
[UK] ‘The Hopeful Bargain’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads IV(1897) 210: She is as good for the Game as e’r pist.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 69: The two Metropolitans came from the Park, / As arch at the game, / as e’er plaid in the Dark.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 37: The Girl thus debauch’d, and made fit for the Game.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘Gaming’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 62: I abjure each expression wou’d hurt Ladies fame, / But will they not all play the best of the game?
[UK] ‘Jenny Macraw’ in Burns Merry Muses of Caledonia (1965) 169: Jenny Macraw was a bird o’ the game, / An’ mony a shot had been lows’d at her wame.
[UK]Fast Man 14:1 n.p.: ‘She’s certainly a new girl.’ ‘A new girl!’ repeated the young man, with surprise. ‘That is, I mean, she’s not been long out—not been long at this game’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 13 Jan. 5/5: ‘How long have you been at this game?’ ‘Oh, stow your patter [...] stash your gab’.
[Ire]Dublin Wkly Nation 17 June 11/6: She is of the game [...] an arrant Betsy.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Oct. 5/5: By-and-bye he finds her father Makes a livin on the game / [...] / Livin on her prostitooshun.
[US]M. West Sex (1997) II ii: She’s off the game and she’s off me since she met this Stanton.
[Aus]D. Stivens Tramp and Other Stories 153: She had been at the game for years.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 175: Pollack, who had been in the game [i.e. running a brothel] for twenty years, said that police got very little.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 48: I’m just in this game temporary.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 289: The women who make a living by the game.
[UK]C. MacInnes ‘The Other Man’ in England, Half Eng. (1960) 140: Thousands of others who spend millions of pounds [...] subsidizing ‘the game’.
[UK](con. 1930s) I. Agnew Loner 44: Although relatively new to the ‘game’, she had met all sorts.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Game. Prostitution. As in ‘on the game’.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 107: Liza Greer cleaned up [...] and left the game.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 3 2: Then she met Eddy and retired from the game.
J. Robinson Gospel of the Game 7: This book is for [...] those with a vast knowledge of the Game.

(d) homosexual sexual behaviour.

[UK] ‘A Satire on the Times’ Lover’s Pacquet 16: Here a Fop Lord acts now what’s too common, And turns his Gentleman into a Woman; With him all Night in pleasing Game does play.

(e) any variety of un-conventional sexual ‘play’, e.g. sado-masochism.

[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 106: ‘I hired you for games.’ A woman’s thin, weary voice said, ‘Well, I know. But for Christ’s sake, you got to promise not to go too far’.

2. (UK Und.) the proceeds of a robbery.

[UK]Warning for Housekeepers n.p.: Song. When that we have bit the bloe, we carry away the game [F&H].

3. constr. with the, an occupation, differing as to the group concerned; thus for sportsmen cock-fighting; for criminals robbery; for sailors slave-trading.

[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 52: (on prize-fighting) But country or colour to us are the same, / Only anxious are we in preserving the game.
[UK]Flash Mirror 18: R. Simpkins [...] has just open’d a cribb in the Hosiery game.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 8 Oct. 1/8: I’m a changed man [...] I have have chucked the whole game [i.e. burglary] and here are my tools.
[UK]Marvel 22 May 11: He’s not likely to peach when he has once had a hand in the game!
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 17: How’s the game, Curly?
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Banker Tells All 131: As you are interested I’ll tell you a thing or two about the game. False pearls are made by blowing very thin beads or bulbs of glass.

4. a fool, a simpleton, esp. a victim [he provides a ‘game’ for his tormentors].

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Game, Bubbles drawn in to be cheated.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Game, bubbles or pigeons drawn in to be cheated.
[UK] ‘Modern Dict.’ in Sporting Mag. May XVIII 100/2: [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘Pickpocket Poems’ Dagonet Ditties 92: I saw that his chain was a gold one; / I guessed that his watch was the same; / And so, as the gent was an old one, / I thought him legitimate game.

5. (UK Und.) the profession of robbery.

[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 13: They went [...] upon the old Game of Haul-Cly.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Game. Any mode of robbing. The toby is now a queer game; to rob on the highway is now a bad mode of acting. This observation is frequently made by thieves; the roads being now so well guarded by the horse patrole; and gentlemen travel with little cash in their pockets.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1811].
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 36: game The particular line of rascality the rogue is engaged in; thieving; cheating.
[UK] ‘Six Years in the Prisons of England’ in Temple Bar Mag. Nov. 536: It’s better to stick to one good game, and get as expert at that as you can.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 500: I was taken by two pals (companions) to an orchard to cop (steal) some fruit, me being a mug (inexperienced) at the game.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 6: This time I palled in with some older hands at the game.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 5 May 5/6: I’ve been a thief and lived by the game the best part of my life, paying pretty stiff for my cross-business.

6. (later use US black) any attempt to manipulate humanity for one’s own ends, usu. financial ones.

[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 10 Jan. 4/2: Upon which he dogged them, and found they played the same Game at several Places the same Night.
[UK]Foote The Minor 53: He did not understand trap, knows nothing of the game.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 242: game: every particular branch of depredation practised by the family, is called a game; as, what game do you go upon? One species of robbery or fraud is said to be a good game, another a queer game, &c.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) I 218: Don’t play the noodle, at all events, when they lead you to the scaffold. The lads of the game will laugh at you.
[UK] ‘The Wide Awake Club’ in Bentley’s Misc. Feb. 209: He set out in life as heavy a swell as ever flowed up in the regions of the West End – carried on the game for about a dozen years in bang-up style.
[UK]C. Selby London By Night I iii: I have discovered the rascals, their project, and their victim [...] I fancy we shall spoil their pretty little game.
[US]National Police Gazette 14 May 3/4: Liz Thompson and her husband [...] do not intend going out to ‘graft’ until the summer season sets in, when they are going to Newport, Saratoga, and other fashionable watering resorts, at which game she made out so good last season [DA].
[UK] letter in Daily News 25 Sept. in Franklyn (1960) 176: He, the driver, must get up earlier and go to bed without getting buffy, [...] before he found that little game would draw in the dibs.
[US] ‘English Sl.’ in Eve. Telegram (N.Y.) 9 Dec. 1/5: Let us present a few specimens:– [...] ‘Is that your little game?’.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 1 Dec. 130: Just let me see you try any games of that kind again, and I’ll thrash you within an inch of your life.
[US]A. Adams ‘Seigerman’s Per Cent’ in Cattle Brands [Internet] I want you to [...] give him a big game about what a general uprising there is [...] for an efficient man for the office of sheriff.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Mitchell on the “Situation”’ in Roderick (1972) 716: They were both [...] at the same game — and they couldn’t trust each other apart and they couldn’t trust each other together.
[US]Odum & Johnson Negro and His Songs (1964) 219: Well, I walked up to conductor for to give him game o’ talk.
[US]D. Hammett ‘They Can Only Hang You Once’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 331: I didn’t know whether one of my dear nephews was getting suspicious and putting up a game on me.
[US](con. early 1930s) C. McKay Harlem Glory (1990) 23: Since you’re in the game why don’t you play it right?
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 11: ‘What’s your interest in him?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘What’s the game, then?’ ‘No game.’.
[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 305: Ever since Dan and Mac were in kindergarten together, Mac been putting the game on him. ‘You a trick, Dan – a stiffy,’ Herman said. ‘You so square Little Orphan Annie could put game on you.’.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 112: The streeters really admired Father Divine and called him a Master Player; he had, they said, a heavy game.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 133: If a nigger lays his game on you right, you won’t be worried.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 112: Some pimps would discipline their bitches for being a penny short, but Prince liked to think he played a higher game.
[US]Dr Dre ‘Deeez Nuuuts’ [lyrics] Check game from the notorious Compton G.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 162: Brawn an brain need raw prawn for dem game. An here I am all use up an raw like a fuckin prawn in a game.
[US]UGK ‘Swisha And Dosha’ [lyrics] So step your game up, build your name up, quit your talkin.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. 2011 5: GAME — charm, charisma, sex appeal to seduce the opposite sex.

7. any form of negative activity, e.g. deception, fooling around.

[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 191: Miss Nancy [...] burst into sundry exclamations of ‘Keep the game a-going!’ ‘Never-say-die!’ and the like.
[UK]J.A. Hardwick ‘The Browns Ruralising’ in Prince of Wales’ Own Song Book 41: They had a boy, about fourteen [...] He knew all slang patter so keen, / From ‘What’s your game’ to ‘All serene’.
[US]H.L. Williams Ticket-of-Leave Man 13: A policeman’s light was turned upon him, a strong hard voice exclaimed: ‘Don’t try any games on me; I’ve got you safe enough’.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 133: ‘What’s the meaning o’ this, Walker?’ he said. ‘What game d’ye call it?’.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 82: ‘What’s your game?’ I says, like dat.
[US]J. Lait ‘The Gangster’s Elegy’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 248: They’s a game runnin’ to clean up a little bundle.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 122: By God, if he tries that game on me I won’t give ’im a dog’s chance.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Nine Tailors (1984) 192: So you had some game on, which started last September.
[UK]Whizzbang Comics 56: Shucks! What’s the game?
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 177: I was so wrapped up in the kid, I didn’t see her game until last Sunday night, when she put it on me.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Second Time Around’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] What’s her game then, eh? What is her game? There’s no-way that – that Pauline would leave this flat without doing something really nasty to me!

8. an amusing incident, a piece of fun, a ‘lark’.

[Ire]C.J. Lever Harry Lorrequer 42: Ah, Fin, my darling, you needn’t deny it; you’re at the old game as sure as my name is Malachi.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 208: ‘Oh, here’s a game,’ whispered the rest of us.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 15 Dec. 165: Here’s a game [...] Oh, isn’t it fun!
[UK]Gem 4 Nov. 4: But what’s the little game?

9. spirit, ‘pluck’.

[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 19: The spooney shall hear of his science and game.
[US]N.Y. Transcript 4 Feb. 2/2–3: Reed decided the fate of the day [i.e. a prizefight result] by his game.
Courier (Hobart, Tas.) 4 Feb. 2/5: [T]hose who witness their last moments are inclined to attribute their conduct [...] to natural bravery, expressed in their slang as ‘game’.
[UK]Empire (Sydney) 29 Apr. 3/4: [A]lthough he did not display tho hardened, careless spirit known in slang term as ‘game,’ yet throughout the short period since his condemnation, he manifested the coolness and determlnation of a man of the strongest nerve.
[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 51: I’m only telling yer the truth; yer a chicken-hearted lot, and losing all yer game; for what? the pretty face of a she-devil!
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 102: In God’s name, John Henry Menton said, what did she marry a coon like that for? She had plenty of game in her then. / – Has still, Ned Lambert said. He does some canvassing for ads. / John Henry Menton’s large eyes stared ahead.

10. (orig. US) a calling, business or interest; esp. in phr. what’s your game?

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London I i: What Bobby! still at the old game, eh? smoked cabbage leaves; rummy Spitalfields wipes.
[UK]C. Selby London By Night I ii: Then what‘s your little game, Smouchy?
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 133: Honesty, indeed! If honesty’s the game, you’ve a right to your share, what Mrs. Kettering intended you should have.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act III: I should like to know Hawkshaw’s little game.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 276: ‘What the divil do ye mane by axing is that his game?’ demanded Mr. McGovern, pretending to be very indignant.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Feb. 12/2: When spons. And tinned salmon is a flyin’ about, I want to cop my little portion. […] You and me’s no chickens at this game.
[UK]‘Walter’ My Secret Life (1966) III 512: I made the best of it, though very angry on the quiet at seeing my game baulked.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 41: ‘I ain’t tryin’ t’ knock yer game er nothin’ like dat’.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 10: If I went finkin’ abart uvver people I shouldn’t be no good at this game.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden and Mr Paul 108: She cut loose from de charity game as a steady job when she was married.
[UK]J. Conrad Typhoon 185: Can’t you speak? What are you poking about here for? What’s your game anyhow?’.
[US]J. London People of the Abyss 32: ‘Garn!’ he cried, with a playful shove of his fist on my shoulder. ‘Wot’s yer game, eh?’.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 12: It’s absolutely an impossibility for A. Mutt to keep away from the racing game.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 16 Jan. 3/7: The difficulty of obtaining labor for wheat-lumping [...] is not caused so much by the lack of idle hands as by the distaste of coal-lumpers for handling wheat. They don’t cotton to the game at all.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of Susan and the Daughter’ in Ade’s Fables 220: It took him a long time to unwind the String from the Wallet, but he would Dig if he thought he was boosting his own Game.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Aug. 47/2: I wus goin’ ter say as ’ow it was Bill’s fault that ’ad landed me in quod, but I thinks ter meself that’s not ther game.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 105: Don’t they wish they could get into the movie game!
[US]Billboard Sept. (in Tosches 2001) n.p.: Billy Doran [...] has given up the minstrel game for dance instruction work in New York.
[US]N. West ‘Miss Lonelyhearts’ in Coll. Works (1975) 250: I am twenty-six years old and in the newspaper game.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 157: The old man shot a shrewd glance at her under his shaggy brows. He did not know her, that was certain. What, he wondered, was her game?
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 20: These guys got hip to themselves and went into the bootlegging game.
D. Hitchens Sleep with Strangers (1983) [ebook] Thank God I got out of the oil game.
[UK]B. Kops Hamlet of Stepney Green Act I: The taxi game never changes; too many new boys taking it up; they all think it a cushy life; they’ll learn soon enough.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 59: A youngster with a yen for the pimp game.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 62: I said I could read you like a book, Wooster. I know what your game is.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 8: A private dick / that’s a hell of a game!
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 48: I know your game, Speaker. Narcotics, bunko, burglary, pimping.
[UK]Guardian 23 Jan. 6: Those whose game is breaking and entering.
Harlem Spartans ‘Teddy Bruckshot’ [lyrics] 5 on shoes, my kick game mad.

11. (US) a situation, a state of affairs.

[US]R.M. Bird Nick of the Woods III 239: Well, the game’s up at last, and we’ve both made our fortun’s!
[UK]E. Eden Semi-Attached Couple (1979) 137: Nothing can be worse; our friends are in full retreat, and, in fact, the game is up.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 106: I could see the jade’s game in a moment, and it come like a bombshell on me.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 98: You seen the game was up by the papers, didn’t you?
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 40: When 235 pounds of Sunshine came wafting up the Street, they felt they were up against a New Game.
[UK]Marvel 15 Oct. 28: ‘Hullo!’ gasped Harvey Davis. ‘What’s the game?’.
[UK]T. Norman Penny Showman 8: ‘What’s the game,’ he cried.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 90: How’s the game, Scaley?
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 50: What’s the game?
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 12: What’s the giddy game, stickin’ us up thisaway?
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 162: I wain’t see either of the women again. It ain’t much of a paying game.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 6 July in Proud Highway (1997) 628: I don’t see any sense in you wanting to go out to California and get in on a game that’s a dead end.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 167: If she sees you she knows the game’s up, right?
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Happy Returns’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Hey, what’s your game, eh?
[UK]Indep. Rev. 16 July 5: Whereas I’m new to the game, he’s been born and bred that way.

12. expert ability at a particular skill; knowledge, power or influence in a particular industry or environment.

[US](con. 1950s) D. Goines Whoreson 68: I have enough game about myself not to allow my woman to see me undecided.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] game n 1. the ability to influence or persuade. (‘Rob got more game than anyone in the music industry.’).
[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] game Definition: to have skill in a certain occupation, like rappin, basketball, and of course, pimpin Example: Bitch, I got so much game I need a referee.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 139: Syd’s ex-old man [...] gave me a lot of game, showed me how to make dough doing burgs and like that.
[US]Simon & Collins ‘Not for Attribution’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 3 [TV script] ‘You got Nerys to say that?’ ‘Twigg’s not the only guy with game around here’.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘You gonna play Bobby Badass with me? You can’t. You don’t have the game’‘.

13. (US) money, possessions.

[US] ‘Duriella du Fontaine’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 50: He left all his game to a Miss du Fontaine, / Who was slated to be his bride.

14. (US black) the sophisticated, streetwise person’s lifestyle.

[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 67: I left all that behind me, made my way to fame / when Yellow Kid Weil taught me the game.
[US]King ‘The Game’, in Kochman Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out 397: The introduction of the Good Book into the game is unique.
[US]Ice-T ‘High Rollers’ [lyrics] And you love the game, that’s why you boast.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 5: mad game – seductive quality of a person who is attractive. [...] ‘As I watched the three girls surround the guy standing at the bar, I realised that he had mad game.’.
[US]UGK ‘The Game Belongs To Me’ [lyrics] Bitch the game belong to me.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 62: Fat Kat also said he wanted out of ‘the game’.

15. (US black) in spec. use of sense 14, drug-dealing.

[UK]Dizzee Rascal in Vice Mag. at Hyperdub.com [Internet] There’s the game [drugs] – like the shotting game.

16. (US black) in spec. use of sense 14, prostitution and/or pimping.

[US] ‘Ball of the Freaks’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 109: And the parties they [i.e. whores] threw, which were quite a few, / In this life they call the Game.
[US] ‘Duriella du Fontaine’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 50: Well I’ll pull through, like all down dudes do, / And go on playing the Game.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 86: Nigga, you don’t know nuthin’ about the game, man [...] I been there, baby. I know the hustlin’ game backwards and forwards.
[US]Source Aug. 32: These young bucks done fucked the game all up.

17. (US Und.) benefits or gains that, while illegally obtained, are seen as worth the poor reputation such actions might engender; thus have the game without the name.

[US]Source Aug. 94: Real hustlers don’t talk about shit they did. Game is to be sold, not told.

In compounds

gameball (adj.)

see separate entry.

game face (n.) [play on sporting game face, an aggressive look adopted for sporting encounters]

(US black) one’s public face.

[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself (1985) 103: T.J. was getting his game face on.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 16: His partner has already gone cold, his hardest game face now showing only hate.
[US]G. Pelecanos Drama City 83: Mark was keeping that pleasant half smile, that game face he used.

In phrases

against the game

(US) in difficulties.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 122: It sounded as if the chin-whiskered constable had been against the game himself.
come off one’s game (v.)

(US black) to abandon a pose, to act in a spontaneous, genuine manner.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 241: Most people cannot come ‘off their game’ and be ‘for real,’ since they cannot tell when they are playing a game unless they have a tennis racket in hand.
daughter of the game (n.)

a prostitute; usu. in pl.

[UK]Shakespeare Troilus and Cressida IV v: O! these encounterers [...] That give a coasting welcome ere it comes, And wider unclasp the tables of their thoughts To every ticklish reader! set them down For sluttish spoils of opportunity and daughters of the game.
[UK] in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads VII:2 446: Great is the Empire of Cant! Those Vigilants who loudly rail against impurity [...] have generally had early fellowship with the ‘daughters of the game’, and when no longer rakes and libertines, they set up as moralists and prate of Purity.
get in someone’s game (v.)

(US black) to interfere in someone else’s business.

[US]D. Goines Street Players 81: One of you no-good bitches are always trying to get in somebody else’s game.
get one’s game together (v.) (orig. US black)

1. (also get one’s program together) to be in full control of a situation.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 239: get (one’s) act/game/self together Assert control over one’s life (financial, emotional, situational, etc.).
[US]R.C. Cruz Straight Outta Compton 21: ‘You need to get your act/game/program/shit together,’ Clive said.

2. as a pimp, to define one’s image by a variety of material/symbolic ‘props’.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 38: To get your game together usually involves the presentation of self in a particular way which requires certain props. For the pimp these may consist of flashy clothes, an expensive car, a roll of money. Although he often desires these things for their own sake or as symbols of ‘success,’ he is also aware that they constitute his front, the props he needs to make the proper impression.
have one’s game together (v.) (also have one’s game uptight, have one’s program together, keep one’s game together)

(orig. US black) to be in full control of a situation.

[US]‘Soulful Spider’ ‘Pimp in a Clothing Store’ in Milner & Milner (1972) 286: That man you gone bring money right straight home to him any old way and so he had his old game together.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 70: Gots to have program together. [Ibid.] 127: There are a number of vernacular expressions that characterize the state of being and staying cool [...] to have your [...] program together, and to have it covered [Ibid.] 128: Get in d’ [police] station be cool, keep yo’ game together [Ibid.] 241: have (one’s) act/game/program/shit together; have (one’s) game uptight Have control over one’s life (financial, emotional, situational, etc.).
heavy game (n.) (also strong game) [heavy adj. (5c)/SE strong]

(US black) a well conceived and executed plan of action.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 39: Strong game or heavy game is well thought out and masterfully executed. Reverse game means turning the tables on someone.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 48: You know heavy game when you see it, don’t you, girl.
keep the game up (v.)

to continue enjoying oneself.

[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Almanack n.p.: If a chap’s a genuine hot member, / He can keep the game up in November!
Cremorne III 77: And so they kept up the game for a long while, but it would not last for ever.
kick (one’s) game (v.) [kick v.5 ]

(US black) to use any means whereby one attempts to gain economic, psychological or other advantages over a rival or victim.

[US]Dr Dre ‘Let’s Get High’ [lyrics] Niggaz bout the sex and which bitch to hit next / while I’m kickin my game and collectin them checks.
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] kick game see spittin’ game [i.e. ‘To try to impress someone of the opposite sex, or “picking up” on someone by “sweet talking” them’] .
let one’s game slip (v.)

(US black) to lose control of a situation or plan.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 127: Terms like to let your game slip [...] mean that you are losing a grip on yourself.
lift one’s game (v.) (also up one’s game)

(US black) to improve one’s situation financially, emotionally etc.

Parlty Debates in Weekly Hansard (Aus.) 987: The Treasurer (Mr Keating) in this discredited Government ought to lift his game.
J. Marsden Dead of Night 115: ‘Jeez,’ I thought, ‘I’ll have to lift my game.’ All these weeks without Mum had left me pretty slack.
N. Earls Perfect Skin 45: Great song, but I’ve really got to lift my game. I pick up a couple of thirty-six packs.
P. Kelly Hawke Ascendancy 290: He wanted him to ‘lift his game’ . He told Hayden the party needed fresh ideas and a better image.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 69: The fear that I might have missed the boat [...] makes me think of how tae up my game.
on the game (also on the business)

1. working as a thief.

[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 163/1: On the game – thieving.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 33: Then he put her on the game (had her taught thieving).

2. involved in prostitution.

‘John Law’ In Darkest London 247: Except for the girl being ‘on the game’ the home would long since have broken up.
Daily News (London) 21 July 8/6: The prosecutrix pestered her to ‘go on the game’, i.e. the streets .
F. Harris Women of Shakespeare 213: The phrase of the prostitute to-day on the streets of London is: ‘I’m on the game’ .
[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 17: I remember when I started on the game – I wasn’t fourteen yet.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: Lil has been on the game for over ten years, but, like Fred, she is now past it.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Prisoner and Escort’ in Cockade (1965) I iii: I wasn’t on the game properly – never took money.
[UK]N. Dunn Poor Cow 40: I mean I wouldn’t go on the game meself.
[UK]Sun. Times Mag. 12 Oct. 30: The girls are all on the game.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 106: Birds out on the game / all legs / then to stand about / flaunt themselves for all to see.
[UK](con. 1960s) A. Frewin London Blues 88: His mother was reputed to be a French whore (as, indeed, were most of the girls on the game fifty years ago).
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 72: Oh my God, Anna’s on the game.
[UK] in D. Seabrook Jack of Jumps (2007) 202: She’d been on the game for years.
[UK]K. Richards Life 45: The scandal that two of Gus’s sisters [...] were - she would say it in a whisper - ‘on the game’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] ‘Back on the game?‘ ‘Fuck you [...] Stripping isn’t prostitution’.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 18: I’m too young to [...] ‘go on the game’.

3. (US gay) walking the streets looking for sex.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 56: to search for sex [...] on the game (Brit gay sl, fr pros sl = streetwalking).
out of the game (adj.)

incoherent, unconscious, collapsed (through drink or drugs).

[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 378: She’s just rambling, just fuckin out uv-a game like, talkin shit.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 152: Don’t fret about this witness thing. Lad with the supposed info was out of the game. Smackhead.
peep game [peep v.3 ]

a phr. meaning, listen up, I’m about to tell you a secret.

[US]2Pac ‘Peep Game’ [lyrics] Huh. As if I know ya / Then I could show ya / But if I don’t know, I gotta fo’ fo’ fo’ ya / So, so peep game / At point blank range / The fame can’t change what the game maintains.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Peep Game (verb phr. & int.) A command given to alert the listener to pay close attention.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 157: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Peep game. Game tight.
play games (v.)

to manipulate, to manoeuvre, to act in a deceptive, dishonest manner; thus game-playing adj.

[US]R. Chandler High Window 199: Morny’s trying to pin it on his wife. She was playing games with Vannier.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 104: The lad you call Earl wanted to play games. I figure it’s too hot.
[US](con. 1940s) G. Mandel Wax Boom 283: ‘Did he show up?’ [...] ‘No, the game-playing creep. That’s a politician’s trick, to tense me up so he can out-talk me.’.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 136: ‘This your briefcase, Mr du Cann?’ Sneed asked [...] ‘No!’ du Cann said [...] Sneed unfastened the case. There on the inside was du Cann’s name [...] He regarded the man for a moment. ‘All right, uncle, let’s not play games.’.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 282: I wish he wouldn’t bother playing these games.
pop game (v.)

to explain, to put across information.

[US]Kurtis Blow ‘Rappin Blow (Part 2)’ [lyrics] Listen very close while I pop more game.
put game on someone (v.)

(US black) to confuse, to play tricks on, to deceive.

[US]J. Harrison ‘Negro English’ in Anglia VII 264: To put er game on = to get the better of.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 25I: I ain’t trying to put no game on you.
put salt in someone’s game (v.)

(US black) to interfere in another person’s planned seduction.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 46: salt in my game, don’t be puttin To belittle. To front or make fun of. To dog out. ‘Don’t be puttin no salt in my game, zip your fat mouth and let me finish.’.
[US]C. Major Juba to Jive.
Donald ‘Lavish D’ Oliver ‘Speak My Mind’ [lyrics] Throwing salt in my name, throwing salt on my game, what you mad at a nigga for?
put shit in the game (v.) [shit n. (3a)] (US black)

1. to take advantage.

[US]S. Greenlee Spook who Sat by the Door (1972) 145: It looks like I’m going to throw a little shit in the game.

2. to trick, to deceive.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 215: He’s putting a little shit in the game — psychological warfare.
[US]Sepe & Telano Cop Team 77: You dirty no good cunts! You put some shit in the game!
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 327: They had to give themselves an edge — they put shit in the game.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] One of those soft-ass nigguhs put shit in the game. They just wanted us out of the way.
put the high game upon (v.)

1. (UK Und.) to rob, to pick someone’s pocket.

[UK]T. Lucas Lives of the Gamesters (1930) 257: He [...] concluded her to be one of the Long-Cellar ladies, who had put the high game upon him, by emptying his pockets.

2. to contradict, to give (lying) evidence against.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 13 Feb. 3/3: Mr James Grace and Mr Denham Sweeney, were also called for the defence, and they likewise put the ‘high game’ upon Mr Moses.
rank someone’s game (v.)

see under rank v.2

run (a) game on (v.)

(US black) to bamboozle, to deceive, to seduce, to confuse, to obtain money by trickery.

[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 213: I had a bitch of a time convincing her to let me run the game on you.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 10: He tried to run a game on a friend of mine.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 71: Run a game on someone — to outwit, outsmart or outdo another.
[US]Cold Crush Bros ‘Weekend’ [lyrics] You ran a game on your favorite dame.
Above the Law ‘Last Song’ [lyrics] I got skill to deal and run game on bitches.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 50: With no regrets, she ran her own games on people when she could.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 44: We know Harvey be running a game on us, be trying for that edge.
Phife Dawg ‘Ben Dova’ [lyrics] You can’t run game on a gamer.
Buddha Monk ‘Gun Them Down’ [lyrics] Now shame on a nigga who try to run game on this nigga.
[US]S.M. Jones August Snow [ebook] ‘I know where yo high-yellow ass come from, so you can’t be runnin’ no bougie game with me, nigga’.
run down the game (v.) [run down v. (3)]

(US black) of a pimp, to explain the principles of the pimping business, both from experienced pimps to novices and from the pimp to his prostitutes, telling them the tricks of their trade.

[US] ‘Sugar Hill’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 93: So I ran down a game to her that would trick the slickest of whores.
[US] ‘Adam and Eve’ in Milner & Milner (1972) 293: So he runs the game on down to her and she fell for it, ’cause she didn’t say, ‘No, I can’t do that, I’m not that kind of woman.’ She reached out, man, and therefore she plucked a fruit from that forbidden tree, you dig?
[US]J.L. Dillard Lex. Black Eng. 90: The pimp who gives this kind of instruction is running down game to his whores.
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 86: Y’all just watch [...] how I run my game down to her.
talk game (v.) (also spit game)

1. (orig. US black) to talk, to chatter, but spec. of a pimp, to chatter about pimping, whoring and those involved; note earlier colloq. phr. talk a good game.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 36: To talk game is to discuss various aspects of pimping and whoring such as how to maintain control over a woman, how to get more money out of a trick, how to steer clear of arrests, and so on.
[US]A.K. Shulman On the Stroll 56: He talked game with him at every chance, lectured him on the pimping code.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 218: ‘Spittin’ game’ just means talking, but talking about the sort of things that hood boys talk about with other hood boys.
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] spittin’ game To try to impress someone of the opposite sex, or ‘picking up’ on someone by ‘sweet talking’ them. ‘Check out Jose over there spitting game with those hootchies!’.
[US]A. Swartz ‘Sweet, Tight and Hella Stupid’ in S.F. University High School Update Mar.–Apr. 2: spittin’ game – flirting.
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 11: I had already caught the eye of a few honeys that worked there and i had started to spit game to them.
Chief Keef ‘Laurel Canyon’ [lyrics] I ain’t gotta talk, ain’t gotta spit game.

2. to deliver rap lyrics.

[US]Too $hort ‘Cusswords’ [lyrics] Motherfucker can’t spit straight game on the mic.
whip a game on (v.) (also whup the game on)

(US black) to hoax, to trick, to deceive, esp. when selling drugs.

[US]H. Ellison ‘High Dice’ in Gentleman Junkie 92: Stop tryin’ to whup the game on me, boy.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: whipping the game on an expression describing the act of successfully manipulating another person by fast talking with an attempt to hasten him into impulsive action. Those good at whipping the game are said to have a heavy game or front. Those poor have a lightweight game; e.g. He tried to whip the game on the kid, but he didn’t know the kid created the game and made the rules.
whup the game (v.)

see under whup v.

In exclamations

game on!

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

game-stock (n.) [SE game, an object of ridicule, laughing-stock]

(W.I.) a risible figure, a laughing-stock.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).