Green’s Dictionary of Slang

game n.

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

(a) [mid-15C–19C] sexual intercourse.

(b) [late 16C–mid-19C] (also daughters of the game) a group of prostitutes, esp. in a brothel; used in sing., a mistress (see cit. 1821).

(c) [17C+] the world of prostitution; esp. in phr. on the game

(d) [mid-18C] homosexual sexual behaviour.

(e) [1980s] any variety of un-conventional sexual ‘play’, e.g. sado-masochism.

2. [mid-17C] (UK Und.) the proceeds of a robbery.

3. [mid-17C+] constr. with the, an occupation, differing as to the group concerned; thus for sportsmen [late 17C–early 18C] cock-fighting; for criminals [early 19C] robbery; for sailors [mid-19C] slave-trading.

4. [late 17C–19C] a fool, a simpleton, esp. a victim [he provides a ‘game’ for his tormentors].

5. [18C–mid-19C] (UK Und.) the profession of robbery.

6. [18C+] (later use US black) any attempt to manipulate humanity for one’s own ends, usu. financial ones.

7. [19C+] any form of negative activity, e.g. deception, fooling around.

8. [mid-19C–1910s] an amusing incident, a piece of fun, a ‘lark’.

9. [mid-19C–1920s] spirit, ‘pluck’.

10. [mid-19C+] (orig. US) a calling, business or interest; esp. in phr. what’s your game?

11. [mid-19C+] (US) a situation, a state of affairs.

12. [1950s+] expert ability at a particular skill; knowledge, power or influence in a particular industry or environment.

13. [1960s] (US) money, possessions.

14. [1960s+] (US black) the sophisticated, streetwise person’s lifestyle.

15. [1960s+] (US black) in spec. use of sense 14, drug-dealing.

16. [1960s+] (US black) in spec. use of sense 14, prostitution and/or pimping.

17. [2000s] (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.

In compounds

gameball (adj.)

see separate entry.

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

[1980s+] (US black) one’s public face.

game room (n.)

[1960s+] in sado-masochistic sex, a torture chamber.

In phrases

against the game

[late 19C–1900s] (US) in difficulties.

come off one’s game (v.)

[1970s] (US black) to abandon a pose, to act in a spontaneous, genuine manner.

daughter of the game (n.)

a prostitute; usu. in pl.

get in someone’s game (v.)

[1970s] (US black) to interfere in someone else’s business.

get one’s game together (v.) [1960s+] (orig. US black)

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

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

have one’s game together (v.) (also have one’s game uptight, have one’s program together, keep one’s game together)

[1960s+] (orig. US black) to be in full control of a situation.

heavy game (n.) (also strong game) [heavy adj. (5c)/SE strong]

[1970s] (US black) a well conceived and executed plan of action.

in the game (adj.)

[1920s] (Aus.) wealthy.

keep the game up (v.)

[late 19C] to continue enjoying oneself.

kick (one’s) game (v.) [kick v.5 ]

[1980s+] (US black) to use any means whereby one attempts to gain economic, psychological or other advantages over a rival or victim.

let one’s game slip (v.)

[1960s+] (US black) to lose control of a situation or plan.

lift one’s game (v.) (also up one’s game)

[1960s+] (US black) to improve one’s situation financially, emotionally etc.

on the game (also on the business)

1. [mid-19C–1920s] working as a thief.

2. [late 19C+] involved in prostitution.

3. [1970s+] (US gay) walking the streets looking for sex.

out of the game (adj.)

[2000s] incoherent, unconscious, collapsed (through drink or drugs).

peep game [peep v.3 ]

[1990s+] a phr. meaning, listen up, I’m about to tell you a secret.

play games (v.)

[20C+] to manipulate, to manoeuvre, to act in a deceptive, dishonest manner; thus game-playing adj.

play the whole game (v.) [? one has to play to one’s utmost – the whole extent of one’s game – to ensure defeat; presumably the context is of a cheat aiming to ensnare a victim, for whom this will be their only success]

[late 18C–early 19C] to play at cards or dice with the intention of losing.

pop game (v.)

to explain, to put across information.

put game on someone (v.)

[late 19C; 1970s+] (US black) to confuse, to play tricks on, to deceive.

put salt in someone’s game (v.)

[1980s+] (US black) to interfere in another person’s planned seduction.

put shit in the game (v.) [shit n. (3a)] (US black)

1. [1960s] to take advantage.

2. [1960s+] to trick, to deceive.

put snow in one’s game (v.) [snow n.1 (1e)]

[1960s+] (US black) to ensnare a white person for financial gain.

put the high game upon (v.)

1. [18C] (UK Und.) to rob, to pick someone’s pocket.

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

rank someone’s game (v.)

see under rank v.2

run (a) game on (v.)

[1960s+] (US black) to bamboozle, to deceive, to seduce, to confuse, to obtain money by trickery.

run down the game (v.) [run down v. (3)]

[1960s+] (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.

talk game (v.) (also spit game)

1. [1970s+] (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.

2. to deliver rap lyrics.

whip a game on (v.) (also whup the game on)

[1960s+] (US black) to hoax, to trick, to deceive, esp. when selling drugs.

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]

[1940s+] (W.I.) a risible figure, a laughing-stock.