Green’s Dictionary of Slang

old adj.

1. [late 16C; mid-19C+] used affectionately of a person, occas. an animal.

2. [mid-17C+] used in combs. to refer to the Devil; see combs. listed below and separate entries, e.g. Old Nick n.; for a full discussion see Partridge, ‘The Devil and His Nicknames’ in World of Words (1939).

3. [18C–early 19C] (UK Und.) ugly [? Old Nick n., old boy n. and similar devil-related terms; the Devil is assumed to be ugly].

4. [early 18C+] clever, cunning e.g. come the old soldier under come the... v.

5. [mid-19C+] used as an expression of familiarity, e.g. the old gaff, the old boozer.

6. [mid-19C+] (orig. US) tiresome; usu. constr. with get, e.g. too much of a good thing gets old.

Meaning the Devil

In compounds

old... (n.)

see also separate entries.

old bendy (n.)

[19C] the Devil.

old billy (n.)

[late 19C–1900s] the Devil; often in phr. like old billy, very hard, very energetically.

old clootie (n.) (also clootie) [dial. cloot, a cloven leaf]

[late 18C–1900s] (usu. Scot.) the Devil.

old clubfoot (n.)

[mid-19C] (US) the Devil.

old driver (n.)

[late 18C–19C] the Devil.

old hairy toe (n.) [var. on Old Harry n.; but note the Devil’s depiction as half-goat]

[1930s] the Devil.

old hornie (n.) (also old horn, old horny) [horns n./the devil’s trad. horns]

1. [late 18C+] the Devil.

2. see also SE compounds below.

old lad (n.)

1. [late 19C] (Aus.) the Devil.

2. see also SE compounds below.

old Mr Grim (n.)

1. [late 18C–19C] the Devil.

2. see also SE compounds below.

old Ned (n.) [Ned n.]

1. [1920s–40s] (US) the Devil.

2. see also SE compounds below.

Old One, the (n.)

[late 18C–19C] the Devil.

old poker (n.) (also old poger)

[late 18C–early 19C] the Devil.

old roger (n.) [popular use of SE roger as nickname for a bull]

[late 17C–19C; 1970s] (later use Irish) the Devil.

old sam (n.)

[mid-19C–1930s] (US black) the Devil.

old Scratch (n.) (also Old Scratcher)

[mid-18C+] the Devil; thus raise old Scratch v., to cause a disturbance.

old Shaver (n.)

[late 19C] the Devil.

old splitfoot (n.)

[19C] the Devil.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

old... (n.)

see also separate entries.

old abram (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a notorious thief.

old adam (n.) [SE old Adam, original sin]

[19C] the penis.

old-ass (adj.)

[1960s+] (US) run-down, dilapidated, old.

old bads (n.) (also old broke) [SE old + Shetland dial. bad, an article of clothing/SE broke or dial. brock, rubbish, refuse, remnants]

[1950s+] (W.I.) old clothes.

old beeswing (n.) [SE beeswing, the crust that forms on vintage port]

[late 19C] a genial drinker.

old Bess/Bessy/Bet/Betsey/Betsy (n.)

see betsy n.

old blind bob (n.)

[18C] the penis.

old Boney (n.)

[18C] death.

old brown Windsor (n.) [play on Brown Windsor soup/brown n. (3)]

[1920s+] (Aus.) the anus.

old buba (n.) [dial. buba, a dry leaf, of cabbage, coconut or any plant]

[1950s] (W.I.) an old person who acts younger than their age.

old cheese (n.) [affectionate nickname]

[1970s+] (Aus.) one’s (occas. someone else’s) mother.

old chip (n.)

[late 19C] a term of endearment.

old chook (n.) [chook n.]

[1910s+] (Aus.) a general term of intimate affection; lit. ‘old chicken’.

old cockalorum (n.) (also old cockleorum) [ext. of old cock n.]

1. [late 19C–1910s] a man, esp. as a term of affectionate address.

2. [mid-19C] (Aus.) sexual intercourse.

old cole (n.)

[mid-16C- early 17C] (UK Und.) a veteran dice cheat.

old crow (n.) [late 19C+]

1. a generally misogynistic ref. to an old woman.

2. a general term of abuse, not spec. of a woman.

old curiosity (n.)

1. [mid-19C] an old woman.

2. [late 19C–1930s] one’s wife.

old dampa (n.) [ety. unknown]

[1950s+] (W.I.) old clothes.

old ding (n.) [? SE ding, to hit, to knock]

[19C] the vagina.

old Ebenezer (n.) [? anecdotal]

[late 19C] (US) a grizzly bear.

old faithful (n.)

[1950s+] (US) menstruation.

old flower (n.)

[20C+] (Irish) an affectionate term of address; esp. as my old flower.

old-foot (adj.)

[1990s+] (W.I.) describing older people.

old fowl (n.)

[20C+] (Aus./W.I.) an ageing, unattractive and prob. over-dressed woman.

old fragment (n.)

[1900s] an old(er) man.

old frizzle (n.) [SE frizzle, crisp, curly hair] [late 19C]

1. in cards, the ace of spades [the shape of the spade could resemble a beard].

2. someone wearing a wig e.g. a liveried servant.

3. the vagina [ref. to pubic hair].

old gadget (n.)

[1920s] a foolish, second-rate man.

old gager (n.)

[18C] (UK Und.) a rich old man.

old gang (n.)

[late 19C+] a group or clique of friends or colleagues.

old gent (n.)

1. [1900s–30s] (US) one’s father.

2. [1940s] a husband.

old glory (n.) [SE Old Glory, nickname for the US flag. The implication is of the stylelessness of trad. white values]

[late 19C–1940s] (US black) anything seen as unfashionable, out of date.

old gold (n.)

[late 18C] human excrement.

old gown (n.) [ety. unknown; the label placed on the tea-chest for the purpose of deception]

[mid-19C] smuggled tea.

old Grim (n.)

[late 19C] (US) death.

In compounds

old haggums (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) an old prostitute.

old hannah (n.)

[1930s+] (US black) the sun.

old hen (n.) [hen n. (1)]

[20C+] a woman, esp. an old one.

old hickory (n.) [it carries the picture of President Andrew ‘Old Hickory’ Jackson (1767–1845)]

[1960s] (US) a $20 bill.

old hige (n.) [SE hag + dial. old hige, an old witch]

[1940s+] (W.I.) a nagging old woman.

old hornie (n.) (also old horney, ...Hornington)

1. [18C–19C] the penis.

2. see also Devil compounds above.

old huddle (and twang) (n.) [he ‘huddles’ around his money; the use of twang, usu. a prostitute (see twang n.1 (1)), has no obvious explanation]

[mid-16C–mid-17C] a miser.

old identity (n.) (also identity) [mid-19C–1950s]

1. (Aus./N.Z.) anyone who has lived in the same place for a long time, a regular resident.

2. a person, usu. an eccentric, a ‘character’.

old Ireland (n.)

[1980s+] (UK bingo) the number 17.

old joe (n.) [orig. US Navy]

1. [late 19C] synon. of devil, the phr. (1)

2. [1910s+] (US) syphilis.

old lad (n.)

1. [late 16C+] a man, esp. as an affectionate term of address.

2. [1970s] a father.

3. see also Devil compounds above.

old Mary (n.)

[1970s] an old woman, or anyone behaving like one.

old Mr Gory (n.) [Fort Goree, on the Gold Coast]

[late 17C–early 19C] gold.

old Mr Grim (n.)

1. [late 18C–19C] death.

2. see also Devil compounds above.

Old Mo (n.) [abbr. of The Great Mogul, the original name for the place]

[late 19C–1900s] the Middlesex Music Hall.

old ned (n.) [orig. regional use]

1. [mid-19C–1930s] (US black) salt pork or bacon.

2. see also Devil compounds above.

old net (n.) [both are torn and are mainly made up of holes]

[1950s] (W.I.) ragged work-clothes.

old nigger (n.) [nigger n.1 (1)]

[1950s] (W.I.) a disreputable, down-at-heel person.

old north pole (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) burglary.

old one-two, the (n.) [the rhythmic movements]

1. [20C+] sexual intercourse.

2. [20C+] a lit. or fig. knockout blow.

old one-two-three, the (n.)

[1970s+] (US) insincere, effusive talk.

old oyster (n.)

[late 19C–1920s] a general term of address, esp. to a reserved, uncommunicative person.

In compounds

old pair (n.)

[2000s] (Irish) one’s parents.

old patrol (n.)

[1940s] (US) an old prostitute.

old pot (n.) [abbr. pot and pan n.]

[late 19C+] (orig. Aus.) an old man, esp. one’s father.

Old Probabilities (n.) (also Old Prob, Old Probs, probabilities)

[late 19C–1950s] (US) the weather bureau or its staff.

old queer (n.) (also queer stuff)

[1940s] (S.Afr. drugs) marijuana.

old rale (n.) (also old ral, old rall, ral) [? dial. rail, to stagger, to reel. The development of the disease gradually impairs mobility]

[late 19C–1960s] (US) syphilis.

old raspberry (n.)

[1910s–20s] one who has a notably red nose, presumably a drunkard.

old red socks (n.) [the identification of Catholicism with red; e.g. the ‘the scarlet woman of Rome’]

[20C+] (Ulster) the pope.

old rip (n.)

[1970s+] (US gay) the anus.

old rowley (n.) (also old slimey) [SE Old Rowley, the Devil, or rowley, alternative sp. for SE rolly, thus the shape/SE slimey, of the semen it ejaculates]

[mid-17C–19C] the penis.

old settler (n.)

[1940s] (US black) a woman in her thirties or older.

old shot (n.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) an old, crafty person.

old smokey (n.)

[1920s+] (US prison) the electric chair; thus ride old Smokey, to be electrocuted.

old socks (n.) (also old sock, old stock, old stockings )

[mid-19C+] (Aus./US) a term of address to a man.

old sol (n.) [Sol, abbr. Solomon is a stereotypical Jewish name]

[late 19C] (US) a pawnbroker.

old steve (n.) [ety. unknown; ? a well-known dealer]

[1930s–50s] (drugs) any form of narcotic in powder form.

old strike-a-light (n.) [his cry of strike a light! when asked for yet another ‘loan’]

[late 19C] one’s father.

old stripes (n.) (also stripes)

[late 19C–1960s] a tiger.

old trot (n.)

[mid-14C–1930s] an old woman.

old ’un (n.)

1. [mid-19C+] an old person, esp. a parent; a veteran.

2. [mid-19C] (Aus.) a superior, a manager.

old whiskers (n.) [mid-19C–1900s]

1. a working man with long, unkempt, greying whiskers, usu. shouted out by impudent children.

2. an old man.

old wigsby (n.) [such a man would still be likely to sport a wig, seen as an 18C affectation]

[19C] (middle class) an ill-tempered, narrow-minded, elderly man.

old wives’ paternoster (n.) [SE paternoster, the Lord’s Prayer]

[late 16C–early 17C] grumbling, nagging.

In phrases

if they’re big enough, they’re old enough

[1910s+] a phr. used among men to suggest that, whatever actual age a girl is, if she has reached puberty biologically (menstruation, body shape etc), she is old enough for intercourse; occas. used of young boys.

if they’re old enough to bleed, they’re old enough to butcher (also ...to breed )

[1960s+] a phr. used among men to suggest that if a girl is old enough to menstruate she is old enough for intercourse; similarly used by homosexuals of young boys.

old enough to sit at the table, old enough to eat [the implication of eat v. (4) is oral sex, but the larger usage is general]

[1980s+] (US) a phr. used to suggest that an underage girl is still a feasible target for seduction.

old friend and shamrock (n.)

[late 19C] (US) an order of corned beef and cabbage.

old in the tooth (adj.) (also up in the tooth) [the use of a horse’s teeth to ascertain its age, the older a horse, the more faded the distinguishing marks in their teeth]

[mid–late 19C] aged, esp. of old women.

In exclamations