Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cruise v.

[fig. uses of SE cruise, to sail to and fro with no particular destination; note Ned Ward, Hudibras Redivivus (1705–7): ‘Now gently cruzing up and down, / T’observe the Follies of the Town’]

1. to approach someone obviously with sexual intent, both for commercial or non-commercial purposes [Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House (2006), claims orig. early 17C synon. Du. kruisen].

[UK]Etherege She Would if She Cou’d II i: aria: Now if these should prove two men of War That are crusing here, to watch for Prizes. gatty: Would they had courage enough to set upon Us; I long to be engag’d.
Whetstone’s Privateer n.p.: Cruising abroad in the night [she] seiz’d on a rich Merchant-man, whom she tempted to board her, and then disabled his ship, took all his cargo, spoil’d his tackle, and burnt his rudder.
[UK]Farquhar Love and a Bottle I i: Madam, how would you like to Cruise about a little?
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 6 n.p.: The first time Bob ever cruised after a land frigate [...] the fair Zoes perceving him for a greenheed.
[US]Calif. Police Gazette 6 Mar. n.p.: [A house] is the resort of all the low prostitutes who cruise around the Park and its neighborhood.
[US]E. Crapsey Nether Side of NY 142: The chief difference between the inmates [of a ‘parlor house"] and the street-walkers is that the former do not cruise the streets to entice strangers to their dens.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 Oct. n.p.: He avers that the first time he catches the Frenchwoman ‘cruizing’ the streets, he will ‘lag’ her.
[US]D. St John Memoirs of Madge Buford 101: ‘What are you cruising for, don’t you get cocks enough staying in the house? Don’t you know it’s against the law?’.
Dan Burley ‘Back Door Stuff’ 30 Oct. [synd. col.] Somebody’s got to stop cats trying to cruise the numbers baron’s chick while he’s in the Jawn.
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 5: cruise: As a transitive verb, to seek to catch the eye of someone in whom one is interested, after placing oneself in his vicinity, or at least within his vision. As an intransitive verb, to be ‘on the make’, to be looking for someone of interest.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Cast the First Stone 13: There are individual streetwalkers who cruise their tricks in other places.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 163: .
[US]I‘’m cruising a little chick out of here [...] if I don’t come back you’ll know where I am’L. Kramer Faggots 261: You don’t talk to people when you cruise.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 43: Out there, cruising the talent.
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 31: I hope ah don’t see the buftie that cruised us the last time ah wis in.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Bomb in the Garden’ Generation Kill ep. 7 [TV script] This old fruit tries to cruise me.
[Scot]I. Welsh Dead Man’s Trousers 24: If they are lookers, they dont get taken seriously, cruised by the promoters.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] Cruised her [...] four or five times before he pulled over.

2. (UK Und.) to beg.

[UK]A Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 115: To beg To cruise. [Ibid.] 118: A Person travelling in the Country, pretending to be burnt out by Fire A Cruising Coll or Mort Glimmer’d out of their Ken.
[US]‘A.P.’ [Arthur Pember] Mysteries and Miseries 37: I then passed down Thirty-fourth Street [...] but I only picked up two or three single cents on the way. But I was approaching a better cruising ground for beggars!

3. to wander along/through; also as n.

[UK]J. Wetherell Adventures of John Wetherell (1954) 1Dec. 82: We cruised the Market up and down / then took a peep around the town.
[UK]‘A. Burton’ Adventures of Johnny Newcome III 162: We two can cruise about at random.
[US]Calif. Police Gazette 27 Mar. 2/7: Upon arriving here, and wishing to see the ‘sights,’ he [...] cruised around on ‘general principles’ until he brought up somewhere near Stockton Street.
[US]A.F. Hill Our Boys 47: Some of the boys, however, took a ‘cruise about’ during the course of the day. [Ibid.] 63: Oh, I’ve been cruising around.
[US]M.D. Landon Eli Perkins 56: I’m jes reddy to cruise ’round with pretty, gallus-lookin’ gals any time.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I 158: What, in the name of all the rocks and shoals between the Sow and Pigs in Maafu Reef, are you cruising about so long before turning up at Garrandilla?
[Aus] ‘Bold Jack Donahoo’ in ‘Banjo’ Paterson Old Bush Songs 31: As Donahoo was cruising, one summer’s afternoon, / Little was his notion his death was near so soon.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 12: I’m out looking for a comrade with whom to hobo-cruise around the globe.
[US]C. McKay Banjo 114: He was also inexpressibly happy when he was just one of the boys cruising the docks.
[US]K. Brush Young Man of Manhattan 290: He was cock-eyed that night, cruising all over town.
[US]‘Digg Mee’ ‘Observation Post’ in N.Y. Age 3 Aug. 10/3: With whom were you cruising, Sunday eve.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 61: Then we can cruise round for a bit till we have to get another job.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 33: Your poor average kid, cruisin’ addled down the street in vague pursuit of snatch or reds.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 125: About twenty guys cruised and strolled up and down the lane, examining the color photos.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 84: There’s a fuckin ole junkie cruisin your second floor.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 46: He walked out. He cruised hallways. He passed the break room.

4. to search for sexual contacts by walking specific streets, areas etc.

[UK]Navy at Home III 60: The bucks, down stairs, after laughing till they were tired at the landlady’s adventure [...] went cruizing.
[US]Calif. Police Gazette 6 Mar. n.p.: [A house] is the resort of all the low prostitutes who cruise around the Park and its neighborhood.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 30: drag [...] a main thoroughfare in any community; the main street. [...] ‘The muffs are cruising on the drag tonight’, i.e. soliciting on the street.
[US]Broadway Brevities Aug. 30: He used to ‘cruise’ up and down the Commons when we played Boston last summer.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 9: The international queer set who cruise around the world, bumping into each other.
[US]Homosexuality & Citizenship in Florida 13: A good looking youth finds very little difficulty in making contact with ‘cruising’ homosexuals willing to pay for his services.
[US]Babs Gonzales I Paid My Dues 105: Every night he cruised the joints in the Village.
[UK]S. Berkoff East in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 58: Wish I could cruise around and pull those tarts and slags.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 105: An ageing ‘lush’ called Cora and Billy, a balding ‘queen’, who cruise the New York waterfront together.
[US]G. Phillips ‘Slicers’ Serenade of Steel’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Only the working girls and potential johns cruising by getting an eye and earful were out.
[UK]P. Baker Fabulosa 291/1: cruise to look for sex.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 478: [Hapstead] Heath must be the mostest gloriosa picturesque cruising site in all of Christinedom.

5. (also cruise around) to drive around, often along a town’s main street, surveying the situation, looking for friends, men/women to pick up etc.

[US]A. Trumble Mysteries of N.Y. 16: [of cabs] The principal cruising is done along Broadway from the Fifth Avenue Hotel to Twenty-fourth street.
[UK]A. Binstead More Gal’s Gossip 27: ‘Rosie’s’ friends, [...] who are frequently seen cruising about the street in cabs, and ‘trying’ houses here and there at hazard.
[US](con. 1917–19) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 531: Joe went cruising looking for Jeanette, who was a girl he’d kinder taken up with.
[US]N. Cassady letter in Charters (1993) 194: One night we were cruising about.
[US]M. Shulman Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 55: We can cruise while we’re studyin’.
[US]J. Lahr Hot to Trot 6: Sometimes I park it outside Friday’s when I’m cruising for crumpet up First Avenue.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 186: Three excellent motor vehicle scenes (Angels cruisin their Harleys).
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 58: They seemed to be riding around, cruising.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 228: Most of them cruise around until something looks easy – a small market or a liquor store.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 63: You surfed with your buddies, you cruised the strip, you chased girls.
[US]C.D. Rosales Word Is Bone [ebook] I got to admit, it’s nice, homie. Cruising with you like we used to.
[US](con. 1962) J. Ellroy Enchanters 93: Patrol cops cruised by and gave Phil the fish eye.

6. attrib. use of sense 5.

[US]G. Sikes 8 Ball Chicks (1998) 119: Military drive, the gangs’ main cruise strip.

7. (US black) to walk someone along/around/through.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 12: I want to lay my larceny, but the cluck’s done cruised her through the slammer before I can shift to second.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 7 June 23: That young fellow [...] has been trying to ‘cruise’ her into a corner all night.

8. (US black) to walk in a strutting manner; thus cruising n.

[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 102: The way he figured it after the peep was that he had plenty to get across and maybe do a little more cruising besides.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 48: He looked around, and with no kind of words, his boys cruised in.
[WI]E. Lovelace Dragon Can’t Dance (1998) 118: Some of them now at the end of the day were taking time out to hug-up their women and cruise home with them.

9. to find someone attractive.

[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 66: You know I cruise for you, baby. I really do.

10. (US) of a mugger or thief, to search out a potential victim.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 53/2: Cruise, v. (West and Pacific Coast) To walk the streets seeking to rob cruises [i.e. homosexuals].
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 124: I could cruise a few saloons, but I tell you, don’t look for much.

11. of the police, to drive around checking on suspicious activities/individuals.

[US]R. Starnes And When She Was Bad 118: The dispatcher sent an ambulance [...] I was cruising at the time and the dispatcher ordered me to go down there too.
[US]L. Sanders Anderson Tapes 197: Send a car. [...] Tell them to cruise five-three-five East Seventy-third Street.
[US]J. Ellroy Because the Night 178: ‘I’m [i.e. a detective] going to cruise his old haunts and talk to people who knew him’.
[US]D. Pinckney High Cotton (1993) 111: In case he [...] got scared or was cruised by ‘the Man’.
[Scot]I. Welsh Glue 54: The polis wir eywis cruisin the foreshore road [...] lookin fir knock-off.

12. to walk or drive somewhere; thus cruising adj.

[US]Kerouac On the Road (The Orig. Scroll) (2007) 117: One long walk after midnight into the jungles where a cruising car followed me.
[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 36: We were cruising at fifty, feeling cut-loose and free.
[US]S. King Christine 75: Come on, big guy. Let’s go for a ride. Let’s cruise.
Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 cruise v [...] 2. to go, to drive. (‘We cruised over to his house after the game.’).
[UK]A. Wheatle Crongton Knights 230: ‘I should have dinged her if I was [...] cruising to a party’.

13. to set off, to leave.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 2: cruise – to leave.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 27: Well, sweetheart, we better cruise.
Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 cruise v [...] 4. to leave. (‘I’ve got to cruise.’).

14. (US campus) to sleep soundly.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 2: cruise – to sleep soundly: I bet I’ll cruise tonight.

15. to do something easily, effortlessly.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 64: cruise [...] to fulfill one’s obligations (in or out of class) with minimal effort.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Cruising. Doing a sentence without difficulty. Has overtones of achieving this with medication or drugs.

16. to drive someone around.

[UK]V. Headley Yardie 117: I jus’ cruising my girls dem.

17. to pass, to hand over, to give.

Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 cruise v [...] 3. to give. Note: usually used as a request. (‘Hey, cruise a cookie over here.’).

In derivatives

cruisemobile (n.) [-mobile sfx]

(US teen) any favoured car.

[US]M. Pond Valley Girl’s Guide to Life 55: Cruisemobile – A totally cool car.
Brainerd (MN) Daily Dispatch 15 June n.p.: The Montero Limited is a cruisemobile, a land yacht, a motorized ode to hedonism.
[US]Mopar-A-Body Webring 🌐 I think the Plymouth Duster is one of the coolest cars ever made (especially the ’74 model!). I love the way the car looks, standing still or moving. I love the body style, plain or all dressed up. I love the sound of dual exhaust. [...] I’m just ‘stylin’ man ! My Duster is a shiny, emacculate [sic] ‘cruisemobile’. I just put it in ‘D’ and go.
cruisy (adj.) (also cruisey)

1. (gay) used of the sort of place in which one is likely to make a successful pick-up.

[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ et al. Gay Girl’s Guide 6: cruisy: – NYC MBS [Male Bobby-Soxer] adjective for any kind of place in which it’s fun to cruise or fool around.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 64: Dirty thing, you knew how cruisey this john was all along, but you never let on.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 111: From my standpoint it’s [i.e a supermarket] a lot cruisier.
[US] (ref. to 1970s) in Walking After Midnight (1989) 91: I will never forget watching the police raid Holland Walk in Kensington, which used to be a cruisy place at night.
L. Block Small Town 78: At this hour on this nice a day it [i.e. Christopher St., NYC] would be a little bit cruisier than he could stand.

2. (Aus.) relaxed, easy-going.

[Aus]C. Hammer Opal Country 70: ‘He’s fun. Cruisy. Relaxed’.

In phrases

cruise around (v.)

see sense 5 above .

cruising for (a) bruising (also cruising for a smacking)

1. (orig. US) looking deliberately to cause trouble.

[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl. (Supplement).
[US]Hepster’s Dict. 2: Cruisin’ for a bruisin’ – Looking for trouble.
[US]Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps ‘Cruising’ 🎵 I’m cruising — looking for my gal / I’m cruising for a bruising that man with her is gonna get.
[US]Ice-T ‘Drama’ 🎵 Cruisin’ for a bruisin’, I’m takin’ no crap.
[UK]J. Joso Soothing Music for Stray Cats 77: Then Fat added that I was a right wanker and had been cruising for a smackin’.

2. acting in such a manner that will get one into trouble, usu. of a physically harmful nature.

[US](con. 1950s) H. Junker ‘The Fifties’ in Eisen Age of Rock 2 (1970) 100: Cruising for a bruising. Don’t give me any grief.
[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 66: He was cruisin’ for bruisin’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 2: cruisin’ for bruisin’ – looking for trouble: ‘I can’t believe he’s getting so aggressive. He’s cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Phantom Blooper 231: Obrey says, ‘You’re cruising for a bruising, boy.’ He draws a fist back for a punch.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 171: I think you two are just cruising for a bruising.
[UK]Sun. Times Ingear 19 Dec. 7: [headline] Swap cruising for a bruising.
cruise the beats (v.)

(Aus. gay) to solicit for sex in public lavatories.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 61: The bog trade refers to soliciting for sex in public toilets. It can be compared to Australia’s cruising the beats, the U.S. T-room trade and the English verb cottaging.
put it in cruise mode (v.) (also put it in overdrive) [automobile imagery]

(US campus) to seek a partner for romance or sex.

[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 51: College students, who are perennially preoccupied with the quest for a partner for romance or sex, cruise, put it in cruise mode, check it out, scam, scope, or troll. [Ibid.] 71: ‘To seek a member of the opposite sex’ is to [...] put it in overdrive.