Green’s Dictionary of Slang

screamer n.

1. in fig. uses, implying something or someone exceptional or egregious.

(a) (orig. US) anything or anyone exceptional, in size, attractiveness, wit etc.

[US]M.L. Weems Drunkard’s Looking Glass (1929) 77: Here I come! a screamer! yes, d——n me, if I an’ta proper screamer; just from Bengal!
[US]J.K. Paulding Westward Ho! I 122: I swear, if he once gets my tail up, he’ll find I’m from the forks of the Roaring River, and a bit of a screamer.
[US]Eve. Star (N.Y.) 1 May 2/2: We have just received Fanny Kemble’s Journal the real simon pure, and sure enough it is a ‘screamer’ to judge by a hasty glance.
[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 28 July 2/4: Look out for the New World [a publication] of next Saturday. It will be a screamer!
[US]C.M. Kirkland Western Clearings 44: ‘But she’s a screamer of a girl,’ persisted Master George; ‘I’d rather have her than all the rest.’.
[US]H.E. Taliaferro Fisher’s River 46: I want to talk all night with you on Scripter, I’ve hearn you was a reg’lar built screamer in that way, and I want to try my hand with you.
[UK]R. Whiteing Mr Sprouts, His Opinions 23: ‘Now you’ll see a reg’lar lark,’ ses I [...] ‘a reg’lar screamer.’.
[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 7 Jan. 1/7: Does a gentleman wish to express his admiration for a young lady: she is a ‘stunner,’ an ‘out and outer,’ a ‘screamer’.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 224: ‘Why, boys,’ said a Georgia Cracker to a colored soldier of the Federal Army, during Sherman’s famous march, ‘if them’s the kind your regimen is made off [sic], I knocks under: them’s screamers.’.
[UK]‘’Arry on ’Igh Art’ in Punch 1 Feb. 42: That gal in Turk togs is a screamer. Wot eyes! and her figger!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Oct. 2/2: Our picture posters have ‘roped’ my sympathies once again. This week the attraction is a screamer, representing one of the loveliest daughters of Eve that ever broke the gizzard of a Barwen squatter.
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Sea-Side’ Punch 10 Sept. 111/1: Oh, such a scrumptious young gal [...] She would take the shine out of some screamers, I tell yer.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 6 Jan. 5/1: Goin’ over to New Zealand [...] in order to study the business. Ain’t he a screamer!
[US]R.A. Wason Happy Hawkins 42: I’d allus heard ’at he was a rip-snortin’ screamer, an’ here he was talkin’ low an’ level like.
[UK]R.D. Paine Fighting Fleets 74: It blew a regular gale of wind, a screamer.
[US]W. Blair Tall Tale America 47: I’m a regular screamer from the Ohio, the Mississippi and all the streams that run into them!
[Aus]J. Harvey ‘East Wind on Sunday’ in Drake-Brockman West Coast Stories (1959) 18: [of a wave] She’s big [...] She’s a screamer.
[US]Current Sl. II:1 6: Screamer, n. Party girl; a ‘hot number’.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 171: He was a screamer, all right.

(b) a serious and unpleasant situation.

[US]Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, OH) 7 Jan. 1/1: It was a real screamer [...] both on account of what happened there, and what befel afterwards.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Digby Grand (1890) 288: I am in for a ‘screamer,’ and the bill for which I am arrested is only a ruse to prevent my leaving England.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Repaired’ in ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 95: Gawd, the last one was a screamer / Wirin’ up me flamin’ femur!

(c) a thrilling or funny story, a ‘screaming’ farce.

[UK]Sam Sly 10 Feb. 4/3: We had heard of the funny affair, and will give, next week, a spicy Romance of Rosoman-street. Let our friends in that quarter look out for a screamer.
[UK]Dickens ‘Slang’ in Household Words 24 Sept. 77/1: Actors speak of such and such a farce as being a ‘screamer’.
[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 20 Oct. 6/3: Theatrical slang [has] a ‘screamer’.
[UK]Daily Tel. 19 Jan. 3 5: A more amusing half-hour could not be spent than under the influence of this farce, which, in the old Adelphi days would most emphatically have been called a screamer [F&H].
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘The Barred Bard’ Sporting Times 8 Feb. 1/2: If you’re really hard up for a rhyme, / I think I have one that will suit you this time, / It’s a screamer, I tell you—it’s something sublime.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Oct. 14/3: The prominent successes of the season have been Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion,’ Maughan’s ‘The Land of Promise,’ [...] and the Yankee screamer, ‘Potash and Perlmutter.’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Screamer, dramatic moving picture (prison).
[US]Mad mag. July 28: A real screamer overheard at the Third Avenue A & P.

(d) (US campus) anything exceptionally challenging, difficult, esp. work.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 65: screamer n Something that is especially difficult and mentally or emotionally taxing.

(e) something horrifying.

[US]S. King It (1987) 154: But if this is a story, it’s not one of those classic screamers by Lovecraft or Bradbury or Poe.
[UK]Guardian G2 17 Dec. 5: ‘That was a screamer,’ she says, shivering at the memory.

2. a person who lit. or fig. ‘screams’.

(a) a ballad singer.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 223/2: The ballad singers – or street screamers, as we calls ’em – had the pull out of that.

(b) (orig. US) a teller of exaggerated or very funny stories.

[US]R.M. Bird Nick of the Woods I 119: I like the crittur, thar’s no denying, for he’s a screamer among Injuns.
[US]L.H. Medina Nick of the Woods II i: He’s a screamer among the Injuns.
[UK]F.E. Smedley Frank Fairlegh (1878) 132: Well, you are a screamer, and no mistake.

(c) an informer [scream v. (1)].

[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 96: You think I’m lying? Are you a screamer or what? Of course I’m lying.

(d) (also screamer and creamer) a woman who screams or otherwise makes a good deal of noise during intercourse [cream v. (1c)].

[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 62: The screamer was a young woman whose husband had returned that day from service in the Pacific with the marines.
[US]Maledicta 1 Summer 18: She’s just a groupie, a screamer-&-creamer, a celebrity-fucker, and a plaster-caster.
[UK]I. Rankin Let It Bleed 97: McAnully at first said she was ‘a screamer’ – in other words, that she cried out at the point of climax.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 37: He’d fucked her a coupla times himself. A real screamer.

(e) (US campus) a practical joker, a prankster.

[US]Current Sl. IV:1 13: Screamer, n. A fun-loving person; a practical joker.

(f) (orig. gay) a flagrant homosexual.

[UK] in G. Westwood A Minority 88: I hate screamers [...] I don’t want to be seen talking to them.
[US]San Diego Sailor 25: I thought of all the screamers I knew who would have given an eye tooth to have had the kind of time this kid had had.
[US]R. Price Breaks 340: Diagonally across from us sat three screamers, lowlife semi-transvestites with pancake makeup, mascara and five o’clock shadow.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 192: There was a better than even chance he’d turn out to be a Jew or some ultraliberal screamer.

3. an object which lit. or fig. ‘screams’.

(a) (Aus.) a pornographic postcard.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 4 Aug. 1/1: Amongst the recent pictorial additions are post cards from Baby Green [...] one of the Port Said screamers resembles a corroboree can-can.

(b) (US) a sensational newspaper headline or story.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 7/2: Screamer (Press). Alarmist article or leader.
[US]J. Archibald ‘Dog Collared’ in Popular Detective Oct. [Internet] There was a picture of Satchelfoot on the front page. A screamer said: SONYA KAVYAR READY TO CAVE.
[US]L. Rosten Dear ‘Herm’ 333: Roll out the screamers! The Klitchers are coming to town!!!
[UK]Guardian G2 3 Aug. 2: A newspaper bill board screamer on par with Titanic Sinks.
[UK]Guardian Editor 7 Jan. 5: The Daily Star’s front page screamer, ‘Becks wears my kecks’.

(c) a sensational or propagandist piece of writing.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Jan. 15/3: Your jingoistic Kipling, he’s skiting for you yet; / He writes your Jingo screamers and he writes ‘Lest we Forget.’.

(d) (US Und.) an arrest warrant.

[US](con. 1930s–60s) H. Huncke Guilty of Everything (1998) 265: ‘Oh, you’re Huncke. We’ve got a screamer on you.’ They had a warrant for my arrest.

(e) (US black) a siren, esp. on a police car.

[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 15: ‘Nobody call the cops over some shootin.’ He glanced in the siren’s direction [...] ‘Course, if they come, it with their screamer full-on.’.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

two-pot screamer (n.) (also one-pot screamer, two-middy screamer, two-pint screamer, two-schooner screamer)(Aus.)

1. one who cannot hold their liquor without becoming obstreperously drunk; one- or two-pot refer to the need for only one or two drinks before they lose all control; middy, pint and schooner refer to glass sizes and denote the (small) amount of alcohol required for this effect.

[Aus]Dubbo Liberal (NSW) 6 Mar. 1/1: If the present brew is equal in its strength to past experiments, it can well adopt as a slogan — ‘a one-pot screamer’.
[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 10 Apr. 2/5: When police stopped the vehicle the defendant told him he was a ‘two-pot screamer,’ and had only two beers before driving the bus.
[Aus]D. Hewett Bobbin Up (1961) 34: Look at Lou. She’s a two-pot screamer, always ’as been.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 29: My husband’s pissed again — he’s always been a two-pot screamer.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xli 4/5: two schooner screamer: A pest who cannot hold liquor.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 25: The only trouble with that was that our Cocky is a two-pint screamer, and [...] he passed out.
[Aus]B. Wannan Folklore of the Aus. Pub 128: Screamer, Two-pot: a drinker who can’t hold his liquor—‘two pots and he’s stinking’.
G.T. Martin Manual of Head Injuries 113: Firstly, he is likely to be a ‘one pot screamer’, in that small quantities will have quite disproportionate effects on him.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 49: Two Schooner Screamer One who can’t hold his booze.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 53: Two pot screamer: A cheap drunk; someone who can get sloshed on two glasses of beer.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Screamer. Someone who becomes intoxicated and boisterous on little alcohol. As in ‘a two middy screamer’.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 134: A two-pot screamer, though, is one who cannot hold his, hardly ever her, grog and becomes roaring drunk on a few drinks.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] (two pot....) screamer n. (1) someone who is unable to ‘hold their liquor’.

2. in fig. use, one who panics easily.

OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] (two pot....) screamer n. [...] someone who panics easily i.e. goes to pieces so fast people get hit by the shrapnel.