Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gear n.

also geer, gere
[14C+ SE gear, accoutrements]

1. an object or objects; things, varying as to context.

[UK]Skelton Bowge of Courte line 354: His gowne so shorte that it ne cover myghte His rumpe [...] His elbow bare, he ware his gere so nye.
[UK]A. Barclay Eglogues Diii: Thou speakest now to playne, I feare, lest this geare, shall tourne vs unto payne.
[UK]J. Bale Comedye Concernyng Three Lawes (1550) Diii: Beades, ryngs, and other gere.
[UK]R. Ascham Toxophilus (1761) II 136: I see well you be cunninger in this gere than I.
[UK]T. More Utopia II (1624) 130: They burne frankenscence [...] and light also a great number of wax candles and tapers, not supposing this geere to be any thing auailable to the diuine nature.
[UK]U. Fulwell Like Will to Like 40: Lo, here is gear that will make their necks for to crack.
[UK]New Custom I i: Surely I fear me, Ignorance, this geare will make some desolation.
[UK]‘Bashe Libel’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 80: [of a poem] But since I have this geare beguinn, / I will assay and not to misse.
[UK]P. Stubbes Anatomie of Abuses 57: I cannot see how this geare shold be holpen.
[UK]‘Black Hambleton’ ‘To the Archbishop of York’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 181: [of clothing] With Romysh pigges they do so swell, / That bursten is theire gere.
[UK]Greene & Lodge Looking-Glass for London and England in Dyce (1861) 126: Why, then, am I like to go home, not only with no cow, but no gown: this gear goes hard.
[UK]Dekker Shoemakers’ Holiday IV iv: I have no maw to this geere, no stomache as yet to a red petticoat.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Scornful Lady II i: It is notable stinging gear indeed.
[UK]Jonson Tale of a Tub V iv: This is gear made to sell.
[UK]W. Cartwright Ordinary III v: Your beer is like my words, strong, stinging geare.
[UK]A. Radcliffe ‘Tell me dearest pr’ythee do’ Poems 29: Vinegar, Single beer, Or such dismal Gear, To torment his wambling Guts.
[UK]A. Ross Helenore in Wattie Scot. Works (1938) 9: Tho’ I be auld, but I’ll yet gather gear.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘Transit of Venus’ Songs Comic and Satyrical 151: Into Ditch Thales fell, with his Telescope geer.
[UK]‘Brother Rook’ Willy Wood & Greedy Grizzle 15: A prudent wife, without a shift, / Will always prove a better gift, / Than yen wi’ gear, and lack of thrift.
[UK]A. Douglas ‘Last Day of Hairst’ Poems in Scot. Dialect 141: Tak’ a horn/ O’ my rare highland whisky. / ’Tis no the damag’d heady gear.
[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 292: Many hundreds o’ them come down to the borders of the low country, where there’s gear to grip, and live by stealing.
[UK]Proceedings of Jockey and Maggy 6: The gawn gear was to be divided between me an’ my mither; an’ if she died first a’ her gear was to come amang mine.
[UK]T. Carlyle Diamond Necklace 15/2: M. de Lamotte [...] sees good to lay down his fighting-gear (unhappily still only a musket).
[UK]R. Barham ‘Babes in the Wood’ Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 188: You know they’ll be pretty well off in / Respect to what’s called ‘worldly gear’.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend 1 312: Stand clear, we want this gear.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 26/2: No one but a Free Churchman and Highlander can make out what the religious dispute is, but even one of the ungodly can understand the real battle is about property. Trust a Highlander to stick to the ‘gear.’.
[UK]Marvel 22 Dec. 641: It’s really marvellous, considering the gear you’ve had to work with.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 103: Gear: Apparatus generally; appliances; tackle; implements; etc.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 15: And take that straw gear off his head.
[UK]H. Ranfurly diary 2 Jan. To War With Whitaker (1994) 117: Your gear is still inferior to the enemy’s.
[UK]‘Raymond Thorp’ Viper 47: Why not push some gear for the Yanks [...] Cigrattes, or nylons.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 314: The screw said we were [...] to give him back the gear.
[UK]F. Norman in Encounter Nov. in Norman’s London (1969) 52: The question of civilian grub after eating nick gear for over a two stretch.
[UK]E. Bond Saved Scene vi: Yer bleedin’ gear!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 46: Long before the word ‘gear’ became popular, the knock-about used it to denote something specifically undefined. If there were Morton nearby (Morton Bay Figs: gigs, meaning busybodies) the knock-around would refer to whatever it was he didn’t want overheard as ‘gear.’ It might be a pistol, stolen property or whatever. Like many words and phrases it is used as a joker in a pack of cards is used.
[UK]Beano Comic Library No. 96 60: How can we chop down all these trees when our gear hasn’t arrived?
[UK]Guardian G2 28 June 3: P&O says that it will still be flogging cheap gear on its ferries.
[UK]Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 18: All the gear I got for Christmas.
[UK]Vanity Fair 16 Mar. [Internet] I said, ‘’ere, how does this fucking Bill know about anything?’ recalled Perkins. ‘Bill,’ [Reader] said. ‘[Who’s] Bill?’ I said, ‘the fucking geezer round Kenny’s [...] Bill has wound up with the fucking gear’.

2. the male genitals; thus gear-itch, lecherousness.

Dundar The Tretis of the Twa Mariit Wemen lines 231-2: I wald a tender peronall, that myght na put thole, / That hatit men with hard geir for hurting of flesch.
[UK]Wife Lapped in Morrelles Skin in Hazlitt Early Popular Poetry IV line 717: For I will trim thee in thy geare, Or else I would I were cald a Sow.
[UK]J. Heywood Play of Weather in Farmer Dramatic Writings (1905) 118: So oft have we pecked that our stones wax right thin, / And all our other gear not worth a pin.
[UK]D. Lyndsay Satyre of Thrie Estaits II ix: Fair Damessell, how pleiss ye me? I haif na mair geir nor ye fie. Swa lang as this may steir, or stand, It fall be ay at your command.
[UK] ‘A Ffreinde of Mine’ in Furnivall & Hales Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript of Loose and Humorous Songs (1868) 91: Ffor now itts time of the yeere / to decke, & bath, & trim ourselues / both head, hands, ffet & geere.
[UK] ‘A Country Dialogue’ in Covent Garden Drollery 104: Such geer I think thou ne’re did see, Things that will please thee without measure.
[UK] ‘From Twelve Years Old I Oft Have Been Told’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) II 93: Well, since I ne’er was fed with such geer, / Until my John did prove so kind.
[UK] ‘The Reflection’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1971) V 61: If you say that peer be wanting in gear / To match a chosen of Heaven, / To secure the entail, that the line may not fail, / She has put in her steward of Devon.
[UK] in Pepys Ballads (1987) V 161: If bad’s his gear, I’d not have him, if he had ten thousand a year.
[UK] ‘Ballad of Old Proverbs’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy II 113: Lo, this is my Counsel to young Men that Wooe, / Look well before you leap, handle your Geer, / For if you Wink and Shite, you’ll ne’re see what you do.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy III 127: But there’s no such Angling as a Wench, / Stark naked in the Water; / [...] / And this I fear hath spoil’d the Gear, / Of many a Jovial Angler.
[UK] ‘John the French Man’ Country Rake’s Garland 5: The lusty Fryer drew / His Pipes, & put them through; / The Women came to view the precious Ware; / Quoth Madame Susan then, / Amongst hard working Men, / There is not One in Ten has better Geer.
[UK] ‘The Answer’ Fond Mother’s Garland 7: Adzooks, crys Robin, my Geer is not right. / But lend me your Hand Lass, I’ll set it to right.
[UK] ‘Johnny’s Grey Breeks’ Garland of New Songs 7: His coat is worn, his breeks is tore, / He’s scarce enough to cover his gear; [...] His breeks fell down, I cry’d safe [?] loon, / And with his gear he won my heart.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Schoonerisms’ in AS V:5 393: string of gear, n.phr. Sexual equipment.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Short Timers (1985) 10: You queer for Private Cowboy’s gear? You smoke his pole?
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 311: He pulls oot the waistband oan his shorts n scoops his scabby gear back in.

3. the female genitals; cit. 1719 is a double entendre, the verse also talks of the man’s ‘hook and line’.

[[UK]The Frere and Boy (1836) xxviii: The god man seyde dam go they wey For I sey [...] They gere is not all to borow].
[UK]J. Bale Comedye Concernyng Three Lawes (1550) Ciii: sodomismus The woman hath a wytt, And by here gere can fytt, Though she be sumwhat olde.
[UK]Whythorne Autobiog. 126: See that I ready find your gear.
[UK]Florio Worlde of Wordes n.p.: Mozza, a wench, a lasse, a girle. Also a woman’s geere or cunnie.
[UK] ‘Fryar & Boye’ in Furnivall & Hales Bishop Percy’s Folio Manuscript of Loose and Humorous Songs (1868) 16: ‘Dame,’ said the goodman, ‘goe thy way, / for why, I sweare, by night nor day / thy geere is not to borrow.’.
[UK]Davies of Hereford Scourge of Folly 141: His manly wife, the Breech doth weare; While other men (they say) do weare her Geare.
[UK]Fletcher Chances III i: If this geer hold, Best hang a Sign-post up, to tell the Signiors, Here ye may have Lewdness at Livery.
[UK]R. Brome Northern Lasse III ii: When I was a Batchelor, how I could have handled this geere [...] I will in and handle this geere in privitie.
[UK]R. Brome Antipodes IV xi: She [...] has made markets / Of twice foure thousand choyse virginities; / And twice their number of indifferent geare.
[UK]Mennis & Smith ‘To a Lady Vex’d with a Jealous Husband’ Musarum Deliciae (1817) 48: If we set a Ganneril on their Docks, Ride them with Bits, or on their geer set Locks.
[UK]Buckingham Chances III i: [as cit. c.1617].
[UK] ‘Kentish Frolic’ Pepys Ballads (1987) III 242: [They] follow’d them [i.e. girls] in, / And tickled their Geer.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy I 130: My Father takes me for a Saint, / Tho’ weary of my Maiden Geer / That I may give you full content.
[UK]The Female Contest 23: The luscious curling Nut-brown Geer [...] Did like a sumptuous Arch appear, / And reach’d from Thigh to Thigh.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

4. (US prison) a homosexual.

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]B. Jackson Thief’s Primer 176: If they came down as a gear, they’re not looked down on as much as one who got weak and was turned out while he was here.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.

5. stolen property.

[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 10: Your ordinary screwsman, who does a live gaff [...] has one idea, which is to turn over, stow the gear and take stoppo as soon as possible.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 8: I saw [them] unloading sparklers, watches and generally high-class gear.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 101: She became expert at moving ‘gear’.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 118: I gave up flogging bent gear in Oxford Street after that.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 4: Want me retail the gear they got up Chingford nick?
[UK]R.J. Smith Tulpa 16: Don’t tell me — she’s been storing dodgy gear for her brothers again?

6. (US) an important or influential person [ SE 16C–18C].

[US]L.F. Engler ‘Gloss. Air Force Sl.’ in AS XXX:2 120: WHEEL; BRASS; GEAR, n. Important person.
[US]N. Mailer Why Are We in Vietnam? (1970) 9: Hunters, cattlemen, oilriggers, corporation gears and insurance finks.

7. (drugs) drugs, esp. cannabis, heroin.

[UK]‘Raymond Thorp’ Viper 68: I knew I had no gear on me.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 122: The congo is very heavy gear.
[UK]Times 22 Sept. 10: In the first cafe he went into someone sold him sex librium pills, ‘It was my sort of cafe, my sort of people — of course they had gear’.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 14: As the price of normally cheap local gear inflated, junkies began [...] searching for it elsewhere.
[NZ]B. Stewart Broken Arse I ii: Hey bro. This is the life [...] everything supplied — clothes, food, even the gear!
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] [I]t’s obvious this gear I’m after getting is more Shake ’n’ Vac than smack. I curse the bastard who cut it.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 183: I’m obviously happy to have some quality gear.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 26: The majority of women in there were smackheads, who [...] prostituted themselves to pay for their gear.
[Aus]D. McDonald Luck in the Greater West (2008) 108: Yift smoked the gear [i.e. marijuana] until the bowl was clean.
[UK]K. Richards Life 5: People had given me all this gear [...] and I was loathe to give it away.
[US]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: [of MDMA] You got any gear?

8. in the sex industry, photographs, magazines, films etc.

[UK]F. Norman Norman’s London 209: I gather that these days there is little call for what is known as ‘straight gear’.

9. (W.I.) in pl., one’s best clothing.

[WI]cited in Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage (1996).

10. the equipment used in sado-masochistic sex.

[US]L. Kramer Faggots 360: His gear now down on the ground and showing all.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 100: They [...] began rifling through Simpson’s impressive collection of ‘gear’.

11. (US black) one’s personal space.

[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] gear Definition: one’s personal space (used in reference to someone who is getting too close) Example: Dude, raise up off the gear.

12. a pretty girl.

[US]T. Black Ringer [ebook] There’s two wee lassies – schoolies likely – over in the corner [...] Nice gear, has to be said. Nothing I’d be chucking out of bed for farting that’s for sure.

In compounds

gear box (n.)

(Can. prison) a prison homosexual.

Ottowa Jrnl 30 Oct. 1/3: If you let the Canadian pentitentiary system ‘do it to you’ it will turn you into ’an animal, a gearbox (homosexual) or a fool’ .
gearhead (n.) [-head sfx (4)]

1. (UK drugs) a narcotics addict; also attrib.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 281: One of the notorious O’Malley Family. One of the gearhead younger brothers.

2. see also SE compounds below.

gear job (n.) [job n.2 (2)]

(US prison) a homosexual.

[US]F. Hilaire Thanatos 155: Some guys made him drop his drawers . . . Ever since, he’s been acting like he was a gear job since his diapers came off.

In phrases

ace gear (n.) [ace adj. (1) ]

(US gay) a sexually experienced homosexual man, capable of both active and passive roles.

[US] (ref. to mid-1960s) B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 17: ace gear (mid ’60s, fr black sl ace = first rate [...]) sexually talented homosexual, one who is adept at everything.
[US]R.O. Scott Gay Sl. Dict. [Internet] ace gear: a sexually talented homosexual, one who is about to do everything.
gear up (v.)

(US black gang) to get dressed in one’s gang clothes.

[US]K. Scott Monster (1994) 174: We waited for De to gear up.
pack the gear (v.)

(US) to achieve a given standard; lit. to ‘carry the equipment’.

[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Short Timers (1985) 5: My orders are to weed out all the nonhackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps.
that’s (the) gear

(orig. milit.) a general term of approval, ‘that’s the stuff’.

[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 418: Enthusiasm painted anything that had given great pleasure as ‘the gear,’ or ‘pure.’ ‘That’s the stuff to give ’em!’.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 103: Gear: [...] a colloquial term for anything giving satisfaction — e.g., ‘That’s it, that’s the gear!’.
Mae Back Jigger Ch. 1 [Internet] ‘That’s too bad,’ George said. ‘Me mum loves the way I am. She loves all me mates, especially John. She always says they’re a couple of fools.’ He chuckled, and I joined him. ‘That’s gear,’ I said. ‘I could never imagine any mum acting like that!’.
Jelsoft Enterprises ‘carbs’ posting on ‘Favourite Fragrance’ at Anabolex.com [Internet] Gucci-ENVY for women, that’s the gear!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

gearhead (n.) [mechanical sense of SE gear + -head sfx (3)]

1. (orig. US campus) an engineering student, someone mechanically minded; thus ext. to one who is obsessed with automobiles.

[US] oral testimony in Lighter HDAS I.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 4: jamouche – a socially inept person [...] Also nerd, geek, gearhead.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 80: All they want to talk about is their cars and the next car they’re going to buy. They’re all gearheads, like you.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 68: The sound of straight pipes and a heavily cammed engine growls across the fields [...] ‘Sounds right, he’s a fuckin’ gearhead.’.

2. (US) a car factory worker.

[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 140: Do any of these gearheads look like readers of leftist literature?
[US]Simon & Price ‘Took’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 7 [TV script] Sounds like some gearhead from Dundalk.

3. see also sl. compounds above.

In phrases

get one’s ass in gear (v.) (also get one’s arse in(to) gear, ...balls in gear, ...rear in gear) [fig. uses of ass n. (2)/arse n. (1)/balls n. (1)/rear n. (1)]

to stop wasting time, to put some effort and commitment into one’s activities, to start doing something useful and positive (cf. get one’s a into g under a n.).

[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 49: How about getting your ass in gear?
[UK](con. WWII) G. Sire Deathmakers 111: And now, Captain [...] get your ass in gear and go kill some people.
[US]B. Garfield Last Bridge 43: You do have shovels down there, don’t you, Lieutenant? Then God damn it, quit jaw-assing over this telephone and get your balls in gear [HDAS].
[US]R. Price Blood Brothers 133: So he gets his rear in gear an’ starts trekkin’ off to the hills.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 5: Point is, sugar-babe, if we don’t get our asses in gear, we ain’t never gonna make it off’n the base.
[Aus]Tracks (Aus.) Oct. 3: Hey, you Dee Why locals . . . — digitus extractus and get your arses into gear [Moore 1993].
[US](con. 1960s) M. Kingston Tripmaster Monkey 51: There’s a poet’s career, get your ass in gear.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 200: Get your lazy ass in gear.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 308: Avter get Malcolm ter gerriz fuckin arse in geer an gerruz a place ter stey.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] Better get your arse into gear, everyone’s wondering where you are.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 168: Okay. Get your ass in gear.
get oneself in gear (v.) (also put it in gear)

(US) to get going, to get busy.

[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 32: When you get right down to it, it’s just getting yourself in gear and busting some caps.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 56: As soon as that lunch horn blew, half the plant put it in gear, sprinting out the door in packs of three or four.
just the gears

ideal, perfect, exactly what is wanted.

[NZ](con. 1940s) G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 92: Tear into the good stuff. Just the gears. Mugs up.
throw one’s gears in (v.)

(US black) to leave quickly.

[US]S. Brown ‘Slow Coon’ in Botkin Folk-Say 119: An’ Slim threw his gears in, Put it in high, An’ kissed his hand to Arkansaw Sweetheart ... good-by!