Green’s Dictionary of Slang

super n.1

1. (also sup) a theatrical understudy; also an extra (see cite 1916).

[UK]Actors by Daylight 2 June 112/1: When Davidge took the Surrey [...] many of the old supers of course remained .
[UK]Dickens letter 3 Jan. Letters (1977) IV 9: That extraordinary compound of odd scents peculiar to a theatre [...] accompanies me, as I meet perspiring supers in the narrow passage.
[UK]New Sprees of London 22: [H]ighly respectable professionals [...] and an equal number of dirty sups, would-be actors, miserable scribblers, and swipes-guzzling buskers.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 27 Nov. 3/2: Witness thought at first they were performing a part of Romeo and Juliet, as he knew Mr Twight to be a ‘super’ on the boards.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice round Clock (1861) 176: My private belief is that no ‘super’ could exist long in any atmosphere remote from [...] the vicinity of the stage-door of a theatre.
[UK]G.A. Sala My Diary in America I 293: A decided affinity to the ‘supers’ one sees on the stage.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Characters 45: The two poor old gentlemen [...] are ‘supers’ of the legitimate school. They are not of the class of ‘butterfly-supers,’ who take to the business at pantomime time.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 June 3/3: A ‘super’ has been charged with passing off spurious (stage) notes on a publican.
[UK]G.A. Sala in Living London (1883) Oct. 483: Bedizening the subordinate characters, the plastering of girdles with zinc ‘logies,’ [...] The smearing with yellow ochre of the gauntlets and russet boots of the ‘supers’.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 40: I can give you a line to a pal at the Gaiety, and you might get [...] super!
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘An Authority on War’ Sporting Times 15 Sept. 1/4: At the Theatre Royal. Half Price, where I play the ‘super’ parts, / We have no flank-blooming-movements in our fights. For it’s all ‘Up guards, and at ’em!’.
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Feb. 2/5: A blue-chinned super, out of work, looks at them with envy.
[UK]A.N. Lyons Arthur’s 108: If I wos ten year younger, it’d take more’n a yob in a squash ’at to call me a blighted sooper to me face.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 31 July 2nd sect. 9/2: They Say [...] That after bribing the fireman to let her meet her divinity she got inttro duced. That the season had concluded before she found she'd mashed a handsome local super.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day By Day 30 Aug. [synd. col.] Extra men of the drama, to me the most pathetic people in all the world. [...] [But] there is a spirit of fraternity among supers that is even stronger than the fraternal feeling among the more favored folk of state stage.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Three Kings and a Pair’ in Gullible’s Travels 54: The piece was gave by a bunch o’ supers the time I went. I’d like to see it with a real cast. They say it’s a whiz when it’s acted right.
[UK]O. Onions Peace in Our Time 125: He was [...] at most a ‘super’ or walking-on gentleman.

2. (Aus.) the superintendent of a sheep station.

F. de Brebant Cooper Wild Adventures in Aus. 59: ‘Scotchy’ [...] introduced me as a particular friend to Wilder the owner of that run, under the impression that a ‘super’ was required.
A.L. Gordon Bush Ballads 23: What’s up with our super to-night? The man’s mad.
[Aus]A.C. Grant Bush-Life in Queensland I 164: I was ‘Super’ of a sheep-station up north.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘In a Dry Season’ in Roderick (1972) 81: The super was a big chap, about six-foot-three.
[Aus]Syndey Morn. Herald 30 Mar. 3/3: The ‘super’ of a big sheep station, with his owner [...] were making up the shearers’ roll.
[Aus]‘Curlew’ ‘Boko’ in Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 157: I had asked the super’s daughter to become head-stockman’s wife.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 62: A station manager was formerly known as a super or cove.

3. (also supe) a police or prison superintendent.

[Aus]J. Syme Nine Years in Van Diemen’s Land 211: [The] superintendent took notice of a mallet [...] and enquired of the man in charge of tools, ‘what do you do with this?’ The reply was, ‘we drives the wedges with it when splitting up the logs.’ ‘O yes,’ says the knowing super, ‘it may do for that.’.
[Aus]J.F. Mortlock Experiences of a Convict (1965) 116: Mr. Paddy Irving (the Super.), suspecting me to be an accessory [...] tried hard to find some error.
[UK]Dly Gaz. for Middlesborough 22 June 2/5: Defendant [...] requested the officers to interfere; when they refused he threatened to go and see their ‘super’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Feb. 4/3: As a rule, the ‘upper ten’ […] have it pretty much their own way; in fact, it would be a brave ‘super’ who […] ventured to tone down the at all times exuberant spirits of the rough and ready ‘upper ten.’.
[UK]Dundee Courier (Scot.) 18 Mar, 7/4: The super [i.e. of a prison] came and put him in anothwer room.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 July 8/1: Indeed, when he felt in a particularly happy mood – such as, for instance, when he had enjoyed by the grace of the ‘Super’ three ounces of rum or an extra fig of negrohead – he could compass with his left hand that most brilliant of all flogging feats.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 202: The super gave me a lickin’ for fair.
[US]J. Kelley Thirteen Years in Oregon Penitentiary 71: The guard told the stool [...] if at any time he saw the super coming to give the screw the ‘office’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 21 Feb. 3s/4: Valiant Flame-Walloper [...] ‘Supe’ Lanskley and some of the brass-mounted boys of the Fire Brigade.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Nov. 17/1: There is more than meets the eye and ear in the suspension of Prison-Super Hann.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 8 Sept. 9s/3: A funny story concerning the prison when the Super had to cancel the turn.
[UK]G. Greene Gun for Sale (1973) 80: ‘Keep a bottle of whisky here, super?’ the Chief Constable asked.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 43: Although his instructions had come from the very top, from the Superintendent, to cover the Super, Pye had invented a fire.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 179: Although the interrogation by the Super was long past, the escort had not yet arrived.
[US]J. Blake letter 15 May in Joint (1972) 173: There’s no board when I get there, just the Assistant Supe.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 37: The dear old super’s a family man himself.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 172: Couldn’t, [...] old sport. The super’s back tomorrow and it’s more than my life’s work.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Minder on the Orient Express’ Minder [TV script] 21: The Super wants to see you both right away.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 132: You never could expect clocking three more unlikely characters. Chief super, probation boss and fucking millionaire motor trader?

4. (US) a film extra; also as adj.

[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 42: A bunch of supers comes runnin’ in from the back.
[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 109: He wanted us for mob extras, that is ‘supers’ for a picture.

5. (US, also soup, sup, supe) a superintendent, e.g. of a work crew.

D. Runyon ‘Art of High Grading’ in Pittsburgh Post-Gaz. (PA) Sun. Mag. 2 Jan. 8/1: So I was super of the Best Intentions [i.e. a mine].
[US](con. 1908) E. Lynn Adventures of a Woman Hobo 226: ‘My God!’ he yelled. ‘The super’s on behind and Buck daren’t slow down.’.
[US]W. Edge Main Stem 95: The strike-breakers [...] did not applaud the super for this act.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 90: But the sup. wouldn’t listen; he said he had to learn how to use his hands.
[US]J.T. Farrell Gas-House McGinty 350: He said [...] I could be assistant soup in six months.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 73: ‘Come along, sleepin’ Jesus,’ called the super. [Ibid.] 208: Who said I told the supe anything?
[US]J. Steinbeck Wayward Bus 97: I ain’t taking orders from you. I’ll wait till I get some kind of complaints from the super.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 175: The super called me into his office.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 73: The lushes always concerned the super.

6. (orig. US) a building superintendent, a janitor.

[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 291: Tell the super to send a couple of maids up to straighten out my apartment.
[US]R. Chandler High Window 91: I said: ‘I don’t suppose you know where I can get in touch with the building superintendent?’ [...] ‘About the building super,’ I said gently.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 246: I heard him askin’ the super on the first floor.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 12: The super [...] caught my little brother.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 34: The spic bastard super [...] shut down the heat.
[US]H. Selby Jr Song of the Silent Snow (1988) 71: They were still the supers, a job that was much easier since the furnace was converted to oil.
[US]J. Franzen Corrections 133: Somebody changed the locks on the flat, I had to pay the super to let me in.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 50: John stopped at the super’s apartment.

7. (Aus.) a superannuation pension.

[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted I iii: The money’s good. Plenty of super.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] Nice house this, eh Jack? Cost a bit more than my super, you’ll say to yourself.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 156: We were prepared to top up his super, which was already generous.
[Aus] P. Corris ‘Prodigal Son’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Haven’t got much to leave him – bit of equity in the house [...] Fair bit of super. Ivan doesn’t seem to care about money anyway.

8. (UK) a supermarket.

[Aus]Argus *Melbourne) 23 Aug. 13/2: Super-Super. Every woman is familar wirtth the store known as the ‘supermarket’ — but at the State Fair the super supermarket will be operating.
[UK]Observer Mag. 27 Nov. 10: Markets used to get the cream, but now they get what the supers don’t want.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 87: Can’t hardly walk, never mind lookin after vegies. Buy em at the super’s easier.