Green’s Dictionary of Slang

deal n.1

[ult. SE deal, the act or system of dividing into parts for distribution]

1. any form of financial or commercial transaction [20C+ use is SE] .

[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker (1862) III 305: Six dollars apiece for the pictures is about the fair deal for the price.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 52: He wanted to have a deal with me for Jessy [mare].
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 242: Having made these ‘deals’ he would leave that region as silently as he came, and proceeding to Harrisburg, would supply his customers there.
[US]Nations 3 Aug. 87/1: The various halls in which they arrange the ‘deals’ by which our municipal system is carried on [DA].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Aug. 11/1: Hampton, boss of the Adelaide detectives, has made a good ‘deal,’ and thinks about resigning.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 279: Mamma DeMudd made the deal herself; and taking them by the lot, she had those noblemen at a bargain; she did, really! Five millions was the figure.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Dead Yellow Women’ Story Omnibus (1966) 160: Hughes was shot and killed [...] by a man whom he’d swindled in a fake airplane-manufacturing deal.
J.E. O’Donnell ‘Overcoat Bennie’ in Mss. from the Federal Writers’ Project [Internet] I got a hunch that that slang will come back to you. You’re the only fence in town that could handle a deal like it.
[US]Nation CLX II 17: The kind of deal the British have in mind is not, therefore, totally inconceivable [DA].
[UK]G. Kersh Fowlers End (2001) 289: That twicer wants to get in on it, this property deal. That dirty rotten bastard wanted to cut in on me.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream 22: ‘The deal’s off,’ he choked in a furious voice.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 166: What kind of a deal can I make with you?
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 63: What about the other deal? The smoke. The fix.
[US]Tarantino & Avery Pulp Fiction [film script] 11: Her biggest deal was she starred in a pilot.
[US]Source Aug. 131: The boss will front you that deal and put you on your feet, because if they don’t believe in you and you ain’t grinding right, the boss ain’t gonna front you nothing.

2. (orig. US) an idea, plan, scheme, arrangement, current situation, esp. with the implication of illegality or subterfuge.

[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 97: His last big ‘deal’ at Springfield (where he shoved over $10,000 in bogus bank bills) did his business for him, effectually.
[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 3: Teddy and Bud Hathaway of Chicago were going on a shooting trip in the Big Woods of Minnesota, and they asked me to go with them. It was new deal for me, so of course I was for it.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 101: This is the biggest deal pulled off this year and we nabbed the fellow two days after he turned the trick.
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 15: Had I waited until the following week, I should have been in for a fur deal involving £2,500.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 22: Nothing matches up in this deal.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 266: You’re gonna cop out for this deal tonight.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 80: Their little shooting deal might get messed up.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 12: With the fuzz in the offing she’d have to call off the whole deal.
[US]Mad mag. Sept. 46: If any of you cats are hung up or put down by some love problem, clue me in on the deal.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 269: How could anybody fuck up a sweet deal like that?
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 217: There’s gotta be a perv deal here.
[UK]Z. Smith White Teeth 16: What’s the deal, man? [...] Encyclopedias or God?

3. the treatment one has received, whether good or bad; thus square deal under square adj.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 50: She’s sure givin’ us one rum deal, old boy.
[US](con. 1917–19) Dos Passos Nineteen Nineteen in USA (1966) 392: They were all grousing about the whole business was a lousy deal.
[US]I. Shulman Amboy Dukes 25: Any guy who became drunk [...] got a fast deal and was thrown out.

4. (orig. US) the situation, the state of affairs, e.g. that’s the deal.

[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 207: Remember that the little Cup early in the Deal contains Consommé and not Tea.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 174: It’s been a hell of a lonesome deal alone, ain’t it?
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 113: They had messed up the deal by coming on like Federals and by searching the house without a warrant.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 91: The cop was going to call Pancoast. What a bitch of a deal.
[US]Ice-T ‘You Played Yourself’ [lyrics] I’m no authority but I know the d-e-a-l /when it comes to dealing with the female.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 129: He got the whole deal with the Grams, knew what they were trying to do.
[US]W. Ellis Crooked Little Vein 181: We talk to him and we leave. That’s the whole deal.

5. (US) a beating.

[US]O. Kildare Good of the Wicked 14: Levitt, surprising ‘Tippy’ Mason in the act of ‘lifting a super’ [...] subjected the light-fingered gent to a ‘deal,’ which kept him in the hospital for months.

6. (drugs) a purchase or sale of drugs, esp. cannabis; thus quid deal, one pound’s worth etc.

[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Dope 141: Sam Tuk exhibited the first evidence of animation which had escaped him throughout the progress of the ‘deal.’ He slowly nodded his hairless head.
[US]M. Bodenheim Georgie May 55: An old hand, who had once helped him turn a dishonest penny in a coke-deal.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 26: He had given them short count in some deal.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 292: I’ll be damned if I’m going to smarten him [...] and crumb this deal.
[UK]‘Hassan-i-Sabbah’ Leaves of Grass 21: A Quid Deal weighs roughly 1/15 ounce.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 259: She scratched her hair, and then frowned at her fingernails, each of which seemed to contain about a quid deal of hashish.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 279: Skinny Jimmy’s got some good deals of hash going for a hundred dollars.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 12: Just enough dope to scrape by, deals from a friend of a friend.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 188: He’s just done a dope deal with two undercover cops.

7. (US) a turn of events, a development.

[US] ‘Ellery Queen’ Roman Hat Mystery 65: Sorry, Inspector [...] But of all the rotten deals —.
[US]Manone & Vandervoort Trumpet on the Wing 167: By some screwy deal, the fire had only reached one side of it.
[US]I. Reed Free-Lance Pallbearers 12: When the deal goes down, all the back-sliding Uncle Toms are going to be mowed down.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 140: Feeling limp down there, wondering whether the forgiveness thing had been a oneshot deal.

8. (orig. US, also dealie) an individual or thing.

[US]W. Burroughs letter 5 May in Harris (1993) 83: Still smoke O once a week. It is different from needle kicks, better and more a positive deal.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 155: The Indian princess dropped the top of her suede deal down, and tried to look sultry.
[US]R. Price Breaks 323: My attention was diverted by a slowly cruising Cadillac [...] a huge blue steel deal.
[US]S. King It (1987) 943: Us Catholics had the Inquisition, that was the little dealie with the rack and the thumbscrews and all that stuff.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 351: This could be the deal that breaks this band wide open.

9. one’s concern or business, e.g. that’s my deal, that’s my business.

[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 27: You guys wanna do it, that’s your deal, but leave me alone.

10. (US campus) a problem, a conflict.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 3: deal – problem: ‘You’re being awfully rude! What’s your deal?’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 1: problem, conflict [...] DEAL.

11. see dealer n.

In phrases

cut a deal (v.) (also cut)

(orig. US) to compromise; to make an arrangement, to make a deal.

[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 226: I was going to cut a deal or I was going to sink.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 424: He figured he looked like Cathcart, so he could impersonate Cathcart and cut his own deal.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 229: Oh, chill, Gordon. Ain’t nuthin been cut.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 8: It was diplomatic to cut them a deal cos otherwise they would have ended up as serious rivals for our bitta business.
‘Gut Feeling’ at coldbloodedgames.typepad.com 8 May [Internet] Dumski was already in the back cutting a deal.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 76: Bridget Malone had been involved in a heroin bust [...] but [he] still didn’t know iof she had cut a deal or not.