1. (UK Und.) the hair; cit. 1865 may imply a general sprucing up rather than simply brushing one’s hair.
|implied in moult one’s feathers|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 26/1: Tommy was below, and having ‘brushed his feather’ and put himself to rights, he made for the bar.|
2. the pubic hair.
|[||Folly of Love [She] thinks days are ages till the sport she’s seen Altho her am’rous Nest is hardly Feather’d].|
|Works (1959) I 437: O, whither do these Fingers rove, Cries chloe, treacherous Urchin, whither? O venus! I shall find thy dove, Says He; for sure I touch his Feather.Dove in|
|in Pills to Purge Melancholy VI 221: The Shepherd he saw The bright Venus, he swore, For he knew her own Dove, By the Feathers she wore.|
|On the Yard (2002) 35: The Spook pried open his clenched rump [...] ‘My, my,’ the Spook murmured, ‘not a feather on him. Some jocker’s due to score.’.|
3. (UK tramp) a bed.
|Autobiog. of a Gipsey 111: The ‘feathers’* clinging to his hair and whiskers. [footnote] Particles of the barley-straw which formed his bed.|
|Autobiog. of a Super-Tramp 211: I never fail to get the sixteen farthings for my feather (bed), I get all the scrand (food) I can eat; and I seldom lie down at night but what I am half skimished (half drunk), for I assure you I never go short of my skimish.|
|Adventures of Johnny Walker 191: Sixteen farthings for a feather – fourpence for a bed.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
4. see bull’s feather under bull n.1
(US) in bed.
|‘Job Halls & Mike Hunt’ Lummy Chaunter 83: In the Feathers you’d find him soaking with Mike Hunt.|
|In Babel 107: They had me in the feathers with many brands of dope shot into me.‘Hickey Boy and the Grip’|
to lose one’s hair through syphilis.
|Newes from Hell in Works II 104: In this passage through the Citty, whet a number of Lord Mayors, Aldermens, and rich Commoners sonnes and heyres kept a hallowing out at Taverne-windowes to our knight, and wafted him to their Gascoigne shores with their hats only (for they had molted away all their feathers).|
SE in slang uses
(US campus) fashionable, stylish.
|UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 5: FEATHERY — desirably fashionable: ‘That new hat is feathery. Where can I buy one?’ .|
see separate entries.
see featherhead n. (2)
see feather-headed adj.
|DSUE (1984) 382/1: C.16–17.|
1. (US) a style of facial whisker.
|Smoke and Steel 20: They were calling certain styles of whiskers by the name of ‘lilacs.’ / And another manner of beard assumed in their chatter a verbal guise / Of ‘mutton chops,’ ‘galways,’ ‘feather dusters’.‘Alley Rats’|
2. (US) an American Indian [ref. to the head-dress].
|(con. 1870s) Triggernometry (1957) 61: The Indians were levying a tax of ten cents a head on all cattle crossing The Nation [...] It was decided to tell the feather-dusters where to go.|
see feather-headed adj.
(US) terrified, extremely frightened.
|DARE].Unfinished Cathedral 56: By God, I’m going down and organize every man on the outside against your damned feather-legged bunch! [|
|in PADS [DARE].|
|DARE].NC Mountain Folklore 91: Feather-legged—cowardly [|
1. a physical weakling.
|S.F. News 22 Nov. 17: Offensively the Mechanics could be tougher [...] the problem seems to be springing loose Tom Ellis and Mert Dilly, a pair of ‘Feather Merchant’ left halfs [HDAS].|
|Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: Feather merchant . . . an undersized Marine.|
|Battle Cry (1964) 5: This customer couldn’t weigh over a hundred and twenty-five pounds with a mortar on his back. A real feathermerchant.|
|(con. 1940s) Admiral (1968) 241: To think I’d see the day a lousy feather merchant jaygee’s got to help me put my shoes on.|
2. a foolish, silly person.
|You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Feather Merchant: Hot air artist.|
|(con. WWII) Gunner 63: Some of the feather-merchants throw five- and ten-dollar bills.|
3. a shirker.
|Rally Round the Flag, Boys! (1959) 98: Yellow-livered, money-grubbing, fat-bellied feather merchants.|
a general term of abuse, usu. used to refer to someone unpleasant; thus feather-plucked adj.
|Exit 3 and Other Stories 70: ‘I’ll be a juke box feather plucked nigger of an angel,’ snapped Bunk.|
|Dict. of Cockney Rhy. Sl. 41: feather plucker. F*cker (term of abuse).|
see under lightweight.
1. a white prisoner’s wife or girlfriend.
|Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Featherwood: A peckerwood’s woman.|
2. a white female inmate.
|Prison Sl. 35: Featherwood Can be used as a derogatory or friendly term for a white female inmate depending on how it is used.|
(US) to prepare to fight.
|Honey in the Horn 105: He shot at the bear in the dark, and when daylight came he found blood on the ground, so he feathered up and trailed it across the mountains.|
|North Carolina Folklore 1 539: Feather up to [...] To show fight. ‘He feathered up to them big fellers ecchin’ (itching) for a fight.’ .|
1. (US, also in full puff) in one’s best clothes.
|Fontainebleau in Dramatic Works (1798) II 236: Such a pair of Mademoiselles as they are making themselves, to receive this French Colonel Epaulette, Egad here they come in full puff.|
|He Would Be A Soldier III i : caleb: Here I am, father, in full feather .|
|Tom Cringle’s Log (1862) 193: Old Gasket [...] had figged himself out in full puff.|
|Era 28 Mar. 10/1: He was at this time in feather with plenty of tin.|
|Cheltenham Chron. 11 June 8/4: The brethren assembled [...] many of them were resplendent in their regalia and literally 'in full feather'.|
|Royal Cornwall Gaz. 9 June 4/3: All the Royal Princes were there 'in full feather'.|
|Dundee Courier 12 Feb. 7/5: The professional burglar, the successful pickpocket, when ‘in feather’, prefer living in private lodgings.|
|Graphic 30 Jan. 130/2: On these generally convivial occasions, Watty, by reason of his office [butler], was of course always in full feather [F&H].|
|Eng. Spy II 110: If they find their customers there in good feather and high repute, they [tradesmen] venture to cover another leaf in their ledger.|
|Leeds Intelligencer 11 Aug. 2/2: In all his transactions he contrives to get money [...] Mr Stocks is ever uppermost, - in the finest possible condition - in full feather.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
3. in top condition, very cheerful.
|‘Memoirs of Ned Painter’ in Fancy I XVII 399: It is not likely to be soon forgotten; for the Fancy lads went down in full feather, but many of them were so cleanly plucked that they could scarcely find buoyant plumage enough to wing their way back to the metropolis.|
|Dene Hollow III 26: And now things went on swimmingly. Captain Clanwaring, in feather as to cash, at least, temporarily, was the gayest of the gay.|
|Shields Dly Gaz. 15 July 2/4: The children were starving [...] while the prisoner lived 'in full feather'.|
|(con. 1910s) Sporting Times 253: Your words carry me back to the days when I was in full feather.|
1. very cheerful.
|Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 5: The Swells in high feather, and old Boney lagg’d.|
|Caledonian Mercury 1 May 2/2: Lord Combermere is in very high feather, very active.|
|Hereford Times 10 Aug. 4/2: He might, indeed, be said to be 'in high feather'.|
|Reading Mercury 13 Nov. 1/3: Very few of those who left Salt-hill 'in high feather,' were in at the take.|
|Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 221: Martin leads the way in high feather; it is quite a new sensation to him, getting companions, and he finds it very pleasant.|
|N. London News 27 Sept. 3/4: The body militant of the isle were in high feather at the prospect of a visit from the soldier Prince.|
|Tom Sawyer 24: Tom responded with jeers, and started off in high feather.|
|Life on the Mississippi (1914) 185: I ascended to the pilot house in high feather.|
|Nation LXIII 485/1: Senator Wolcott has just come back from Canton in high feather. In fact, everybody who comes back from Canton is in high feather.|
|John Bull’s Other Island Act IV: broadbent: [in the highest feather]. Not a bit. By George, Nora, it’s a tremendous thing to be able to enjoy oneself.|
|Plastic Age 219: Hugh accepted the invitation and departed for the Parker summer cottage in high feather.|
2. rich; thus out of feather, penniless.
|Real Life in London I 298: For altho’ in high feather, the odds will soon tame.|
|Larks of Logic, Tom and Jerry I i: Clean’d out again, I came away, / Quite undismay’d, though out of feather – / At night I bolted to the play.|
|Yellowplush Papers in Works III (1898) 276: As you are now in high feather, can you, dearest Algernon! lend me five hundred pounds?|
|Three Elephant Power 60: They were in high feather, having just won a lot of money from a young Englishman at pigeon-shooting.‘The Downfall of Mulligan’s’|
|Life in London (1869) 314: [note] A run of ill-luck had so far prevailed, that poor —— was completely cleaned out: He had not a feather left to fly with; and was compelled to borrow a bull to pay for a rattler to carry his unfortunate body home.|
|Chambers Edinburgh Jrnl 21 Mar. 78/3: Then they must often be in distress!— Very often; half of them havo not a feather to fly with.|
|(con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 257: Without a penny in their pockets, or, to use their own phrase, ‘without a feather to fly with’.|
|Frank leslie’s New Family Mag. 2-3224: The Height of Assurance —Oflering to bet a man five pounds when the bailiffs are in your house, and you have not a ‘feather to fly with’.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 424/2: Regularly smashed up, not a feather to fly with, they’d knocked down all their tin lushing.|
|Beatrice 447: He has not a feather to fly with.|
|Women of Paris 244: ‘You are sure they cannot get the money to pay you out?’ asked Gobin. ‘Peste! they have not a feather to fly with. I shall take the beds from under them,’ replied the broker.|
|Accountant 20 528: Jerry-builders and other tradespeople [...] rarely reach the court until they have not a feather to fly with, or professedly not.|
|Morn. Post (London) 7 Dec. 8/6: Mr Hildred [...] said that the company had ‘not got a feather to fly with,’ not even a bird’s nest on the property.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 36/4: My good man took it to himself, and turned on the minister, and didn’t leave him a feather to fly with hardly.|
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|
|et al. King Edward in His true Colours 118: If one had believed the ‘World’ [...] the future King of England had not ‘a feather to fly with’.|
|Maid o’ the Morn 108: You have not a feather to fly with, except what your factors wring from the goat-herds.|
|I Remember 391: When Mr. Packer, snr., joined Smith’s [...] he hadn’t a feather to fly with. Now he walks out of their office with £173,000 worth of shareholders’ property.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 76: feather to fly with, not having a Broke, or lacking prospects or any excuse, from a ‘feather’ meaning a farthing. ANZ.|
(Irish) to confuse, to surprise, to astonish.
|Ulysses 153: Mrs Miriam Dandrade that sold me her old wraps and black underclothes in the Shelbourne hotel. [...] Didn’t take a feather out of her me handling them.|