Green’s Dictionary of Slang

run v.

1. [mid-19C] to understand, to comprehend; to work out someone's actions.

2. [mid-19C–1920s] (Aus./US, also run over) to harass verbally, to tease; thus running n., teasing, scolding.

3. [1900s–40s] (Aus.) to cover the expenses of [SE run to, to cover, to extend sufficiently, usu. of money].

4. in senses of association.

(a) [1910s] to go out with someone, usu. a boyfriend or girlfriend, on a regular basis.

(b) [1910s+] of a partner, usu. a man, to dominate and control the other partner’s life.

(c) [1980s+] to go around together, to play together.

5. in drug uses.

(a) [1930s+] to sell drugs; thus running n.

(b) [1970s+] to be a habitual drug user; to inject narcotics.

(c) [1990s+] to work as a drug dealer’s assistant; thus running n.

(d) [2000s] to steal drugs.

6. [1970s+] (US Und.) to use stolen credit cards; to pass any form of false document, e.g. a traveller’s cheque [one ‘runs up’ debts or ‘runs’ the card ‘by’ the victim].

7. [1990s+] (US black) to play basketball.

8. see run in v. (1)

In phrases

get run (v.)

[1990s] (US black) to have sexual intercourse.

run sets on (v.) (also roll sets on)

[1970s] (UK black) to hit with combination punches.

run to it (v.)

[2010s] (UK black) to intensify a situation.

run the jewels (v.)

[1990s+] (US black) to give up one’s possessions to a robber.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

run... (v.)

see also under relevant n. or adj.

run a banker (v.) [SE banker, a river with its water level with or over-running its banks]

[late 19C–1940s] (Aus.) to be intense, usu. of emotions or feelings.

run a boat (v.) [the multi-person crew required to sail a boat]

[1990s+] (W.I.) to pool resources to buy a meal.

run a buck (v.) [ety. unknown]

[late 18C–early 19C] (Anglo-Irish) to register an invalid vote.

run a hooligan on (v.)

[1920s] (US) to play tricks on, to defraud.

run a millstone (v.)

[late 17C] (gaming) for a thrown die to roll some distance.

run around (v.) (orig. US)

1. [late 19C–1970s] to have a relationship or a friendship.

2. [1920s+] to carry on sexual affairs, deceiving one’s primary partner.

run around like a cut cat (v.) [SE cut, castrated]

[1950s+] (Aus.) to be very angry; thus comparative meaner than a cut cat.

run a saw on (v.) [obs. SE saw, a tale]

[mid–late 19C] (US/Aus.) to deceive, to hoax.

run a temperature (v.) [i.e. one is hot adj. (5c)]

[1990s+] (US) to be wanted, usu. by the police.

run down (v.)

see separate entry.

run goods (n.)

see separate entry.

run in (v.)

see separate entry.

run it out (v.)

[1920s] (US campus) to behave in a socially unacceptable manner, esp. when acting ‘above one’s station’ as stated by the larger group.

run it up the flagpole (and see if anyone salutes) (v.) (also run it up the mast and see if anybody salutes, run something up the flagpole...)

[1950s+] (US) to test a reaction to a new idea or concept; usu. as let’s run it up...; many ad hoc vars. occur.

run like a hairy goat (v.) (also go like a hairy goat, run like a hairy dog)(Aus./N.Z.)

1. [1910s+] of a racehorse, to run very badly; occas. to run fast.

2. [1960s+] of a motor vehicle, to run badly.

run mouth (n.)

see separate entry.

run off (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] (US) to talk excessively, to talk rubbish [SE run off, of water, to flow away].

2. [1970s+] (US black) to be sustained by something, esp. a drug [SE run, to function].

run (off) at the mouth (v.) (also run (off) at the chin, ...head, ...jaw, ...jibs, …lip) [SE chin/jaw/jib n.1 (5)]

[20C+] (orig. US) to talk to excess and to the irritation of one’s audience; to lose one’s temper or launch into a diatribe.

run off by hand (v.)

[1970s] to masturbate.

run off one’s mouth (v.)

[1940s+] (US) to be annoyed, to talk angrily.

run on (adj.)

[1960s] (US Und.) arrested.

run on dim lights (v.)

[1960s] (US) to be unintelligent.

run one’s final (v.)

[1910s] (Aus.) to die.

run one’s mouth (off) (v.) (also run one’s gab, … gums, …jaws) [one’s mouth runs like an engine] [1930s+] (orig. US/W.I.)

1. to gossip, to tell tales.

2. to give advice.

3. to talk without restraint.

4. (also run up one’s mouth) to brag, to boast, to fantasize.

5. (also run up one’s mouth) to stop talking, to be quiet.

run over (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] to treat contemptuously, to victimize; to defeat.

2. see sense 2 above.

run sly (v.)

[late 18C] to escape or evade.

run someone ragged (v.) (also run someone’s ass ragged) [1920s+] (orig. US)

1. to exhaust or wear out someone or something.

2. (also run someone raggity) to beat.

3. to subject to censure and punishment.

run taper (v.) [SE run + taper, to grow thinner]

[mid–late 19C] of money, to run short.

run the cutter (v.) [Scot. cutter, a small whisky bottle, but note phr. run the cutter, to smuggle liquor ashore, avoiding the customs’ cutter]

[late 19C–1940s] (Aus./N.Z.) to buy beer in bulk, to be brought home and drunk there.

run the gears (v.)

[1990s+] (US prison) to eviscerate.

run through (v.) [one ‘runs through’ their pockets]

[late 19C–1920s] to rob someone, to defraud; thus (Aus.) run-through boy, a street robber, a mugger.

run to (v.)

1. [mid-19C] to understand; as phr., run to tick, to be acceptable.

2. [late 19C] to be able to afford, usu. in negative [SE in 20C+].

run up in (v.)

[2000s] (US black) of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

run up on (v.)

1. [1940s+] (US) to meet (a person).

2. [1970s] (US) in fig. use, to encounter (an idea, a situation).

3. [1990s+] (US black) to challenge, to attack physically.

run with (v.)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US black) to associate with, to be friends with.