Green’s Dictionary of Slang

greaseball n.

[-ball sfx]

1. (orig. US milit., also greaseball grunt) a short-order cook; a kitchen worker.

[US](con. 1917–18) T. Boyd Through the Wheat 164: ‘Ho there, you yellow greaseball, what do you want?’ He hailed one of the mess helpers who was approaching.
[US] ‘Hinky-Dinky’ in Lomax & Lomax Amer. Ballads and Folk Songs 559: Our grease-ball is a goddam dirty bum, / He bails out swill and makes the slum.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 107: grease ball [...] a kitchen worker [...] greaseball grunt A cook’s helper.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 512: He’s a greaseball [...] He gets paid to fix sandwiches.

2. (US) any filthy or offensive person; thus the lowest category of tramp.

[US]‘A-No. 1’ From Coast to Coast with Jack London 123: At Reno every hobo, ranging from the aristocratic ‘comet’ down to the lowliest of low ‘grease balls,’ registered his moniker.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 146: The greaseball wins his name for an obvious reason, for the woolly texture of his clothing absorbs an unlimited amount of grease and dust.
[US]R. Chandler ‘The King in Yellow’ in Spanish Blood (1946) 88: She was a wide-eyed kid that fell for a flashy greaseball.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Color of Murder’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. [Internet] Stand still, grease-ball — before I drill for oil in your ellybay!
[US]H. Ellison ‘Made in Heaven’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 184: When that greaseball closes up, we knock him a good one.
[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 358: What are you doing giving absolution to that greaseball?
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 172: It’ll be to do with what the greaseball was just telling me.
[NZ]P. Shannon Davey Darling 67: They were all greaseballs, the Applebys. So I wanted to thump him.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 258: I never asked you what it’s like to be the Stone Crab queen, with a dozen greaseball contest judges staring up your crotch.
[US]M. Myers et al. Wayne’s World II [film script] Greaseball metallers in cooler muscle cars swarm around the Mirthmobile.

4. (orig. US) a derog. term for a person of any Latin race, e.g. Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican, various South Americans etc.

Ogden Standard Examiner 12 Apr. 6/5: Mother— ‘Well, dear, did you have a good time last night?’ Daughter— ‘Oh, Mom, it was perfectly blaah — nobody there but a lot of cake-eaters and grease balls’.
[US]B. Appel Brain Guy (1937) 53: He whispered groggily something about the glory that was Greece, not these greaseballs, the ancient Greece with all her glories.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Too Much Pep’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 632: I have a lot of very good friends among the Italians, and I never speak of them as wops, or guineas, or dagoes, or greaseballs.
[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 364: Love thy neighbour if he’s not a Catholic or a Jew or a Seventh Day Adventist or a nigger or a greaser or a ginzo or a hunkie or a bohunk or a frog or a spick or a limey or a heine or a mick or a chink or a jap or a dutchman or a squarehead or a mockie or a slicked-up greaseball from the Argentine.
[UK]I. Fleming Diamonds Are Forever (1958) 154: I used to think your gangsters were just a bunch of Italian greaseballs.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 16: Three kikes, one guinea, one greaseball.
[US](con. 1960s) R. Price Wanderers 152: ‘Greaseball,’ said one of the Dukes. Angry glances.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 62: If he had to be the one to call this greaseball to accounts, then – but he regretted the greaseball, even in his thoughts.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 12 Aug. 8: A banteringly remorseless singling out of the various ‘yids’, ‘niggers’ and ‘greaseballs’ present.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 238: Last thing they was doing was boosting luxury vehicles on special order [...] Greaseballs in LA and out east want them.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 136: Never did like greaseballs.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 337: And that makes you proud, killing your own kind for greaseballs like Vento?

5. (US) an automobile factory worker; a garage mechanic; also attrib.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 81: Grease Ball. – a garage or machine-shop assistant.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 201: For a guy who was born and raised in this Greaseball Mecca, there could be no more fitting place to go.

6. a derog. term of address to a Latin person.

[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 183: I don’t get called a son of a whore by the help, greaseball.
[UK]A. Payne ‘All Mod Cons’ Minder [TV script] 13: Comprennez? No speaky Inglese, you little greaseball?

7. a sycophant.

[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 140: The little grease-ball had his head so far up Merv’s bum you couldn’t see his neck.