Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cool adj.

[ult. orig. Eton College jargon cool fish, a cocky, self-possessed schoolboy, itself rooted in the older SE meaning: dispassionate, cold-blooded, later self-contained, calm; post-WWII use (initially US black) is usu. associated with the cool jazz movement of the 1940s, esp. Charlie Parker’s record Cool Blues of 1947, but the available cits. show older usage in a number of senses, and as with a number of slang’s (rare) abstract terms, it is less than simple to draw hard-and-fast lines between the senses, whether sl., colloquial or SE]

1. relaxed, calm, self-contained; often as imper., e.g. be cool!

[[UK]Colman & Garrick Clandestine Marriage III ii: Be cool, child! you shall be lady Melvil].
[[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Bashful Man I vi: Compose yourself, Mr. Blushington. Be cool! Sit down a bit].
[[UK]Lytton Money III iii: I’m on the rack! Be cool, Evelyn! Take care, my dear boy].
[[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 75: You just keep cool, and say nothing, but use your peepers].
[UK]Eddowes’s Jrnl 14 Dec. 2/4: The cool assurance of the swell mobsman.
[US]Yorkville Enquirer (SC) 3 July 2/3: [play title] Keep Cool or Fortitude Under Suffering.
[US]Elk Co. Advocate (Ridgway, PA) 2 Sept. 1/3: ‘Keep cool,’ cried the superintendant [...] nothing can be gained by excitement.
[UK]Isle of Wight Obs. 6 June 5/5: His doesn’t seem to be bothering him much [...] But then he’s so cool.
[US]Marion Dly Mirror (OH) 29 Jan. 1/1: Albert W. Wolter [...] went smiling to his death in the electric chair [...] the coolest convict ever killed in the grim state prison/ Wolter’s bravado remained with him to the end.
[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Cool ... Calm.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 220: The nigger blocked it with his arm, just as cool as hell, and hit him with his right hand.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 51: ‘Keep it cool,’ they warned. ‘Don’t make graves.’.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 133: Just be cool an’ we can work something out for the night.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 127: Like d’ word say, you cool – you ain’t hot-tempered or jumpin ’round, like you got a hotfoot. Like some pootbutt runnin’ off d’ jibs. You cool – calm, together!
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 300: ‘Hey Marty,’ said Goldberg. ‘Be cool. Okay?’.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 7: Be cool, bitches!

2. insolent, arrogant, impudent.

[UK]‘A Pembrochian’ Gradus ad Cantabrigiam 42: cool, impudent, unembarrassed.
[UK]J.B. Burges Riches V iii: Cool, specious villain!
[UK]R.B. Peake Americans Abroad II ii: Well, this is a cool, insolent solicitor.
I. Pocock Omnibus I i: Never heard of such cool impudence since the hour I was born.
[UK]D. Jerrold Mrs. Caudle’s Curtain Lectures 79: Upon my life, Mr. Caudle, that’s very cool.
[UK]F.E. Smedley Frank Fairlegh (1878) 171: ‘Well, that’s cool,’ muttered Lawless.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 20/1: ‘Perhaps you’d better shut up.’ ‘Perhaps I had,’ was the cool rejoinder.
[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 89: Comparing Sir George to — ’pon honour, that’s cool!
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 10 May2/1: That was deuced cool of little P.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer II 119: A hundred-pound dam cannot be free-selected or taken cool possession of as a conditional purchase by the land marauder.
[UK]W.S. Maugham Liza of Lambeth (1966) 24: It was pretty cool, considerin’ like as I didn’t know yer.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 16 Feb. 307: Well, I do call that rather cool: ask a fellow to come and stay with you, and then go away before he comes!
E.F. Benson Mrs Ames 247: Cool, upon my word.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 74: ‘Well, now, that’s demned cool,’ laughed Eckersley, ‘and we’ve got his monicher flashed all over the show.’.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 161: Why’re they so cool in front of th’ white troops?

3. (orig. US) of people, sophisticated, aware.

[US]J.L. Williams Princeton Stories 30: The two spreers were the coolest on the campus.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 181: Dirty Dan Desmond himself, cool and suave on the outside, but with a heart full of evil and larceny.
[UK]‘Raymond Thorp’ Viper 29: The cool cats [...] and the hot music.
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 25: With Jester, the seemingly cool, cool cat.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 112: This A&R man Rocco was in the middle of them, no doubt feeling very cool and appreciated.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 20: He had been one of the cool ones during this period.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 39: They thank they cool, but dey ain’t.
[US]J.L. Gwaltney Drylongso 69: Most of us try to be cool. That is what we respect the most in ourselves and look for in others. That means being a person of sober, quiet judgement [...] Out in the street people say ‘Be cool’ when they mean look out for something or somebody, but being cool is more weighty than that.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Dec. 21: Pac used to hang with these dudes from around the way, so he was cool.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 4 Jan. 6: His degree of self-possession he felt caused him to be perceived as a ‘cool dude’.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 161: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Cuz. Cool. Cold. Cat.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘She was way cool’.
[UK]M. Hanif Case of Exploding Mangoes (2009) 47: I can tell he is in his cool-dude phase, which normally entails lighting up a joint.

4. good, fine, pleasing, admirable, a general positive sense.

[Aus]W.T. Goodge ‘Australia’s Pride’ in Bulletin 3 Sept. 32: At Yankee grab his luck was cool, / At loo he’d lately scooped the pool; / He’d simply smashed the two-up school.
[UK]Rainbow 14 Feb. 1: Well done, sir! You ought to get a medal for that! [...] That’s the coolest piece of work I’ve seen for a long time!
[US]Z.N. Hurston Gilded Six-Bits (1995) 989: And what makes it so cool, he got money.
[US]C. McCullers Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1986) 160: ‘I sure wish I had a costume,’ Bubber said [...] ‘A real cool costume. A real pretty one made out of all different colors. Like a butterfly.’.
[US]New Yorker 4 Aug. 15: Bellson has been descibed here and there as the coolest drummer alive (cool being, of course, the current word for ‘hot’ in musical terminology).
[UK]‘Raymond Thorp’ Viper 15: Real cool it was, man.
[WI](con. 1940s) L. Bennett ‘Wat A Dickans’ in Jamaica Labrish 137: Good cigar, wappin perangles / Pop i’ gimme massa, cool!
[US]G. Tate ‘King Sunny Adé’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 58: Him cool mon. This man him wicked!
[UK]Guardian Guide 1–6 Jan. 17: They just act like they’ve known me their whole life, it’s real cool.
[UK]Observer Mag. 9 Jan. 11: He was a real friendly person, real cool.

5. (orig. US) of a person, place or object, fashionable, stylish, chic, ‘with it’.

[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 119: His style of doing that sort of thing was about the coolest I ever knew of.
‘A Plain Woman’ Poor Nellie I 111: I declare it is awfully jolly out here [...] Awfully jolly and cool, and all that sort of thing.
[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Cool ... [...] neatly dressed.
[US]E. Dundy Dud Avocado (1960) 255: I mean Japan for a honeymoon. It’s so cool. It’s so chic.
[US]Kerouac ‘The Origins of the Beat Generation’ Playboy June n.p.: There are two distinct styles of hipsterism: the ‘cool’ [...] bearded laconic sage [...] whose speech is low and unfriendly, whose girls say nothing and wear black.
[UK]Nova Apr. 83: Turned on, dropped out, freaked out, bad trip, power to the people, Free Angela: all nice cool sounds that are already in the West acquiring a quaint patina.
[US]Rolling Stone 22 Sept. 45: When Elvis came along thumping his guitar, it changed; now it was ‘cool’ to play the guitar.
[US] (ref. to 1958) S. King It (1987) 191: It was a Timex watch [...] ‘Jeez, it’s the coolest!’.
[UK]Observer Mag. 5 Sept. 34: Effortlessly cool in tartan bondage trews, cherry-red Doctor Martens, biker jacket and trademark grin.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan. 74: Looking fucking cool [...] he looks slick.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 278: The Red Rattler Theatre [...] is uber-cool and I am not.

6. antonyms of hot adj.

(a) (drugs) not carrying or owning drugs, or believing that one has hidden them well enough to defy any search of one’s body or premises.

[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 166: We get like-a whole floor, a cool pad for you’n me, doll.

(b) (US Und.) not suspicious, either of people or objects.

[US]N. Cassady letter in Charters (1993) 195: This meant the car was cool [...] and we could disguise it and keep it.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 145: I learned the new hipster vocabulary [...] ‘cool’, [...] indicating [...] any situation that is not hot with the law.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 68: A hot car was always cooler at night.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 98: He had to wait until things got cooler.

(c) (US street gang) not carrying weapons or acting aggressively.

[US](con. 1953–7) L. Yablonsky Violent Gang (1967) 82: If Balkans come up cool, it is OK. [...] The Villains could come down into the Morningside area [...] if they came down ‘cool’ (no weapons or assaultive behaviour).

7. acceptable, satisfactory; esp. in phr. (that’s) cool, fine, ok.

[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 145: I learned the new hipster vocabulary [...] ‘cool’, an all-purpose word indicating anything you like.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 85: Got to look out for myself, things ain’t cool this past week.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 85: Man that’s cool, we’re writers too.
[US]B. Moyers Listening to America 116: Jail ain’t cool.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 17: If it happened, cool.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 15: When she confessed a particularly intimate dissatisfaction with Harvey, he murmered absently, ‘That’s cool’.
[UK]M. Thelwell Harder They Come 279: If dat is arright den everyt’ing cool.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 8: Cool, nuh, Bigga. Mek we lef’ yah first.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 4: Cooper thought it was cool [...] just the way it was.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 39: And it was like, cool.
[US]C.W. Ford Deuce’s Wild 11: ‘You want me to call out for pizza?’ ‘That’s cool,’ he said.

8. comfortable, happy, on good terms.

[US]L. Wolf Voices from the Love Generation 84: The warehouse wasn’t cool for having dope so nobody had any dope.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 9: They wouldn’t believe we was real cool with each other.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 3: be cool with – in agreement with.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 396: He was cool with everything and cool with who he was.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Mag. 21 Jan. 54: He was cool with it. He laughed.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 90: ‘We ain’t cool no more. For the simple fact she did it to my boyfriend’.
[Aus]L. Redhead Rubdown [ebook] I heard you used to be a stripper. I thought you’d be cool with it [i.e. erotic massage].

9. safe.

[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 32: He was gone jim. O.d. just like that [...] So Tiny horns a little just to be cool, ya know.

10. trustworthy.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 25: Once the confidence of a few respected individuals had been gained, word spread that we were ‘cool’.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 14: Keith’s in the bag. Keith’s cool.

In derivatives

coolster (n.)

(US teen) a gang member, a 'hip' teenager; also attrib.

[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] Pinchy was shacked with a working broad who didn’t like any of the coolsters around.
[US]G. Legman Fake Revolt 24: It comes as a wonderful moment of liberation for the emotionally-strangulated coolster to imagine for a moment that he or she believes in something.
[US]E. Dunkel (1991) Every Woman Loves a Russian Poet 372: Boris, dressed in leather pants and leather jacket, perched like a nouveau coolster on a pile of construction junk at Les Halles.
[US]Spin Jan. 37: The coolster postures that pushed a thousand lounge reissues our way.
[US]L. Savan Slam-Dunks and No-Brainers [ebook] Joe Camel, the retro coolster dromedary who sold so many Camel cigarettes.

In compounds

cool breeze

see separate entries.

cool cat (n.)

a sophisticated, competent, unruffled, able person; also attrib.

[US]Tennessean (Nashville, TN) 17 May 4/4: [advert] ‘Serenade to a Jitterbug’ [...] by Abbey Brown’s Cool Cats.
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 342: Carter, he’s okay [...] He’s a cool cat.
[UK]Mersey Beat 31 Aug.–14 Sept. n.p.: I think George is the utmost, ginchiest, skizziest, craziest cool cat I’ve ever seen.
[US]Rebennack & Rummel Under A Hoodoo Moon 136: Wayne was a cool cat.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 36: Cool cat A dude, a hipster, a real gone daddy.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 160: His cool-cat, late-night voice.
cool hand (n.)

1. a cool, calm, controlled and competent individual.

[UK]R. Barham ‘Black Mousquetaire’ in Ingoldsby Legends II (1866) 210: A fact which has stamp’d him a rather ‘Cool hand’.
[UK]T. Taylor Still Waters Run Deep II ii: I’m a cool hand, I flatter myself, but, by Jove, she nearly threw me off my balance last night.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 56: Well, you’re a couple of cool hands, I must say.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 186: ‘A cool hand,’ explained by Sir Thomas Overbury, to be ‘one who accounts bashfulness the wickedest thing in the world, and therefore studies impudence’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 May 1/2: Butler is a ‘cool hand’.
[SA]B. Mitford Fire Trumpet III 26: A fine, smart fellow [...] A cool hand, too.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman (1992) 47: Well, he might; he’s a cool hand.
[US]W.M. Raine Wyoming (1908) 223: Y’u’re a cool hand, my friend.
[UK]Nottingham Eve. Post 5 Jan. 5/3: [headline] A Cool Hand. Nottingham Lodger Robs lodger. A particularly impudent theft.
[UK]Yorks. Eve. Post 28 Mar. 6/3: A cool hand was Roddy Owen.
[US](con. 1918) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 213: A cool hand, that Schmidt.
[UK]N. Marsh Death in Ecstasy 143: He’s a very cool hand is monsieur.
[US]D. Pearce [title] Cool Hand Luke.

2. (US) a cool, unruffled demeanour.

[US]Tomahawk (White Earth, Becker Co., MN) 19 Oct. 3/5: Supposin’ I hadn’t showed down a cool hand to him? You’d be swingin’ somewheres now.
cool-head (n.) [note SE cool-headed]

1. a pleasant person.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 99: Cool head [...] A socially adept person. A quick or witty person.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 57: cool head [...] 2. Someone whom you admire.

2. a calm, unflappable person.

[US]Day Book (Chicago) 30 Sept. 11/1: Then there’s young Demaree, a cool head [...] the coolest recruit I ever saw under fire.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 57: cool head [...] 3. Someone who is self-assured. See cool.
[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 57: cool head n 1: Calm, unflappable person.
cool jerk (n.)

(US black/teen) one who deludes himself into a belief that he is sense 3; in fact he is a jerk n.1 (3); thus do the cool jerk, to move in an ostentatious manner.

Capitols [lyrics] Look at them guys looking at me like I'm a fool / Ah but deep down inside they know I'm cool / [...] / Cause they know I’m the king of the cool jerk.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]S. King Christine 54: They seemed to be waiting for the moment of combustion when Daddy would flatten my skinny friend and do the Cool Jerk all the way up and down his broken body.
cool papa (n.)

(US black) a self-possessed, sophisticated and, as such, alluring man.

[US]B. Stiles Serenade to the Big Bird 59: When we were in school everyone called him cool papa, because he was such a major operator.
St Louis Walk of Fame [Internet] Major league baseball was closed to blacks until 1947, relegating some of the game’s best players to the Negro Leagues. One of them was James Thomas Bell, who joined the St. Louis Stars in 1922. Nicknamed Cool Papa for his composure, Bell played and coached professional baseball for 29 years.
cool whip (n.) [pun on brandname of the US sweet]

(US campus) something very new and appealing.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar.
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 70: Cool whip was ‘something very new and appealing’, while granola was ‘something out of date’.

In phrases

be cool (also you be cool)

goodbye.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Sept. 1: be cool – a farewell: I’ve got to go, so you be cool.
cool as shit (also cool as toast)

(US campus) an expression of approval.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 1: Cool as shit! – That’s fantastic!
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 2: cool as toast – the ultimate in cool.
in J. Brown 50 Cent 129: 50 came out here to LA for a couple of days and he seemed like he was cool as shit.
cool by the pool

(S.Afr.) a positive response to a question such as ‘how’s it going?’.

Z. Fabris Last Diary Session 18: Something that [...] gives pleasure [...] a small taste of what God must have felt like when he lay back on the 7th day and said it’s all cool by the pool.
[SA]Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) 8 Jan. [Internet] ‘Howzit’ — I use that word everyday, and the response should be ‘lekker, man’ or ‘cool by the pool’.
cool like a moose (adj.)

(US teen) all wrong, whether socially, regarding fashion, work, amusements, etc.

[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) Sun. Mag. 4 Dec. 9/3: Cool like a moose means all wrong, no good, and it applies to everything from dull parties and algebra to low heels and referees [...] overly fussy chaperones.
cool runnings

(W.I./UK black teen) a phr. meaning everything is fine, all is going smoothly.

[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 102: Cool runnings, boss.
[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 11: Cool-runnings a greeting: u. cool runnings, man/everything is O.K.
on the cool

(US prison) a general intensifier, usu. meaning truthfully or its opposite.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] On the Cool: The meaning depends upon the intonation. Usually means something of a deceptive nature, however, spoken with intent it translates into pure truth. (TX).
[US]UGK ‘Heaven’ [lyrics] But on the cool you know what else I hope is true / They got a heaven for me and got a heaven for you, too.
that’s cool

(orig. US) that’s satisfactory, that’s all right, don’t worry.

[US]O. Hawkins Ghetto Sketches 21: Awwwright . . . that’s cool . . . we’ll check . . . you.
[US]H.C. Collins Street Gangs 222: Cool Thats good or peaceful.
[US] P. Munro Sl. U.
too cool for school (adj.)

very fashionable, well-dressed, obsessively so.

[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 151: He looks [...] too hip to slip, and way too cool for school.
Garwood & Hole Rome 214: The interior is arty and contemporary, with streaky walls and flickering projections, and it’s almost too cool for school.
Atkinson et al. N.Z. South Island 315: The hipster environment flies dangerously close to too cool for school but pulls back on the throttle before it's too late. Great coffee and fantastic brunchy food.

In exclamations

cool beans!

(US teen) excellent! wonderful!

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring.
Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] cool beans 1. phrase used to indicate that something is very good, excellent; COOL. (‘You got tickets to the game? Cool beans.’).
M. Ringle What Scotland Taught Me 30: ‘Cool beans, huh?’ I had to love Shannon. She said stuff like ‘Cool beans’ in all sincerity. ‘Exceedingly cool beans,’ I agreed.
[US]C. Eble UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2016 2: COOL BEANS — interesting in a nerdy yet genuine way.
cool deal! [deal n.1 (4)]

(US campus) an exclamation of approval, admiration.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 3: COOL DEAL – expression of agreement, interest, or amazement.
H. Heiman Running on Dreams 3: The gift's a double CD boxed set of hit singles of the 1960s. ‘It’s a cool deal, Mom!’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

cool nantz (n.) (also cool nant(e)s) [nantz n.]

cognac.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Cool-nantz Brandy.
[UK]Farquhar Twin-Rivals II ii: A moderate glass of cool Nantes is the thing.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Cool Nants. Brandy.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 123: ‘Right Nantz,’ brandy. ‘Cool Nantz,’ the same.
cool one (n.)

(orig. US) a bottle of beer.

[US]Hepster’s Dict. 10: Tall cool one – A cool beer.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Peacock Valhalla 178: It’s a fine night for some cool ones.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 2: cool one – a beer.
[US](con. 1968) D.A. Dye Citadel (1989) 25: Thought I might have a few cool ones with you.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Goodoo Goodoo 187: There was something else that would make him feel even better again. A nice cool one. He [...] walked down to the bar.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 234: Those boys in Neshoba. They’re sipping cool ones in Memphis right now.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 21: Would you like a cup of coffee? [...] Or a cool one.
cool smoke (n.)

(drugs) a smoke of methamphetamine.

[US] ‘Drug Sl. Vault’ on Erowid.org [Internet] Cool Smoke smoking Methamphetamine (‘ice’).
‘Methamphetamine’ on Drug Rehabilitation Solutions [Internet] Users have referred to smoking ice as a ‘cool’ smoke, while the smoking of crack is a ‘hot’ smoke.