Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ear n.1


[mid-19C] (US black) a tuning peg on a guitar or fiddle.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

earful (n.)

see separate entry.

In compounds


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

earflap (n.)

[mid-19C; 1930s] (US) an ear; usu. in pl.

earguard (n.) [SE earguard, a small flap attached to a cap and covering the ear]

[1940s] (Aus.) short side-whiskers or sideboards.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

ear job (n.) [job n.2 (2)]

1. [1960s+] (US) a kissing and caressing of someone’s ear with the tongue.

2. [1970s] a phone call to a sexual phone service; sexually stimulating talk on the phone.

ear-lugger (n.) [lug v.2 (2)]

[20C+] (Aus.) a cadger, a scrounger.

ear man (n.) [he picks it up by ear]

[1970s] (US black) an individual expressing a natural ability to excel at an endeavour, a virtuoso.

ear music (n.)

[1970s] (US black) improvised music.

ear-piece (n.)

[1980s] (UK black) an ear.

ear sex (n.)

[1980s+] (US) an instance of sexually stimulating talk on the phone.

earwag (v.)

[1980s] (N.Z.) to gossip.

In phrases

bend someone’s ear (v.) (orig. US)

1. [1930s+] (also bend someone’s lughole) to chatter on interminably and prob. tediously; thus have one’s ear bent, to be on the receiving end of such chatter; earbender, a chatterer.

2. [1950s] to speak privately, to whisper.

bite someone’s ear (v.) [mid-19C+]

1. to nag, to importune.

2. to borrow money.

blow down someone’s ear (v.) (also blow down someone’s earhole, blow in someone’s ear)

[1930s+] to whisper, esp. to whisper information (accurate or otherwise) that is intended to persuade the hearer to do what one wishes.

ding it in one’s ears (v.)

see under ding v.1

do on one’s ear (v.)

[1940s+] (Aus.) to accomplish something easily.

ear between the legs (n.) [resemblance]

[19C] the labia minora.

ear of corn (n.)

[1910s–30s] (US) a country person.

from ears to crupper (adv.) [horse imagery]

[1900s] (Aus.) to the fullest extent.

get in someone’s ear (v.)

[1970s] (Aus.) to ask questions.

get one’s ears back (v.)

[1930s] (US) to get excited.

get on one’s ear (v.)

[1910s–30s] (US) to shout, to talk loudly and effusively; thus excl. get off my ear! leave me alone!

get (up) on one’s ear (v.) (also go off on one’s ear, spin round on one’s ear)

[late 19C+] (US) to lose one’s temper, to become violently angry, to get embarrassed.

have ears (v.)

[1940s+] (orig. US black) to listen; to be aware.

knock the ears off (v.) (also beat someone’s ears down/off)

[1930s] (US) to beat up comprehensively.

live in someone’s ear (v.)

[20C+] (Irish) to live on very intimate terms.

on one’s ear (also upon one’s ear)

1. [late 19C+] (US campus) in a state of offended dignity, angry.

2. [late 19C+] (orig. US, also on one’s neck) in disgrace.

3. [1900s–40s] (Aus.) drunk.

4. [1920s+] (US, also on one ear) easily, with little effort; usu. in phr. do something on one’s ear [var. on do something standing on one’s head under stand v.2 ].

on one’s (pink) ear

[1910s–30s] (Aus.) down and out, homeless.

pin back one’s ears (v.)

1. [1920s+] to shock, to surprise.

2. [1950s+] to give one’s full attention; esp. as pin your ears back!

pin someone’s ears back (v.)

[1940s+] (orig. US) to defeat, to punish verbally or physically, to reprimand.

pull down someone’s ear (v.)

[late 19C–1920s] to extract money from someone.

pull in one’s ears (v.) [var. on SE phr. pull in one’s horns]

[1910s+] (US) to act cautiously, to minimize one’s aggression; to mind one’s business.

put one’s ears out (v.)

[1990s+] to listen for news, to gather information.

put on someone’s ear (v.) [the victim is knocked down, ‘on their ear’]

[late 19C–1900s] to set on, to attack.

rubber-ear (v.)

[2000s] to ignore.

stand someone on their ear (v.)

[1920s+] to amaze, to overwhelm.

take it in the ear (v.)

[1960s+] (US campus) to be severely criticized, to be treated unfairly.

talk someone’s ear off (v.) (also talk someone’s earblocks off)

[1930s+] (orig. US) to talk incessantly at someone.

…to the ears

[1950s] an intensifying phr., usu. referring to drunkenness or drug intoxication.

with ears (adv.) [the creation of fig. ‘noise’]

[1970s+] (US) to an extreme and insufferable degree.

In exclamations