Green’s Dictionary of Slang

coal n.1

1. a derog. term for a black person, esp. dark-skinned and/or a woman; also attrib.

[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1004: Who, me? Man, I don’t deal in no coal. Know what I tell ’em? If they’s white, they’s right! If they’s yellow, they’s mellow! If they’s brown they can stick around. But if they come black they better git way back!
[US](con. 1952) R. Kahn Boys of Summer 106: ‘Say, you guys goin’ out to see the coal? [...] The coal is taking over. [...] We got to stop these cannibals ‘fore they eat us. Gonna be a lotta cannibals out today, see that nigger [Jackie] Robinson’ .
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: [...] coal [fem.].
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 327: Cops call it the ‘Coal Chute.’ It’s a jungle-bunny juggernaut.

2. (US) the lit end or glowing ash of a cigarette.

[US]B. Gutcheon New Girls (1982) 191: Oh, God, the coal’s gone from the end of your cigarette. Where is it? I think your pants are on fire.

In compounds

Coal Bag Avenue (n.)

(US) Humboldt Avenue in the African-American area of Roxbury, a suburb of Boston, MA.

Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) 18 May 15/1: Did you high-brows know that Humboldt Avenue haas been tagged ‘Coal Bag Avenue’?
coal bin (n.)

(US black) a derog. term describing a dark-complexioned black person.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 30: Expressions like coal bin, black bird, midnight [...] are used both playfully and pointedly to characterize extreme blackness.
coal burner (n.)

a white man or woman who enjoys sexual relations with a black man or woman.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 201: coalburner, n. – a homosexual who prefers Blacks.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 147: From them she might pick up and more to startle than identify with her sisters use words and expressions such as [...] coal burner (a white who has relations with a dinge, or black).
coal mine (n.)

(US black) a derog. term for a dark-complexioned black person.

[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 209: He leaned forward and chucked Delilah under the chin. ‘Wasn’t it, my little coal mine?’ he asked.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 30: In Chicago, they be callin’ me ‘coal mine’ [...] when I’z comin’ up, ’cause I was dark.
coal-scuttle blonde (n.)

(US) a black woman with a blonde wig.

[[US]Rich Hill Trib. (MO) 24 Nov. 7/3: A Hartville paper calls women with hair ‘coal scuttle blondes’].
[US]N.E. Eliason ‘Some Negro Terms’ in AS XIII:2 151/1: coal-scuttle blonde: a dark Negro girl.
[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1003: She was one of them coal-scuttle blondes with hair just as close to her head as ninety-nine is to a hundred.
coal-scuttler (n.)

(US) a derog. term for a black person.

[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley’s Opinions 102: First they was Hobson. He kissed a girl an’ ivrybody says: ‘Hang him. Kill th’ coal-scuttler.’.
coal-shutes (n.) [note US Navy coal-chute, a dirty hammock]

(US) a very dark-complexioned black person.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: [...] coal-shutes-blackie.

In phrases

burn coal (v.)

of a white person, to have sex with a black person.

[US]C. Himes ‘The Something in a Colored Man’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 406: When I left you I was through burning coal.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 121: Ain’t gonna get none either. She don’t burn no coal.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 199: burn coal, v. – to have sexual relations with a Black.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 155: Antoine, my contract says no nigras. I dont . . . burn . . . coal.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 58: Burning Coal A sexual relationship between a white and black man.
deal in coal (v.)

1. (US black) to prefer dark-skinned women.

[US]N.E. Eliason ‘Some Negro Terms’ in AS XIII:2 151/1: deal in coal: associate with one of a darker hue.

2. (US) of a white man, to have sex with a black woman.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 143/2: deal in coal To mix with Negroes; said of whites.
load of coal (n.)

a gathering of black people.

[US]I.L. Allen Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: load-of-coal [used for any gathering of blacks].

SE in slang uses

In compounds

coal bin (n.)

(US black) the vagina.

[US]Bob Howe & Frankie Griggs ‘The Hottest Stuff in Town’ 🎵 I’ll take your order / and fill your bin, / Go get it cleaned out / And I’ll put it right in, / Cause I’m a coal man / Sellin’ the hottest stuff in town!
coal-box (n.) [? the noise of a coal-box being shaken]

1. the chorus (of a song); cit. 1774 may refer to the carried violin.

[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Tony Lumpkin in Town (1780) 20: Enter Tim with a violin Here’s the coal-box.
M. Lemon Up and Down London Streets n.p.: The slang word for coal box, if we might mention anything so ungenteel [F&H].
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 408: He should not be at a loss for a good coal-box.
[UK]Navy at Home II 279: After which, he gave them a song or two, calling out at every verse for ‘coal box,’ or chorus.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 May 3/3: There is an old song, very popular at Bacchanalian parties, with a ‘coal-box’ at the end of each verse, thrice repealed, viz:-‘Oh! the joys of wedlock’,- ditto-ditto.
[US] ‘The Musical Party’ in My Young Wife and I Songster 67: He said ‘he would give us a comical ditty, / If we’d join in the coal-box,’ that was his slang.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 280: A cruel shame, for nobody joined in the coalbox afterwards.
[UK]Essex Newsman 27 Aug. 1/7: Garn [...] That ’ere be joining in the coal-box.
[Aus]Pete’s Aussie Sl. Home Page 🌐 coalbox: the chorus (of a song).

2. a music-hall.

[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 715: I hate those ruck of Mary Ann coalboxes out for the day.
coal-hole (n.)

(US Und.) a cell in which drunks are imprisoned.

[Aus]N.-Y. National Advocate 22 Aug. 2/2: A strapping negro [is noisy in court]. The magistrate ordered him to be locked in the coal hole until he was quiet.
[US]Morning Courier and N.-Y. Enquirer 18 Nov. 2/5: The midnight brawlers, [...] well acquainted with all the disgusting recesses of the ‘Coal Hole’.
coal-pot (n.)

(US black) a pipe.

[US]Z.N. Hurston ‘Story in Harlem Sl.’ in Novels and Stories (1995) 1001: Wait till I light up my coal-pot and I’ll tell you about this Zigaboo called Jelly.
coal-scuttle (n.) [its chief characteristic was the sides, which projected well beyond those of the face; fashionable c.1850]

1. (UK Und.) the punishment cell.

[UK]J. Greenwood Low-Life Deeps 254: You come to see me that evenin’ when I was in the coal-scuttle.

2. (also coal-scuttle bonnet) a poke bonnet, which it supposedly resembled.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 10: Coal-scuttle – a large bonnet.
[UK]Dickens Nicholas Nickleby (1982) 309: That young lady herself, attired in the coal-scuttle bonnet and walking-dress complete, tripped into the room.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Surtees Plain or Ringlets? (1926) 20: [T]he saucy little hat, so different to the coal-scuttle bonnets of former days.
[US]Polynesian (HI) 16 May 5/3: Her mother’s coal-scuttle bonnet.
J.E. Cooke Mohun 17: Beside him sat an old woman, as fat as himself, wearing a faded calico gown, a ‘coal-scuttle’ bonnet, and a huge ruffled cap beneath.
[UK]Judy XXII 271: The coal-scuttle bonnet is of all others the most provoking and prettiest.
E.G. Perry Trip Around Cape Cod 171: A ‘coal-scuttle bonnet’, of yellow straw, adorned only with black, velvet strings, and noticeable for its great size.
[UK]Sporting Times 23 May 1/2: The ‘coal-scuttle’ bonnet is the latest feminine fashion for motoring; but surely the ‘petrol can’ would be more suitable.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 1 Sept. 12/5: Her prim little gold curls bobbed from under a huge, coal scuttle bonnet of satin, baby blue.
small-coal man (n.) [both wear black clothes]

a clergyman.

[UK]Proceedings at Sessions (City of London) Feb. 90/2: beck.: Boys, says he, Here’s a Smallcoal-man; let us stop him, for they wear the best of hats. court: A Smallcoal-man, what did he mean by that? beck.: A Parson. We always call a Parson a Smallcoal-man because their Dresses are pretty much alike.