Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dead meat n.

[lit. or fig. uses of SE]

1. someone who is facing certain death; also in fig. use.

[US]H.L. Williams Joaquin 44: ‘Drop your belts on the ground, or you’re dead meat!’ roared Garcia.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ ‘I Didn’t See a Thing’ in Tell Them Nothing (1956) 135: If that Mr. Quiet catches us we’re dead meat.
[US]M. Puzo Godfather 94: Sollozzo is dead meat.
[US]S. King It (1987) 227: If a car had been coming he would have been dead meat.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 14: He was dead meat and he had to know it. It was very strange that he wasn’t hit immediately.
[US]T. Dorsey Triggerfish Twist (2002) You and that scrawny kid of yours – dead meat!

2. a corpse.

[US]L.A. Dly Herald 22 Nov. 7/2: [He] wished he had once more his youthful vigor, and his once trusty sword that he might make dead meat of the obnoxious Teuton.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 22 July 1/5: Some Chinese in Maoriland wanted to convey a countryman’s corpse some distance by rail. [...] In vain the Chinkies wanted their dead meat taken along at ordinary luggage rates.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Jan. 32/2: [T]he first of ’em as scratches his nose ’ll be dead meat. March, you gallows-birds, march!
[US]Nebraska Advertiser 5 July 4/2: [I] ended by playfully promising to make dead meat of the first one that should spring another accident on Hays.
[UK]Lincs. Chron. 27 Sept. 3/4: The fourth man remained on guard [...] levelling his revolver at them and threatening to make ‘dead meat’ of them.
[US]Cameron Co. Press (Emporium, PA) 24 Dec. 6/3: If he were in too great a haste to make [...] ‘dead meat’ of me, he would have no other opportunity of obtaining the information.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 295/1: from ca. 1860.
[Aus]‘Fuck Air Board’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 25: And the reason they gave for his being dead meat, / Was that he had fuck all but baked beans to eat.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]T. Philbin Under Cover 51: Once they found out, you could be dead meat.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 145: Dead meat if they got me.

3. a prostitute, esp. an older woman.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 295/1: late C.19–20.
[US]Maledicta IX 148: The compilers ought to have looked farther afield and found: […] dead meat (as opposed to fresh meat).

4. a horse that has no chance of winning a race; thus dead meat market / shop, a race in which the bulk of contestants are thus characterized.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Dec. 20/2: I told him your brother dared not whisper [the name] even in his sleep, until the stable-money was on, for fear of spoiling the market. / ‘Ah, yes, the dead-meat market,’ said Joe, and he went off into another fit of laughter.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 20 Feb. 1/4: These are what we calls the dead ’uns, / What are put in dead meat shops / Where the public goes to back ’em, / And the bookie always cops.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 2 Mar. 4/1: It has long been an open secret that these fleecing fielders live on the ‘dead meat’ supplied by some of their thieving pals where with to plunder the public.

5. (Aus.) in attrib. use of sense 4.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 20 Feb. 1/4: All the ’tectives they are game ’uns, / But a quidsy does a lot, / So they watch the dead-meat bookie, / And are never on the spot.

6. the flaccid penis.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.

7. a stupid, dull person.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 82: He’s dead meat with you thereafter.

In compounds

dead-meat ticket (n.) (also meat ticket) [SE ticket; orig. milit. use, such tags identified the corpses of otherwise anonymous soldiers]

(Aus./N.Z.) an identity tag.

[NZ]E. Miller Camps, Tramps and Trenches (1939) 15: Our Dead Meat Tickets (identity discs) were issued [DNZE].
[Aus]Aussie (France) VIII Oct. 5/1: [cartoon caption] Two kinds of meat ticket. / Waiter: ‘Have you got your meat ticket, sir?’ / Leave-making Digger: ‘Well – yes – but I didn’t know that you had to be identified round these ridges?’.
[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 58: He is absolutely naked except for his identification disc. ‘Nothing on a but a dead meat ticket.’.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. of Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: dead meat ticket. [Ibid.] meat ticket. Identity discs worn by all troops to enable identification by burial parties in the event of their death.
[UK]Able Seaman ELC ‘Jess – A Dhobying Machine’ in H.M.A.S. n.p.: Should we be scuppered, she has her midships stowed full of cork, and with her dead meat ticket lashed to her legs she’ll take her chance with the rest of the mob.
[UK](con. 1941) R. Beilby No Medals for Aphrodite 42: Discoloured ‘dead-meat-tickets’ swinging from a greasy cord round his neck.
[NZ](con. WWII) McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 72/2: meat tickets identity discs worn on neck and wrist, WWII.
‘Australian Dict.’ at Joyzine [Internet] dead meat ticket – an identity disc.