Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pumpkin n.

also punkin

1. as a person.

(a) a fool, a rustic.

[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 41: Come shake your dull noddles, ye pumpkins, and bawl.
[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 52: Then we will make you poor pumkins to sweat.
[US]Mass. Convention (1856) 303: If a southern man heard it, he would call us pumpkins [DA].
[UK]D. Humphreys Yankey in England 55: Massiful man! You pumkin! You bumpkin!
[UK]J. Galt Lawrie Todd I Pt II 90: I ain’t a pumpkin, the Squire knows that.
[US]L. Oliphant Minnesota and the Far West 271: It’s clar to me [...] that you’ve been residing among the Punkins in the Yankee States, and have not been long enough in our country to comprehend the gen-i-us of our institutions .
[US]S.V. Benét John Brown’s Body (1928) 73: Seward and Chase’ll do for my pair of pumpkins .
[US]R. De Christoforo Grease 154: She’s a real pumpkin.
[US]LaBarge & Holt Sweetwater Gunslinger 201 (1990) 83: What a pumpkin! Sundance thought. She looks like she just walked in off the farm.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 23: Pumpkin: Stupid; dumb.

(b) (also pompkin, pumpkin head) a native of Boston, Massachusetts [the popularity of the pumpkin as a crop and a foodstuff; an alternative ety. suggests the use of a hollowed-out pumpkin as a form of template for Puritan haircuts].

[US]S. Peters Hist. of Connecticut 195: Newhaven is celebrated for having given the name of pumpkin-heads to all the New-Englanders. It originated from the Blue Laws, which enjoin every male to have his hair cut round by a cap. When caps were not to be had, they substituted the hard shell of a pumpkin.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Pompkin. A man or woman of Boston in America: from, the number of pompkins raised and eaten by the people of that country.
[US]NYG&GA 16 Feb. 3/1: The Yankee is to be rowed by four pumpkin lads, and is, as yet, the favorite.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[US]J.T. Adams Album of Amer. Hist. I 120: A pumpkin shell was placed over the head and the hair was trimmed around the rim of the shell. From this custom came the name ‘pumpkin head’ [DA].

(c) (US) an important person or object, usu. in pl.

[US]J.G. Holland Miss Gilbert’s Career (1870) 238: He’s punkins, ain’t he?
[US]‘Artemus Ward’ Artemus Ward, His Book 228: Alexander the Grate was punkins, I continnered, but Napoleon was punkinser!
[US]T. Hall Tales 14: The other two are troops of the Eleventh that think themselves particular pumpkins [DA].
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 105: ‘Life ain’t no punkins without whiskey an’ sweetenin’,’ was Shorty’s greeting.
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 64: He asked the Great Pumpkin for a new battle plan.

(d) a term of affectionate address, usu. by a man to a woman.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 53: pumpkin, n. A student’s best girl.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Human Touch 277: Tell your men, my dear old Pumpkin, to get into that trench, to stay there, and if necessary to die there.
[UK] in Campbell & Campbell War Paint 70: [aircraft nose art] ‘Punkin II’.
[US]J. Yount Trapper’s Last Shot (1974) 109: Why don’cha put little punkin here to bed?
[US]C. Hiaasen Tourist Season (1987) 205: ‘Pumpkin!’ Reed Shivers called. ‘Come here!’.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 32: I wanted to come alone, pun-kin, but we got ourselves a slight problem.
[US]S. King Gerald’s Game (1993) 228: That’s a big responsibility for a little girl, Punkin.
[US]D. Clowes Ghost World 68: You really should think about this, pumpkin.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 198: Sorry, pumpkin.
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 118: You’re right, punkin.
[US] N. Flexner Disassembled Man [ebook] ‘How you doin’, pumpkin pie?’ I asked, bending down to give her a loving peck on the forehead .

2. in senses of the shape.

(a) (also punkin-piece) the head.

[UK]J. Labern ‘Paddy McShane’ Comic Songs 25: I hit the chief, the blackguard thief, / And made his Pumpkin rattle.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 Apr. 3/3: I’ll knock his pumpkin head off.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Jan. 3/4: The fellow wore a dirty old Californian kiver on his pumpkin.
[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 33: I overthrow’d him down in de pumkin-piece.
[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘Triangles of Life’ in Roderick (1972) 624: Passing his hand nervously over his ‘pumpkin’.
[US]H.E. Rollins ‘A West Texas Word List’ in DN IV:iii 228: punkin, n. Pumpkin is never used. Often facetious for head.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 98: This time she shook the pumpkin.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 166/2: Pumpkin. (Pronounced ‘punkin’) The head.
[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 26: The effusion of gore from Mr. O’Malley’s punctured pumpkin.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 343: ninety-nine cents in the dollar; no bean in the pod; nobody home; no seeds in the pumpkin.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 259: Doesn’t it steam your pumpkin that Archie [...] would be alive if Speaker had given up the ice.

(b) (US black) the sun, the moon.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

(c) a breast, usu. in pl.

[UK]G. Kersh Fowlers End (2001) 251: A blonde wiv a pair pumpkins on ’er waved ’er hand at me.

(d) (W.I.) a pregnant stomach; a foetus.

[UK]N. Farki Countryman Karl Black 165: Because Doreen was carrying the ‘pumpkin’, they had to walk slowly up the track.

In derivatives

In compounds

pumpkin head/-headed

see separate entries.

pumpkin pie (n.)

(US gay) an underage boy; thus pumpkin-eater, an older man who prefers sex with such boys.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 45: any boy under the age of consent [...] pumpkin pie (mid-’60s) [...] piece of hot pumpkin pie (a boy who gets cornholed); piece of pumpkin pie a la mode (a boy who gets blown) [...] elderly man with a voracious appetite for young roosters [...] pumpkin eater (kwn LV, mid ’60s).
pumpkin-roller (n.) (also pumpkin husker, pumpkin squatter, punkin-roller)

(US) a rustic, a farmer.

[US]Belmont Chron. (St Clairsville, OH) 18 June 2/6: A number of the ‘toughs’ [...] stationed themselves at the post-office corner [...] to ridicule a couple of ‘pumpkin-rollers’.
Red Cloud Chief (NE) 20 Dec. 5/2: The pumpkin husker of the Democrat is certainly a tussock.
[US]L.A. Dly Herald 2 Oct. 5/1: John Brooker of Artesia, who said he was a plain pumpkin roller.
[US]Caldwell Trib. (ID) 1 July 6/3: Now if any pumpkin-husker can beat the [...] agricultural editor on diversified lying, we want him to trot around.
[US]Mohave Co. Miner (AZ) 24 Aug. 2/1: A pumpkin roller on the Graham Guardian criticizes the mechanical makeup of the Miner.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 Aug. 15/1: Bananaland’s climate must be conducive to the production of large families. The selector and pumpkin-squatter have mostly enormous families.
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:i 91: punkin-roller, n. Uncouth countryman. ‘He’s a punkin-roller – a regular hill-billy.’.
[US]Bryan Dly Eagle (TX) 7 Dec. 3/2: ‘The Pumpkin Husker,’ a rural comedy.
[US]Graham Guardian (Safford, AZ) 11 July 1/5: The summer rains [...] are making the stockmen and pumpkin rollers smile.
[US]St Charles Herald (Hahnville, LA) 20 Nov. 4/5: [The] eyes of the innocent pumpkin husker.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin 20 June 38/5: I secured a job with a pumpkin squatter.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl. §391.3: rustic, bumpkin, pumpkin or punkin roller.
[US]H.B. Allen ‘Pejorative Terms for Midwest Farmers’ in AS XXXIII:4 265: [...] pumpkin husker.
[US]Boy’s Life Bk Horse Stories 170: ‘Now who hired a pumpkin-roller like you?’ Anger flared in Kerry. ‘Don't call me a pumpkin-roller’.
[US] in DARE.
pumpkin-seed (adj.) (also pumpkin-skin)

(US black) of black skin, light-coloured.

[US](con. late 19C) A. Gonzales Black Border 69: De debble! Punkin skin nigguh fuh beat black nigguh en black nigguh ent fuh beat ’um back, enty?
[US]Van Vechten Nigger Heaven 244: Who’s that punkin-seed sheik in the corner?

In phrases

some pumpkins (n.) (also much punkins, some punkins (on the vine), some punks) [some adj. (1)]

(US) anything or anyone of importance.

[US]E. Leslie Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book 319: Much of it is a great annoyance to the victimized gentlemen - especially to those who, as a backwoodsman would say, are certainly ‘some pumpkins’.
[US]W.T. Porter Quarter Race in Kentucky and Other Sketches 118: One of them thinks he’s got a scrub that’s ‘some pumpkins’.
[US]C. Lanman Letters from the Alleghany Mountains (1849) 128: The contest consisted in their efforts to excel each other in complimenting their friend, and the climax of the argument seemed to be that Mr. Clingman was not ‘some pumpkins’ but ‘Pumpkins’ [DA].
[US]Jeffersonian Repub. (Stroudsburg, PA) 2 Mar. 1/4: ‘Have you a captain at the head of your company?’ [...] ‘Well, we hev, boss, and he’s some punkins too’.
[US]W.K. Northall Life and Recollections of Yankee Hill 187: You see, Mr. Hill, I’m a kind of strange among these folks here, but at home I am ‘some pumpkins’.
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. by Gas-Light (1990) 176: A light pink contrasting with a deep blue [...] are among the startling contrasts which Lize considers ‘some pumpkins’.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 30 Apr. 4/6: [A] glossary is sometimes necessary to enable English readers to comprehend [...] American journals ! What, for example, is the meaning of ‘dod-derned’ and ‘dog-gone,’ of [...] ‘some pumpkins’?
[US]R.H. Newell Orpheus C. Kerr I 79: It’s my opine that you’re sticking rather too thick to the rear of that house to be much punkins in a muss.
[UK]G.A. Sala My Diary in America I 366: A ‘boss sign-painter’ is ‘some punkins’.
[US]Eve. Teleg. (Phila., PA) 1 June 6/2: We were regaled by an address by D. Rod Kneeking, Esq., S.P. (some punkins).
[US]P.T. Barnum Struggles and Triumphs 569: You had better not wager too much on your fast horse, for you know mine is some pumpkins [DA].
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 525: Bostonians [...] are said to have derived, from their attachment to this vegetable, and the esteem in which it is universally held among them, the phrase ’some pumpkins’, expressive of high appreciation [...] It is stated, however, by one high in authority among New Englanders, that this explanation of the term is not the true one, although the latter cannot well be stated, because it would offend ears polite .
[US]Hartford Herald (KY) 3 Oct. 6/1: Miss Parker is some ‘punkins’ and can teach you nobby pieces.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Jan. 4/4: There are some visionaries in Sydney who imagine they are ‘sum pumpkins’ at the typographical art, but we feel […] that we must all bow out heads in humility before such a really unprecedented triumph as the Bowen Almanac.
[US]Iola Register (KS) 25 Dec. 6/2: The widder were quite some punkins in society at the Holler.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 27 Oct. 3: They would imagine he was some pumpkins amongst the political high-cock-a-lorum’s of Carrollton.
[Aus]Williamstown Chron. (Vic. 17 July 3: Sub-inspector Cawsey [...] was, as he styled himself, ‘some pumpkins’.
Marietta Dly Leadcr (OH) 1 Nov. 3/2: ‘Some Punkins’ [...] a very exciting pumpkin story.
[US]Iron Co. Register (MO) 1 Dec. 4/1: We think ourselves some punkins on the vine.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Dec. 27/1: He was the Maori king, you know – some pumpkins, I can tell you – and went to England to see Queen Wikitoria about some land trouble.
[US]A. Adams ‘In the Hands of His Friends’ in Cattle Brands [Internet] I was some punkins as a ladies’ man myself – you hear me.
[US]‘O. Henry’ Roads of Destiny 210: He was some pumpkin both in politics and colour.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Poet and the Peasant’ in Strictly Business (1915) 75: I thought Poughkeepsie was some punkins; but this here town is five times as big.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 380: Say, friend, you’re some punkins at a hundred yards dash, ain’t you?
[US]L. Pound ‘Word-List From Nebraska’ in DN IV:iv 281: some punks [...] A person thinking well of himself. ‘She thinks she is some punks.’.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 164: I guess Mart does think he’s some punkins.
[US](con. WWI) H.F. Cruikshank ‘So This Is Flanders!’ Battle Stories July [Internet] He’s some big pum-kins, an’ we got him all wrong.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 199: The little stranger who had gone to college and who was to have been some pumpkins.
[UK] in Campbell & Campbell War Paint 105: [aircraft nose art] Some Punkins.
[US]N.Y. Times 12 Oct. v 2/6: Hornsby also thinks Hornsby was some pumpkins as a hitter [DA].
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 302: She thought I was some punkins.
[US]E. Thompson Caldo Largo (1980) 5: I laughed and put my arms around her. ‘I think you are some punkins.’.
think pumpkins of oneself (v.) [i.e. a fig. ref. to the size of the vegetable]

to admire oneself.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1221: late C.19–early 20.