Green’s Dictionary of Slang

leg n.

1. someone who is to be transported [leg v.1 (2)].

[UK] ‘Six Years in Prisons of England’ Temple Bar Mag. Mar. 543: In those days the ‘legs’ went on board ship at once.

2. a member of a gypsy gang.

[UK]B.M. Carew Gypsey of the Glen I iii: Well done, legs! Stay here, my lads, and let us breath awhile.

3. usu. a cheating racehorse or cards gambler (see cite 1831 for use of stockbrokers); thus leg(g)ism, the characteristics of such a gambler.

[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. XVII 38/2: Mr. Howard, Old-street, was a forestaller of legs.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 63: [heading] young pigeon, and stilish leg.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 68: So far as leg-ism (cheating) goes, they have as many tricks at the one as at the other place.
[UK]History of Gaming Houses & Gamesters 11: [A] promise [...] regarding the deceased Duke’s great knowledge of legism.
[UK]Egan Recollections of J. Thurtell 34: Among the Legs, he was picked up as a good flat.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 271: The mark for every Leg and Greek, / Who play the concave suit [note] Cards cut in a peculiar manner, to enable the Leg to fleece his Pigeon securely.
[UK]‘A Flat Enlightened’ Life in the West I 47: [A] set of [...] worthies well practised in all the secrets of leg-ism, — a science of chicanery and fraud, by which its votaries are taught the mode of enriching themselves by impoverishing others.
[UK]Satirist (London) 23 Oct. 229/3: [of stockbrokers] The legs of the Stock Exchange differ, in no principle of moral interpretation, from the heartless robbers who surround a Hazard table; the same hopes of gain and expectation of profit actuate the one as the other.
[UK]Satirist (London) 11 Nov. 367/1: [He was] an adept in every species of play-table chicanery, and [...] an expert tactician in [...] leg-ism.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 170: A constant frequenter of all races, fairs, regattas, ship-launches, bull-baits, and prize-fights, all of which he attended [...] and in more senses than one was he a leg.
Thackeray ‘Capt. Rook & Mr. Pigeon’ Works III (1898) 507: As for Tom, he is a regular leg now [...] When I met him last it was at Baden, where he was on a professional tour, with a carriage, a courier, a valet, a confederate, and a case of pistols.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London I i: There isn’t a bigger leg on the whole pavement.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Handley Cross (1854) 424: Every link in the chain of sporting life, from the coronetted peer to the broken-down leg.
[UK]Censor (London) 11 Jan. 6/1: The turf has always been the centre of legism, aristocratic and plebeian.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 394: We say ditto to that, and are not sure that we wouldn’t hang a ‘leg’ or a ‘list’ man or two into the bargain.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Oct. 116/2: My master had most ungenerously accused him of cheating, and the Captain had as usual proved his honesty by showing his courage, entirely to the satisfaction of his brother Legs.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 58: LEGS [...] disreputable sporting characters, and racecourse habitués.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 449/2: Now and then a regular ‘leg,’ when he’s travelling to Chester, York, or Doncaster, to the races, may draw other passengers into play.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier (Qld) 30 Oct. 3/4: [K]nowing-looking men, with red faces and book in hand, whose imperative demand as to ‘what you fancy for the next event’ is only equalled by their audaciously offering to give or take any odds on anything; or, on refusing these overtures, to be abused in the most fashionable slang by a moiety of the legs.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]‘Thormanby’ Famous Racing Men 13: That objectionable set of men yclept by our grandfathers ‘Legs’, whom an old turf writer describes as ‘the most unprincipled and abandoned set of thieves and harpies, who ever disgraced civilised society’.
[UK]A. Griffiths Fast and Loose (1900) II 301: ‘You cheated me on the train! You thought I was a greenhorn!’ ‘And we find you a Greek — a regular leg.’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

4. a bookmaker or professional layer of odds, e.g. in faro [abbr. blackleg n.1 ].

[UK]Egan Life in London in Bk of Sports (1832) 179: A bet stands as good with a leg, and is thought as much of, as with a Peer.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 170: The pulpit hero [...] bets his £50 or £100 with all the sang froid of a leg.
[UK]W.A. Miles Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 72: It is at these races that the first annual ‘gathering’ takes place of the characters, from ‘legs’ (as the betting men are called) to the ‘thimble riggers’.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville General Bounce (1891) 192: The social contradiction by which the peer reconciles his familiarity with the Leg.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 50: He was the first professional sport, gambler, leg or black-leg, all of which terms are synonymous, of whose acquaintance I had the honor.
[UK] (ref. to 1820) ‘Thormanby’ Famous Racing Men 75: He [John Gully] worked on gradually as a layer of odds – a ‘bettor round,’ or leg, as he was called in those days.
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Jan. 1/5: Explain the following terms: — ‘Leg,’ ‘Mug,’ ‘Sharp,’ ‘Dead’un,’ ‘He stands on velvet,’ and ‘The Aristocratic Tout’.

5. the act of running away, escaping.

[UK] ‘Smith’s Frolic’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 61: He tipt me the office to give him a leg.

6. a round or rubber of a card-game; thus leg-and-leg, a situation in which each player in the game has won a leg.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues IV 174/1: Leg [...] (cards). – A ‘chalk’ or point scored in a game.

7. by metonymy, one who uses their legs.

(a) a footman.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 167/1: Leg (Fast Society, 1860) Footman – from the display of the lower limbs.

(b) (US) an infantryman.

J.A. Williams Capt. Blackman 14: He’d told them time and again, these legs with their mushrooming Afros and off-duty dashikis, that they were not the first black soldiers to do what they were doing.
[US]T. O’Brien Going After Cacciato (1980) 149: You guys are legs, I guess. Grunts.
[US] (ref. to 1961–75) G.R. Clark Words of the Vietnam War 277/2: Legs (Leg unit, Straight-Legged Division) Airborne trooper slang for a regular infantryman.

(c) (US) an errand boy.

[US]L.A. Times 19 July II 1: The swarms of teenaged boys and girls (called ‘legs,’ not ‘gofers’ at JPL) who run errands [HDAS].

8. (Aus. / Irish) influence; thus have a good/great leg of someone, to have influence with, to be ‘well in’ with them.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 27 Oct. 1/1: The presence of a man of the world on the bench is a safeguard to citizens [...] hell and chaos would prevail if local bobbydom had unlimited leg.
[Aus]Uralia Times (NSW) 29 Sept. 2/3: Harry Bennett has a great leg in for the White Horse whisky cup, his first round being 64.
[Ire]H. Leonard A Life (1981) Act I: Jeer away: no one minds you. I have a great leg of St. Jude.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 118: There was a national petrol strike on at the time [...] undaunted, the local priests possessed what they called ‘a great leg’ of the local undertaker and had us conveyed the sixteen miles from town by hearse.

9. (US) in sexual contexts [metonymic + poss. euph. dirty leg under dirty adj.].

(a) a promiscuous woman.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 62: leg n Promiscuous female, one who readily engages in sexual intercourse.
[US]B. Wiprud Sleep with the Fishes 125: She knew he did dirty with other legs.

(b) (US black/campus) a woman.

[US] in Current Sl. IV:3–4 (1970).
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 34: He would rap to the girl I paid least attention to. ‘Nuthin’ but some leg,’ he would say.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 236: Apeman is [...] getting him a piece of leg.

(c) female sexuality.

[UK]J. Barlow Burden of Proof 134: Just a bit of a leg show, that sort of nonsense.

(d) sexual intercourse; usu. as get some leg

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).

Pertaining to women and sexual intercourse

In derivatives

leggy (adj.)

pertaining to the display of the female leg, i.e. in show business.

[UK]Reynolds’s Newspaper 26 June 2/6: The Fandango being one of those theatres where ‘leggy’ pieces prevail.

In compounds

leg art (n.) (also leg picture)

actual views or pictures (and films) of women revealing their legs.

Eve. News (Harrisburg, PA) 29 Aug. 14/3: Mack Sennett, who made enough money producing leg pictures to stop making them when silly censors began to proclaim that a leg in motion pictures was [...] insidious.
[US]Akron Beacon Jrnl (OH) 24 Aug. 4/3: Once there was a news editor who said, ‘We’ll ditch that page one leg art and sub this photo of the new Hoover commission’.
[US]Life 29 Aug. 38: ‘Leg art’ is the technical name for this kind of publicity picture, showing Marie in a bathing suit atop a studio prop.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 21 Mar. [synd. col.] No movie actress is ordered to report for ‘leg pictures’ . . . Her dignity wouldn’t permit it.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 79: I might miss a few unimportant jobs. And a lot of leg art.
[US]E. Wilson 4 Feb. [synd. col.] She’s the first Miss America who’s had the good sense to say no to all the demand for leg pictures.
[US]Life 26 Nov. 142: Against the classic leg art backgrounds, models posed nylon-clad legs for press photographers.
[US]Lacey & Morgan [bk title] Leg art: celebrating a century of love and devotion to the photogenic wonders of the prettiest girls with the prettiest legs in the most glamorous profession of ’em all, show business.
G. & W. Brame Different Loving 366: Elmer Batters, who originated a lot of the 1950s leg-art magazines, is in his 70s, and he has spent all of his life exploring foot and leg fetishism.
leg business (n.)

1. sexual intercourse.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]‘Justinian’ Americana Sexualis 28: Leg business, n. Sexual intercourse [...] C.19–20, obsolescent in U.S.

2. (US) the ballet.

A.E. Edwards Ought We to Visit Her III 11: She was, says Adonis, glancing out from the corners of his cynical old eyes, in the Leg Business, your Grace.

3. (US) any form of entertainment where the focus is on the women’s legs.

[UK]Sportsman 15 Jan. 2/1: Notes on News [...] [T]he entertainment of course pays, as do tho stupidest burlesques here, if helped out by plenty of ‘leg’ business.
O. Logan Apropos of Women & Theatres 126: What the Tribune calls the Dirty Drama, the World the Nude Drama, the Times the Leg Drama [...] I call the Leg Business.
O. Logan Before the footlights and behind the scenes 583: The ‘leg business’ [...] means the displaying in public, by women, of their persons , clad in close-fitting flesh-colored silk ‘tights’, and as little else as the law will permit.
[US]J.D. McCabe Lights and Shadows of N.Y. Life 153: They patronize the drama liberally, but their preference is for what Olive Logan calls the ‘leg business’.
leg drama (n.)

any form of show, whether a musical or full-scale striptease, in which the focus is on a woman’s legs.

Dly Union Vedette (Camp Douglas, UT) 2 Dec. 2/3: The leg drama [...] refires the sexegenarian heart and make[s] opera glasses rise to the highest premiums.
[US]Chicago Trib. 8 Dec. n.p.: The history of the leg-drama, so well known under the title of The Black Crook [DA].
[US]A.T. Andreas Hist. Chicago III 662/2: Whether a similarly tolerant view ought to be taken of the ‘leg drama’ [...] is not so clear.
[US]Papers of National Purity Congress 344: But the atmosphere of the theatre is by no means the most conducive to youthful morality, and most pernicious are the exhibitions known as the ‘leg’ drama.
[US]T. Floyd-Jones Backward Glances 61: The precursors of the leg drama, which was tame in comparison with the scantly clad drama of the present day, Buckley’s Serenaders, opened a new theatre at 587 Broadway in 1856.
leg-lifter (n.)

a promiscuous man, a womanizer; thus leg-lifting, casual sexual intercourse.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 674/2: Leg-lifter. A male fornicator: low C.18–early 20. So leg-lifting, fornication.
legover (n.)

see separate entry.

leg piece (n.)

1. any form of stage performance featuring the female leg, e.g. a burlesque show.

[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 454: What are legs? Human nature. Then let us have plenty of leg pieces, Pip, and I’ll stand by you, my buck!
[US]Brother Jonathan 23 Sept. 107/1: Diana's Revenge has been repeated every night-—not for any intrinsic merit it possesses certainly—but it is a leg piece.
[UK]Illus. Sporting & Dramatic News 11 Apr. 6/3: [I]t is as a leg-piece [...] that the burletta is expected to succeed [...] When a short-skirted female danced a kind of breakdown some applause was elicited, but the attempts at vocalisation wei'e borne in solemn silence.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 22/1: Manning commenced to read it with a grave face, and, without relaxing a muscle, waded page by page through a mass of puns and comic ballads of the ‘Cinderella’ order, which have since been worked up in many a ‘leg-piece’ for Nelly Favien at the Gaiety Theatre. Then he [...] said: ‘Mr. Burnard, I do not advise you to send this to your father.’.
E.C. Murray Side-lights on English society 399: He loves a leg-piece, and he delights in a well-acted Shakespearian tragedy.
B. Wendell Rankell’s Remains 228: ‘Have you been to the Occidental Theatre?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘Shady kind of place. They’re doing a leg- piece’.

2. the ballet.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 674/2: 1880.
leg-shaker (n.)

a dancer; a dance.

Times-Picayune (N.O.) 4 July 2/3: These distinguished dancers are ‘getting it’ right and left [...] The Philadelphia Ledger calls both of them ‘leg-shakers’.
[US]E. Dahlberg Bottom Dogs 282: Then to put the legshakers in a sentimental mood, Mr. Solomon whispered to the leader to play a score from the lite opera ‘Madame Sherry’.
[US]Hepster’s Dict. 6: Leg shaker – A dance.
leg shop (n.)

(US) a theatre devoted to burlesque, i.e. the display of women’s legs.

[US]Carlisle Wkly Herald (PA) 23 July 2/6: [William] Niblo, the proprietor of the popular leg shop [i.e. Niblo’s Garden in NYC], has gone to Europe.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Screamers (1875) 144: They’re playing ‘Undine’ at the Opery House, and some folks call it the leg-shop.
leg show (n.)

(orig. US) any form of show, whether a musical or full-scale striptease, in which the focus is on a woman’s legs; also attrib.

[US]Plymouth Democrat (IN) 8 Oct. 1/5: She did not depend upon [...] nudity for her effects, but upon gestures, glances, and other artifices more diabolically suggestive than any mere leg show.
[US]Cambridge City Trib. 16 Nov. 3/3: It is dishonest [...] to cheat the few who paid for fifty cents worth of leg show out of one half of it. We make no complaints however. We saw as much of Miss Weber as any man with due regard for the seventh commandment could desire.
[UK]London Life 9 Aug. 5/1: [T]he usual boisterous fun and merriment, such as [...] rolling down the hills, showing the well-formed limbs of some of the fair damsels. After the leg show [etc].
[US]Newton Kansan (KS) 8 Apr. 3/3: If some of these reputed modest ones had kept their husbands and sons away from that can-can leg show at the Opera House [etc].
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 20 Oct. 4: The Amazonian Guards in their minuet drill called forth loud applause, but as leg-shows usually do, it speaks but little for the drill.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 15 Apr. 1/7: [He] went to Harry Rickard’s leg-show and attempted to describe it.
[UK]Mirror of Life 3 Mar. 2/4: [S]ome snap show manager, ever, will organise a combination of the ‘leg show’ order.
[US]N.Y. Dramatic News 7 Dec. 3/3: The entertainment was a sort of Zozo leg show, cut on a smaller pattern and called Zero [DA].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Sept. 32/1: Now this is a song for the Bald Brigade / That carries a gold-knobbed stick, / And gathers at halls of the leg-show grade / Where Totties spring forth and kick.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 9 Aug. [synd. col.] Now they advertise musical reviews as ‘Leg Shows’ in box car type.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 337: Doc wanted to see a legshow and asked the barkeep.
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 89: I am also very inclined to get steamed up with people who get me out of a swell leg show.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 28: A young matron who would look more at home in a Junior League musical than in a Broadway leg-show.
[US]N. Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather (ms.) 319: Casey said that it was in Charlotte that he first saw Miller perform, as part of a vaudeville program, which Casey described as esentially a ‘leg show’.

In phrases

get one’s leg over (v.) (also get one’s leg across)

of a man, to seduce, to have sexual intercourse.

K. Roberts Boat of Fate 115: Mostly his talk was of women; those he had laid, those he had yet, as he put it, to get his leg across.
[UK]J. Pidgeon Flame 21: Still quite a one for the birds is our Jack. He’ll be getting his leg over in the pension queue.
[UK]G. Tremlett Little Legs 52: He never, ever, got his leg over.
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 74: It’s obvious though, that he’s no gittin his leg over.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 471: Christ, I hadn’t ad me leg ova faw awlmowst two years.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 75: You’re not gunner believe this, but do you know who I got my leg across with down in London?
J. Moore Fourplay 265: She had to acknowledge she was just another mistress to just another married man who got his leg over someone else.
[UK]R. Milward Kimberly’s Capital Punishment (2023) 215: Occasionally letting them get their legs over.
get some leg (v.) (also get off some leg, get some big leg, get some soft leg)

(US black) usu. of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 26: Those broads didn’t come out there for a singsong [...] They were loaded and they wanted to get off some leg.
[US]G. Scott-Heron Vulture (1996) 17: This was a guarantee that everybody would get some leg.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 142: In fact, expressions like to get some leg/big leg and soft leg [...] generalize from the desirability of a woman’s legs to her whole body.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 146: Jody’s gonna get him some leg.
lift a leg over (v.) (also lay a leg on/upon, lay a/one’s leg over, lift a leg on/upon)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]J. Day Blind Beggar of Bednall-Green Act IV: The Blind-Beggar of Bednall-Green has the prettiest Mother to his Daughter as a man need to lay his leg over.
[UK]New Academy in Bold (1979) 33: Bonny Kate, kenny Kate, lay thy leg o’er me.
[UK] ‘Satire to Julian’ in Wilson Court Satires of the Restoration (1976) 88: For bugg’ring of a rotten door, / I’d rather famed be, / Than lay leg o’er that painted whore.
[T. Betterton] Amorous Widow 25: His Wife’s a main pretty smirking Rogue, as a Man wou’d wish to lay his Leg over.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 44: No sneaking Rebel shall lift a leg o’er me.
[UK]Delightful Adventures of Honest John Cole 19: Lay thy leg over and black ’em all.
Burns Holy Willie’s Prayer n.p.: I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg Again upon her [F&H].
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) I 163: What wench [...] / Will let thee lay a leg upon her?
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
lift one’s leg (v.) (also get one’s leg lifted)

of either sex, to have sexual intercourse.

[Scot] Burns ‘Duncan Davidson’ Merry Muses of Caledonia (1965) 144: There was a lass, they ca’d her Meg, ...] She fee’d a lad to lift her leg, / They ca’d him Duncan Davidson.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 1 Jan. 1/1: The Rev. A.G. Curtis is returning to ther scene of his concupiscient cuddles [...] the pious pervert will lift the leg ashore from R.M.S. Victoria.
make a leg (v.) [a pun on SE make a leg, to bow]

of a woman, to show one’s legs.

[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.
play at lift-leg (v.)

to have sexual intercourse.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 681/1: c.18–early 20.
throw a/one’s leg over (v.) (also clap one’s leg over, cock..., roll..., throw one’s legs across)

of a man, to seduce, to have sexual intercourse.

[Scot] ‘Miss Fraser’ Ranger’s Impartial List of the Ladies of Pleasure in Edinburgh n.p.: This is as pretty a little filly as ever man clapped leg over.
[UK] ‘The Rover’ in Holloway & Black (1975) I 236: He instantly jumpt into bed / And immediately threw his leg over.
[UK]The only True LIST, of those celebrated SPORTING LADIES [broadsheet] Dinah Q-ar-nt-ne [...] isa likely toi turn out as pleasant a Filly, as a man could wish to throw his legs across.
[UK] ‘O’Reilly’ in Bold (1979) 166: I gently laid her on the bed / And quickly cocked my left leg over.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 302: If all the young girls were like fish in the ocean, / I’d be a whale and I’d show them the motion / Chorus: / Oh, roll your leg over, oh, roll your leg over.
[Aus]J. Walker No Sunlight Singing (1966) 196: An’ as far as sheilas goes, you can throw a leg over ’em if they’ll let you.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 102: Grabbed that bitch by the tits, / Then I threw my left leg over.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 28: If you’re feeling guilty about throwing a leg over his mot, you needn’t.

Other senses

In compounds

legshake artist (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

give legs (v.)

to run away.

[UK]Daily News 15 May 7/2: The best way is to make a snatch and give legs for it; it’s better than loitering [F&H].

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

legless (adj.)

see separate entry.

In compounds

legback (n.)

(UK black) the female thigh, thus generically, a woman.

[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 20: I’ve got a pair of legbacks in my room and a few cans of Special Brew. [Ibid.] 75: Brenton, check the legback on that steak over der so.
[UK](con. 1981) A. Wheatle East of Acre Lane 22: Checked a leg-back fe de morning [...] I got my delights so I t’ought, why ’ang around? [Ibid.] 81: She ’ave nice hair an’a fit batty an a serious pair of toned leg-backs.
leg bags (n.)

1. stockings.

[US] ‘Flash Lang.’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 18: Stokings, leg-bags.
[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 291: Leg bags signifies stockings.
[UK]All Year Round 9 July 248/1: I put on a blue Jersey fisherman's shirt, a pair of long, dark, rough, grey leg-bags — I cannot call them stockings.
W. Felkin History of Machine-wrought Hosiery 447: Goods not fashioned on the frame should be by law sold under the title of ‘leg-bags’.

2. trousers.

Illuminated Mag. I 313/1: Dirty little vagabonds, dressed in very full short trowsers, or rather leg-bags of dingy red drugget.
J. Paul Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces I 76: His black leather leg-bags were in the dye- pot.
Amer. Tailor & Cutter 219/1: Give us no trouser at all in preference to this execrably dull and funeral pair of leg-bags that have neither oddity nor gorgeousness in them.
leg bail (n.) [SE bail, security given against the release of a prisoner pending their trial]

unauthorized absence; also as v.; thus give/tip leg-bail (and land security), to escape, to run off; leg-bail and land security, a runaway.

[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (4th edn) in Bohn (1855) 55: He has given him leg bail i.e. decamped.
R. Fergusson ‘Elegy’ Poems (1821) 103: They took leg-bail an’ ran awa’.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Leg [...] to give leg bail and land security, to run away.
[US] ‘Luke Caffrey’s Ghost’ in Limerick 3: He gave dem leg bail for his appearance at de next crak-neck assembly, be de hoky!
[UK] ‘When First From Kilkenny’ in Jovial Songster 71: A rude press-gang assail’d me, / And tho’ I tipp’d them leg bail, my jewel, soon nail’d me.
[US]Horry & Weems Life of General F. Marion (1816) 207: The rest, by giving good leg-bail, made their escape.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 137: [He] grabb’d his pocket-handkerchief, and was after shewing a leg,† when a little boy that kept his oglers upon ’em, let me into the secret, and let the cat out of the bag by bawling — Stop thief! [†Shewing a leg — or, as it is sometimes called, giving leg bail — making the best use of legs to escape detection].
[US]N.-Y. American 2 Mar. 2/4: When near the [police] office, [he] gave his keepers the slip, and as the saying is, ‘cut dirt,’ or [...] gave them leg-bail.
[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 11 Apr. 3/3: He was all of a sudden trapped, become the handcuffed protege of a constable, and conveyed ashore; but taking an opportunity of [...] slipping his wrists out of handcuffs, he also slipped from his escort, leaving no bail but leg bail for his re-appearance.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) 3 July 3/1: [He] has given leg bail to his creditors.
[US]Albany Microscope (NY) 2 June n.p.: Ivers Barton [...] took ‘leg bail’ and cleared for Buffalo.
[UK]Satirist (London) 4 Mar. 79/2: He has [...] given leg-bail to the sheriff’s officers.
[Aus]Trumpeter General (Hobart, Tas.) 17 Oct. 3/4: Upon being apprehended he showed fight, and commenced swearing like a trooper, and at last ran like a trooper’s horse, and gave the constable leg bail.
[UK]‘Paul Pry’ Oddities of London Life I 24: I said, ‘will any body hould me child,’ and after Pat Welch tuk it, Biddy legbailed from me.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 192: He has us now if he could only give us leg-bail again.
[Aus] The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser 17 July 2/4: After being examined and remanded pro tem, before our magistrates for some defalcation [he] was popped in ‘Quad,’ and through a slight over sight on the part of our kind hearted Lock-up keeper, Tool, took leg-bail.
[US]Gleaner (Manchester, NH) 22 July n.p.: He took an opportunity [...] and offered leg bail [and] it proved effectual to his realease. He accordingly escaped to Lowell, Mass.
[US]J. Downey Cruise of the Portsmouth (1963) 60: By the Lord, if old Bull does get at them, he’ll knock their old Castle about their ears and the cholos will have to give leg bail.
[UK]E.V. Kenealy Goethe: a New Pantomime 2: My master Virgil, in the lying tale / Of him who shew’d his wife leg bail [etc.].
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 188: That [...] is a capital fellow—Lord Legbail, eldest son of the Marquis of Loosefish.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Dec. 3/3: [heading] Sinclair v. Sparkes — Leg Bail.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 51: leg-bail and land security Runaway.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 122: Like a wise man [he] was giving them leg-bail as hard as he could foot it.
[Aus]Kiama Indep. (NSW) 19 Jan. 4/5: There the urchin took advantage of a very steep bank, and suddenly gave his keeper leg-bail. [...] The young imp again escaped, and is still at large.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service iv: Leg-Bail, to escape, or run away from court or prison.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 30 Aug. 2/5: The prisoner Jamieson subsequently took leg bail by escaping from the Central Police Station, and is still at large.
[UK]D.C. Murray Rainbow Gold I 158: I told him I should have to give ’em leg bail as well.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 44: Leg Bail, to clear out.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 58: Never chaff a crossing-sweeper about game unless you’re prepared [...] with leg bail.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 8 June 12/4: ‘How on earth did you get a ticket-o’-leave?’ ‘I took it, you idiot — French leave — gave ’em leg bail for it’.
[Ire]P.W. Joyce Eng. As We Speak It In Ireland.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper XL 4 170: That brute means biz. My stars, Art, it’s leg bail this time!
[UK]P. MacGill Moleskin Joe 306: He escaped and now he’s on leg-bail.
[Ire]D. MacDonagh Happy as Larry Act I: I’ve never met a woman yet / I’d trust around the corner; / Give them leg-bail and they’re gone / With hangman or informer.
leg-breaker (n.)

(US Und.) a hired thug.

D.R. Cressey Theft of Nation 82: One Chicago collector likes to refer to himself as ‘The Leg Breaker.’ Murder, however, is frowned upon by usurers.
M. Puzo Godfather Papers 208: The credit people have one hundred billion bucks working on the street and not a leg-breaker on the payroll.
Publisher’s Wkly 210 70/3: Spenser always finds a ‘leg breaker,’ an enforcer, dogging his client's heels .
R.B. Parker Catskill Eagle 99: ‘You’re a goddamned leg breaker because of racism?’ I said. ‘No, I a leg breaker ’cause the hours are short and the pay is good’.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 142: ‘Leg breakers’ – her husband Pete had called them that in the old days.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 163: You, beefcake . . . whatcha, a legbreaker?
D. Wexler Memories of Empire 54: ‘A bonus! I’ll give you a bonus if you kill him!’ Zon, the big leg breaker, shook his head slowly.
Jacobs & Kooperman Breaking the Devil’s Pact 29: Robert Rispo, a self-described “leg breaker,” beat up Teamsters who objected to a labor-leasing scheme.
M. Miner ‘The Hurt Business’ in ThugLit July [ebook] I’m a leg breaker by trade. Muscle for Johnny Del Negro, the loan shark.
leg inspector (n.)

a male music-hall enthusiast, sitting near enough the stage to ogle the chorus girls’ legs.

[[UK]Man about Town 18 Sept. 15/2: [Y]ou could on the pier gladden your eyes with more ‘leg’ fascination than even the Alhambra itself could display].
[UK]Music Hall & Theatre Rev. 5 July 7/2: Ain’t they daisies, these leg inspectors.
leg man (n.)

see separate entry.

leg-opener (n.) [on model of eye-opener n.1 (1)]

1. (orig. Aus.) a drink given to a woman in the hope of getting her drunk enough for seduction.

[Aus]R.S. Close Love me Sailor 21: Ah ha! So de old man he giff her some leg opener, eh?
[Aus]D. Hewett Bobbin Up (1961) 122: Gotta bit of leg opener in the back seat of the heap.
[Aus]L. Haylen Big Red 133: Shearers had been known to buy a bottle of Charlie’s ‘leg-opener’ to knock off a sheila.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 55: The average wholesome leg-opener does not force a sheilah to perform acts of intimacy against her will.
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 212: usage: ‘Gave her a hell of a lot of leg openers but nothing doing, she didn’t even get pissy’.

2. used of a soporific drug.

[UK]H. Kureishi Black Album 52: ‘How many d'you want?’ the kid said. ‘Three.’ The kid laid three of the bombs in his palm; Shahid popped two. ‘What d'you call these?’ Shahid asked. ‘These white ones? Leg-openers. I’ve got other sorts’.
legover (n.)

see separate entry.

leg-roped (adj.) [SAusE leg-rope, ‘a noosed rope used to secure an animal by one hind leg’ (AND)]

(Aus.) married.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Aug. 15/1: Old Sorghum’s girl had told him the old, old lie. Love bourgeoned in his heart, and he sought his male parent’s benison. ‘Me an’ Liz is thinkin’ er gettin’ leg-roped nex’ church Sund’y, father,’ he said.
leg sacks (n.)

(US black) socks; stockings.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive (1944) 25: Them leg-sacks were stashed by the smoke-hole, in fact.
D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 7 Feb. 16: Togged in some hipchick legsacks with a pair of hardhitting [...] groundpads.
leg-stretcher (n.)

(US) whisky.

[US]R.F. Burton City of the Saints 30: He can do nothing without whisky, which he loves to call tarantula-juice, strychnine, red-eye, corn-juice, Jersey lightning, leg-stretcher, ‘tangle-leg,’ and many other hard and grotesque names.
legwork/-worker (n.)

see separate entries.

In phrases

cut one’s leg (v.) [SE/cut adj.1 ]

to get drunk.

[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 87: Proverbiall Periphrases of one drunk. He’s disguised [...] He has cut his leg. He is afflicted.
fight at the leg (v.) [back-sword or single-stick rules, in which it is considered unfair to hold the opponent by the leg]

to take unfair advantage.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Life and Adventures of Samuel Hayward 36: Our hero was now what is termed ‘on the town;’ or, in other words, a man of the world, fighting at the leg* upon all occasions. [*Knowing, ingenious; to turn every event to a good account].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
get a leg in (v.) (Aus.)

1. to win an advantage.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 Mar. 1/1: Mr Schey, having got a ‘leg in’ with his Eight-Hour measure [...] is as happy as a chimpanzee with a chameleon’s cuticle.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 July 26/2: The team which annexes the big prize in Sydney gets a free leg-in and expenses paid to Melbourne, where the promoters intend to hang up another thousand at the end of October, a month after the Stadium tussles.

2. to gain someone’s confidence, to win over.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Apr. 24/3: Old ‘Bill’ Beach tripped it from Dapto to Sydney Gun Club shoot the other day, and got a leg-in for the Monte Carlo trophy, despite the efforts of 15 others.
get up someone’s legs (v.)

to charm, to seduce.

[UK]F. Kilvert Diary (1944) 12 Dec. 230: Long Wellesley [a notorious rake] told the people how he had ‘got up the old lady's legs and married her daughter’.
give someone a leg up (v.) (also give someone a bunch up, give someone a leg)

to help someone (occas. something) over an obstacle, wall etc, both physical and fig., esp. to advance themselves professionally; thus get a leg up v., to gain such an advantage; thus leg-up n.

Coll. State Trials 1303/1: He was the other man who gave him a leg up [i.e. onto a horse].
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 219: The wall is very low, sir, and your servant will give you a leg up.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 170: ‘To give a leg,’ to assist, as when one mounts a horse.
[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 113: Up you goes [...] put your foot on the spokes, and I’ll give you a bunch up.
London Figaro 9 Oct. n.p.: There are authors who require a leg-up before starting [F&H].
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 171: All the stall-keepers’ people and Cheap Johnny coves that can get away have promised to come [...] to give you a leg up.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 July 7/2: The chronicling of these facts ought to give a ‘leg up’ to the Church and improve the price of sittings all round.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Jan. 13/1: A Gosford (N.S.W.) family named Legge is alleged to have sent five sons to the war. A genuine case of giving the cause a leg-up.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Dec. 36/3: There, his aristocratic vowel-turns gained him the gushes of the ladies. Besides, he had moved in society, which also gave a leg-up.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Thief in the Night (1992) 405: Come, Bunny, give me a leg up.
[UK]H.G. Wells Hist. of Mr Polly (1946) 93: I can’t half hear. Give me a leg up!
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 190: I’m all for [...] giving the Colonies a leg-up.
[UK]P. Larkin letter 2 Jan. in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 53: Well, Philip Brown and I started recording our dreams, and Karl gave us a leg up.
[UK]A. Buckeridge According to Jennings (1991) 91: I’ll give you a leg-up through the window.
[UK]K. Amis letter 3 Jan. in Leader (2000) 357: You must have seen that old Snow gave you a leg-up in the S. Times last week.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 100: Here, Jack, I’ll give you a leg up. See if you can reach down and pull the plug.
[NZ]B. Crump ‘Fred’ Best of Barry Crump (1974) 288: His wife had probably had to [...] give him a leg up into the saddle because of his sciatica.
[US]S. Kernochan Dry Hustle 184: Hoboes [...] shouldn’t give a well man a leg up into a boxcar noxious with crime.
[US]F.X. Toole Rope Burns 106: He would be able to help his own kids [...] help them get a leg up in a world that cared less and less.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 175: I appreciated Ged taking us on though — fuck, did he ever give me a leg up there.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Fog’ Turning (2005) 240: Give me a leg up, she said. See if that gets me high enough.
give someone a little leg (v.) [colloq. phr. pull someone’s leg]

to tease, to hoax.

[US]G.V. Higgins Friends of Eddie Coyle 69: You’re giving me a little leg about there’s nothing going on.
have a leg in (v.)

1. (Aus.) to have a chance for.

[Aus]Aus. Town & Country Jrnl (Sydney) 8 July 5/2: The highest scorer [...] should have ‘a leg’ in the great silver cup.
[Aus]Maitland Mercury (NSW) 3 June 4/2: [F]our persons have a " leg in" for the special prize.
[Aus]Cobar Herald (NSW) 5 May 3/1: They [i.e. a cricket team] also have a leg-in for the competition cup.

2. to be in an advantageous relationship with.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 22 Feb. 12/1: They Say [...] Flossy, better keep clear of Pompy, because Pompy has a leg in with Hilda ’.
Way A New Idea Each Morning 52: ‘It was a damned wise move on my part to get in touch with Labour people before the Conference, as a result I have a leg in with them now’.
medium,com 24 Jan. 🌐 Hewlett is 21 [...] and already has a leg in with the A-listers of America and the elite of England.
have legs like Waterworks Road (v.) [‘they go all the way up to the gap’ i.e. punning ref. to a long, curving road that leads to the Gap, a rural suburb of Brisbane, Qld]

(Aus.) of female legs, long and sexy.

IntheMix: Forums 19 Oct. 🌐 Growing up in the western suburbs.. we had a line - ‘you’ve got legs like waterworks road’ - some people should be able to guess the rest :blush:.
SAJ Stuff 4 Mar. [blog] I laughed for a good ten minutes when I heard Jimmy Maher [...] say ‘she’s got legs like Waterworks Road... all the way to The Gap’ on the radio. Had to be there I guess.
reddit 28 Apr. 🌐 ‘She had legs like Waterworks Road, they went all the way to the gap’.
have a loose leg (v.)

(Irish) to be free to live one’s life without restraint.

[UK]Era (London) 20 Dec. 11/1: He begins to grow tired of his wife’s tyranny, and [...] thinks it is time to have a loose leg.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
have legs on one’s belly (v.) [they facilitate one’s ‘crawling’]

(Aus./N.Z.) to be a sycophant, a toady.

[US]J.A.W. Bennett ‘Eng. as it is Spoken in N.Z.’ in AS XVIII:2 Apr. 91: ‘You’ve got legs on your belly’ would be addressed to a sponger or sycophant.
[Aus](con. 1941) E. Lambert Twenty Thousand Thieves 188: Splinter Norton from C Company. Got legs on his belly.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 126: legs on your belly A crawler, who needs legs on the belly in order to express servility. Mid C20.
www.mb2forums 16 Oct. 🌐 Slimy little prick you have legs on your belly.
leg of mutton (n.)

see separate entry.

legs (right/all the way) up (to her ass) (also ...bottom, ...head) [ass n. (2)]

(orig. US) a male description of a woman with exceptionally long and attractive legs.

[US]E. Shepard Doom Pussy 131: Wonder if her legs run all the way up to her ass?
[UK]‘John le Carré’ Honourable Schoolboy 133: My secretary. very nice. Legs go right up to its bottom, so they tell me.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett White Shoes 35: A backside that would break your heart [and] a long, muscled pair of brown legs that ran all the way up to it.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 125: Legs that go all the way up and a rack should be insured with Lloyds of London.
[Scot]C. Brookmyre A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away 9: A frontwoman who was blond with legs all the way up to her head. 3 Feb. 🌐 I was on the bus today & a hot looking broad got on, figure hugging outfit, ferrari chassis on her, legs all the way up to her arse.
lose one’s legs (v.)

to be drunk.

[UK]Gent.’s Mag. 560/1: To express the condition of an Honest Fellow [...] under the Effects of good Fellowship, [...] It is also said that he has [...] 63 Lost his Leggs.
make indentures with one’s legs (v.) [the custom of indenting the top edges of legal documents]

to stumble drunkenly.

[UK]Rowlands Good Newes and Bad Newes 43: A Fellow that had beene excessiue trading, In taking liquor beyond his lading, Of Claret and the Spanish Malligo, That’s legs vnable were vpright to goe; But sometime wall, and sometimes kennell taking, And as the phrase is vs’d, Indentures making.
[UK]J. Taylor Juniper Lecture 90: Reeling up and downe the streete, and making Indentures.
[UK]Mercurius Democritus 9-16 Feb. 349: Each Brewer that I met, I kist, and made / Suit to serve Apprentice to the Trade; / One did approve the Motion when he saw, / That my own Leggs could the Indenters draw.
[UK]J. Ray Proverbs (2nd edn) 87: Proverbiall Periphrases of one drunk. He’s disguised [...] He makes indentures with his legs.
[UK] ‘The Art of Drinking’ Wit’s Cabinet 138: He makes Indentures.
[US]B. Franklin ‘Drinkers Dictionary’ in Pennsylvania Gazette 6 Jan. in AS XII:2 91: They come to be well understood to signify plainly that A MAN IS DRUNK. [...] He makes Indentures with his Legs.
make up one’s leg (v.) (also make leg) [‘the time of smalls, stockings and buckled shoes, when making up the leg was a necessary prelude to going into society’ (Ware)]

(costermonger) to make money.

[UK]Mr Mathews’ Comic Annual 23: I like to make leg while the sun shines.
[UK]J. Diprose London Life 42: These knights of the barrow – in the language of the fraternity – often boast that if one ‘pulls up his boot,’ he can ‘make the up his leg’ by going to market early and ‘knock in’ his ‘ten or twelve hog afore breakfast’.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
on the leg [the image of a dog rubbing against a human leg]

(US prison) toadying.

[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 187: Sergeant Stanger tells me you chumped him of in front of the assistant warden. Says you were way up on the leg!
[US]Prison Slang Mommyblogger 2 Mar. 🌐 That knick-knack needs to get mud checked for getting on your leg and then cappin’ it with no explanation.
pull someone’s leg (v.)

1. (US campus) to curry favour with, to act the toady.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 18: pull one’s leg To curry favor with.

2. (US) to ask for a loan of money.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 20 Oct. 3: Poor Charles Ernest is so stuck on a fairy named Emma Brown, that she can make him do anything she wishes. Some days ago she bumped his head for stuff, and a few nights ago pulled his leg for more.
[US]J.K. Bangs Three Weeks in Politics 23: The verb ‘to-pull-a-leg’ means to extract from his pocket all the lucre it will yield.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 201: I am very sorry that I was forced to pull your leg for so large an amount yesterday.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words & Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 362: I will have to pull the old man’s leg if I go to Pittsburgh.

3. (Aus.) to subject to a confidence trick.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Holy War’ in Chisholm (1951) 76: I knoo this Spike uv old; a reel bad egg, / ‘Oo’s easy livin’ is to git in tow / Some country mug, an’ pull ’is little leg / Fer all ’is dough.
put a leg on (v.)

(US) to hurry up.

[US]B. Appel Tough Guy [ebook] ‘Put a leg on!’ the Bug ordered Joey.
put the leg-rope on (v.) [SE leg-rope, a rope used to tether or control an animal]

(Aus.) to control or restrain a third party, esp. when acting in a hysterical or very bad-tempered manner.

[Wallaroo Times (SA) 21 Sept. 1/3: On one occasion a young heifer was brought in that proved rather unmanageable. The coachman was unsuccessful in his attempts to put the leg-rope on the youngster [etc] ].
[Aus]Wingham Chron. (NSW) 25 Jan. 2/5: During the last two Parliaments the officials succeeded in securing Mr. W. Bennett ‘by the wool,’ and put the ‘leg rope’ on the members of the Government.
[Aus]Gippsland Times (Vic.) 21 Mar. 3/4: The State wanted to put the leg rope on the Commonwealth lest it should be extravagant in thus expending the money.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 91: To put the leg-rope on a person, to discipline him or her.

In exclamations

my hind legs!

a general excl. of disdain, dismissal, arrogant contempt.

[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 115: ‘Parlour me hind legs,’ old Henry yells. ‘How many times you got to be told, Dowager? The drawing room, you soppy old mare.’.