Green’s Dictionary of Slang

go n.1

1. as a measure or portion.

(a) [late 18C–1970s] (also goe) a measure (of alcohol), e.g. a go of gin; esp. a three-halfpenny bowl of gin and water, available at a go shop; also used of portions of food.

(b) [early 19C+] a portion, ‘a time’.

(c) [late 19C–1900s] (Aus.) a helping of food.

(d) [1930s–50s] (US drugs) a measure of drugs; an injection of a given drug.

(e) [1940s] (US drugs) a very small quantity of drugs wrapped in paper.

2. in the context of fashion, sophistication [SE go, spirit, energy, dash].

(a) [late 18C+] the height of fashion.

(b) [early 19C] a dandy, a fashionable man.

(c) [mid-19C] a wonderful person, esp. an attractive woman.

3. [late 18C+] (also goe) an event or state of affairs, usu. seen as exceptional or notable in some way and thus worthy of comment, e.g. ‘here’s a go’; also as rum go, an odd situation.

4. [late 18C+] a success.

5. [early 19C+] an enjoyable time, a spree.

6. [early 19C] the status quo.

7. as a single instance.

(a) [mid-19C+] an attempt, a try, e.g. have a go (at), to make an attempt.

(b) [mid-19C+] a turn in a game, an opportunity to do something; thus at/in one go, at/in one attempt; have a go, take a turn.

(c) [late 19C–1930s] a bout of, a spell of.

8. [late 19C–1930s] a bargain, an agreement, a ‘deal’; usu. in phr. it’s a go, that’s settled.

9. as a physical or verbal set-to.

(a) [late 19C+] a contest, a fight, esp. a boxing-match or a street fight.

(b) [1950s+] an argument, a verbal attack; usu. as have a go

10. [early 19C] a casino.

11. [early 19C] (Aus.) a disaster.

12. [late 19C–1930s] a bet.

13. [1940s+] (Aus.) a chance; an opportunity.

14. [1960s+] (Aus.) news, information.

15. [1960s+] (Aus./US) the important, relevant thing.

16. [1980s+] (Aus. prison) a plan.

17. [l990s+] (Aus.) a swindle.

18. in drug uses.

(a) [2000s] (drugs) amphetamine.

In compounds

go pill (n.) [amphetamines give one energy and ‘go’]

[1950s–60s] (US) a pill or capsule of amphetamine.

In phrases

all the go (adj.)

[late 18C+] fashionable.

give something a go (v.) (also give it a go, give someone a go)

[20C+] (orig. Aus.) to try something or someone out, to take a chance on, to make an attempt.

half-go (n.)

[late 19C–1900s] three pennyworth of spirits, usu. mixed with water.

have a go (v.) [late 19C+]

1. to fight; usu. with at.

2. to attack verbally; usu. with at.

3. to pick a fight.

make a go of (v.)

1. [1920s+] to succeed (despite the odds).

2. [1930s] to put up with, to tolerate.

no (great) go (adj.)

[mid 19C] unfashionable.

on the go

1. [late 17C–early 18C] on the verge of destruction.

2. [early 19C] about to depart.

3. [early-mid-19C] slightly drunk, tipsy.

4. [early 19C+] active, lively.

5. [1900s] in a state of decline.

6. [1940s] nervous.

7. [1950s+] happening, going on.

square go (n.) [square adj. (1)]

[late 19C+] a fair or well-matched fight or other contest, a fight without weapons; also attrib.

In exclamations

here’s a go!

[late 19C] (US) a toast that precedes drinking.