Green’s Dictionary of Slang

go n.1

1. as a measure or portion.

(a) (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.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) n.p.: Go-shop, the Queen’s Head in Duke’s-court [...] where gin and water is sold in three-halfpenny bowls, called Goes.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/1: Called at a ken in the way home, drank four goes of brandy.
[UK]Jack Randall’s Diary 21: Tom Trot [...] sung out ‘Jack, let’s take the shine Out of a Go of Deady’s gin’.
[UK]Egan Life of an Actor 72: Quite pleased so snug a shop to know, Where he could stop and take a go!
[UK] ‘The Mot Of Drury Lane’ Luscious Songster 38: She guzzled fourteen goes of max.
[Ire]Roscommon Jrnl 16 Sept. 2/1: He finished his ‘go’ of brandy and water.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Mar. 3/4: The landlord [...] says he has no idea of being roused out of his bed [...] for goes of brandy and ginger beer.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 July 2/6: The luckless Quean rewarded the exploit with a go of jackey and became elevated.
A. Smith Natural History of Ballet Girl 52: Waiters [...] take devilled kidneys to the guest who has ordered nothing but a go of gin.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. IV 114: Better come out an’ take a go o’ rum, to settle your stummac!
[UK]H. Hayman Pawnbroker’s Daughter 156: A blow out of ’ard snippins, and a go of gin-peppermint.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 186: Who’s for a go of brandy?
[UK]A. Smith Medical Student 20: After the second glass of stout and a ‘go of whisky,’ he becomes emboldened. [Ibid.] 33: A pewter ‘go’ which, if everybody had their own, would in all probability belong to Mr. Green.
[US] ‘Bet, the Coaley’s Daughter’ Overland Monthly (CA) Sept. 308: Two brimming quarts of porter, / With four full goes of gin beside, / Drained Bet, the Coaley’s daughter.
[UK]‘Career of a Scapegrace’ in Leicester Chron. 10 May 12/1: A sham broken-down tradesman, the ‘grog blossoms’ on his nose betokening his fondness for ‘goes’ of ‘gin hot’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Nov. 14/2: It took on an average five hours to strike six drinks. None were permitted to take a base advantage of a front position by swallowing two or three ‘goes’ in succession.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) I 216: One of our drummers [...] gave me a go of brandy.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 141: Greedy, struggling market-porters all crying out [...] for ‘goes’ of coffee and gin, pints of mild and bitter.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 185: ‘I’ll make it ’arf-a-go,’ said the screever.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 154: Came back to poor breakfast. Could have done with a ‘go’ of rum.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight.
[UK]G. Kersh Fowlers End (2001) 126: To me he offered the bottle, saying: ‘Have a go’.
[UK]P. Larkin ‘Sympathy in White Major’ High Windows 11: I drop four cubes of ice / Chimingly in a glass, and add / Three goes of gin.

(b) a portion, ‘a time’.

[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan I 81: So steadily, would he rivet his large eyes, for half an hour at a ‘go’.
[US] in T.P. Lowry Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell (1994) 39: There aren’t any girls in this country except those that is strictly on the fuck for $5 a go. I take a snootful about once a month.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 221: What’s yer dose? [...] I’ve twelve this go.
[UK]C. Deveureux Venus in India I 37: I am hungry for another sweet go! I want this cunt!
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 197: You’re in for a go of malaria.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Peacock Valhalla 482: You simply had a bad go of it.
[Aus]A. Weller Day of the Dog 18: Floyd’s cousin has become a homosexual and was getting two hundred dollars a go from old midnight cowboys in the Hay Street mall.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 8: Give us a go on that before these twats get on.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 151: Most of them stick to the bottled water at four-fifty a go.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Broken’ in Broken 16: A thousand-dollar-a-go call girl.

(c) a helping of food.

[UK]Flash Mirror 6: Queering of a Duff Shop. — Going into an eating house, calling for a go of soup, prigging the knives and forks, pocketing the saltcellars [and] seizing a roll of duff, and paddling off scot-free.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Sept. 6/2: They were at supper [...] and when he sent up his plate for the 13th ‘go’ of boned turkey, she remarked, ‘Jumbo, you eat too much.’ [...] It was a thoughtless speech to make, and the nickname was particularly disrespectful – to Barnum’s grand old elephant.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 97: What with that and the drinks, and a go of grub, I was stone broke.
[UK]Sporting Times 8 Apr. 2/4: If you asked for a second ‘go’ of crushed strawberries, or another one o’ those arsenic cocktails, it would be brought to you on a silver salver.

(d) (US drugs) a measure of drugs; an injection of a given drug.

[US]B. Dai Opium Addiction in Chicago 196: Bindle. A very small quantity of drugs done up in paper. Sometimes referred to as a paper of stuff, a bird’s-eye, a deck, a go.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Lang. of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in Lang. Und. (1981) 103/1: go. A ration of narcotics. Restricted to needle-addicts.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.

(e) (US drugs) a very small quantity of drugs wrapped in paper.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

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

(a) the height of fashion.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: The Go. The fashion. Large Hats are all the Go.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]‘Ladies’ Wigs’ in Hilaria 82: Perhaps as it is the kick and go, / You’ve mounted, ma’am, a merkin below?
[UK]T. Moore ‘Epistle from Tom Cribb to Big Ben’ in Morn. Chron. 31 Aug. 3: Is this the new go? — kick a man when he’s down!
[UK] ‘The Soho Bazaar’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 194: The Bazaar in Soho is completely the go.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 222: ’Mong the pals of the prince I have heard it’s the go, [...] To smarten their punch with the best curaçoa.
[Ire] ‘Never Cut Your Toe Nails On A Sunday’ Dublin Comic Songster 280: His dress was the pink of the fashion and go.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Aug. 31 n.p.: Flat foot reels — Virginia pidgeon wings and Kitefoot shuffles are the go .
[US] ‘The Dandy Broadway Swell’ Bryant’s Songs from Dixie’s Land 46: I’m the grit, the go, the cheese.
[Ind]‘Aliph Cheem’ Lays of Ind (1905) 21: But the case wasn’t so / In the days that are fled. / Merit wasn't the go; . Something else was instead.
[UK] ‘Adultery’s the Go!’ in Pearl 3 May 24: Now all the wisest folks are lewd / For Adultery’s the go. / The go, the go, the go, / Adultery’s the go!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Oct. 14/4: The style is ‘all the go’ in England and ought to be adopted here.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 206: The Prospectors’ Arms became quite the go, and all the swell miners and quartz reefers began to meet there.
[US]A.C. Gunter Miss Nobody of Nowhere 268: He thinks his performance will be a ‘go’.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 28 Feb. [synd. col.] Dollar-to-two-dollar dinners, with a floor show and no cover charge, are the go.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] I don’t [like Elvis] [...] Acca Dacca’s the go, but the costume shop didn’t have Bon Scott.

(b) a dandy, a fashionable man.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 136: Tom [...] was the GO among the goes, in the very centre of fashion in London.

(c) a wonderful person, esp. an attractive woman.

[UK] ‘Marrying A Maid’ in Frisky Vocalist 7: The sight of her set the old blade a glow, / And he whisper’d, ‘My eyes, what an out-and-out go!’.

3. (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.

[UK]A.M. Bennett Beggar Girl (1813) III 61: ‘There’s a go now!’ cried Miss, with a hoyden laugh.
[UK]‘T.B. Jr’ Pettyfogger Dramatized II i: The devil burn me, This is a goe!
[UK]Sporting Mag. May XX 119/2: Tan’t an Englishman’s taste to have none of of these goes.
[UK]J. Wight Mornings in Bow St. 97: Rum go — had it [i.e. a cheque] last night, missed it ihis morning — d—d rum go!
[UK]G. Smeeton Doings in London 181: Every mop-squeezer in London is up to the most knowing go.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 472: Here’s rayther a rum go, Sir. [Ibid.] 561: One expressed his opinion that it was a ‘rig,’ and the other his conviction that it was a ‘go’.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 9 Dec. 45: ‘Here’s a go’ said Joe Pitman. [Ibid.] 47: I’m jiggered if it a’nt a rum go.
[Ire] ‘They Say I’m Too Little’ Dublin Comic Songster 40: In nine months she’d got – what a go – / Said I was its father, although -.
[UK]‘Epistle from Joe Muggins’s Dog’ in Era (London) 25 July 3/3: Oh! thought I, here’s a go — some one will be in the hole.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. III 114: Well, by thunder, this was a go!
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Apr. 3/1: Here’s a go; boarded by pirates and no nettings up; where’s my cargo?
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 May 51/1: ‘Zounds,’ cried the Rajah, ‘Here’s a go!’ .
[US]F. St. Clair Six Days in the Metropolis 70: Here is a pretty go. How the devil can I go out to dine with a dirty shirt.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 270: That’ll be a pretty go tomorrow.
[UK] ‘Strike of the Journeyman Tailors’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 135: O wont it be a funny go / To see the swells in Rotten Row.
Golden Age (Queenbeyan, NSW) 28 Aug. 3/4: Simpkins prepared to deliver his version of the ‘rummiest go’ he had met with in his chequered career.
[UK]J. Hatton Cruel London I 111: Yes, by Jove! it’s the rummest go out!
[UK]G.R. Sims Three Brass Balls 234: Well, I’m blest! Here’s a go!
[Aus]Bird o’ Freedom (Sydney) 7 Feb. 3/3: ‘O, crikey, here’s a go!’.
[NZ]S. Crane in Truth (N.Y.) 21 Apr. in Stallman (1966) 32: By Jove, here’s a go!
[UK]Sheaves from an Old Escritoire 86: Here’s a go [...] The toff’s lady is a treat [...] almost as tight as those two school misses we blocked last Monday!
[UK]M. Williams Round London 236: After Newmarket comes Goodwood, and then Cowes, which is the last ‘go’ of the year.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 1 Dec. 131: ‘My word!’ he exclaimed. ‘Here’s a pretty go!’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Oct. 5/5: Serves him rite ? Well, that's a question / Some sez yes, and some sez no. / I, myself, decides the latter, / For it ware a dirty go.
[US]C. M’Govern By Bolo and Krag 183: Here’s a go for your whiskers!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 20/3: ‘This is about the rummiest go ever I struck. To fancy me and you bein’ pally with a John! Wonders will never cease.’.
[UK]Gem 4 Nov. 3: Nice go this is – I don’t think!
[UK]J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 85: It was a baddish go, and [...] it took me some time to get my legs again.
[UK]Marvel 10 July 4: Rum go this!
[UK]J.B. Booth London Town 287: Here’s a pretty go.
[UK]E. Garnett Family from One End Street 135: Well, this was a queer go, thought Rosie.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 100: ‘Anyone who likes to come,’ Sam Little shouted back as he moved away. ‘It’s an open go.’.
[US]L. Uris Battle Cry (1964) 205: I told you you’d be in for a rough go.
‘Josphine Tey’ Shilling for Candles (1958) 153: ‘This is a rum go, sir’.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 26: The house itself was a fair enough go.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Battle Lost and Won 307: The doctor, looking out, appeared to see the graves for the first time. ‘Rum go,’ he said.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 173: Littel said he’d watch the next go.

4. a success.

[UK] ‘Flash Man of St. Giles’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 75: We have mill’d a precious go / And queer’d the flats at thrums, E, O.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Egan Boxiana III 621: And thus they sometimes stagg’d a precious go. / In Smithfield, too, where graziers’ flats resort.
[UK]Yorks. Gaz. 12 Dec. n.p.: That diddler in Greek loans, he’s not to be done, / No, Sawney’s too canny, he‘ll ne’er be a go.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 222/1: But popular, or notorious, murders are the ‘great goes’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 24 Nov. 3/1: As soon as ‘Moths’ [...] was declared a ‘go’ at Wallack’s, even dramatist [...] set to work to get up ‘acting versions’.
[UK]Sporting Times 2 Jan. 5/2: It went with a go which showed how ably it had been rehearsed.
[US]Harper’s Mag. LXXVII 689: Determination to make the venture a go [F&H].
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 June 2/3: Estrella Sylvia is a big go at Pastor's, and creates almost as much talk as Carmencita .
[US]Ade More Fables in Sl. (1960) 123: Everything considered, the Club was a Tremendous Go.
[UK]Sporting Times 8 Jan. 10/1: [The] ‘Aladdin’ panto. owes not a little of its ‘go’ to the vivacity and sparkle of clever Miss Kittee Rayburn in the title-role.
[US]C. Sandburg letter 12 July in Mitgang (1968) 188: I want to finish a book of kid stories, some real nut college stuff. It’s a go so far with the kids I’ve tried it on.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 115: Nobby came bustling out in triumph. ‘All right, chums,’ he cried. ‘It’s a go.’.
[Aus]Central Qld Herald (Rockhampton, Qld) 26 July 12/4: His enthusiastic ‘It’s a go!’ settled it.
[NZ]A. Duff One Night Out Stealing 15: Getting a free glass at every table was Benny’s real go.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 478: We all thought that the project looked like a go.

5. an enjoyable time, a spree.

[UK]J. Kenney Raising the Wind I iii: Ha! ha! ha! a very capital go, indeed.
[UK]Jack Randall’s Diary 10: Gemmen (says he) You all well know, The joy there is whene’er we meet, It’s what I call the primest Go, And, rightly nam’d, ’tis – ‘quite a treat .’.
[UK] ‘Lady’s Snatchbox’ in Cuckold’s Nest 27: So, you that are fond of the spree, [...] I’m a good ’un, you’ll find, for a go, / So bring your patent picklocks, / And you are quite welcome, you know, / To open my hairy snatchbox.
[US] in N.E. Eliason Tarheel Talk (1956) 274: Her maid [...] stretched herself beneath the overspreading foliage and favored me with a very romantic go.
[UK]Sporting Times 4 Apr. 5/1: The merry abandon and the ‘go’ of polka.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 562: Drowning his grief and were on for a go with the jolly girls.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 46: Mayfair — Mediterranean cruises? All go for our Jim-Jim, innit?

6. the status quo.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 115: In general, the go [for street-walking] is, to put the best toggery on that is to be had, adapted to the state of the weather.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 26 Oct. n.p.: No ‘peaching’ then was on a ‘pal’, / No ‘squealing’ was the ‘go’.

7. as a single instance.

(a) an attempt, a try, e.g. have a go (at), to make an attempt.

[US]N.-Y. Daily Advertiser 1 Apr. 2/3–4: From the desperation of the villain, they were compelled to consider it a strong go for life or death, and resolved to act with vigor accordingly.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘A Charade’ Dagonet Ditties 135: In all the tales our authors write / He’s painted at his worst; / I’ll have a ‘go’ at him myself.
[Aus]Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 180: We can only ’ave a go.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 247: Ruby has had three ‘goes’ to get away.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 138: ‘I wouldn’t bank on it,’ said Dennis. ‘ But it’s worth a go.’.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 139: I been coshed over the head. I cant fuckin think shit never mind imagine shit. Still. Have a go.

(b) 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.

[UK]F.F. Cooper Elbow-Shakers! I i: A Stay indeed, well that’s no great go!
[UK] ‘Blowing In Quod’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 40: Since that ere rum ’un has quodded me, / I can’t get out for a go.
[US] in B.I. Wiley They Who Fought Here (1959) 192: I have not got but three tast(e)s since I have been in Va. [...] and I got that from two fine looking women I tell you the three goes cost me but eleven dollars.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 July 9/1: Ushers, eager to ‘mind’ the coats of gilded humanity at half-a-crown a ‘go,’ cast off their comedy linen, and appear in operatic bucklers of astounding appearance.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Can Search Me 115: Is it a go?
[UK]J. Masefield Everlasting Mercy 32: I’ve never had my go. / I’ve not had all the world can give.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 12: I’m always game for a go at anything.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy ‘Load of Wood’ in Man From Clinkapella 6: Tell Tye to come and have a go himself if he’s in such a hurry.
[UK]A. Sillitoe ‘Noah’s Ark’ Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1960) 88: If it’s on’y a penny a ride then we’ve got two goes each.
[UK]P. Terson Apprentices (1970) II iii: Come on, Leo, give us a go.
[Aus]Lette & Carey Puberty Blues 117: After we’d both had a few goes, it was time to show off to the boys.

(c) a bout of, a spell of.

[UK]Kipling Civil and Military Gazette 25 Dec. in Pinney (1987) 132: Who pulled Sapless through his go of typhoid by sheer nursing?
[UK]L. Thomas Woodfill of the Regulars 26: Well, I’d a rather rough go of it and didn’t see much of old San Francisco.
[UK]A. Christie Three Act Tragedy (1964) 134: Tollie had a very bad go of influenza last spring.

8. a bargain, an agreement, a ‘deal’; usu. in phr. it’s a go, that’s settled.

[NZ]Auckland Eve. Star (Supp.) 30 Oct. 6/3: I’d actually swap that imperishable leg off to you for two pounds of water-crackers and a tin cup full of Jamaica rum. Is it a go?
[US]B. Harte Tales of the Argonauts 329: ‘Then it’s a go?’ said the mystified Joe [...] ‘It’s a go.’ .
[US]A.J. Leavitt Body Snatchers 5: It’s a go, and now to the rescue.
[US]Sun (NY) 10 Oct. 2/5: Stop ye here, Jerry [...] Is it a go?
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 19 Apr. 7/4: ‘Make it 30dol. and it’s a go’.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 108: ‘Well, you might know it’s all right.’ ‘It’s a go then.’.
[UK]Marvel 13 Oct. 330: ‘It’s a go,’ said Slaney promptly.
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 88: ‘If we’re goin’ to Dawson, we got to take charge of this here outfit.’ They looked at each other. ‘It’s a go,’ said Kit, as his hand went out in ratification.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 429: ‘It’s a go!’ They shook hands.
[US]M. West Babe Gordon (1934) 126: One-third on everything. Morphine, heroin, and coke. Is it a go?
[US]S. Lewis Kingsblood Royal (2001) 256: Neil, it’s a go!
[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 99: If it’s a go, I’ll help write up a grievance list.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 50/2: go, phr. it’s a go the deal is on.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 21 May 4: Bass’s draft persuaded Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon to commit to the film, making it a ‘go’.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Rosa Marie’s Baby (2013) [ebook] ‘[I] suggest you took over the orphanage to see the girls there got a better go than you did’.
K. Garvey ThugLit July [ebook] [S]he [...] said, ‘That’s the one we'll hit.’ As if the plan was a go.

9. as a physical or verbal set-to.

(a) a contest, a fight, esp. a boxing-match or a street fight.

[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 5 Feb. n.p.: Tuesday last decided this provincial ‘go,’ which had put all the Sheffield ‘blades’ on the qui vive.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 22 May 10/3: The best ‘go’ of the evening was between John White and John Carney. White was knocked down in the first round.
[US]Texas Siftings 1 Nov. 7/3: Cost me five dollars the other day to see the tamest kind of a go. There wasn’t a knockdown in ten rounds [OED].
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 14 Oct. 6/3: It was a clever ‘go’ between two clever men, and where the little fellow was as good as his master.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 May 14/4: Not uncommon for goats to make friends with horses and cattle, but there is one here that has chummed-in with a mob of about a dozen emus. Camps when they camp, feeds when they feed, and when they take it into their heads to have a mile ‘go’ across a plain, foots it with the best of them.
[US]J. London ‘A Piece of Steak’ Complete Short Stories (1993) II 1632: Then there’s a four-round spar ’tween Dealer Wells an’ Gridley, an a ten-round go ’tween Starlight an’ some sailor bloke.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Play’ in Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 47/1: Nex’ minnit there’s a reel ole dingdong go – / ’Arf round or so.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Sock of Ages’ in Fight Stories Oct. [Internet] Wildcat Koop had a shade the better of the go.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 25: I’m not killing myself in a go like that.
[Aus]L. Lower Here’s Luck 62: ‘You couldn’t disfigure a face like that. Almost any alteration would be an improvement,’ he commented. ‘All the same, I wish you’d had a go’ .
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 1 July 11/1: Bob Williams [wants] to help him arrange a go with Henry Armstrong .
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 574: Bloom had won his main go with a TKO in the first round.
[Aus]F.B. Vickers Mirage (1958) 299: The skids are under him. Old man Trew happened to drive up while there was a bit of an all-in go outside your bloke’s humpy [...] They didn’t get him. But he’s in the blue.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 175: I got each one of the pricks with the perfect sneak go.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 308: [T]hey were going to slip it a nice plump Dextrine pill not long before its event [i.e. a horse race] which was a distance go.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] ‘What about a straight go? With no weapons’.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 72: What [..], you want some go?

(b) (Aus.) aggression, intense competition.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 24 Feb. 6/2: It [i.e a boxing match] was ‘go’ from gong to gong.

(c) an argument, a verbal attack; usu. as have a go

[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 294: This was the fourth go Herb had had at me in the last few weeks.

10. a casino.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 195: At the west end of the town little goes are strewed about in great plenty [...] the master of the house always taking a profit on the play [...] the houses vie with each other in sumptuousness.

11. (Aus.) a disaster.

[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 317: It was very nearly ‘a go’ with me. I got down into such a tangle of scrubs and creeks and gullies as I should never have got clear of but for reaching a camp of blacks; I was three days and two nights without anything to eat.

12. a bet.

[US]Dly Globe (St Paul, MN) 10 Mar. 2/3: ‘I’ll bet you that man’s name is Sneider,’ said one Californian [...] ‘It’s a go,’ said his companion.
[US]C.E. Mulford Bar-20 Days 76: I’ll fight you rough-an’-tumble to see if I keep it, or if you take the cayuse an’ shoot me besides: is it a go?
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 95: ‘Ah’ll bet, Ah’ll pull ’em all de fish out de lake befo’ y’all git yo’ bait dug.’ ‘Dat’s a go,’ shouted Larkins.

13. (Aus.) a chance; an opportunity.

[Aus]A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 146: They always gave me a go.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 65: Give us a go, ‘Lucky’, you’ve done me.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 196: That’s why I’ll grubstake anybody till they get on their feet. You’ve got to give a buddy man a fair go.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: You’d think th’ lousy scum would give a battler a go, wouldn’t you? I should’ve jerried when the guy gave me the tug.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 128: ‘Anything’s a go’, they used to say in Pare, and I was inclined to think that getting it off with a woolly woofter might be a go for me.

14. (Aus.) news, information.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 473/1: later C.20.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 66: [I] find a white Holden Commodore parked [...] with a phalanx of police nearby. Leaning on the bonnet, I ask, ‘So what’s the go?’.

15. (Aus./US) the important, relevant thing.

[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 50: You said that second best wasn’t your go.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 10: Being a syrup of fig was not his go. It was always on the cards that he could end up with a bit of swish if he got sprung being a gig.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett White Shoes 16: This whole deal’s not our go.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 38: I [...] figured the bags were the go, not the mini-skip.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 15: To stand with a cup of tea in one hand and a cream cake in the other and chat away to people was never my go.

16. (Aus. prison) a plan.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Go, the. Plan or situation. As in ‘what’s the go?’. Sometimes ‘what’s the G. O.?’.
[Aus]Smith & Noble Neddy (1998) 147: We discussed who the likely killer was. I couldn’t work out anyone likely to be involved in such a sloppy go.

17. (Aus.) a swindle.

[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] Some of these books see a go coming if you put down fifty bucks.

18. in drug uses.

(a) (drugs) amphetamine.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 10: Go — Amphetamines; methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).

In compounds

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

(US) a pill or capsule of amphetamine.

[US]E. & S. Deak Grand Dictionnaire d’Americanismes.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 201: Those ‘go’ pills she had taken had died.
(con. 1991) K. Rosenkranz Vipers in the Storm 54: As we enter Saudi airspace, Foot comes on the radios and tells us it’s time to take another go pill.
Davies & Dildy Vipers Over the Desert 49: Accordingly, the USAF looked to medicine for a solution in the form of the highly-contentious (at least to the media) amphetamine ‘Go Pill’.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] Malone pops two ‘go-pills’—Dexedrine.

In phrases

all the go (adj.)


[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. 170: Tippy says, as skating is all the go, we ought to give some Instructions for that manly Exercise.
[UK]G. Colman Yngr Heir at Law III ii: This is all the go, they say! — cut straight that’s the thing.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff All at Coventry I ii: Pedestrianism is all the go now.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 192: There’s Georgy W-b-ll, all the go, / The mould of fashion.
[UK]‘There’s Nothing Like a Spree at Night’ in Convivialist in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 13: Now is the day for frolicing and pinking it, / Ogles like rainbows tinged, are all the go.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 98: Folks ain’t thought nothin of, unless they live at Treemont: it’s all the go.
[UK]Comic Almanack Dec. 245: The sovereign is just now more valued than ever, and, at the great theatres, Stirling is all the go.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 26 Feb. 1/4: I’ve togged Jinney. Benney, you’d hardly know Jinney, she’s such a svell [...] she’s all the go.
[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 63: These bonnets, now, are for Australy; with lots o’ ribbins; they’ll be all the go at the diggins.
[Ind]Hills & Plains 2 64: She was [...] ‘all the go’ with the fast young men of Lony Ochter’s generation.
[US]W. Hilleary diary 5 June Webfoot Volunteer (1965) 80: Poker playing was all the ‘go’ in camp.
[UK] ‘Song of Velocipeding’ in Henderson Victorian Street Ballads (1937) 127: The Velocipedes are all the go, / In country and in town.
[UK] ‘’Arry to the Front!’ in Punch 9 Mar. 100/2: Our War songs is now all the go.
[UK]G.R. Sims ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Ballads of Babylon 82: Her carte is hung in the West-end shops [...] there’s a big crowd stops / To look at the lady who’s ‘all the go’.
[UK]H. Nevinson ‘The St. George of Rochester’ in Keating Working Class Stories of the 1890s (1971) 46: Singin’ bits about ‘Nancy Lee’, as was all the go in them days.
[US]S. Clapin New Dict. Americanisms.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Girl and the Habit’ in Strictly Business (1915) 235: These light-weight fabrics is all the go this season.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 600: Esthetes and the tattoo which was all the go in the seventies or thereabouts, even in the House of Lords.
[US]Botkin A Treasury of Amer. Folklore 836: Oh, the hog-eye man is all the go / When he comes down to San Francisco.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 41: Now that juvenile delinquency is all the go. [Ibid.] 177: The mail-bag or post-office job is all the go these days.
[Ire]H. Leonard A Life (1981) Act I: They’re all the go.
[UK]Indep. 29 Feb. 15: Houndstooth jackets are all the go in Yemen.
[Aus]C. Hammer Silver [ebook] A podcast. It’s all the go.
give something a go (v.) (also give it a go, give someone a go)

(orig. Aus.) to try something or someone out, to take a chance on, to make an attempt.

S.A. Chron. & Wkly Mail (Adelaide) 19 Feb. 20/5: The children [...] seem to identify themselves thoroughly with the rollicking fun of the pretty opera, and vie with each other in giving it what in theatrical language is known as giving it a ‘go’.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 40: ‘Why the guy is a wonder,’ replied Tim [...] ‘All right, Tim, thanks I’ll give it a go and see him.’.
[UK](con. WWI) E. Lynch Somme Mud 129: ‘Here, Nulla, we’ll give it a go’ [...] We’re determined to give it a go so keep on.
[Aus]G.H. Lawson Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms [Internet] GIVE IT A GO—To make an attempt.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 108: Willy Strapp’s willing to give him a go if he can lick Red Stuart.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 10: We want people from the other side to see our State. Give it a go.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 180: I ain’t so sure sometimes that a man’s such a mug to work. Times when I almost feel like giving it a go meself.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 179: Me husbing’s heard of a job over in Dubbo, and he says if I can stay here, it’ll suit ’im till he sees whether he’ll give this job a go or not. [Ibid.] 308: Why, I’ll give it a go. Might as well be there as anywhere else.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 39: Look [...] we might give that place a go.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 20: Give us a go, you blokes, for Gawd’s sake!
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 30: Okay. I’ll give y’a go. If yer no good yer don’ get paid. Fair enough?
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 114: He was sayin’ he might give Corunna a go.
[US]T. Wolfe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1969) 104: The local press, including some of the hipper, smaller sheets, gave it a go.
[Aus](con. 1930s) F. Huelin ‘Keep Moving’ 4: We’ll bite the butcher and baker as we go in [...] They’re a hungry mob but we’ll give ’em a go.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Russians are Coming’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Well let’s give it a go, eh?
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 50/1: give it a birl/burl make an attempt; from causing the coin to spin in the game of two-up; also give it a go and give it a pop.
[Aus]Penguin Bk of More Aus. Jokes 229: That’s a bad stammer you’ve got. Nonetheless I’ll give you a go.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 153: ‘Do you think you can get up?’ ‘Give it a go.’.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 382: He’d just watch what everyone else was doing and give it a go himself.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 23 June 27: I would buy it. I’m willing to give it a go.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
[Aus]N. Cummins Tales of the Honey Badger [ebook] I gave it a red-hot go, bagging a bit of meat.
half-go (n.)

three pennyworth of spirits, usu. mixed with water.

[UK]Echo 7 Feb. 4, col. 3: Witness asked him what he had been drinking. He replied, ‘Two half-goes of rum hot and a half-pint of beer.’ [F&H].
have a go (v.)

1. to fight; usu. with at.

[Aus] ‘Fanny Flukem’s Ball’ in Bird o’ Freedom (Sydney) in J. Murray Larrikins (1973) 39: Then Micky from the Rocks jumped up / And said ‘Bli’me, ’er, you know, / If any bloke in the bleeding crowd / Would like to have a go.’.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 27 Nov. 133: Not till I’ve had a good go at that Pete Burge.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 20 Oct. 1050: I told the prisoner that, was not a manly thing to do—he had a go at me, but I got the best of it.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 215: Let go of me for Christ’s sake and let me have a go at the bastards!
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 81: A walloping big picture of blokes on horses having a go at each other with spears.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 62: ‘Come on. Break it up.’ [...] ‘Let ’em have a go.’.
[UK]F. Norman in Encounter n.d. in Norman’s London (1969) 64: Don’t you have a go at me, dear, otherwise I’ll get Butch to have a go at you.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Prisoner and Escort’ in Cockade (1965) I iii: Waiting on you to have a go. Have a go Blake – thump me you bastard.
[US]C. Himes Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 116: Both women were nude and badly mauled — scratched and beaten as though they’d had a furious go with each other.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 50: Both of them had a go at me.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 39: I jump off the bus and I walk smack-bang into four of ’em, and they all ’ave a go.
[UK]K. Sampson Awaydays 13: Come ’ead!! They’re here! They’re fucken having a go!
[US]J. Ridley Conversation with the Mann 55: He was fixing to have a go at these boys like he was Charlie Bad-Brother.

2. to attack verbally; usu. with at.

[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 212: You had a go back? You didn’t let him get away with it?
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: Don’t start ’avin’ a go at us, Lil.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 9: [He] had plenty of goes at me whenever he got the chance.
[UK]T. Parker Frying-Pan 13: You’ve really got to push the staff here before they start having a go back at you.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 393: Preparing himself for yet more reproaches from the female end of things (even Trish would be having a go at him later).
[UK]Sun. Tel. Mag. 11 Jan. 9: I was immensely relieved that he decided not to have a go at me.
[UK]G. Burn Happy Like Murderers 60: She stuck up for her a few times [...] when he had a go at her about anything.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan./Feb. 18: We don’t want them to see it as us just having a go at the Mayor.
[UK]K. Richards Life 494: When Bill Wyman left [...] I got extremely stroopy. I really did have a go at him.

3. to pick a fight.

[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 62: You tryinter ave a go [...] You? At me? You must be bonkers, dad.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 16: Well, go on, do you want to have a go?
make a go of (v.)

1. to succeed (despite the odds).

[[US]Harper’s Mag. LXXVII, 689: Determination to make the venture a go [F&H]].
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 519: They ain’t a jerk burg we hit all the time on the road that I couldn’t jump into an’ make a go.
[US]Van Vechten Nigger Heaven 224: I can’t think of anyone who could make a go of it.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 347: They wanted to make a go of this club.
[US]Kerouac letter 27 June in Charters (1995) I 157: So, working on railroads or ships, we’d make a go of it at least for a while.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 184: I’m just carrying on, trying to make a go of it, feeding the starving, but at their price.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 78: I bet we’d make a good go of it together.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 101: I didn’t make a very good go of it.
[US]T. Southern Blue Movie (1974) 134: Mister Wonderful had decided not to divorce his wife after all [...] (‘gotta try again to make a go of it with Ethel’).
[US]G.V. Higgins Rat on Fire (1982) 22: Even I could run away and make a go of it if that was what I wanted to do.
[Aus]L. Davies Candy 65: We’d try to make a go of dealing.
‘Purvy’ A Daughter takes Sides [Internet] She truly loved her daughter but she realized that they could never make a go of it together.

2. to put up with, to tolerate.

[US]J. Spenser Limey 25: I guess you’ll have to make a go of it with the Buick for a while.
no (great) go (adj.)


[UK]H. Smith Gale Middleton 1 149: That’s all, except his togs, which are no great go — though there’s a new castor.
on the go

1. on the verge of destruction.

[UK]E. Hickeringill Hist. Whiggism in Works (1709) I 133: They did so many Irrational, Senseless, and Destructive Acts, that almost all lay at Stake [...] and was just upon the go.

2. about to depart.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 217: When one of these [merchants] is upon the go, that is to say, must shortly decamp [etc].

3. drunk (usu. slightly), tipsy.

[UK]Egan Life in London (Peoples’ edn) 58: The Corinthian had made him a little bit on the go [F&H].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 12 Jan. 3/3: Nash was very lushy, Connors tipsy, and Buzzy getting boosey, or just getting on the go.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Rough House Johnny Lee’ 17 Nov. [synd. col.] He packed a Smith and Wesson, and they say he’d let ’er flicker / If any one should cross him when he was on the go.

4. active, lively.

[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 178: Sally Stephenson had cut some cross-legged capers, and altogether was on the fancy go.
[US]H.L. Williams Gay Life in N.Y. 93: The pretty waiter girls were continually on the go.
[US]E.S. Ellis Huge Hunter in Beadle’s Half Dime Library XI:271 8/2: He was on the ‘go’ continually.
[US]J. London Tramp Diary in Jack London On the Road (1979) 44: Teamsters & wagons were on the go; the commissary officers all life & motion; aide flying in all directions.
[Ire]L. Doyle Ballygullion 77: He was a terribly fidgety wee man, always on the go.
[US]E. O’Neill Recklessness in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 134: You know when you’re here we’re always on the go.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Sept. 14/1: And ’e’s on the go till ‘lights out,’ gettin’ cursed at by his captains, / Puttin’ action in his pupils – gettin’ cursed by them as well.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 142: She had me on the go night and day knocking off jugs to get her dough.
[US]Cab Calloway ‘Don’t Know If I’m Comin’ or Goin’’ [lyrics] You’ve got me on the go, / Running to and fro.
[UK]D. Davin For the Rest of Our Lives 311: They were all beginning to get the pricker a bit. No wonder. On the go since Syria.
[UK]J. Osborne Epitaph for George Dillon Act I: He’s a very busy chap. Always on the go.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 389: Shorty used to be always on the go, always trying to make that next dollar.
[Ire]T. Murphy Morning After Optimism in Plays: 3 (1994) Scene v: Leave me alone, I’m tired, I’ve been on the go!
[UK]P. Barker Blow Your House Down 17: She’d been on the go since six.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 166: What with all the booze I’ve taken on board today and being on the go for Christ knows how many hours, I thought for a minute it were a fookin mirage.

5. in a state of decline.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 100: I had that big Dago on the go at Coney Island.

6. nervous.

[US]C. Himes ‘The Something in a Colored Man’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 405: Eveytime he heard the name it put him on the go.

7. happening, going on.

[UK]P. Larkin letter 20 Mar. in Thwaite Sel. Letters (1992) 259: I’m glad to hear from you and to know you have another novel on the go.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 131: I’ve got a refreshing glass of neck-oil in one hand, a smoke on the go in the other.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 19: You’re no telling me that you’ve no got something oan the go?
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 75: Sitting on the top deck with a fag on the go.
square go (n.) [square adj. (1)]

a fair or well-matched fight or other contest, a fight without weapons; also attrib.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 28 Sept. 5/1: The Sullivan Molloy fight at Foley’s [...] will be a real square go, and worth going a long way to see.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 14 Nov. 1/1: [of horse races] The public got very few ‘square goes’ at the November meeting.
[UK](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 74: The fight had been a clean one, no blades, just heads and boots, all ‘square-goes’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 133: Square-go – (Scots) a fight without weapons.
[UK]I. Welsh ‘The Two Philosophers’ in Acid House 115: Thir’s only wahn way tae settle this argument: yous two in a squeer go ootside.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 347: Ah’d take any one ay yis in a square go!
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. [Internet] square-go... (1) widely used playground precursor to a sound ‘kicking’ – usually followed by ‘...pal’, ‘...Jimmy’ etc., ‘be very frightened!’.
[UK]I. Welsh Glue 44: Every cunt kens thit Gail wid batter fuck oot ay her in a square go.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 49: Keezbo habitually invents imaginary square-go scenarios between unlikely participants.
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 104: Yi’ll no be feart ay nae Hurricane Bawbag eftir this. In fact yi’ll be ootside wantin a square go wi the cunt!
[UK]G. Armstrong Young Team 46: There’s square-goes happenin like fuck noo.
sweet go (n.) [sweet adj.1 (7)]

(Aus. Und.) an easy crime.

[Aus]Smith & Noble Neddy (1998) 132: [The detective] got a drink and explained that he had an insurance job he wanted me to do. / ‘Are you interested in doing an armed robbery in town? It’s a sweet go,’ he said.

In exclamations

here’s a go!

(US) a toast that precedes drinking.

[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: After all have ‘nominated,’ such remarks pass as ‘spiel,’ ‘put it down,’ ‘here’s looking at you,’ ‘tip,’ ‘here’s a go.’.