Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot water n.

also warm water

1. difficulties, problems; usu. as in hot water.

[UK]Lisle Papers XI. 100 (P.R.O.): If they be to be had, I will have of them, or it shall cost me hot water [OED].
[UK] ‘The Faithful Lover’s Farewell’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1891) VII:2 545: The Dutch-man was ever a Traitor against their Soveraign; / We will make it cost him hott water e’re I come ashore againe.
[UK]A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess vi: Tho’ ye fud deave me wi’ your clatter, / Thinking to keep me in het water.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Mar. VII 341/2: Experience for had taught her, / That youthful blood at sixty-five / Keeps women in hot water.
[UK]J. Reynolds Blind Bargain I iii: What! more hot water! meddle between man and wife!
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]J. Thomson An Uncle Too Many I i: Another blockhead that wants to get into hot water?
[US]T. Haliburton Letter-bag of the Great Western (1873) 124: Dat is beating de English into de head wid de devil to it likewise. It keeps me in de boiling watare all de time.
[US]Maumee City Exp. (OH) 23 Mar. 2/2: A few neigborly ‘how d’ye do’s’ seem to have soused you clear to the gills in hot water.
[US]‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. III 67: We may get ourself into ‘hot water’ by alluding thus carelessly to this august set.
[UK]M. Lemon Jest Book 238: Show me the blade that is not out of temper when plunged into hot water.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Feb. 2/1: [H]aving got himself lately into hot water, [he] was desirous of having the consequent coolness of his freezing friends thawed by the genial gastronomy of a good guzzle.
in Boston Traveler 2 Oct. in Stallman (1966) 231: Stevie Crane seems to have gotten into warm water by his valiant defence of a young woman in police court.
[UK]W. Pett Ridge Mord Em’ly 98: Property often does make a lot of ’ot water, as we all know.
[UK]Sporting Times 4 Feb. 1/2: It’s only a bit more of his ‘kid’. He wants to give them the idea that he’s in hot water.
[UK]‘Ian Hay’ Lighter Side of School Life 201: You seem to have been getting into hot water all round.
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 8: When they git in hot water they all come cryin’ to you and me fo’ help.
[US]D. Fuchs Low Company 10: I know many a guy today who’s in hot water just because he was too nosey about other people’s affairs.
[US]B. Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run? (1992) 246: If your last few pictures are lemons, you’re in hot water.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 170: The young ladies’ll get into hot water if they go round with Bill Gough.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 225: You keep that trap of yours going and you’re going to be in real hot water.
[Aus]M. Bail Holden’s Performance (1989) 310: I soon found myself in hot water.
[UK]Guardian 23 July 6: Caribbean jaunt landed MPs in hot water.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 139: You carry a piece, you’ll be in hot water before the week is out.
[US]Star Trib. (Minneapolis, MN) 20 Apr. A6/4: ‘I’m just trying to make sure I ain’t in no water, man [...] I ain’t did shit’.

2. (US) in a restaurant, a cup of tea; also attrib.

[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 2nd series 27: ‘A frequenter of hot-water conventicles’—‘A drinker of scandal-broth’.
[US]N.Y. Herald 1 Apr. 9/6: During his stay in the restaurant the reporter learned several things he never knew [...] That ‘hot water’ meant tea.

3. see hot air n. (1)

In compounds

hot water house (n.)

(UK tramp) a very low level of lodging house; thus hot-water lodger.

Dly Teleg. & Courier 16 Feb. 3/1: Hot-water houses [...] drive a roaring trade. They are, as a rule, small houses containing only three rooms and [...] to be found in Little Cheapside, Cow-Heel-alley, Reform-place and Hot Water-court [...] The majority of these hot-water lodgers are cadgers and beggars [...] who cannot afford the fourpeny houses.