Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gas n.1

[fig. uses of SE gas]

1. pertaining to verbosity.

(a) (also gas work) idle or boastful talk, bombast, humbug.

[US]G. Morris in Sparks Life of G. Morris II 355: The immense amount raised by political gas could not bring down with it the supporting balloons [DAE].
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 43: [...] to enjoy the sweet and bracing air of the country, instead of inhaling quantities of Gas every step of midnight.
[US]W.T. Porter Quarter Race in Kentucky and Other Sketches 120: The boys said that was all gas, to scare them off; but ’twouldn’t work!
[US] in N.E. Eliason Tarheel Talk (1956) 273: Dr Ashe is speaking strongly of going to Alabama [...] but I am in hopes it is all gas work.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 8 June 5/7: The term ‘gas’ is frequently used to denote that peculiar kind of enthusiasm which wastes itself in mere words, without reference to the effect they may produce.
[US]R.W. Emerson Eng. Traits 129: Lord Shaftesbury calls the poor thieves together, and reads sermons to them, and they call it ‘gas’.
[Aus]N. Australian (Brisbane) 16 June 7/3: And there was a lot of gas. / And halso a lot of bloe. / And halso a lot of langwidge / witch It seem’d oncommon low.
[UK]Chambers’s Journal 15 Feb. 110: I don’t, an’ never could splice ends with them as blow off gas about gold-digging – saying it’s plunder easy come an’ easy gone, seeking the root of evil, an’ other granny talk which hasn’t no meaning [F&H].
[US]Appleton’s Journal (N.Y.) 16 Apr. 434/2: One pungent criticism we remember — on a pious and somewhat sentimental Sunday-school brother, who [...] had been pouring forth vague and declamatory religious exhortation — in the words ‘Gas! gas!’ whispered with infinite contempt from one hard faced young disciple to another.
[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 7 Jan. 1/7: [A]ll opinions not agreeing with their own are likely to be ‘cram,’ ‘gas,’ ‘rot’ or ‘rubbish’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Mar. 4/1: Australians may be given to ‘blowing,’ but ‘gas’ does not always carry the day, as was exemplified in a recent case of ‘trying it on,’ by our Sydney Gaslight Company.
[NZ]Tuapeka Times (Otago) 16 Sept. 4: He doesn’t care about other people’s business, and afterwards being obliged to swallow a lot of ‘gas’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 Aug. 17/2: The hard-headed ‘Pendragon’ [...] says [...] it is pleasant to set Stanbury’s act in contrast to ‘the blowing and the gas which in Australia go, as a rule, hand-in-hand with – not incompetency and dufferism, as with us, but with real right-down, first-chop talent, courage and ability.’.
Morton & LeBrunn ‘Twiggy Voo?’ in [Internet] Now a lover and his lass / Were exchanging spoony gas.
[UK]Marvel XV:385 Mar. 11: Now stop your gas and let us have some food!
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 26 May 4/8: When you’ve yarded and yapped to the nippers, / When you’ve bawled jingoistical gas.
[UK]Magnet 10 Sept. 3: I thought that was only gas, of course.
[US]M.G. Hayden ‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in DN IV:iii 199: gas, empty talk.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 22 Nov. 1/1: ‘Gas Balloons.’ Just slang for ‘Parliamentarians’.
[US]M. Levin Reporter 134: For cry sake, quit that gas. You newspaper guys.
[US]Mencken Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 566: There are, indeed, slang terms that have survived for centuries, never dropping quite out of use and yet never attaining to good usage. [...] Among nouns, gas for empty talk has been traced to 1847.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 104: Home, this is a little light gas I’m blowing.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 6: ‘Gators,’ it’s a natural gas you can’t zig a zag, everywhere you go cats will whisper, ‘drag,’ wake up Jackson don’t fall in my hole.
J. Davidson Two Timing Tart n.p.: Afraid of you? That’s a gas. He could stamp you out like an ant.
[US]Mad mag. Apr. 45: To think that I should, like, live to hear that kind of gas in my own pad!
[UK]J. Poller Reach 140: Outside [...] I spot Kirsty’s boyfriend doing gas with a wasted-looking tramp.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 244: Most commercial radio hosts have egos the size of Jupiter, emitting an equivalent amount of hot air. This is why it’s called the ‘gas giant’.

(b) one who is verbose, affectedly talkative.

[US]San Diego Sailor 70: The giddy old gas was simpering like a female impersonator.

2. (US) energy; thus out of gas, tired out.

[US]Chicago Sun. Trib. 24 Mar. n.p.: Maddigan [...] was runnin’ her out o’ gas tryin’ to get her to pay some attention to him [HDAS].
[US]J.P. McEvoy Showgirl 118: They’re running my poor Jimmy out of gas.
[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 65: They must’ve run out of gas by then, anyway, so they began to quiet down a little.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 71: He’s still got some gas.

3. (orig. Irish) as a positive descriptor.

(a) a very enjoyable, pleasant situation or experience.

[Ire]Joyce Dubliners (1956) 20: He told me he had brought it to have some gas with the birds.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 494: The gas we had on the Toft’s hobbyhorses. I’m giddy still.
[Ire]‘Flann O’Brien’ At Swim-Two-Birds 261: I never had such gas since I was a chiseller.
[UK]P. Kavanagh Tarry Flynn (1965) 105: I’m as well have a bit of gas while I can.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 6: Kitties pick up on this riff by C. It’s a gas, righteous beats and upstate muggin makes this cool Jim all the way uptown, let’s dig.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 121: Mix these [drugs] together and it’s a gas.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 149: It’s gonna be a gas to knock over these old hags.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 141: You’re the first American I’ve seen since I’ve been down here. That’s a gas. My Spanish is lousy.
[Ire]R. Doyle Snapper 94: It was a fuckin’ gas.
[UK]E. St Aubyn Some Hope 342: She had started ‘using’, [...] taking drugs, in the sixties, because it was ‘a gas’.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan. 84: It’s a gas.

(b) someone who is very pleasing, exciting, impressive.

[US]Kerouac letter 7 June in Charters II (1999) 41: Florence is a gas.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 190: Yeah, good old Tiny [...] He’s a real gas, ain’t he?
H. Leonard Life (1981) Act II: Well at least Lar is a bit of a gas.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 29: In Jamaica I found them just ace / a gas / great sense of humour.
[UK]A. Higgins Donkey’s Years 32: ‘Gas’ (’a gas article’) meant a merry grig, an amusing person.
Mark S. McGrew Vengeance Is Mine! 22: She’s a gas, that Karen.

4. (US tramp) any form of very strong, if poss. poisonous, drink.

[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 340: Gas—Wood alcohol; doped cider; ether, etc.
[US]A. Hardin ‘Volstead English’ in AS VII:2 86: Terms used for intoxicating liquor: Gas.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 84: Gas.- [...] Impure liquor, such as doped cider or wine, ‘needle beer,’ ‘smoke’ and the like.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 52: I dined on reefers and grubbed on dope / I inhaled gas like it was smoke.

In compounds


see separate entries.

gas-hound (n.) [-hound sfx]

1. (US tramp) a drinker of wood alcohol, ether, and similar intoxicating, if poss. poisonous, stimulants.

Amer. Parade II 172/1: He wouldn’t sneak around and take the shoes from the feet of a gas-hound who had passed out. Some of those lousy bums even stripped the pants off their victims!
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[US]R.O. Boyer Dark Ship 153: A drunk is always a ‘gas hound’.

2. an automobile.

Wayside Tales 21 134/1: Nothing worth while had happened except that Bobby had bought himself an eight cylinder gas hound.

3. an enthusiastic driver.

Long Is. RR Info. Bulletin 4:4 58: George Menching, another ‘gas hound,’ [...] had his sweet mama out for a spin; on being held up by traffic control, he had time to observe the pedestrians.
[US]Jrnl Social Hygiene 9 68: A ride with a ‘gas-hound’ or ‘chicken-hawk’ [...] without very definite sex temptation which often ends in the choice between an assault or being put out of the car, miles from town.
gaspipe (n.)

see separate entry.

gas work (n.)

see sense 1a above.

In phrases

all (is) gas and gaiters [sense 2 plays on image of a pompous, sermonizing (and be-gaitered) bishop]

1. satisfactory, as desired.

[UK]Dickens Nicholas Nickleby (1982) 648: She is come at last—at last—and all is gas and gaiters!
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Mar. 2/2: The Tub was heard privately to express his opinion that all was gas and gaiters.
[UK]Luton Times 25 Sept. 4/4: Music, light, and colour, lend their enchantment [...] all is ‘gas and gaiters’.
[Aus]W. Tyrwhitt New Chum in the Queensland Bush 72: However I was come, and ‘all was gas and gaiters’ for the rest of the day.
F. Rolfe How I was Buried Alive 162: And then came a rush of dancing dervishes, and all was gas and gaiters.
F. Norris Responsibilities of the Novelist 93: Once land him in New York and all would be gas and gaiters.
E.C. Bentley Trent’s Last Case (1929) 241: Mabel and I are betrothed, and all is gas and gaiters.
[UK]A. Christie Secret of Chimneys xiii: I’ve only got to get hold of dear old Stylptitch’s Reminiscences and all will be gas and gaiters.
[UK]J. Braine Room at the Top (1959) 88: Do what Uncle Charles advises, and all will be gas and gaiters.
Wodehouse Ice in the Bedroom 21: She cries ‘Oh, Freddie darling!’ and flings herself into his arms, and all is gas and gaiters again.
H. MacInnes Snare of the Hunter 219: All was gas and gaiters in the front half of the room.

2. nonsense, rubbish, pomposity, bombast.

[UK]A.C. Benson Trefoil 26: My father was profoundly irritated by him, and said something [...] about ‘gas and gaiters’ which seemed to us a harsh description of so pretty a man [OED].
G.B. Shaw Adventures Black Girl 67: Its [i.e. the Bible’s] one great love poem is the only one that can satisfy a man who is really in love. Shelley’s Epipsychidion is, in comparison, literary gas and gaiters.
BBC TV [sitcom title] All Gas and Gaiters.
[UK](con. WW2) T. Jones Heart of Oak [ebook] Those bloody little blokes are always the worst when they got a bit of power over you; all bleeding gate and gaiters, they are, see?
Br. Journal Radiology 70 865: [heading] Not All Gas and Gaiters?
it’s a gas

(US/UK teen) a phr. indicating that everything is fine, ‘it’s all wonderful’.

[UK]Jagger & Richards ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ [lyrics] I was born in a cross-fire hurricane / And I howled at my ma in the driving rain, / But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas! / But it’s all right. I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash, / It’s a Gas! Gas! Gas!
[UK]Guardian 17 May [Internet] You can’t see who you’re talking to, have little idea what you’re eating and not a lot of it ends up in your mouth. Pleasingly, however, everyone bypasses vous and slips into the familiar tu form of address. After a while, it’s a gas.
out of gas (adj.)

1. (US) unsuccessful, past one’s prime.

[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 19: When you’re out of gas, that’s all, brother.

2. see sense 2 above.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to SAmE gas, gasoline, i.e. petrol

In compounds

gas-guzzler (n.) (also guzzler) [colloq. guzzler, a heavy drinker/eater]

the trad. enormous US automobile, profligate of petrol and dwarfing its European rivals; symbolic of the 1950s, out of favour in the energy-conscious 1970s, it staged a renaissance in the 1990s; 2000s saw the term applied to the controversial SUVs.

[US]Life 22 Oct. 30: Why buy a ‘Gas Guzzler’? Rambler travels miles on mere sips of gas ... with scarcely a flicker of the fuel gauge.
[US]Life 15 Nov. 122: All fed up with emptying your pockets to fill up a gas guzzler? The sparkling all-new Rambler American delivers its spirited performance together with gas mileage that has topped every economy run officially entered.
[UK]A. Sampson Seven Sisters 320: The reign of the Big Car seemed to have abruptly ended; in Detroit in the height of the crisis, there was a pervasive gloom about the prospects for the ‘gas-guzzlers’.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Senior Citizen Caine’ Minder [TV script] 68: Oh that. Bleeding gas guzzler.
[UK]Guardian 14 July 11: The grand prix, he said, was the biggest meeting of gas guzzlers in the country.
[US]N.Y. Rev. July 16: The taxpayer can use his rebate to fill his gas-guzzler if he likes.
gas jockey (n.) [jockey n.2 (3b)]

(US) a gas/petrol station attendant.

[US]Jet 3 Feb. 18: Donning a gas jockey’s uniform to aid the 1955 March of Dimes drive, Congressman Charles C. Diggs of Detroit fills up the tank.
[US]Pop. Science Sept. 49: As the gas jockey refueled us, he asked, ‘You mix your oil and gas in this thing, like in an outboard?’.
[US]H. Ellison ‘Neither Your Jenny nor Mine’ in Love Ain’t Nothing but Sex Misspelled 67: ‘You save Blue Chip stamps?’ the gas jockey asked.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 212: Wanda Windshield (kwn SF, ’70, gas jockey).
[US]Western Folklore XXXVI 176: Ranch hand, flunky, ice house worker, and gas jockey.
[US]National Lampoon Aug. 16: A fellow...tricked a...gas jockey into admitting he had destroyed motorists’ battery terminals [HDAS].
T. Mahovlich Big M 96: The gas-jockey was a good sport.
[Can]Winnipeg Sun 18 July [Internet] [headline] Gas jockey foils thief. Won’t give cash, sends him packin’ pantsless.
gas queen (n.) [-queen sfx (2)]

(US gay) a man who picks up male prostitutes from his car.

[US]Maledicta IX 145: In Los Angeles […] the boulevard boys on Selma, Hollywood, and Sunset boulevards try to […] connect with paying customers who cruise by in cars (gas queens).
gas wagon (n.)

1. (US) a car.

Automobile Topics 4 375: The new l6-hp. gas wagon being built by the International Motor Car Company.
[US]W.M. Raine Wyoming (1908) 43: I ain’t used to them gas wagons.
[US]Alaska Citizen 28 July 8/4: She never gets closer to [a lady] than [...] when some swell dame buzzes past in her gas-wagon.
[US]Ogden Standard-Examiner (UT) 5 Feb. 12/2: ‘The buzz buggy,’ ‘the gas wagon,’ ‘the bus,’ ‘the litle ol’ boat,’ ‘the road louse,’ ‘the buckboard’ — a wealth of pet names.

2. in fig. use, a band-wagon, i.e. the prevailing trend.

[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 227: Who can blame them if they fall over themselves to get in the social credit gas-wagon?

In phrases

give (it) the gas (v.) (also give her the gas)

(US) to move fast, to accelerate.

B&O Mag. 8 51/1: The boys on the engine sure did give her the gas and we just had a dandy ride.
[US]E. Wheelan Don. K. Haughty [comic strip] Give ’er the gas, ‘Pennyante’!!
[US]Pacific Reporter XXXIV 578: Get into a lower gear and give it the gas.
[US]L.D. Rich We Took to Woods (1948) 66: I remember shoving for dear life while Ralph gave her the gas [DA].
[US]Where the Sidewalk Ends [film script] A detective jumps in my cab and says ‘Follow that black sedan, it’s full of thieves.’ So I give her the gas.
[US]Jerry Lee Lewis ‘End of the Road’ [lyrics] You can jump in my Ford and give her the gas, / Pull out the throttle, don’t take no sass.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 94: ‘Give her the gas, boys!’ he shouted, tossing back his head and breaking into a run.
Stewart & Gilbert Airpower 259: Give us the nod. and we’ll give it the gas.
[US]D. Pinckney High Cotton (1993) 115: He fished out five dollars and gave the MG the gas.
W. Lamb Couldn’t Keep It to Myself 296: ‘Okay, now, give it the gas and ease off the clutch gently.’ ‘How am I ever going to shift, let up on the clutch, and give it gas all at the same time.’.
punch the gas (v.)

(US) to accelerate an automobile; to drive fast.

[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 269: Just before we came to a halt it [i.e. a traffic light] turned green and he punched the gas.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 11: Somehow I knew it was coming, so I ducked and punched the gas.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 66: Dewey punched the gas, going south on 14th.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 155: The cops punched the gas. They laid tread and pursued.
take the gas pipe (v.) (also give oneself a gas supper, take the pipe)

(US) to commit suicide by inhaling gas.

[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 176: Poor bitch’s been and give herself a gas supper.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 153: Part of the gang who are going to be dying in the very near future unless they get smart and take the gas pipe.
J. Ciardi In Fact 42: Look through your town for the man most likely to put his head into the oven: she married him, prodded him into having six kids before he did take the gas-pipe.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 181: take the pipe v. 1. Commit suicide. 2. Kill oneself via an overdose of a drug.

General uses

In compounds

gasface (n.) [? the image is of a user of laughing gas; coined by the hip-hop group 3rd Bass]

(US teen) a contorted face, either with pleasure or disgust.

3rd Bass ‘The Gas Face’ [lyrics] Cactus Album [album] A Gas Face, can either be a smile or a smirk / When appears, a monkey wrench to work one’s clockwork.
3rd Bass ‘No master plan, no master race’ [lyrics] Derelicts of Dialect [album] The same people that got the gasface last year.
[US]G. Tate Midnight Lightning 31: Hendrix figures too prominently [...] for us to allow this sorryass state of affairs to go by without getting the gas face.
gas-house mick (n.)

see separate entry.

gaslighter (n.)

(UK Und.) a stunning blow.

[UK] ‘Battle’ in Fancy I XVII 407: The combatants now got into a desperate rally, and Josh, receiving the most pepper, till he put in a Gaslighter in the middle of his opponents mug, that not only sent him staggering some yards, but produced the pink gushing out of both of his peepers.
gas-meter bandit (n.) [the biggest ‘job’ he attempts is robbing the gas-meter]

a petty thief.

L. Deighton Only When I Laugh 216: ‘Cheap little gas-meter bandit.’ ‘How can you be sure?’ I asked Silas. ‘I can smell them’.
N. Freeling What Are the Bugles Blowing For? 120: Supposed to be no guns in England — you know; every bloody airgun licensed by magistrates — whereas every little gas meter bandit has got one.
A. Hill Cage of Shadows 255: I went inside as a gas-meter-bandit; I came out fully educated in matters criminal.
S. Christie Christie File III186: The cells were all two and three to a cell, something not conducive to concentration or contemplation, especially if you were banged up with a fool, low-life gas-meter bandit.
M. Cole Close n.p.: He’s a standing joke, a by-word for liars and thieves. He's one leg up from a fucking gas-meter bandit.

In phrases

gas oneself up (v.)

to ‘pysch oneself up’ by means of verbal aggression.

[UK]G. Knight Hood Rat 111: Ribz leans on his fists, bragging about what he’s going to do to those motherfuckers, gassing himself up.
gaspipe (n.)

see separate entry.

give gas (v.)

1. to beat.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

2. (US, also stow gas) to scold, to verbally abuse or ridicule.

[US]N.Y. Morning Express 1 Jan. 2/4: Driscoll met him [Cornelius Cuddy] and said, ‘You son of a b--h, who are you giving gas to?’ and struck him.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 119: You can stow that gas for all me: Net an’ me is goin’ to flit right now.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 81: You never used to give me gas before.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 125: Give gas Tease or annoy someone.
put the gas on (v.) (Aus.)

1. to trick verbally, to 'spin someone a yarn’.

[UK]‘Flare Up!’ in Rake’s Budget in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 65: She thought she’d put the gas on him /[...] / She thought as how the cove to chouse.

2. to exert pressure on a person for a loan, a favour, sexual compliance etc.

[Aus]Bulletin n.p.: Note ‘to put the gas on’ – a variant of ‘to put the acid on’, – the latter familiar slang from the mine-assayer’s lexicon.
T. Everett ‘Interview with Jayne Simon’ in Lip Service [Internet] One of the keys to a company’s success is knowing when to put the gas on and when to put the brakes on, metaphorically speaking.
take gas (v.)

1. (US) to be scolded and abused.

[US]Current Sl. I:3 7/2: Take gas, v. To take abuse.

2. (orig. US campus) to do badly.

[US]Current Sl. III:1 13: Take gas, v. To do badly on anything.
[US]Current Sl. IV:1.
[US](con. 1964) G. Wolff Duke of Deception (1990) 235: Only a couple of friends took gas, were deep-sixed from Princeton prematurely and against their wishes.
[US]G. Pelecanos Way Home (2009) 193: I know we’ve had a little downturn in business [...] Hell, everybody’s taking gas in this economy.

3. to kill oneself, by any method.

[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 44: If that whacko bitch wanted to take gas, fuck it, it ain’t our fault.
take the gas (v.) (also take the gas route) [the gas that knocks one out at the dentist’s]

1. to endure punishment, esp. in a boxing ring.

[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 5: For 4 bits I’d take the gas route. I’m done. Never again!
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 6: take the gas – to fail in an important situation.

2. to commit suicide by inhaling gas.

[US]Green Book Mag. 14 766/1: If it wasn’t that I was working to make Hazel see the light [...] I’d prob’ly take the gas route.
[US]Munsey’s Mag. 77 553/2: At times it had seemed as if it would be best to give in — to take the gas route out of it all.