Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gas n.1

[fig. uses of SE gas]

1. pertaining to verbosity.

(a) [late 18C+] (also gas work) idle or boastful talk, bombast, humbug.

(b) [1970s] one who is verbose, affectedly talkative.

2. [1910s+] (US) energy; thus out of gas, tired out.

3. [1910s+] (orig. Irish) as a positive descriptor.

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

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

4. [1920s–60s] (US tramp) any form of very strong, if poss. poisonous, drink.

In compounds


see separate entries.

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

1. [1920s–40s] (US tramp) a drinker of wood alcohol, ether, and similar intoxicating, if poss. poisonous, stimulants.

2. an automobile.

3. an enthusiastic driver.

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. [mid-19C+] satisfactory, as desired.

2. [1920s+] nonsense, rubbish, pomposity, bombast.

it’s a gas

[1960s+] (US/UK teen) a phr. indicating that everything is fine, ‘it’s all wonderful’.

out of gas (adj.)

1. [1940s] (US) unsuccessful, past one’s prime.

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]

[1950s+] 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.

gas jockey (n.) [jockey n.2 (3b)]

[1950s+] (US) a gas/petrol station attendant.

gas queen (n.) [-queen sfx (2)]

[1980s] (US gay) a man who picks up male prostitutes from his car.

gas wagon (n.)

1. [1900s–30s] (US) a car.

2. [1930s] in fig. use, a band-wagon, i.e. the prevailing trend.

In phrases

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

[1920s+] (US) to move fast, to accelerate.

punch the gas (v.)

[1970s+] (US) to accelerate an automobile; to drive fast.

take the gas pipe (v.) (also give oneself a gas supper, take the pipe)

[1940s+] (US) to commit suicide by inhaling gas.

General uses

In compounds

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

[1980s+] (US teen) a contorted face, either with pleasure or disgust.

gas-house mick (n.)

see separate entry.

gaslighter (n.)

[early 19C] (UK Und.) a stunning blow.

gas-meter bandit (n.) [the biggest ‘job’ he attempts is robbing the gas-meter]

[1960s+] a petty thief.

In phrases

gas oneself up (v.)

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

gaspipe (n.)

see separate entry.

give gas (v.)

1. [mid–late 19C] to beat.

2. [mid-19C+] (US, also stow gas) to scold, to verbally abuse or ridicule.

put the gas on (v.) [1900s] (Aus.)

1. [mid-19C] to trick verbally, to 'spin someone a yarn’.

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

take gas (v.)

1. [1950s+] (US) to be scolded and abused.

2. [1960s+] (orig. US campus) to do badly.

3. [1960s+] to kill oneself, by any method.

take the gas (v.) (also take the gas route) [the gas that knocks one out at the dentist’s]

1. [20C+] to endure punishment, esp. in a boxing ring.

2. to commit suicide by inhaling gas.