Green’s Dictionary of Slang

drag n.1

1. (UK Und.) in the context of theft.

(a) a form of ‘rod’, whereby robbers ‘fish’ items from a shop window; then a tool for breaking the lock of a safe.

[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 255: The Drag, which is, having a Hook fasten’d to the end of a Stick, with which they drag any thing out of a Shop Window in a dark Evening.
[US]J. Hawthorne Confessions of Convict 233: A simple tool, but very powerful and noiseless in its work, is the ‘drag’.
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 247: Drag. burglar’s tool.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 403: Drag [...] Yegg’s tool used to pull out spindle of safe.

(b) the robbery of vehicles, initially horse-drawn, subseq. motorized; also attrib.; thus done/lagged for a drag, convicted of robbing a wagon or cart; by ext. the actual robber.

[UK] ‘Flash Lang.’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 19: A drag, one that robs a waggon on the high way.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: The cove was lagged for a drag. The man was transported for stealing something out of a waggon.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 237: The drag, is the game of robbing carts, waggons, or carriages, either in town or country, of trucks, bale-goods, or any other property. Done for a drag, signifies convicted for a robbery of the before-mentioned nature.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 92: But since you’ve been out you’ve learned new names for the game, / such as till-tapping, the carpet, the rope, and the drag, [all con games] which all leads up to one thing.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 71: He was an old ‘Drag’ man, with his bit getting short.

(c) (US Und.) a theft; also attrib.

[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 205: The pirate seemed to chuckle at so successful a drag.
[US]N.-Y. Enquirer 30 May 2/4: Catherine Roff, who was implicated in an extensive robbery, last year, was brought up, charged with having made a wholesale drag, at the house of Mr. Jonathan Fay, 66 William-st., where she was a servant.
[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 92: ‘Drag’ work is a rather complicated kind of stealing.

2. as a vehicle, i.e. that which is dragged (by horses or an engine).

(a) a ferryboat.

[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 7 June 94/1: We helped the Ferry Man to pull up the Drag. [the Ferry-Boat] and we crossed the Water to Lambeth.

(b) a one- or two-horse wagon or cart.

[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: dragg a waggon, or cart.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Egan ‘A Modern Mill’ Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. (1827) 220: Coster-mongers in drags went to witness the slaughter.
[Ire]C.J. Lever Harry Lorrequer 71: No sooner did he join that popinjay set of fellows [...] he turned out, what he calls, a four-in-hand drag.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 232: They had at least sixteen six-pounders, all loaded, and pointed at the drag [...] in the event of us refusing to give Jack a lift.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 30 Sept. 2/4: A cab-driver [...] charging sixpence above his legitimate fare, to the great danger, detriment, and inconvenience of the purse and person of a live Magistrate of the Territory [...] who had condescended to patronise his ‘drag’.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall (1926) 72: We must have the drag overhauled [...] and I vote we have the ballet-girl [...] painted out and a rattling Fox with a ‘tallyho’ painted in.
[US] ‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Matsell Vocabulum 98: Jumping Jack, who was done last week, for heaving a peter from a drag.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 121/2: Tom ’el cum wi’ a good ‘prad’ and ‘drag,’ an’ we’ll aul start off tugether.
[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 7 Jan. 1/7: If he possesses a vehicle, it is invariably a ‘trap,’ or ‘drag;’ and he no longer drives: he ‘tools it’.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 63: Up one of these openings we drew the drag.
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Sea-Side’ Punch 10 Sept. 111/2: Wots the hodds if yer rides in a kerredge, or drives in a double-’orse drag.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 20 May 3/1: After listening to your ravings from the box-seat of a drag [etc.].
[UK]W.S. Maugham Liza of Lambeth (1966) 20: They’ve got drag startin’ from the ‘Red Lion’ that’s goin’ down ter Chingford.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 158: It was the drag, and not a sulky. Harold occupied the driver’s seat, and the other occupants were all ladies.
[Aus]E. Dyson Spats’ Fact’ry (1922) 144: He was in the same drag with Bodio and Nettie Mulholland.

(c) a type of stagecoach, drawn by four horses, with seats on top.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress xiii: Thespis having first performed in a drag. [...] The Flash term for a cart.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 75: You should have had a drag to whisk off the swag in.
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 7 Apr. 3/1: They were accompanied by a respectable train of ‘swell drags’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Feb 2/6: [heading] A cheap commopdious and slap-up drag.
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis I 180: So reckless was his driving and frequent the accidents and upsets out of his drag.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 127: Verdant gave up his name and that of his college with a thrill of terror, and nearly fell off the drag from fright.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act III: Lark, lush, and a latch-key – a swell rig-out, and lots of ready in the pockets – a drag at Epsom and a champagne lunch on the hill!
[Aus]C. Money Knocking About in N.Z. 10: That worthy professional [...] persisted in keeping his trap crawling at a slow pace exactly in front of the four-in-hand drag that Ramsey was driving.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Road’ Punch 9 Aug. 83/1: ’Twas a bit of a beanfeast, you see, and our lot tooled it down in a drag.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 29 Nov. 15/2: [A] lovely spring morning, with the sun tooling his golden ‘drag’ [...] o’erhead.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 14 Mar. 10/3: He starts for his scholastic class / Upon the Sydney shores; / When at the ferry he is met / All by a drag and four!
[UK]Sporting Times 30 Jan. 7/1: There are some very pretty champagne and chicken practice to be made at the numerous drags there [i.e. Ascot race course] assembled.
[UK]G. du Maurier Trilby 232: On the box seat of a nobleman’s drag.
[Aus] ‘Sam Holt’ ‘Banjo’ Paterson Old Bush Songs 72: They say you’ve ten thousand per annum, Sam Holt, / In England, a park and a drag.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 8 Apr. 4/8: We started away from the worf in a four-’orse drag.
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 83: Young Butler was detaching the drag.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

(d) a hand-cart.

[UK]Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: Sooner than murder my carcass vith that there faik, I’d scrape about the streets vith a drag (hand cart).

(e) a prison van, a Black Maria.

[UK](con. 1900–30) A. Harding in Samuel East End Und. 282: The drag – The Black Maria. Prison van. ‘The bleeding drag’s a long time coming,’ you might say when you were waiting in the cells to be taken to prison.

(f) a motorcar, thus vehicles in general.

[US](con. 1910–20s) D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 118: Drag ... vehicle.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 63: To-day smash and grab bandits call a stolen motor car a ‘crooked drag.’ A motor car genuinely owned by a raider is a ‘straight drag’ [...] A ‘bizzie drag’ is a flying squad car from Scotland Yard.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 188: All I want is enough money to live on and a nice place to live and maybe a little drag.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 181: ‘Get in the drag’ means get in the car.

(g) (US tramp) a (slow) freight-train.

[US]C. Samolar ‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in AS II:9 388: A freight is called a drag. Dise-drag (merchandise), silk-drag, coal-drag, fruit-drag and slow drag result from this word.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 204: Drag – A long, slow-moving freight train.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 61/2: Drag. [...] 3. (Hobo) A slow freight train.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 13: I want to get into Saskatoon in time to catch a drag to Winnipeg in the afternoon.

(h) a van.

[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 330: drag (a) : A van.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 181: Drag [...] (b) a van.

3. (US Und.) a prisoner.

[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 292: Drag a prisoner.

4. (Scot. Und.) a watch chain.

[UK]D. Haggart Autobiog. 20: We observed a conish cove, who sported an elegant dross-scout, drag, and chats.

5. a period of imprisonment lasting three months; but note cites 1835, 1894, 1941.

[UK] ‘The Slap-Up Cracksman’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 42: Who would / [...] / Stow a chum within a drag; / Or Norway neckcloth’s knot.
[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: a drag, twelve months.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 219/2: Sometimes they are detected, and get a ‘drag’ (three months in prison).
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 10/1: He thought himself very lucky to get off with a ‘drag’ (three months in ‘sturbin’).
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 501: A reeler came up to me and rapped (said) ‘Now — , you had better go away, or I shall give you a drag (three months in prison)’.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 24: Kit, from 7 dials, remanded innocent on 2 charges of pokes, only out 2 weeks for a Drag, expects to get fullied or else chucked.
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 151: The case was met with three months with hard labour, and for all that Scuddy Lond had so clearly pointed out the sole culpability of Drink, he had to do the drag himself.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 18 Mar. 4/8: ‘I can give you six months,’ says he [i.e. the magistrate] and I thought what a terrible time I would have doing a ‘drag’ in a West Australian ‘jug’ .
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life I 49: They had them at the Police Station where they locked me up for my ‘drag’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 16 Sept. 4/7: They parst me a drag for peltin’ it at ’im.
[UK]D. Stewart Vultures of the City in Illus. Police News 19 Jan. 12/4: ‘My pal Bond, the Butcher, who is now doing a drag (three months)’.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 22 Jan. 10/4: To the prisoner [...] a sentence of one month is a ‘moon’; of three months a ‘drag’; of six months, a ‘sixer’ or ‘zack’; twelve months a ‘stretch’; and five years a ‘fin.’.
[Aus]V. Marshall World of Living Dead (1969) 83: ‘How long?’ I muttered [...] ‘Stretch — two-drags — coomyerlative. Three charges agin’ me — righteous, vag, an’ resistin’.’.
[Aus]E. Pugh in Advertiser (Adelaide) 12 Apr. 24/8: ‘Drag’ means three months imprisonment.
[US](con. 1910–20s) D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 118: Drag ... three months’ imprisonment.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 291: Jamieson had collected on aggregate charges what a more hardened gaol-bird would call a ‘drag’ or three months.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 255: A drag. Six months’ imprisonment.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 19: Julie won’t be back for another two months. She got a drag — three months.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxiv 4/3: drag: A small prison sentence usually about three months.
[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 3: ‘Don’t mind a bit of corn myself. Look like doin a drag wen I front tomorrow,’ was the boastful reply.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: ‘Whatyer get?’ ‘A drag.’.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 25: Drag Three months or less in gaol.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Drag. 1. A three month prison sentence.

6. something along which one is ‘dragged’ or ‘drags oneself’.

(a) a street; also attrib.; thus main drag n. (1), the main street; back drag, back street.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 33: DRAG, a street, or road; back-drag, back street.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]W. Newton Secrets of Tramp Life Revealed 8: Drag ... Name of a Street.
[US]J. London ‘’Frisco Kid’s Story’ in High School Aegis X (15 Feb.) 2–3: He wuz de swiftest scrapper on de drag.
[US]J. London ‘Local Color’ Complete Short Stories (1993) I 688: The drag, my dear fellow, is merely the street.
[US]C. Samolar ‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in AS II:9 390: A street is a drag (from the railroad term).
[US] ‘Sl. among Nebraska Negroes’ in AS XIII:4 Dec. 316/2: Twenty-fourth Street in Omaha is known as the drag or the main stem.
[US]F. Brown Dead Ringer 103: Want a drink [...] At the tavern a block down the drag, where we were the other night?
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 61/2: Drag. 1. A street, avenue, or road.
[US]G. Swarthout Where the Boys Are 5: Build the loveliest drag strip in history and put our hot-rodders on it.
[US]San Diego Sailor 28: After a while he told me we were on a drag they call the Strip.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 1358: He parked on the main drag.
[US]L. Rodríguez Always Running (1996) 63: A straight drag south on the San Gabriel River freeway.
[UK]Scotland on Sun. Mag. 7 Nov. 16: Friday night down the drag.

(b) a long distance, which will make for tedious travelling.

[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 444: Drag, (2) A long, disagreeable ride.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 33: It’s a long drag from Tijuana and one of the dullest drives in the state.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 100: To deaden the long drag back I bought a newspaper, sat up front on the top deck.

(c) (US tramp) a railroad line.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 66: Drag.- [...] a railroad line.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 236: My clothes were clean, but shabby with riding the drag.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 797: drag – a railroad line.

7. any person or object that fig. impedes progress.

(a) a disappointment, a pity, a nuisance, a task that one has no desire to perform; a bore.

[US] Annals of the Army of the Cumberland 61: ‘General, you are leading a hard life,’ we remarked [...] ‘Yes, rather hard, and if this life were all, it would be a wretched drag.’.
[US]‘Bill Nye’ Bill Nye and Boomerang 168: Until women’s suffrage came among us, life was a drag – a monotonous sameness, and simultaneous continuousness.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman (1992) 9: What you want is a drag, my boy.
[[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘Drifting Apart’ in Roderick (1972) 604: They [i.e. children] were an awful drag in the city].
[UK]Marvel 17 Apr. 14: ‘I’ve been a terrible drag on you.’ ‘You – a drag?’ he cried [...] ‘You’ve been a little angel to me!’.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 30 July 11/1: The trek here was a drag because we latched onto one of those [...] rattlers that stopped at every shack on the line.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 10 Feb. 7/1: Hi Billy — I hope you won’t dig me as being a drag in layin’ this line on you.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 31: Wham, I woke up to find myself in jail again. It was getting to be a drag.
[UK]Picture Post 15 Jan. 20: I didn’t want pregnancy to become a drag.
[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] Who needs the Taj Mahal when it’s a drag to live at all?
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 125: When this gets to be a drag we’ll steal a car and cut out.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 15: It would be a drag to try and save one for Mick.
[US]H. Selby Jr Requiem for a Dream (1987) 7: The neighborhood was absolutely [...] black [...] This was the only drag about copping from Brody.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 118: ‘It’s a nightmare sitting through that stuff. It’s dead, dead.’ ‘Is it necessarily such a drag?’.
[US] Hip-Hop Connection Dec. 20: I didn’t want to stay in Queens, it would be a big drag.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 251: Move into a motel. That’s going to be a nice drag just for one night.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 72: School’s a drag.
[UK]K. Richards Life 287: It was a reakl drag to wake up every day with these bluebottles around your door, these bobbies.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] ‘Come on, baby, don’t be a drag. Dance with me’.

(b) a lie, a deception.

[US]‘Lord Buckley’ Hiparama of the Classics 17: Some claim that Brutus’s story was a drag, / But I dug the story was solid!

(c) (also dragger) of a person, a disappointment, a hanger-on, a pest.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Feb. 3/1: Mr. Gough, a gentleman who is studying the Law, and a regular drag, was plaintiff.
[UK]A. Mathews Tea Table Talk I 106: I should like to have Mrs. Sheridan at my music on Tuesday, but then There’s that drag of a husband .
[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Press 8 July in Stallman (1966) 64: Binks [...] replied with a look that called his wife a drag [...] the weight of his existence.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 32: drag, n. A bore.
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 206: He says to tell you not to think we’ll ever be a drag on him.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Loving (1978) 85: Well I’ve got to take those little draggers out this afternoon.
[US]N. Algren ‘Watch Out for Daddy’ in Entrapment (2009) 143: What a drag a woman with a habit can be [...] what a day-to-day burden—.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 29: If you get known to be a ‘drag’ [...] you can’t do business.
[UK]‘Raymond Thorp’ Viper 15: I had nothing aganst drugs [...] it would have been square to be antagonistic towards them [...] I should have been a ‘drag’.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 85: You’re a bleedin’ drag sometimes.
[US]L. Kramer Faggots 162: Sleep was for lazies [...] and the plainly slags and drags.
[US]Da Bomb Summer Supplement 5: Drag [...] (n.) 2. Someone who is boring, lazy and not fun to hang around with.

(d) (US black campus) an old-fashioned person.

[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl.

(e) a depressing atmosphere.

[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 30: There is no drag like U.S. drag.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 63: The oldlady almost put a drag on the party by diggin up a record with some dame singin Because.

(f) of drugs, second-rate.

[US]N. Heard House of Slammers 88: I need the best I can find. / So you cop me a bag, and if it ain’t no drag, / I’ll let you cop some mo’e.

8. in the context of clothing, which ‘drags along’ the ground, and ext. uses [orig. theatrical use, which stressed the drag of a long dress along the floor, as opposed to tight-fitting trousers. The first OED citations (1870) imply fancy dress; gay refs. not overt until 20C].

(a) female dress as worn by men, but not in a homosexual context, e.g. on stage.

[UK]Reynold’s 29 May n.p.: ‘Police Proceedings.’ [...] We shall come in drag, which means wearing women’s costumes [F&H].
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 117/1: Drag (Theat.) Petticoat or skirt used by actors when playing female parts. Derived from the drag of the dress, as distinct from the non-dragginess of the trouser.
[US]R. McAlmon Miss Knight (1963) 62: I wuz at the Y.M.C.A. – in drag you know – some outfit I had too, stars and spangles and jewels all over me.
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 136: Miss Savoy, the notorious impersonator came sailing by, in a grand drag.
[US]L. Hughes Tambourines to Glory Prologue: I put on drag sometimes.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 93: [It] specializes in shows in drag with men made up as women.
[US]Rigney & Smith Real Bohemia xi: He became known as [...] ‘Margaret Mead in drag’.
[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 31: I played ‘house’ with Connie and dolled up in my drags.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 175: What’d he say? The Catholics were Baptists in drag?
[NZ]H. Beaton Outside In I ii: They all looked like men. Even the screws. I thought they were men in drag.
(con. 1930s) Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 41: ‘The boys were doing a drag show and someone tipped the police off [...] They let the show go on all the way right up to the end [...] with the girls [...] in their drag and everything.
[UK]D. Farson Never a Normal Man 170: Plucked eyebrows, the black mascara and the scarlet gown worn on special occasions, the only sign of the ‘drag’ deplored by the Australians in the train.
[US]N. Tosches Where Dead Voices Gather (ms.) 296: The song was being performed by the blackface vaudeville team of Baker and Farrell – one of them in proto-Jemima drag – when it was heard by Chris Rutt, a man in search of a name for his new self-rising pancake mix.

(b) female dress as worn by homosexual males; also male dress as worn by lesbians.

[UK]J. Fiske letter in Pearsall Worm in Bud (1969) 463: He tells me you are living in drag [...] the thought of you – Lais and Antinous in one – is ravishing.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 149: Drag feminine attire worn by men. A recent notorious impersonation case led to the publication of the word in that sense.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 117/1: Drag [...] Also [the name] given to feminine clothing by eccentric youths when dressing up in skirts.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 30: drag [...] Amongst female impersonators on the stage and men of dual sex instincts ‘drag’ denotes female attire donned by a male. Example: ‘All the fagots (sissies) will be dressed in drag at the ball tonight’.
[US]M. West Drag (1997) Act II: I’ve got the most gorgeous new drag. Black satin, very tight, with a long train of rhinestones.
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 166: They visited Atlantic City in time to attend the famous Iceman’s Ball, noted far and wide for the fashionable drags displayed. [Ibid.] 186: Fay had decided to be brilliant and go as a queen. She had with her a drag – ‘Something gorgeous, simply devastating,’ Percy Chichi called it.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 31 Jan. 21: It was a very good show — quite gay in parts, with some lovely, oh luvly camping and drag!
[US]W. Burroughs Naked Lunch (1968) 218: Some of these girls [...] are really boys. In uh drag I believe is the word???
[UK]N. Dunn Up the Junction 83: ‘Drag’ they call that, you can get three years for it ...
[US]S. Harris Hellhole 234: In addition to ‘stud broads,’ who dress in ‘drag,’ there are others who [...] can ‘take or leave drag clothes, not have to depend on clothes to make the man, you know.’.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 266: Donna Jean, a sissy, who worked in drag.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 214: Seventy, eighty per cent of the hookers are faggot transvestites or homos in drag.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Drag. 2. To dress ‘in drag’, i.e. for male to don women’s clothing.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

(c) a party held en travesti (cf. drag ball ).

[US]L.A. Times 14 Nov. II 8: He said that the members sometimes spent hundreds of dollars on silk gowns, hosiery, etc., in which they dressed at sessions of this club. He said that at these ‘drags’ the ‘queer’ people have a good time, but no one could get in without being introduced by a member in good standing.
[US] Transcript Foster Inq. in L.R. Murphy Perverts by Official Order (1989) 42: A ‘big drag’ where Goldstein said liquor and ‘snow’ would be served.
[US]A.J. Rosanoff Manual of Psychiatry in Katz Gay/Lesbian Almanac (1983) 440: A drag, a social gathering of homosexuals at which some are in female dress.
[US]‘R. Scully’ Scarlet Pansy 186: The Percival Beach-Bütsches gave a drag the next night under the protection of the people higher up.
[UK]C. Beaton Cecil Beaton’s N.Y. 174: Sometimes a ‘Drag’ (or costume ball) is announced.
[US]D.W. Cory Homosexual in America 129: O, I just don’t know what I’m going to wear to the drag!
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.

(d) (US/Aus.) a party (with no specific gay overtones).

[US]Broadway Brevities Dec 33: Dear Vesk: For God’s sake don’t forget there’s a drag on tonight.
[US]Literary Digest 14 Mar. 65: College dances are often called ‘drags’ [HDAS].
[US]B. Ulanov Hist. Jazz 115: The cotillion orchestra and polite quartet that accompanied high society drags [OED].
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 338/1: ca. 1925–30 . . . since ca. 1950.

(e) (US gay) a homosexual man dressed in female clothing, a drag queen n. (1)

[US]T. Gordon Born to Be (1975) 218: Must I turn drag, eh?
[UK]B. Niles Strange Brother (1932) 210: The Drag Ball [...] was a great masquerade party to which men went in fancy dress — went in the costumes of women. The men, so dressed, were called ‘drags’ [...] The men dressed in what Harlem calles ‘drag,’ men in the garb of women.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 61/2: Drag. [...] 4. A man in feminine attire; feminine attire worn by a fag.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 286: My dear, the Most Fabulous Drags in the world go there [...] and the simply butchest numbers.
[US]K. Vacha Quiet Fire 77: This bitch drag screwed me.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 194: He brings me in bottles of perfume and make-up [...] and I swap it with the drags for a polish.
[US]G. Indiana Rent Boy 67: Big drags in sequins doing bad lip-sync.
[Aus]C. Rawlings-Way Sydney 199/2: Women and drags shouldn’t bother.

(f) (US) a bar that caters primarily to a gay clientele.

[US]S. Longstreet Decade 317: The John Laws are knocking over cathouses, clip-joints, [...] call apartments, drags.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 133: I’ll never forget those Harlem drags during prohibition.

(g) clothing in general; a costume, a disguise.

[UK]C. MacInnes Absolute Beginners 32: I had precisely my full teenage drag [...] the gray pointed alligator casuals, the pink neon pair of ankle crêpe nylon-stretch, my Cambridge blue glove-fit jeans, a vertical-striped happy shirt.
[UK]R.A. Norton Through Beatnik Eyeballs 19: Had me these three rag-dolls which I plainly brought to life. Gave them handles and ages, made them cute little drag.
[UK]The Who ‘5:15’ [lyrics] He-man drag in a glittering ballroom, greyly outrageous in my high-heeled shoes.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 189: Just because you’re in sailor drag [etc.].
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 11 July 2: It’s also easy to see the Soho gangster’s posturing as a form of macho drag.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Jungletown Jihad’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 328: Tim rang the bell. A full-drag dune coon opened up.

9. influence.

[UK]J. Greenwood Tag, Rag & Co. 241: Billy produced the creature from an inner pocket of his waistcoat [...] it was used merely as a draw, or ‘drag,’ to get a crowd about him before he commenced real business.
[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 68: At the hotel Johnny claimed I had a drag because I drew a room with a window in it.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 40: He thought very well of his Drag.
[US]Atlanta Constitution 29 Aug. 42/3: You are known to have a cast iron drag and no cop ever tries to get your place.
[US]J. Lait Broadway Melody 79: ‘I’ll see what I can do with Zannie,’ said Eddie, carrying on the bluff that he had a drag with the mighty glorifier.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 257: We can get drag through my old man, who’s sergeant down at Fiftieth.
[US]Look 18 Sept. 6: Have the Marines and th Army got ‘drag’ with you?
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 92: With the Commissioner out, anybody with enough drag and money can operate, not just us.
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 77: He got a drag with the Colonel.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 239: You’ve got real drag.

10. a draw, puff or drink.

(a) a puff of a marijuana cigarette; thus give a drag v., to pass a marijuana cigarette; take a drag v., to take a puff on the cigarette.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 33: With that the old sport took another drag on the dope stick and faded away in the darkness.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 120: He lit one right there and [...] After a few short drags he handed it to me.
[US]J. McNulty ‘Come Quick, Indians!’ in Brookhouser These Were Our Years (1959) 270: I’d take a last drag on the Sweet Caporal.
[US] ‘Konky Mohair’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 107: When hustlers are dealing in zeroes / And thoroughbreds treated unfair, / They all take a drag on their reefers / And say prayers to St. Konky Mohair.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 8: Earl took a slow drag from his reefer before answering.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 22: He took another drag.
[UK]Indep. 25 Jan. 2: He had smoked cannabis but found it an unpleasant experience: ‘I’m not a smoker, you’d try a drag and all you’d do is cough’.

(b) a puff of a cigarette; thus the cigarette itself; thus drag v., to smoke.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 30: drag [...] an inhalation of smoke, tobacco or opium.
[US] F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise 58: The ponies took last drags at their cigarettes and slumped into place.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 6: He took a last drag at his cigarette.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 167: I took another drag on the cigarette.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 153: ‘A drag,’ Clarke said. ‘Gimme a drag.’ [...] Clarke took it gingerly and sucked, burning his fingers.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 24: I took another drag on the cigarette.
[Aus]Lette & Carey Puberty Blues 11: Give us a drag Sue.
[Ire]E. Mac Thomáis Janey Mack, Me Shirt is Black 98: Craven A cigarettes were made specially to prevent sore throats and the David Allen bill boards had a picture of an opera singer having a few drags before going on stage to sing his final aria.
[US]Tarantino & Avery Pulp Fiction [film script] 2: The Young Man takes a drag off his smoke.
[UK]M. Amis Experience 105: She was never a serious smoker [...] she takes a drag then puffs out quickly.
[SA]A. Lovejoy Acid Alex 103: All entjies were called drags.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 154: He took an anguished drag of his cigarette.
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 126: Later I was having a drag when Alfred came into the Smoke Room.

(c) a gulp or mouthful of alcohol.

[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Deadlier Than the Mail’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 136: He [...] took a long drag at the beer can.

(d) (UK prison) a cannabis or cannabis/tobacco cigarette.

[UK]J. Sandford Whelks and the Chromium (1968) 126: She is indulging in a reefer or, put it another way, a drug-soaked drag.
[Aus]A. Seymour One Day of the Year (1977) II iii: mum: What are y’doin’ in there? hughie: Smoking a reefer [...] Having a drag. Marijuana.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 82: The youths meet at cinemas to smoke their ‘drag’ or dagga cigarettes.
[UK]S. McConville ‘Prison Language’ in Michaels & Ricks (1980) 525: Cannabis indica [...] might be smoked in an African Woodbine, drag, reefer, stick, or sausage.
[US]Bynum & Thompson Juvenile Delinquency 290: The man popped a cap at cuzz while he laid a drag on a freak sitting on the benzo.

11. (US) a share of money [what one ‘drags in’].

[US]J. London Road 202: I had a sneaking idea that he got a ‘drag’ out of the constable fees.
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/3: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘drag,’ a share, influence.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 66: Drag. – [...] loot.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 797: drag – Loot.

12. one who ‘drags’ or is fig. ‘dragged along’.

(a) (US campus) a toady, a parasite, a flatterer.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 32: drag, n. One who tries to curry favor.

(b) (US) a young woman who is being taken to a party.

[US]Judge (NY) 91 July-Dec. 31: Drag - The girl you escort.
[US]H. Brackbill ‘Midshipman Jargon’ in AS III:6 453: Drag — to escort; the girl being escorted.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Johns Hopkins Jargon’ in AS VII:5 331: drag — n. —in fluence; a partner, usually at a dance.
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: drag . . . a date with a girl.
[US]W. White ‘Wayne University Sl.’ AS XXX:4 303: drag [...] 2. Girl taken on a date.
[US]Current Sl. V:3 16: Drag, n. A young lady whom a Cadet is escorting.
[US]R. Atkinson Long Gray Line (1990) 108: The life of a ‘drag,’ as a cadet called his date, was an odd lot.

(c) (US) a girlfriend, a young woman.

[US]H. Ellison Deadly Streets 181: In the Poppers, when a drag ties up with a stud, she carves his initials in her [...] arm.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 35: You see my drag?

13. pertaining to dancing.

(a) a slow dance or the music that accompanies it; occas. as verb (see cit. 2000).

‘Walkin’ the Dog’ [lyrics] Do that slow drag ’round the hall.
‘The Chicago Gouge’ [lyrics] Down at a Chitlin rag, / They played a fiddlin’ drag.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 140: The piano was throbbing like a stringed drum and the couples show-dragging about the floor were urging the player on to new lows. [Ibid.] 173: Play some music, Jim, y’all over dere, and less dance some mo’. Nunkie wants tuh pick uh fight with Who Flung. Play us uh slow drag.
Bill Treadwell Big Book of Swing 124: drag: a dance.
Shake, Rattle and Rock [film script] Nothing braces me up like a good drag across the slag with a hag.
Jazz; Quarterly of Amer. Music Winter 25: By that name or other names (‘ditties,’ ‘slow drags’) blues were as basic to early jazz as brass bands.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 191: They slow-dragged to Henderson’s ‘Be My Girl’.

(b) a dance, a party.

[US]H. Ellison ‘Made in Heaven’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 183: Now we had an apartment [...] and we could use it for drags.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 16: Out there on a slab because someone had danced with his steady girl at a club drag.

Pertaining to transvestism

In compounds

drag ball (n.) (also drag dance)

a party held en travesti.

[US]R. McAlmon Miss Knight (1963) 62: I’d been to a drag dance with earrings on.
[US]T. Gordon Born to Be (1975) 228: They pay as high as $500 for their gowns to wear in the famous Harlem Drag Balls. These men are of all nations, white and black.
[US] (ref. to 1920s) R. McAlmon Being Geniuses Together 321: Those who have seen one of those negro ‘drag’ balls knows what they are like.
[US]‘Swasarnt Nerf’ Gaedicker’s Sodom-on-the-Hudson 16: The present version [i.e. of a gay dancehall] is principally active [...] when a drag ball is thrown there.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 86: The drag ball becomes the highlight of the social calendar [...] for many members of the homosexual underground.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 177: ‘What kind of a party is this, anyway?’ ‘A drag ball [...] Isn’t the dress a big enough hint?’.
drag-dyke (n.) [dyke n.]

a ‘masculine’ lesbian who chooses to dress in male clothing.

‘Women’s Suits’ on PyramidAtlantic.org [Internet] Another Drag dyke I knew was a woman I worked with at Informix. That particular company had a draconian dress code left over from the CEO’s neurotic childhood, and the program was that men were to dress in a shirt and tie, and women were to wear ‘business attire’ (which meant expensive dresses and womens suits). Candra wore her shirt and tie religiously, and to my knowledge was never given a hassle over how she was interpreting the dress code.
drag joint (n.) [joint n. (3b)]

(US gay) a bar or club that caters predominantly to transvestites.

[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 236: I lost some clients who raved about the balls and costumes of the drag joints.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 31: She had worked in some of the best drag joints and had been featured in the professional magazines.
drag-king (n.) (also drag-butch) [SE king/butch n.1 (6)]

(gay) a woman who dresses as a man.

[US](con. 1965) E. Newton Mother Camp 100: A drag butch is a lesbian who often, or habitually, dresses in male attire.
[US]Gaymart.com Queer Sl. in the Gay 90s [Internet] Drag King – A woman dressed like a man.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 10 Mar. 11: An endless succession of butch lesbians, drag kings, transsexuals and starlets.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.
[Aus]C. Rawlings-Way Sydney 199/2: Drag kings pack their crotches and hit the stage.
drag queen (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

flash the drag (v.)

(UK Und.) of a man, to wear female clothes for criminal purposes.

[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Straight Tip’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 176: Fiddle, or fence, or mace, or mack; / Or moskeneer, or flash the drag.
play drag (v.)

(US black) of a female prostitute, to dress as a man in order to attract clients.

[US] ‘The Fall’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 81: She was a good shot broad and a pro at fraud, / And drag she played like a vet.

Other uses

In compounds

drag lay (n.) [lay n.3 (1)]

the robbery of vehicles.

[UK]J. Fielding Thieving Detected 13: The Drag Lay. It would be impossible to enumerate the many losses the proprietors of waggons have sustained.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Drag lay Waiting in the streets to rob carts and wagons.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 10: In concert with Drake and Williams, committed some extensive depredations on the drag lay.*Cutting trunks or portmanteaux from coaches or carts.
[UK]H. Baumann Londinismen (2nd edn).
dragsman (n.) (also dragman)

1. a coachman; a cart or wagon driver; thus swell dragsman, a gentleman who drives a coach [20C+ use is SE].

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 70: Drag’s-man, a carman.
[UK]Egan Anecdotes of the Turf, the Chase etc. 279: He had all the air of a swell dragsman of the first order.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 1: the swell dragsman of ‘the age!’ Or, in plain English, a well-dressed Stage Coachman.
[UK]‘The New Flare up!’ in Flare-Up Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 279: Now bone and ragmen, sweeps and cabmen, / [...] With motts and culls and heavy dragsmen / [etc.].
[UK]New Sprees of London 21: [The] infamous Cadgers' Palace, the daily and nightly resort of the most daring cracksmen, dragsmen, schofel pitchers, grigs, pulletts, beggars, and impostors of every grade.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Mar. 3/1: The timely assistance afforded by the coachman and others [...] enabled the Royal dragsman to take off the wheels, and restoré his drag to its equilibrium.
[UK]R. Nicholson Rogue’s Progress (1966) 37: He took to the whip as a means of living, and was [...] the crack dragsman of the day [i.e. 1830s].
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.

2. a thief who robs goods or trunks from the back of vans or carts.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]G. Smeeton Doings in London 102: Fellows who ply about theatres at night, called dragsmen [...] are very fond of helping gentlemen into coaches, and paying themselves for their trouble.
[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 162/2: Dragsman – one who cuts trunks from the back of carriages. They have a quick horse and a little cart, and drive off with their booty in an opposite direction. They are mostly about New Cross, or any neighbourhood badly lighted, or where there are several cross-roads.
[UK]Bell’s New Wkly Messenger 9 Mar. 6/2: The several descriptions of London thieves are bludgers and stick slingers, or those who go out plundering with women; star-glazers, or those who cut out shop windows; snoozers, or those who sleep at railway hotels; [...] dragsmen, or those who rob carts.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 332/1: This locality is very much infested with pickpockets and also with ‘dragsmen,’ i.e. those persons who steal goods or luggage from carts and coaches.
[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 87: A thief who robs cabs or carriages by climbing up behind, and cutting the straps that secure the luggage on the roof – a dragsman.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 62: In Victorian days a man who cut trunks from the backs of cabs and carriages was known as a ‘dragsman’.
[UK]J. Worby Spiv’s Progress 62: This was a meeting place of the underworld - screwsmen, conmen, dragmen, pimps, prostitutes, etc .

In phrases

put the drags on (v.) [SE drag, in the sense of dragging on someone’s sleeve; + poss. link to sense 1]

(Aus.) to ask someone for a loan.

[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 107: Scrounging [...] to put the hard word on [...] to put the drags on, put the nips in, put the fangs in, put the weights on.
run a drag on (v.)

(US black) to deceive, to trick, to hoax.

[US]L. Bing Do or Die (1992) 23: He try to run a drag on me.