Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dead adv.

also dead-ahead
[note dead adj., complete, utter, is SE]

1. (also deadly) a general intensifier, very, extremely, absolutely, completely.

[UK]Nashe Almond for a Parrat 18: Oh he is olde dogge at expounding, and deade sure at a Catechisme.
[UK]J. Howell Familiar Letters I (1737) 20 Nov. 186: Many hundreds of them being surprized, and found dead-drunk, the Spaniards came and tore off their Ears and Noses.
[UK]Fletcher Night-Walker IV i: Ile ring when I am dead drunke.
[UK]Fuller Church Hist. of Britain VI 268: This Quaternion of Subscribers, have stick’n the point dead with me that all antient English Monks were Benedictines.
[Ire]Head Eng. Rogue I 345: By accustoming them to be dead-drunk [he] shewed them the way to contemn death.
[UK]N. Ward Wooden World 94: It’s a fortunate Day indeed, if he gets him dead drunk.
[UK]J. Dalton Narrative of Street-Robberies 47: He being dead drunk, when he hid them, he had quite forgot his cautiously putting them on the Bed’s-Head.
[UK]Ipswich Jrnl 21 Feb. 3/2: A Strong Water Shop [...] opened in Southwark, with this inscription on the Sign: Drunk for a Penny, Dead Drunk for Two pence.
[UK]Fielding Life of Jonathan Wild (1784) IV 281: Our crew were all dead drunk with the brandy.
[Ire] ‘Whiskey Friskey’ in Songs n.p.: For a man when dead drunk is as great as a King.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (4th edn) II 54: A round dozen pipes they sunk, / And then return to town dead drunk.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 89: Both of them overtaken in their cups, and not dead, but dead drunk.
[UK]R.B. Peake Life of an Actor I i: I am dead perfect in the part.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Old Booty! 36: The crew and I were dead – dead drunk!
[UK]Leeds Times 3 Oct. 7/6: Some get dead drunk, blind drunk, aye, in the gutter.
[US]W.T. Porter Big Bear of Arkansas (1847) 77: You’ve got to look me right dead in the eye.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 77: You is dead nuts on the chummy’s date; and she gives you turnips.
[US]C.L. Canfield Diary of a Forty-Niner (1906) 175: That settled it. He had his hat off, and ‘he’ was a woman dead sure.
[Ind]G.F. Atkinson Curry & Rice (3 edn) n.p.: Then we are told of the hop last night [...] which was pronounced to be ‘deadly lively’.
[UK] ‘Irish Church Question’ in C. Hindley Curiosities of Street Lit. (1871) 84: The place-loving Tories [...] were dead licked.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 11 Oct. 6/4: ‘I’m dead gone on the darling duck’.
[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 28 Oct. 14/5: The ‘ruffian’ was a ‘dead hard man’.
[Ind]Kipling ‘Her Little Responsibility’ in Civil & Military Gaz. 19 Sept. (1909) 15: ‘Say, were you ever mashed on a girl? [...] dead, clean gone, head over ears’.
[Aus]Independent (Footscray, Vic.) 7 Jan. 2/8: I’m bettin’ on a dead-sure thing.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 85: Say, I never knowed de Duchess was such a dead game sport.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 167: A dead smooth duck, in the shape of an enterprising company promoter, strolled along.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 38: She was going to be Benevolent and be Dead Swell at the Same Time.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 259: Sam is dead wise to all sorts of stuff.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 16 Sept. 4/7: The Miners’ Institute [...] What a dead crook joint it was.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 3 Aug. 14/3: They Say [...] That A dead flash dance class is run on Saturday nights in a local hall with a bit of scran thrown in.
[UK]N. Douglas London Street Games 142: It’s bound to end in trouble of some kind, for dead certain.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 17: Anyway, he was dead scared of Rico.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 57: You’re dead out of luck, Kiddo.
[UK]Observer 11 June 2: Dead on the dot of D-Day.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 151: He was a strict Catholic and was dead against the muta.
[UK]C. Harris Death of a Barrow Boy 142: Export Only. Flawed. Let you ’ave it dead cheap.
[US]F. Brown Madball (2019) 80: ‘Use your head, Mack, that’d be a dead giveaway’.
[UK]P. Willmott Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 87: It was the same thing every day – dead boring, dead dull.
[US]L.K. Truscott IV Dress Gray (1979) 247: In any squad, it would be three or four good beans, three or four take ’em or leave ’em beans, and a couple of dead-ahead fuck-ups.
[UK]W. Russell Educating Rita I i: Look, I know I take the piss an’ that but I’m dead serious really.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 296: Just when I’m dead, dead, dead excited an’ that, you know.
[US]S. King Dreamcatcher 75: Supposing he kept pretty much headed dead east.
[Aus]L. Redhead Rubdown [ebook] ‘Suzy was pissed and punched me out.’ ‘Scrag fight? Dead sexy’.
[UK]M. Hanif Case of Exploding Mangoes (2009) 70: I’m dead tired.
[US]S. King Finders Keepers (2016) 281: I’ll tell something you can take as a hundred percent dead-red certainty.

2. (Aus.) of a human or animal competitor, unable or unwilling to challenge for victory.

[Aus]Herald (Melbourne) 23 Apr. 3/3: After he had done so they would get the betting tickets from him and take them to the bookmakers and get from them commissions to run the ponies ‘dead’ .
[Aus]‘Dryblower’ in Sun. Times (Perth) 18 Feb. 6/8: ‘At Kenso. I’ve seen ’em run dead’.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Four-Legged Lottery 181: The second thing is that stewards must be forced to act against the practice of racing horses dead.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Billy Borker Yarns Again 49: Being a smartie, he decides to run it dead and lay it to the Darwin mugs, see.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 23: The dance game was running deasd but his cabaret show was firing.

In compounds


see separate entry.


see separate entries.

dead hook (n.)

(Aus.) a certainty.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 25 Nov. 6/2: The know-alls assert that Oxide is a dead hook for one of the big events of the coming Randwick meeting.

In phrases

dead amiss (adj.)

(Aus. gambling) of a racehorse, unable to run due to illness.

[Aus]Australian (Sydney) 28 Jan. 3/3: Would it be too much to ask, where so much money depends, that a confident committee should be appointed to examine ‘dead amiss’ nags.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Victoria (Melbourne) 18 Dec. 3/4: Pioneer had gradually got worse from the time he reached Ballaarat, and was in fact ‘dead amiss’ on the day of the race.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 23: Dead Amiss, said of a horse that from illness can’t run.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 15 Oct. 6/4: J. Brown, his trainer, informed me that he was ‘dead amiss’ this morning, and there was no hope of his starting.
[Aus]Dly News (Perth) 25 June 8/4: [H]e was able to keep at work whilst nearly every other horse in the stable was dead amiss.
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 13 Sept. 51/7: [T]he lad [...] said that when they were walking round the paddock, someone poked the colt with a stick [...] when the colt got home a few days later he was dead amiss.
dead broke (adj.) [broke adj.1 (1)]

(orig. US) completely without funds; also as v. to impoverish.

[US]G. Keller Trip Across Plains in California (1955) 29: They are passionately fond of gambling, and never quit the game, until one of the parties is dead broke.
[US] ‘The Old Shipyard’ in Fred Shaw’s Champion Comic Melodist 58: I’m dead broke to-day, in the old Shipyard.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 37: When any of the others come down upon him for their plunder, he declares himself ‘dead broke’.
[US]Galaxy (N.Y.) July 57: ‘Who’s payin’? I’m dead broke?’ ‘What! Cleaned out?’ ‘You bet. But if that dealer hadn’t railroaded, I’d a got square copperin’ the ace.’.
[UK]Sporting Gaz. (London) 14 Sept. 877/2: [M]en that plunge, buy yearlings and race horses [...] without the faintest idea of paying [...] and when the final pressure is put upon them it is discovered that they are, in their own slang, ‘dead broke’.
[US]C.F. Lummis letter 30 Oct. in Byrkit Letters from the Southwest (1989) 52: He ‘grubstaked’ a dead-broke miner, advancing him about $7 worth of provisions from his little grocery.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Oct. 18/3: The formation of companies with capitals of a cool million appears to be Queensland’s present fashion of publishing her prosperity, and telling the world she isn’t dead-broke.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 53: He was crippled up with the rheumatism so he could hardly walk, and he was ‘dead broke’.
[Aus]G. Boothby On the Wallaby 293: I’m old Jim Collins—poor old Jim, gone dead broke.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 19: dead-broke. Out of money.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 291: He’s dead broke; th’ only difference between him an’ a hobo, right now, is a trunk full of clothes.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 46: He had been dead-broke for a year now and drunk most of the time.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Dec. 17/4: ‘Courtin’ Harriet dead-broke me, after all.’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Knight’s Return’ in Chisholm (1951) 86: ‘I ain’t dead broke,’ ’e sez. ‘That night, yeh know, / I was cleaned out uv dough, / An’ – well-so-so.’.
K.C. Star 29 Sept. n.p.: Chet Shore came back from his honeymoon dead broke [DA].
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 328: I’m dead motherless broke.
[US]Kerouac letter 29 June in Charters I (1995) 489: Dead broke, crazy in New York.
[US]C. Hiaasen Lucky You 137: What cash? Chub had wondered. They were dead fucking broke.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] ‘I’d be designing cities instead of convincing dead-broke towns to give us tax credits’.
dead chocker (adj.) (also dead chokka) [chocker adj.]

(orig. milit.) very bored.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 294/1: Services coll., ca. 1950–70; [...] teenagers 1955–9.
dead loads (n.) [loads of n.]

(US) many, a great quantity.

[US]‘Mark Twain’ Innocents Abroad 616: Oh, certainly; the old man’s got dead loads of books .
[US]O.E. Wood West Point Scrap-Book 234: There is ‘dead-loads’ of smoking tobacco.
[Scot]Aberdeen Eve. Exp. 27 June 4/5: Now, there’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. There’s dead loads of good chances in that.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Tom Sawyer 218: She’ll have ice-cream! She has it most every day – dead loads of it.
[UK]Lincs. Chron. 11 Apr. 4/6: A Detroiter who has just returned from Florida [...] was asked [...] if he any fun with the alligators down there. ‘Yes sir — dead loads of fun,’ he replied.
[US]L.A. Dly Herald 10 Dec. 8/2: We have dead loads of them, of all kinds.
[US]Ranch (N. Yakima, WA) 14 Apr. 9/2: The boys and the tramps will have dead loads of cherries.
[US]Monroe & Northup ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:iii 138: dead-load, n. Very much; great quantity. ‘It was dead-loads of fun.’.
[US]S. Clapin New Dict. Americanisms.
[US]Seattle Repub. (WA) 19 Aug. 4/2: The numerous campaign speakers have dead loads of hot air that they are giving away.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 11 July 20/1: People will come to Hopeville next season, dead loads of them.
[US]Wash. Times (DC) 18 Apr. 8/4: There has been thought, thought and dead loads of thought, to make the building right.
[Scot]Aberdeen Jrnl 24 July 2/3: Dead loads of German casualties.
dead nuts (adj.)

see separate entry.

dead on (adj.)

see separate entry.

dead-right (adj.) [right adj. (1)]

(US) unassailable.

[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 83: If the copper has made a dead-right pinch, it is hard to square it with him, for there may be witnesses who will make trouble.
[US]J. Tully Bruiser 39: He’s a dead right kid – got all the right instincts.
[US]C. Stoker Thicker ’n Thieves 30: If you ever got a dead right steer, you got one tonight, kiddo.
dead set

see separate entries.

dead thick (adj.) [ironic reversal of thick adj. (1a)]

(UK, Glasgow) very clever.

[UK](con. 1920s) McArthur & Long No Mean City 218: It amused her that the younger girl should think herself so ‘dead thick’ (wide awake and knowing).
dead to rights (adv.)

see separate entry.

dead to the curb (adv.)

(US black) completely, utterly, comprehensively.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 7: The little number will pull you dead to the curb.