Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ginger n.1

[SE ginger, f. the colour or spiciness]

1. a showy, fast horse.

[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 86: But if you want to splash along / In glory with a ginger.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker II 19: The poor skilliton of a beast was ginger to the back bone [...] all clear grit.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

2. a red-haired or sandy-haired person; also as adj.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 87: Ginger — another name for red-haired persons.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 27 Sept. 3/1: At it they went, amidst the animated cries of ‘Go it, Ginger,’ ‘Well done, Taylor’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 July 3/3: The kids [...] used to call him ‘Ginger’ on account of the colour of his top-knot.
[UK]J. Greenwood In Strange Company 2: Encouraged by the cries of ‘Go it, Ginger!’ yelled by his admiring friends, the red-haired boy presently finished his antagonist.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 June 4/3: It is considered the height of snobbishness to express astonishment [...] at the disappearance of what polite people call an ‘auburn,’ and the vulgar and uneducated a ‘ginger’ pigtail.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 July 13/1: Captain Gingah [...] is the ‘adored one’ of the pretty waitresses in the upper portion of the Coffee Palace. So much for a red head and a military style.
S. Watson Whif 1/1: Her fiery spouse, Ginger Jinks, had his own ideas of women’s rights.
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 53: But you, like all ginger blokes, must be quarrelsome and bad-tempered. There’s something left out in the making of all you ginger uns.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 101: Theer were a boy as went by the nime o’ Ginger, in cornsequence of ’is ’air bein’ carrots.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth, WA) Supp. 19 Dec. 25/7: Hwe was blinking at the ceiling while ‘Ginger’ blew mouthfuls of water on to his broken nose.
[UK]A.G. Empey Over the Top ‘Tommy’s Dict. of the Trenches’ 293: ‘Ginger.’ Nickname of a red-headed soldier.
[UK]A.N. Depew Gunner Depew 43: The boys used to call him ‘Ginger’ Brown, both on account of his red hair and his slow movements.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 14 July 5/3: Ginger took the earliest opportunity to stop the lad [...] ‘Gin’ then suggested a nice hot cup of tea.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 181: One of the kneeling men had red hair. [...] The Gilt Kid smiled at him. ‘Hallo, Ginger,’ he said.
[UK]Sun. Post (Lanarks.) 15 Aug. 3/3: Ginger! James (Ginger) Lamond, former well-known Stirling boxer.
[UK]J. Franklyn Cockney 136: Ginger, you’re barmy!
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 17: If Ginger can do that to you, what’s a barrister going to do?
[Aus]Penguin Bk of Aus. Jokes 334: Ginger docked at Circular Quay.
[UK]N. Griffiths Stump 33: See that cunt, Ally? [...] Ginger fuckin bastard.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. 2011.
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 30: Loads ay dark-heided lassies, a few blondes, gingers n brunettes.

3. high spirits, verve, vigour.

[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 124: He’s the chap that has both speed, wind, and bottom; he’s clear grit — ginger to the backbone, you may depend.
[US]T. Haliburton Sam Slick in England I 261: Curb him, talk Yankee to him, and get his ginger up.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 122: I let drive and knocked the ginger out of him.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 148: Nature has filled them [i.e. young men] with more ginger and ‘go’ than their pockets can stand the racket of.
[US]T. Dreiser Sister Carrie 199: All you need is a little more ginger.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 13 Sept. 4/7: We’re showing a cow-boy battle, a locomotive smash — something with ginger in it.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Gifted’ Sporting Times 9 July 1/4: There was Bill, a dear old pal o’ mine, he could ‘Lord Mayor’ a bit, / And he could put a lot of ginger in it, too.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 3 Jan. 2/5: Bronson’s blows were mostly badly timed, and many lacked ginger.
[UK]Wodehouse ‘The Making of Mac’s’ in Man with Two Left Feet 135: I like one of those plays with some ginger in them which the papers generally cuss.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 184: It’s took all the ginger out of Billy.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 251: Coach Hugo called it the old ginger.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 180: When she swore, it was in a dispirited and hopeless fashion without any ginger in it.
[Can]R. Service ‘My Hero’ in Lyrics of a Low Brow 91: Feeling full of ginger for / He’s happy Pop of cherubs twin.
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 171: Only bloke who can put some ginger into me is Resurrection Jim.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 227: We could do with a bit more ginger.

In phrases

give someone ginger (v.)

to treat brusquely, to ‘make someone jump’.

[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 443: Make him smart, Hanna dear. Give him ginger.
[Aus]Biz (Fairfield, NSW) 17 Jan. 3/4: Our friend the tiddler-tickler seems to have put the ginger into all the fishing fraternity.
like ginger (adv.)

to a great extent.

[UK] ‘’Arry on the ’Oliday Season’ in Punch 16 Aug. 74/1: Rads may rail at ‘the clarses’ like ginger, but all on us likes to be ‘warm.’.

In exclamations


excl. used when touching something hot.

[US] G.D. Chase ‘Cape Cod Dialect’ in DN II:v 297: ginger! interj. Exclamation upon touching something hot].