Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot seat n.

1. (US, also hot settee, ...spot, ...squat, seat) the electric chair; thus, as v., to be subjected to the electric chair [hot adj. (9b)].

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 12 July [synd. col.] Condemned men at Sing Sing do not pass through a ‘green’ door to go to the Hot Squat. It is a brown door.
[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 228: hot seat—Electric chair.
[US]C.L. Edholm ‘Gorilla Girl’ in Gun Molls Oct. [Internet] If you tell everything you know, you may get life instead of the hot-seat.
[US]R. Whitfield ‘About Kid Deth’ in Penzler Pulp Fiction (2007) 272: He was in a tough spot [...] A hot spot on the electric chair.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 31: I would like to bust this shootin’ guy a coupla hard ones an’ get him the hot squat afterwards.
[US]E. O’Neill Iceman Cometh Act IV: If he gets de Hot Seat I won’t go into no mournin’!
[US]J. Archibald ‘Short Order Crook’ in Ten Detective Aces Apr. [Internet] Act I: Court Room in Massachusetts, U. S. A. Act II: Hot Squat at Charlestown sometime later.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 99: Gerald was taken to the ‘hot’.
[UK]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 14: Paddy Choice is hot-seated – ah the good Paddy.
[US]T. Thursday ‘You Gotta Have Luck’ in Popular Sports Jan. [Internet] A guy gets in a tight spot, blows his top, and shoots. Next stop, the hot settee.
[US]A. Hynd We Are the Public Enemies 30: A man could always get out of a cage sooner or later [...] But you couldn’t ever rise from the hot squat.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 216: If I ain’t nuts I get the seat.
[US]C. Himes Real Cool Killers (1969) 122: Why risk [...] the hot seat just for a moment of playing the big shot?
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 59: If one of them took the hot squat he’d drag the other along with him.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 804: hot squat–The electric chair.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 126: I was quivering like a joker in the hot seat.
[US](con. 1930s) J. Brown Monkey Off My Back (1972) 82: A hurried court [...] and then I would take a quick trip to ‘The Old Hot Squat’.
[US]Ice-T ‘Drama’ [lyrics] On death row they got their own hot seat.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 75: Hot squat – the electric chair.
[US]R. Price Clockers 244: Motherfucker’s got the hot seat down there [i.e. Florida].
[UK]R. Grayson Liar 105: Why don’t they just go ahead and send him down to Huntsville to get the hot seat?

2. in attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]S. Sterling ‘Ten Carats of Lead’ in Black Mask Stories (2010) 239/1: I don’t mind running a few legitimate risks. But this hot-squat stuff is too much for me.

3. any situation in which the subject, consciously or not, is exposed, esp. for the purposes of a confidence trick [note Davis, Phenomena in Crime (1941): ‘So called because the hooked “mug” is on tenterhooks re the materialization of the investments he has handed over to the crooks’].

[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 35: Mr. Mulvaney’s interest [...] was to steer me towards the ‘hot seat’ of a confidence trick.

4. an unpleasant situation, esp. in a courtroom or public enquiry; esp. as in the hot seat.

[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 308: Pete Barry was on the hot-seat.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Syndicate (1998) 15: I don’t like to be in this hot seat.
[US]Sepe & Telano Cop Team 154: Richard T. Beckell, Sepe and Telano’s ‘main man’ [...] was on the hot seat.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 75: Hot-seat, to be in the – to be in difficulties or an unpleasant position.
[Aus](con. 1945–6) P. Doyle Devil’s Jump (2008) 94: If he’s such a good fellow, how come he left you in the hot seat?

5. the seat in an interrogation room on which the prisoner sits.

[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 66: It’s like I was the one who was on the damned hotseat.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 58: Bud took the hot seat – a spot where all three men could see him.

6. any form of interrogation, in a non-official context; also attrib.

[US]N. Spinrad Bug Jack Barron 17: Want Bennie Howards in the hotseat slot?
[US]C. McFadden Serial 93: Che wished [...] he could take a nap before they put him in the Hot Seat.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 152: Each prisoner took turns in the ‘hot seat’ where he talked about his background and answered probing questions.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 30 Nov. 12: Brampton is shunning all interviews until she hits the hot seat next month.

In phrases

take the hot squat (v.) (also do the hot squat)

(US) to be executed in the electric chair.

[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 201: Take the hot squat.
[US]J. McCulley ‘New Year’s Pardon’ Popular Detective Mar. [Internet] Then we’d probably have you back here, either as a lifer or to do the hot squat.