Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dry adj.1

1. [18C+] abstaining from alcohol; teetotal.

2. [19C+] bereft of alcohol.

3. [20C+] without supplies.

4. [1920s+] (US) without money.

5. [1970s+] (drugs) bereft of drugs.

Pertaining to alcohol or drugs

In compounds

dry drunk (n.)

[1960s] the state of being intoxicated by drugs, not alcohol.

dry Dutch courage (n.) [a modern play on the trad. ‘wet’ Dutch courage n. (1), which refers to alcohol]

[1940s+] narcotics, esp. as a fig. ‘killer of pain’.

dry gin (n.) [ganja n. + pun on SE]

[1930s] (W.I.) marijuana.

dry grog (n.) [drugs have a similar effect to ‘wet’ grog n.1 (1)]

[1940s–50s] (US drugs) narcotics.

dry horrors (n.) [horrors, the n. (4)]

1. [1900s] (Aus.) delirium tremens; in weak sense, any degree of hangover.

2. [1900s] a negative reaction to alcohol, due to one’s having been without drink for a long period.

dry jag (n.) [jag n.1 (1)]

[20C+] (US) a sense of brief excitement similar to that produced by alcohol, but without any drinking.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to sexual activity without fulfilment

In compounds

dry bob (n.)

[late 16C–19C] sex without ejaculation by the man; also as v.

dry date (n.)

[1970s+] (US gay) a platonic date; any appointment other than a sexual one; pornography.

dry fuck/-fucking

see separate entries.

dry hump

see separate entries.

dry-mouthed widow (n.)

in the context of masturbation, the hand (as opposed to the vagina).

dry ride (n.) (also dry bang) [ride n. (1a)/bang n.1 (2b)]

[1930s+] a simulated act of sexual intercourse, without penetration and usu. without removing the clothes.

dry-rub (v.)

see separate entry.

dry run (n.)

1. [1950s] an act of sexual intercourse using a contraceptive.

2. [1950s+] (US gay) sex without ejaculation; frottage.

dry screw

see separate entries.

General uses

In compounds

dryback (v.) [play on wetback n.]

[1950s] (US) to smuggle (oneself) across the US border from Mexico in a vehicle.


see separate entries.

dry bath (n.) (also dry-bathing)

[1920s+] (UK Und.) the search of a prisoner who has been first stripped naked; or a prison cell.

dry-bone(s) (n.)

[mid-17C–mid-19C] ‘a contemptuous or familiar term for a thin or withered person, who has little flesh on his bones’ (OED).

dry boots (n.)

[late 18C–early 19C] ‘a sly, humorous fellow’ (Grose, 1785).

dry combo (n.)

[1950s] (US tramp) a piece of cake and a sandwich, i.e. no drink.

dry-eye (adj.)

[1990s+] (W.I.) daring, dauntless.

dry goods (n.)

see separate entries.

dry gulch (v.) [Western outlaws often ambushed and shot their victim as he passed through the narrow confines of a SE dry gulch, or f. the rustlers’ killing of stolen animals by driving them over the edge of such a gulch] [1930s+] (US)

1. to murder; thus dry-gulcher n., a murderer; dry-gulching n., murdering.

2. to assault.

dry hash (n.)

1. [late 19C–1910s] (Aus.) dullness, ill-temper.

2. [late 19C] (Aus.) a waste of time.

dry head

see separate entries.

dry house (n.)

[mid-19C] (US Und.) a dungeon.

dry land...

see separate entries.

dry lodging (n.)

[mid-19C] lodging without inclusive board.

dry malice (v.)

[1990s+] (W.I.) to ignore someone deliberately, even to the extent of communicating through a third party.

dry money (n.)

[1900s] (Irish) cash, ready money.

dry-nursing (adj.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) committed for trial.

dry room (n.) [irony]

1. [19C] a prison; the inference is that its cells are damp.

2. [1930s] (also drying room) an interrogation room.

dry salter (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a Jew who sells second-hand clothes.

dry shave

see separate entries.

dry shite (n.) [shite n. (4)]

[2000s] (Irish) a boring, unpopular person.

dry skull (n.)

[1950s] (W.I.) a completely bald person.

dry snitch

see separate entries.