Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dry adj.1

1. abstaining from alcohol; teetotal.

[UK]Congreve Way of the World IV ii: Your Mahometan, your Mussulman, is a dry stinkard.
[UK]Belfast News-Letter 2 Jan. 4/2: Cursecowl insisted our meeting should not be a dry one.
[UK]Bell's Life in London 3 Oct. 3/1: The Committee declined [...] as their lush was exhausted, and they had no taste for ‘dry’ reading.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 11 Jan. 1/6: I think a millishy ossifer — when he’s sober — is just as good as a nigger — especially if de nigger’s dry.
[US]W.G. Simms Sword and the Distaff 280: Jest you put out the Jamaica, Drummond, that we shan’t hev’ a dry time of it [...] Heave out the liquor, will you?
[US]R.H. Davis in Scribner’s Monthly I 63: Dry or wet, Mr. Dort? Indifferent, eh? [DA].
[NZ]N.Z. Observer and Free Lance (Auckland) 20 Mar. 23/1: That Tradesmen’s Athletic meeting was a regular dry hash [...] but the members made up for that by having a ‘bob in’ after.
[US]Battle Creek Weekly Journal 3 July n.p.: A seemingly senseless rumor is afloat to the effect that since the county has gone ‘dry’ the Michigan Central dining car headquarters will be transferred to a ‘wet’ point [DA].
[UK]Kipling Captains Courageous 305: Hey? Town’s dry’s a bone.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Jan. 1/4: The workhouses where beer was barred — dry. / Almost everywhere else it was wet.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 158: I runs into a hot sketch down in one o’ them dry burgs.
Muskogee Cimiter (OK) 24 Mar. 4/1: The ‘Bone-Dry’ Law will make Alabama ‘wet’ says a Legislator [...] ‘We have enough prohibition laws’.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 71: Mohalis was dry by local option.
[US]W.R. Burnett Dark Hazard (1934) 224: Used to be an old-time saloon. Nice place it was, too, before they voted dry.
[US]N. Algren ‘Depend on Aunt Elly’ Texas Stories (1995) 101: Paris was a dry town because of the army camp there.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 129: Oregon is partially dry. Only beer may be sold for on-premises consumption.
[UK]K. Amis letter 2 May in Leader (2000) 572: In a dry town at the north-eastern tip of Scotland.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 30: I hope to Christ this ain’t a dry town.
[Aus] in K. Gilbert Living Black 290: Aurukun is still ‘dry’ – no alcohol – by order of the Aboriginal council.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 122: Tommy had a thing about giving up drink – would go to AA meetings and had been in a number of dry houses.
[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 21: He has a dry day about as often as Joan Collins irons her sheets.
[UK]N. Griffiths Stump 20: — Don’t be worryin. Still dry I am, still clean. Still fuckin sober an bored to fuckin death.
[UK]K. Richards Life 372: Perhaps that’s why he’s always falling off the wagon. He doesn’t like being dry.

2. bereft of alcohol.

[UK] ‘Epitaph’ Giant of Morpeth’s Garland 4: Here lyes the Giant Buried [...] But where he’s gone to no Man living knows. / Or what he’ll do sometimes to get a Gill, / Or where he’ll go when dry to drink his fill.
[UK] ‘Patrick O’Neal’ Jovial Songster 139: Make another dry voyage – bring home a fresh tale / And you’ll laugh till you cry at poor Patrick O’Neal.
[UK]T.C. Croker Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1862) 216: ’Tis a pity [...] if we let the piper run dry after such music.
[UK]W. Pratt Ten Nights in a Bar-Room II ii: I say, Green, my boy, I’m deuced dry.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Trail of the Serpent 191: Lor love you, sir, regular jolly, with the exception of bein’ rather warm, and makin’ a cove precious dry.
[US]G.G. Hart E.C.B. Susan Jane 15: Well sing ahead, and then we’ll fly, / For although I’m wet, I’m very dry.
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Royal Evening Fête’ Punch 28 July 38/1: Arter wich, being dry, I made straight for the booffy.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Big Drunk Draf’’ Soldiers Three (1907) 30: You’re kapin’ me crool dhry now. Let me look at that whisky.
[US]‘Frederick Benton Williams’ (H.E. Hamblen) On Many Seas 115: The sympathetic residents of Penzance would not allow us to leave their truly hospitable town dry.
[US] ‘San Juan’ in Lingenfelter et al. Songs of the Amer. West (1968) 111: Trot around with that beer when you can; / I’m as dry as a fish.
[UK]C. Nicol ‘The Neebours on Oor Stair’ Poems 83: Although ye tak it on the sly, / It’s often seen frae week tae week, / Whaur ye gang tae when ye are dry.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Comedians All’ Sporting Times 17 Apr. 1/2: Comedians fruity, they grudge us our beer, / And would make us comedians dry.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 150: It is a Medical Fact that the Appetite for Liquor endures only a few months after the Victim is locked up in a Dry Community.
[UK]G. Greene Brighton Rock (1943) 132: Whoever heard of a dry wedding?
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 85: He got beer from the sergeant’s mess — all the canteens were dry at that time.
[UK]K. Amis letter 18 Oct. in Leader (2000) 406: A dry lunch – I thought it was supposed to be an insult to drink toasts in bloody water.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 31: Got a horrible feelin’ this is a dry ship.
[Aus]J. Wynnum I’m a Jack, All Right 129: ‘You must be dry as a chiop [...] Here, take this [i.e. a beer]’.
[Aus]q. in T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare (2017) 10: ‘Bloody water everywhere and I’m as dry as a dead dingo’s donger,’ Mack says. ‘Better get a beer’.
[US]H. Crews Feast of Snakes 19: Lebeau County was dry except for beer.
[UK](con. 1950s) D. Nobbs Second From Last in the Sack Race 260: Why not make October a dry month?
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 99: I’m drier than a dead dingo’s derrick.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 219: Why aren’t you down the New Kismet mopping up the free booze? Don’t say they’ve drunk the place dry already?

3. without supplies.

[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 213: The robber rifled Prankerd’s pockets, but this time without getting even a cent of plunder. ‘You are dry,’ the robber exclaimed.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘The Dear Loaf’ Sporting Times 29 Jan. 1/4: Well, it’s playin’ it low down, old gal, and as I’m rather dry / You might let me know its hidin’-place.
[US]R. Whitfield Green Ice (1988) 103: They rolled her [...] She was dry.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 30: ‘Gimme a cigarette, Homeboy,’ Bad Eye said to Vito. ‘I’m dry.’.

4. (US) without money.

[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 274: When we see the raft was gone, and we flat broke, there wasn’t anything for it but to try the Royal Nonesuch another shake. And I’ve pegged along ever since, dry as a powder-horn.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 64: One night he killed a man in his cabaret, and that finished him. The lawyers got him off. But they cleaned him out dry.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 63/1: Dry, a. Without money, usually as a result of gambling or of having been swindled.
[US]J. Scarne Complete Guide to Gambling 678: Dry – broke.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 26: Tillman dug for change and came up dry.

5. (drugs) bereft of drugs.

[US]R. Sabbag Snowblind (1978) 119: ‘Is your connection still good?’ ‘He was busted last week. I’m dry.’.
[US]J. Ridley Love Is a Racket 182: Only thing worse than being jagged on drugs is being dry of them.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 98: An everyone’s fuckin well werked up like cos-a pleyce’s bin fuckin dry for months.
[US]‘Dutch’ ? (Pronounced Que) [ebook] Once the other spots went dry, he’d have to resestablish himslf.

Pertaining to alcohol or drugs

In compounds

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

narcotics, esp. as a fig. ‘killer of pain’.

[US]Maledicta IX 54: Dutch courage, dry n [D] Narcotics; contemporary play on Dutch courage.
dry horrors (n.) [horrors, the n. (4)]

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

[Aus] (?) H. Lawson ‘Triangles of Life’ in Roderick (1972) 623: Bogan was left in camp [...] to look after poor Little Billy and his dry horrors.
[NZ] (ref. to 1890–1910) L.G.D. Acland Early Canterbury Runs (1951) 375: Dry horrors – State of a shepherd when back from a bust in town.
[NZ]N. Hilliard Maori Girl 120: You got the dry horrors?
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 69: dry horrors Hangover, where dehydration is apparent. ANZ early C20.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] I bought a bottle of water to combat the dry horrors.

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

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Oct. 48/2: ‘No bloomin’ fear. He’s rather a stiddy bloke, but he’s sufferin’ fr’m th’ dry ’orrors.’ / ‘The what?’ / ‘The dry ’orrers. Y’ see he’s bin’ out on a back station all through this drooght, tank-sinkin’, an’ ’is innards is got all parched tup. The firs’ beer only got down tabout ’ere’ (indicating the top button of the vest).
dry jag (n.) [jag n.1 (1)]

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

[US]C.M. Flandrau Diary of a Freshman 250: He has what he calls a ‘dry jag,’ and hardly ever stopped talking.
[US]C. Himes Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 182: They stood at the bar like two cats having a sip of something cold to dampen their dry jag.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to sexual activity without fulfilment

In compounds

dry bob (n.)

sex without ejaculation by the man; also as v.

[UK]H. Porter Two Angry Women of Abington D4: Sheele persecute the poore wit-beaten man, And so bebang him with dry bobs and scoffes.
[UK] ‘Haymarket Hectors’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1963) I 169: And he, our amorous Jove, / Whilst she lay dry-bobb’d under, / To repair the defects of his love, / Must lend her his lightning and thunder.
[UK]Rochester ‘The Argument’ in Poems on Several Occasions (1685) 36: The cheating Jilt, at the Twelfth, A dry bob cries.
N. Tate Duke and No Duke Prologue: Venus and Mars, I find in Aries are, In the Ninth House, – a dull dry Bobbing Year.
[UK] ‘Vox Clero, Lilli burlero’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1971) V 134: Grave Tennison thought things obscenely expressed / And fain would have left out the cream of the jest. / But ’twould not be decreed / To leave the word ‘seed’, / For ’twould dry-bob our marriage, and mar all the breed.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk V 623: Do you never commit dry-bobs or flashes in the pan?
[UK] ‘Comical Wager’ n.p.: A Lawyer’s Wife [...] laid a Guinea with her Husband’s Clerk, that he did not Flourish her over Seven times in an Hour: And how the lusty Rogue perform’d Six of the times effectually; but the Seventh time happening to be a dry Bob, she pretended he had not won the Wager.
[UK]C. Morris ‘The Great Plenipotentiary’ Collection of Songs (1788) 42: I’ll make up, please the Pigs, for dry Bobs and Frigs, / With the great Plenipotentiary.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Farmer Vocabula Amatoria (1966) 21: Avaler le poisson sans sauce = to copulate with a man who fails to ejaculate; ‘to get a dry bob’.
[UK]A. Crowley Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden 34: I was able at leisure to achieve the fourteen fucks and a dry-bob.
[US]Bawdy N.Y. State MS. n.p.: COMMON OLD FASHIONED FUCK, – – – – – – $2.20. DIDDLING ON THE EDGE of the BED, – – – $3.10. DRY BOB, – $1.50.
[UK]‘Count P. Vicarion’ ‘The Great Plenipotentiary’ Bawdy Ballads II: ‘Good God,’ cried Her Grace, ‘its head’s like a mace! [...] I’ll make up – please the pigs – for dry-bobs and frigs, / With the Great Plenipotentiary.’.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: dry bob n. Sex without male ejaculation.
dry date (n.)

(US gay) a platonic date; any appointment other than a sexual one; pornography.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 69: dry date 1. a platonic date ‘Yeah I went out with him once, but I still don’t know if he digs goin’ down. He was a dry date’ 2. any nonerotic appointment ‘You have a dry date today, Queen: with the dentist’ 3. sexy photographs.
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).

[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 44: In there [i.e. ‘the shithouse’] I went to a regular evening rendezvous with my dry-mouthed widow.
dry ride (n.) (also dry bang) [ride n. (1a)/bang n.1 (2b)]

a simulated act of sexual intercourse, without penetration and usu. without removing the clothes.

[UK]B. Geldof Is That It? 37: You could get a ‘wear’, a kiss with an open mouth; a ‘feel’; a ‘dry ride’, a crunching of pubic bones, or a ‘ride’.
[Ire](con. 1930s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 295: The girls were too frightened to open their legs and the boys resorted to masturbation, or what was known as a ‘dry ride’.
[UK]A. Higgins Donkey’s Years 144: Certain Lower Line tacks had dry-bangs (a ride without the trousers removed) with passing Third Line sows.
dry-rub (v.)

see separate entry.

dry run (n.)

1. an act of sexual intercourse using a contraceptive.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

2. (US gay) sex without ejaculation; frottage.

[US]E. Hunter Blackboard Jungle 197: You know what a dry run is, huh, boy?
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 69: dry run 1. dancing or some other close contact, with thighs rubbing together 2. fucking without ejaculating.
dry screw

see separate entries.

General uses

In compounds

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

(US) to smuggle (oneself) across the US border from Mexico in a vehicle.

[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 148: He dry-backed him over from Santa Lucia, in the trunk of his car.
dryball

see separate entries.

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

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

[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 74: On certain days a ‘dry bath’ — i.e. visit to the baths to be stripped and searched for contraband tobacco, newspapers, files or letters.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 27: A dry bath [...] This is a search, you mug.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 235: A system of searching known as ‘dry-bathing’ was modified.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 137: They gave him a very perfunctory searching instead of the thorough and humiliating going over, known as the ‘dry bath’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 53: Dry bath – search of a prison cell by warders.
dry-bone(s) (n.)

‘a contemptuous or familiar term for a thin or withered person, who has little flesh on his bones’ (OED).

[UK] ‘Oliver routing the Rump’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 63: An Act he did not expect from a King, / Much less from a dry-bone as he.
[UK]Fumblers-Hall 12: Clerk: Kate Knock-well and William Dry-bones appear in the Court.
[UK]Art of Cuckoldom in C.C. Mish Restoration Prose Fiction (1970) 192: A young Spark [...] naturally imagining that such dry Bones as her old Husband, could not be over-extraordinary satisfactory to such young Veins.
[UK]R. Steele Tatler No. 24: Tom. Drybones, for his generous Loss of Youth and Health.
[UK]J. Gay Wife of Bath I i: Slidikins! – Old, old! – pray do not measure my Corn with your Bushel, old dry Bones.
[UK]Litigious Suitor Defeated 215: Dost thou prate, old dry Bones, dost thou want that mouldy Nose, unscrew’d from thy moth-eated Face.
[UK]G. Colman Yngr Iron Chest I ii: Age has so overdone this old dry-bones.
[UK]Hamel, Obeah Man II 8: That Negro Drybones – or, as we call him, Nimrod.
[UK]G.P.R. James Arrah Neil III 189: Ha! ha! old dry-bones! [...] have I caught thee at length?
dry combo (n.)

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

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 63/1: Dry combo. (Hobo) A piece of cake and a sandwich, as a handout in door-to-door begging.
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] (US)

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

[US]Raine & Barnes Cattle 51: Ben Turner, an ally of the Harrells, was dry-gulched.
[US]W.M. Raine Cool Customer 46: They would have dry-gulched my uncle.
[US]W.D. Overholser Buckaroo’s Code (1948) 37: Somebody tried to drygulch him in town.
[US]W.D. Overholser Fabulous Gunman 53: Looked for a while like he might be the big gun on this range till one day he got himself dry-gulched. [Ibid.] 64: I’m thinking it’s too bad your dry-gulcher didn’t shoot straight.
[US](con. mid-late19C) S. Longstreet Wilder Shore 40: Some who tried were murdered up a lonely trail, or shot from ambush in sinister games called dry gulching and bushwacking.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: Gulcher earned his name many years ago when he shot a man in the back. [...] And so Gulcher earned the name of Drygulcher. Constant usage and perhaps a little charity shortened it to Gulcher.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 211: He was the sneakiest gunslinger in the West. A back shooting, dry gulching son of a bitch.

2. to assault.

[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 68: Then one of them got into the car and dry-gulched me.
[US]J. Blake letter 22 Jan. in Joint (1972) 76: This year I got dry-gulched.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 41: Bang-Bang had been dry gulched by bounty hunters and was fighting grimly.
dry hash (n.)

1. (Aus.) dullness, ill-temper.

[UK]Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 64: DRY HASH: slang mean, morose, dull [...] The word also applies to persons or parties or entertainments that are dull.

2. (Aus.) a waste of time.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 16 Nov. 4/4: I got my hand, accidentally, into a old joker's kick, but ’e had nothing [...] and a nother bloke got ’is five finger exercises on to me, which was dry hash, as [...] I’d left my I staff at ’ome.
dry head

see separate entries.

dry land...

see separate entries.

dry lodging (n.)

lodging without inclusive board.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 151: Dry lodging sleeping and sitting accommodation only, without board. This is lodging-house keepers’ slang, and is generally used in reference to rooms let to lodgers who take their meals at their clubs, or in the City, according to their social positions.
dry malice (v.)

(W.I.) to ignore someone deliberately, even to the extent of communicating through a third party.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 16: Dry malice to pointedly ignore someone by using a third party to communicate, even when within hearing of each other.
dry money (n.)

(Irish) cash, ready money.

[Ire]J. Guinan Soggarth Aroon 236: Kerrigan thus lost every penny of ‘dry money’ he had in the world.
[Ire]F. Kelly Annals of Ballykilferret 45: The drinker merely saves his coupons [...] and he may exchange them with the manager for what is known locally as ‘dry money’.
dry shave

see separate entries.

dry snitch

see separate entries.