Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spicy adj.

also spicey

1. smart, spirited; thus the spicy n.

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 108: This spicy Rowland for his Oliver set the poor supercargo all in a blaze.
[UK]C. Selby Jacques Strop II i: Ain’t that the spicy, eh?
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 134: A cadger sweeping a crossing fell out with a dustman. Wasn’t there some spicy jaw betwixt them!
[UK]Sam Sly 12 May 4/1: We advise Thomas Thom—n [...] not to come it so very spicy with his kid gloves and gold (query) chain. Are they paid for yet?
[US]Manchester Spy (NH) 7 Sept. n.p.: It is a long time since he has seen a spicy sheet.
[UK] ‘The Cadger’s Ball’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 147: Oh, what a spicy flare-up, tear-up, / Festival Terpsichory.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Mar. 31/2: I noted down several of their devotional expressions [...] Bosh, Jolly, Larky, Muff, Spoony, Spicy, Nobby, Stunning, Clipping, &c.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 Apr. Mar. 3/2: Samuel Johnson, Esq., a ‘popular and spicy’ looking swell.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) I 388: In public houses there’s talk and fun, and people’s more inclined for a raffle, or anything spicy that offers.
[Ire]Cork Examiner 28 Mar. 4/3: We trust we may be often entertained by as spicy a set-to .
[UK] ‘’Arry on Politics’ in Punch 11 May 205/1: For I tell yer they’re [i.e. newspapers] pilled up that spicy, they touch up a fellow to rights.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a Jury’ in Punch 15 Apr. 177/1: And, thinks I, this will be ‘tuppence coloured,’ and spicey as all round my hat.
[US]Ade ‘College Widow’ in Verses and Jingles (1911) 7: I heard from you quite often I liked your letters, / They were spicy and chuck full of college news.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 6 May. 5/7: You seem to have used what you yourself called ‘spicy language’.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Comprehension of Private Copper’ in Traffics and Discoveries 170: ’Ere! Let’s look. ’Aven’t seen a proper spicy paper for a year.
[UK]J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps (1930) 14: He [...] wished he could have attended the inquest, for he reckoned it would be about as spicy as to read one’s own obituary notice.
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald ‘May Day’ in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald V (1963) 193: They exchanged a few spicy epigrams with the sleepy-eyed doorman.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 36: Australians have dreamed up one of their most spicy sets of slanguage to be used at or concerning the races.

2. smart-looking, neat, thus spiciness, attractive looks, neatness.

[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 7 May n.p.: [W]here he and a Spicy gent was visiting.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 76: ‘Slashing!’ said Bet; ‘and he’s a spicy looking cove, too; he’s got a nobby nut and whiskers.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 24 Mar. 3/1: The spiciest articles [i.e. boots] were handed to him by the youthful prentice; but none would suit .
[UK]Sam Sly 6 Jan. 4/1: [U]p rattled one of Wilson’s ‘Favourite’ omnibuses. The appearance of the vehicle was quite unique; there was a spiciness about it which was really attractive.
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Sept. 102/1: Then there was my row with the Cornet / His spicy new jacket I’d torn it.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Kate Coventry (1865) 33: As we pulled up in front of the Castle Hotel I was proud to hear the admiration our tout ensemble elicited [...] ‘’Ere’s a spicy set-out, Bill,’ said one.
[Aus] C. Thatcher ‘The New Chum Swell’ in Seal Lingo (1999) 10: His dress was spicy as could be, / His fingers hung with rings.
[UK] ‘’Arry on His ’Oliday’ in Punch 13 Oct. 161/1: The toffs may look thunder and tommy on me and my spicey rig out.
[UK]Cremorne I 17: Does yer know that spicey clothes shop, / Peter Robinsons by name.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 86: Butchers riding out on their spicy nags.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 23 Jan. 3/6: This ere gel were very spicey, / Likewise she was most demure.
[US]Hope College ‘Dict. of New Terms’ 🌐 You’re looking spicy today. Going somewhere special?

3. in non-sexual sense, exciting.

[UK]‘Epistle from Joe Muggins’s Dog’ in Era (London) 27 Dec. 3/4: I turned tail and cut it, having heard something spicy at Mostyn’s place.
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 8 Oct. n.p.: Some spicy developments must result, as both are armed to the teeth with instances of each other’s depravity.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 4 Nov. 3/1: [I]f anybody knows how to give a clean yet spicy show Tony [Pastor] does.
[UK]Mirror of Life 20 Jan. 2/3: ‘The Mirror of Life is [...] a bright, spicey paper’.

4. (also spiced) titillating, sexually provocative; thus spicy on, provocative towards [may have started out as a genuine euph. but invariably carries slightly ludicrous ‘dirty old man’ overtones].

[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Mar. 3/2: He gives some spicy parties, but is ashamed to have any of his junior donkies at them.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 338: There’s a spicy bit of muslin.
Satirist & Blade (Boston, MA) 19 Feb. n.p.: We shall give a rich and spicy sketch of the Shepherd and his flock in the next number.
[UK]Sam Sly 6 Jan. 4/1: He advises Miss B—ons, of the Albert Saloon, not to be so spicy on married men.
[US]Broadway Belle (NY) 1 Jan. n.p.: [advert] The gorgeous Bridal Chambers of the different establishments, and sundy spicy adventures , which have [...] taken place therein [...] related with a racy freedom and [...] voluptuous description.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend II 251: Oh! what it is very spicy, is it? Come hand it over.
[UK]Sportsman 6 Sept. 2/1: Notes on News [...] From the columns devoted to the advertising unclean books and ‘spicy’ photographs we cull the two following exquisite announcements [etc].
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 100: Ladies more splendid than Queens of Sheba, spicy meats, spicy songs.
[UK]Bristol Magpie 7 Sept. 17/1: ‘Variety is the spice of life,’ but there’s such a thing as a variety show being too spicy.
[US]Lantern (New Orleans, LA) 13 Oct. 2: A spicy bit of gossip.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Nov. 12/3: Be the evidence never so ‘spicey’ / Too utterly giddy and vicey – / It’s a thousand to one, / When the lawyers have done, / The judge will ejaculate ‘nisi!’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 6 Sept. 5/3: It's a very queer thing when some spicy affair / Interferes with their godly arrangements!
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 8 Feb. 7/1: [headline] A JOLLY MINSTREL A Story of Largely Misplaced Affections [...] A VERY SPICY AND JUICY STORY.
[UK]Morris & LeBrunn [perf. G.W. Anson] ‘Captain Puffiy Puff’ 🎵 I can tell you the little spicey stories as they come from France.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 105: The playful old doctor [...] unloaded a little highly-spiced chaff on the barmaid.
[UK]Cliffe & Moore [perf. Marie Lloyd] The Coster’s Wedding 🎵 And all the market blokes, they cracked some spicy jokes.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 Jan. 1/1: Nowadays all the spicy sexual sensations come from the northern seaport.
[UK]Sporting Times 28 Mar. 9/2: Offers me £10,000 per week to appear at his house, and do what he calls ‘some spicy patter’ for fifteen minutes.
[Ire]Joyce ‘A Little Cloud’ Dubliners (1956) 75: Of course you do find spicy bits in Paris. Go to one of the students’ balls, for instance. That’s lively, if you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 314: Hanging over the bloody paper with Alf looking for spicy bits instead of attending to the general public.
[US]Ade Old-Time Saloon 32: They were supposed to be spicy but, later on, they wouldn’t have caused a tremor.
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 150: Sid always brought down the spicy bits of news.
[US]E. Wilson 13 Mar. [synd. col.] ‘The crowds did like her spicy numbers. Not many angels walk into night clubs’.
[US]C. Himes Pinktoes (1989) 218: All the spicy history of the known world was represented on that great night.
[UK](con. 1960s) A. Frewin London Blues 97: There was this French geezer up in Camden Town [...] who used to publish little pocket-size magazines with titles like Spicy Ladies, Parisian Nights.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 72: Spicy lesbo chicks.

In phrases

cut it spicy (v.) (also cut it fat)

to have a good, if vulgar time.

[UK]H. Christmas in Pegge Anecdotes of the Eng. Lang. 292: Cut it fat.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Ochre’ in Punch 15 Oct. 169/1: Cut it spicy, old man, by the briny, I did, and no error.