Green’s Dictionary of Slang

squeeze n.1

1. (also squeezing) a crowded social gathering.

[UK]Swift Tale of a Tub 21: Lord! what a filthy crowd is here; [...] Z---ds, what squeezing is this!
A.L. Barbauld Works (1825) II 22: Do you know the different terms? There is a squeeze, a fuss, a drum, a rout, and lastly a hurricane, when the whole house is full from top to bottom.
[UK]Estate of Culross Coal Workings 53: It either is, or should be toneish, Scots Coals and Wax Tapers forming two of the indispensably necessary attendants of Drums, Routs, and Squeezes.
[UK]Lady S. Lyttelton Correspondance (1912) I 13: The weather is getting terribly hot for squeezes [OED].
[US]R. Waln Hermit in America on Visit to Phila. 57: Appearing for a short time at ‘the squeeze,’ and then vanishing.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 416: The Lord Mayor’s ball at the Mansion House – a most delightful squeeze.
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 5 Jan. 2/2: It is such a piece of fatuity, in any one who has money in his purse, to go into a squeeze [...], that we believe Royal Avery is not the only man who has recently picked his own pocket.
C.K. Sharpe in W. Scott and C.K. Sharpe Letters to R. Chambers (1904) 51: I never saw such a squeeze as getting into the supper-room presented.
[UK]Comic Almanack May 224: Sweet Gallery squeeze [...] Crowds, looking up, still pushing go, / With stares above, and stairs below.
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. by Gas-Light (1990) 191: What a squeeze – what a crowd!

2. uses based on the idea of squeezing the body.

(a) (also squeeg) the neck [i.e. that which is squeezed].

[UK] ‘The Potato Man’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 54: With a blue bird’s eye about my squeeg.
[UK] ‘Tom the Drover’ No. 30 Papers of Francis Place (1819) n.p.: She pads the hoof up and down, and with a beaver castor she goes, / With an India man about her squeeze.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Morn. Chron. 6 Dec. 3/5: Williams was swellish in the extreme, and he was togged out accordingly [...] white topper on, a prime fancy upper Benjamin, a blue bird’s-eye silk fogle round his squeeze.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 109: An old evergreen chap may be dressed kiddily, i.e. knowingly, with his hat on one side, [...] a yellow bird’s-eye blue or Belcher fogle, circling his squeeze and a chitterling shirt of great magnitude.
[UK] in Egan Bk of Sports 101: With a blue bird’s eye about his squeeze, and his garters below his knee.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 27 Sept. 3/1: York delivered on the squeese, knocking his man down.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 64: A spicy tile, and nobby head of hair [...] And round his squeeze, which seemed formed for a rope, / He flash’d a birdseye fogle.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 25 Aug. 3/5: A white choker round his sqveedge.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 June 2/3: Jack came ashore, attired in a new ‘bird’s eye round his squeeze," and a magnificent ‘yeller wescut’.
[UK]A. Stephens ‘The Chickaleary Cove’ [lyrics] The stock around my squeeze a guiver colour see, And the vestat with the bins so rorty.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 307: Squeeze [...] also, by a very significant figure, a thief’s term for the neck.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 135: That young covey with the yellow belcher round his squeeze is Tom Sutton.

(b) the rope used for a hanging [i.e. that which squeezes].

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 1138/2: from ca. 1830; ob.

(c) a cravat.

[UK]Bell’s Life in London 17 July n.p.: Jones sported a purple squeeze with orange border.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 May 2/6: I takes off my squeedge, hangs lt on the bed and falls asleep.

(d) (Aus. und.) constr. with the, garrotting.

[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Aug. 15/3: [M]ental brilliance is a hindrance rather than a help in the application of the ungentle art of garroting. Professionally the operation is known as the ‘Squeeze’ or ‘Necklace’.

(e) (Aus.) the female waist [it is squeezed].

[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.

3. a hard bargain.

[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 14: Warm work is / The squeeze for an English display / Of beef, pudding, potatoes, and turkeys.
[UK]J. Conrad Heart of Darkness 31: They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect.

4. an escape; thus narrow squeeze, a lucky escape.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 14: Small-time dealers they’d managed to turn informant in exchange for a squeeze if they got nicked anywhere in London.

5. (UK Und.) a break-in for the purpose of robbery.

[UK]C. Selby London by Night I i: I was not disappointed with the ‘squeeze,’ for entering the first room, I discovered an open cabinet with a bowl of silver coin.

6. petty theft; embezzling .

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Jul. 32/1: I knew he was robbing me, but I also knew he took good care that no one else did. [...] His devotion to my interests (apart from that little ‘squeeze’ I have mentioned) was touching.

7. (also squeegee) silk, thus any garment made of it, e.g. squeeze hat, a silk hat; also attrib. [the quality of the fabric that will squeeze into a minuscule space].

[UK]D. Jerrold Men of Character I 261: Who should he see there but the pot-hook marine, Nankin, with a long coat, and a squeeze hat under his arm?
[UK]H. Brandon Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 165/2: Squeeze – silk.
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 22 Apr. 4/4: Jones [...] also wore ‘the livery of the Ring’, and flashed light blue squeezes [i.e. a cravat] with fancy borders.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 240: He’d tog himself up in black, with a white ‘squeeze,’ on a Sunday, and go to two or three different churches.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 503: After the place where I was chived got well, me and another screwed a place at Stoke Newington. We got some squeeze (silk) dresses, and two sealskin jackets.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 18 Nov. 5/2: Put on your squeeze-dress and we’ll make a night of it.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 272: The stout old dame in a rainbow bonnet and a squeeze – which is Greek for silk – dress.
[Aus]E. Pugh in Advertiser (Adelaide) 12 Apr. 24/8: ‘Squeeze’ means silk.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 58: Their objective was a large squeeze gaff (silk warehouse) in the City Road.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 253: Squeegee, cats-milk. Silken goods.
[UK]P. Beveridge Inside the C.I.D. 200: Squeeze Silk.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 202: Squeeze (noun) Silk.

8. (orig. Aus.) an impression of a key made for criminal purposes.

[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 8/2: Squeeze, an impression of a keyhole in wax.
[UK]G.R. Sims In London’s Heart 86: Lor, what a prutty job it is – the way as the Dook got a wax squeeze o’ that key. [Ibid.] 152: The inspector came to the conclusion that the key had been taken from the house at that time, and what in thieves’ parlance is known as ‘a squeeze of the turn’ had been taken and a duplicate made from it.
[UK]E. Jervis 25 Years in Six Prisons 206: He had managed to obtain a ‘squeeze’ of the duplicate safe-key.
[UK]G.D.H. & M. Cole Burglars in Bucks 135: Where did the dummy keys [...] come from? [...] If they were forgeries it would be simpler, for Sir Hiram might remember if anyone had handled his keys long enough to take a squeeze [OED].
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 71: Squeeze, an impression of a keyhole in wax.

9. a difficult situation; trouble with the police.

[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 82: They might check with the city jacks and you will be in squeeze.

10. uses based on financial pressure [squeeze v.; but note 18C use of SE to mean the same thing].

(a) financial stress.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 3 July 14/2: They fail to see where the ‘squeeze’ comes in on Von der Ahe, as the fines Imposed were incurred by these players for a personal fight [...] and not through any infraction of the rules.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 8: Course, there’s times when I finds myself up against it. It was durin’ one of them squeezes [...] that I gets mixed up with Leonidas Dodge.

(b) (US Und.) extortion money.

[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Squeeze, bribe money.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

(c) (US) an act of blackmail or extortion.

[US]Des Moines Register (IA) 23 Aug. 6/3: They [...] spoke of ‘giving the old man the big squeeze.’ The onlty interpretation of that is blackmail.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Busman’s Honeymoon (1974) 46: He got Tallboys dirt cheap [...] Got some kind of squeeze on the old people and put the brokers in.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 58: I could still be working on the squeeze.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 16: He got bad headaches – chronic – they started with the Jack squeeze. The squeeze failed.

(d) pressure, emotional stress.

[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 164: He hadn’t thought of one convincing thing to say during that squeeze.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Dead Don’t Dream’ in Hollywood Detective July [Internet] You’d like me to hang the squeeze on the fat slob.
[US]W.D. Overholser Fabulous Gunman 65: You maybe in more of a squeeze than you know.
Mighty Diamonds ‘They Never Love Poor Marcus’ [lyrics] They didn’t know there would be days like these / Now the human race in such a squeeze.
[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 75: Before long the squeeze was on [...] Longer hours, double shifts.

11. uses based on physical affection.

(a) (US Und.) the head of an institution or an undertaking.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 80: squeeze [...] The principal or manager of an institution, an establishment or any undertaking. A contraction of the popular ‘main squeeze’ meaning the same.

(b) a girl- or boyfriend.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Picnic’ in Benno and Some of the Push 4: ‘Is she a shine squeeze, Benno?’ asked Feathers.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: squeeze n. 1. a girl friend. 2. a boy friend.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 17: ‘She your woman?’ ‘Just a squeeze.’.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 13: Kitty Litter, his squeeze, stripped at the Blue Note.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mud Crab Boogie (2013) [ebook] Warren’s latest squeeze or craze was Debbie, a homely blonde hairdresser who owned a trendy salon at Coogee.
[UK]Eve. Standard Mag. 4 June 10: I can’t even blame the new squeeze.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 110: The Hunger [...] has just been happily reunited with an old ‘squeeze’ and fellow J-Cat alumnus called Cassandra.
[UK]Observer 1 Feb. 42: Vote for Harry’s new squeeze.
[US]J. Ellroy Hilliker Curse 12: This geek Hank Hart was her first post-divorce squeeze.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 113: Kalan dropped the bombshell about his new squeeze [...] a Kurdish lad loving a Somali girl.

(c) (orig. US black) a close friend.

[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: squeeze n. […] 3. an intimate acquaintance.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 35: There are a variety of other expressions that essentially carry the same sense of friendship and trust as ace: main man, squeeze.
[UK]Guardian Sport 2 Oct. 16: I’ll give Des a bell [...] to ask his advice about his ex-squeeze.

(d) something very special.

[UK]J. Baker Chinese Girl (2001) 104: This flat’s my squeeze, I don’t want it turning into a jacket job.

12. (US Und.) a device used to control a mechanical gambling game dishonestly.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 308: squeeze. A dishonest device for controlling a mechanical gambling game.

13. (UK black) a discount; something free or cut-price.

[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 75: I was gonna ask man an’ man for eighty sheets. But [...] I give you a twenty pound squeeze.
[UK](con. 1981) A. Wheatle East of Acre Lane 167: Remember how he got us a squeeze at de Christmas dance dey ’ad.

14. (UK Und.) a short prison sentence.

[UK] in R. Graef Living Dangerously 30: I got a squeeze (a light sentence).
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 69: You don’t even know you get a guilty let alone you get a squeeze or a long one.

In compounds

squeeze-clout (n.) [SE clout]

a neck-cloth, a (silk) handkerchief.

[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 141: The balloon business now, is the best that’s going, they are so intent when it ascends, that I verily believe, I could unbuckle his squeeze clout, and nap his rum twang.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 85: squeeze clout A silk handkerchief.

In phrases

give someone the squeeze (v.)

to blackmail.

[US]D. Hammett ‘Assistant Murderer’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 157: We turned a couple of tricks — one con and one blackmail — and then she ran into Jerome Falsoner. We were going to give him the squeeze.
main squeeze (n.) [SE main]

1. (US) the boss, the foreman, any important person.

[US]Ade Artie (1963) 39: I went in and asked the main squeeze o’ the works how much the sacque meant to him.
[US]W. Irwin Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum III n.p.: Then I shall strive and be the great main squeeze, The warm gazook, the only on the bunch.
[US]S. Ford Torchy 3: The door was open a foot or two; so I steps up to take a peek at the main squeeze.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 80: squeeze [...] The principal or manager of an institution, an establishment or any undertaking. A contraction of the popular ‘main squeeze’ meaning the same.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Marathon in the Mud’ in Ade’s Fables 293: The Main Squeeze was trying to be a Bank Director, and Rockefeller had stolen a long start on him.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The Big Knockover’ Story Omnibus (1966) 282: Of those who weren’t caught, Bluepoint Vance seems to be the main squeeze.
[US](con. 1890s) A.F. Harlow Old Bowery Days 493: Them guys that flag the Washington graft get famous and get to be the main squeeze at the White House.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. (US) an outstanding example or individual.

[US]‘Sing Sing No. 57,700’ My View on Books in N.Y. Times Mag. 30 Apr. 5/4: Soldiers of Fortune Richard Harding Davis [...] Dickie is the mains queeze when it comes to the up-to-date stuff.

3. (orig. US, also main mellow, main piece, number-one squeeze) one’s most favoured person, usu. a lover or most intimate same-sex friend.

[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 97: There’s never been a day in my life when I couldn’t go to 1 of my main mellows and get some help.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: main mellow, main piece, main squeeze n. a man’s closest woman friend.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 133: You my main squeeze, my one-and-only. [Ibid.] 147: In woman’s usage, terms like home squeeze, main squeeze [...] connote sexual fidelity.
[US]R. Campbell Sweet La-La Land (1999) 81: For his lady love. For his best girl. Old flame. Number-one squeeze.
[US](con. 1960s) G. Washington Blood Brothers 178: Come over here and meet my main squeeze that brings me to my knees.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 388: Just to let him know he wasn’t all that compared to my main squeeze.
put the squeeze (on) (v.) (also put the squeeze to) [squeeze v.; but note 18C use of SE squeeze to mean the same thing]

(orig. US) to pressurize, to extort, to blackmail.

[US]Sun (NY) 27 July 40/2: A District Attorney put on all the squeeze he could to get a squawk out of the boob. He wouldn’t come across.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Too Many Have Lived’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 316: We hadn’t been able to find him since he went to put the squeeze to this baby, and then he turns up dead.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 128: There was no reason why he shouldn’t get rid of Marlin and put the squeeze on Sandmark by himself.
[US]J. Thompson Swell-Looking Babe 74: It was going to work out so’s I could put the squeeze — ask you to do me a favor.
[UK]J. Gosling Ghost Squad 37: I learned the tricks of this harsh and unrelenting trade [...] when to put the squeeze on — threaten a thief with arrest unless he informed on his friends — and when to turn a blind eye.
[US]J. Scarne Complete Guide to Gambling 691: Squeeze – 2. pressure or force. ‘We put the squeeze on him and he opened up.’.
[US]D. Pendleton Boston Blitz (1974) 28: If this engineer puts the squeeze on either Johnny or Val, he’ll learn anything they might be able to tell him.
[US]R. Coover Public Burning (1979) 409: Ulysses Grant used his fortieth year to put the squeeze on Vicksburg.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 102: The pimps are going around putting the squeeze on.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 92: We’re puttin’ the squeeze on after all the ceremonies.
[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 18: You think you can put the squeeze on me, you’re stupid and ugly.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 232: The former brother-in-law was putting the squeeze on him for more.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

squeeze-box (n.)

1. a harmonium [the pressing of feet on the pedals].

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 232/1: Squeeze-box (Navy). The ship harmonium – used in the hasty Sunday service. From the action of the feet.

2. an accordion or concertina; also attrib. [the pressing together of the two sides of the instrument].

[US] H. Sebastian ‘Agric. College Sl. in S. Dakota’ AS XI:3 280/1: Squeeze-box, an accordion.
[UK]D. Bolster Roll On My Twelve 12: Dicky Reece on a squeeze-box playing a swing version of ‘Abide with Me’.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 164: I [...] took the squeezebox out of her hands.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 62: Bill’s wife Marge played the squeeze-box.
[US]A. Pearl Dict. Popular Sl.
[UK]Observer Rev. 22 Aug. 7: An accordionist [...] and three female singers who can switch with one wheeze of a squeeze-box from snarling to soulful.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 90: Dick played squeeze-box gigs for Sam G.
squeeze-eye (n.) [the supposed ‘squeezed’ shape of their eyes]

(W.I.) a derog. term for a Chinese person.

[WI]Cassidy Jamaica Talk 163: A nickname is squeeze-eye.
squeeze-pidgin (n.) [SE pidgin, language (here of corruption); but note pigeon n.1 (2a)]

a bribe.

[UK]G.A. Sala in Living London (1883) Aug. 346: There comes to me, in the Shanghai Mercury of June 8, a word quite new to me, and which is positively delicious. It is ‘squeeze-pidgin.’ [...] ‘Squeeze-pidgin,’ I infer, is an official putting on of ‘the screw’.

In phrases