Green’s Dictionary of Slang

straw n.

[abbr. SE straw blond(e)]

1. [20C+] light blond hair.

2. [1900s–60s] (US black) a hat, although not necessarily a straw hat [note 19C SE use, a straw hat].

3. in drug uses [senses a and b from the shape, sense c from the colour].

(a) [1940s–50s] an opium pipe.

(b) [1960s] a marijuana cigarette or marijuana.

(c) [1960s] rolling papers.

4. see straw boss

In compounds

straw-top (n.)

a nickname for one who has light blonde hair.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

straw boss (n.) (also straw) [orig. a threshing crew hierarchy in which the chief deals with the grain, the subordinates with the straw]

1. [late 19C+] (US) a person who is second-in-command, assistant to the boss.

2. [1920s+] (US tramp) the foreman of a work crew.

straw chipper (n.)

1. [early–mid-19C] a barber.

2. [mid-19C] a straw bonnet maker.

straw hall (n.) [the straw laid down for bedding]

[early 19C] (Anglo-Irish) a debtor’s prison.

straw hat (n.) [metonymy]

1. [early 18C] a Billingsgate fish-wife.

2. [1900s–30s] (Aus., also straw-hatter) a dandy, a fashionable person; thus straw hat push, the social élite.

strawhead (n.)

[1950s–60s] (US) a derog. term for an immigrant, lit. one with straw in their hair, i.e. a peasant.

straw house (n.)

[late 19C] (US) a home for destitute seamen.

straw-yard (n.)

[mid-19C] a night-shelter or casual ward, occupied by the impoverished street-dwellers.

In phrases

bang-straw (n.) [what his job entails]

[late 18C] a farm-worker, esp. a thresher.

draw straws (v.) (also pick straws) [pvb one eye draws straw, t’other serves the thatcher; Grose (1796) has the single straw]

[mid-18C–mid-19C] to show signs of sleep; esp. as one’s eyes draw straw(s).

in (the) straw (also in the strummel) [18C SE straw as the stuffing of a bed, but note the defunct practice of laying straw in the street outside the house of a woman in labour in order to quieten the passing traffic; 20C+ use mainly Aus.]

1. [mid-17C+] pregnant, in labour, giving birth.

2. having sexual intercourse.

wear a straw in one’s ear (v.) [? the custom of standing with a straw in one’s mouth, which indicates one’s desire to find a new job; + ? dial. draw a straw across, to beguile]

[1910s–20s] of a woman, to seek a new husband.

whopstraw (n.) (also Johnny Whopstraw, Johnny Wopstraw, Whipstraw) [his SE whopping or threshing straw]

[mid–late 19C] a countryman, a peasant.