Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dish n.1

[SE dish, an item of food; dish was used in 16C–17C to mean a sexually attractive person, e.g. Shakespeare, Antony & Cleopatra (1607): ‘A woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not’]

1. the female genitals.

[UK]J. Swetnam Araignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and unconstant Women 29: She haue [...] every mans fingers as deep in the dish, as thine are in the Platter, and euery man to angle, where thou castest thy hooke, holding vp to all that come [...] that so soone as one knaue is out, another is in.
[UK]E. Thompson Meretriciad 26: The coronation causes want of fish, / And flesh, nay ev’ry common dish.

2. something one likes, something suited to one’s taste.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 32: A scribe. That’s the dish for me.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 47: This makes an awful boob out of Beany, and that’s my dish.
[US]T.A. Dorgan Silk Hat Harry’s Divorce Suit 8 June [synd. cartoon strip] A talk to a young man, eh. That’s my dish.
[US]E. Ferber ‘You’re Not the Type’ in One Basket (1947) 536: That’s just my dish.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 138: Not my dish, thanks.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 34: Actually they didn’t give a hoot for any city of gold. Desolation here and now, that was their dish.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 12: I wouldn’t have thought it was his dish at all.

3. (orig. US) an attractive woman.

[[UK]Fielding Life of Jonathan Wild (1784) II 185: When first Wild conducted his flame (or rather his dish, to continue our metaphor) [...] he had projected a design of conveying her to one of those eating-houses in Covent-Garden].
J. Conway in Variety 25 Nov. 26 7: She ought to be a swell-lookin’ dish in tights.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 263: So you’re Queenie, are you? And a nice little dish you are.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 484: ‘Look at the knockers on her.’ [...] ‘A dish.’.
[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 26: To him all girls were collectively ‘the brush’; some were ‘hot dishes’, and others ‘“drak” sorts’.
[US]Mad mag. Summer 41: As the saucer said to the teacup: I’m your dish.
[UK]G.W. Target Teachers (1962) 90: Richie was a nice piece in her own way [...] could be a dish if only she’d take the trouble.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 18: I say, she’s quite a dish, isn’t she?
[Aus]M. Bail Homesickness (1999) 143: She was fresh-faced, long, a dish.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 171: Why wouldn’t you want a dish like that?
[UK]Observer 30 Jan. 27: She was a vision of blondeness and a dish.

4. an attractive person of either sex.

[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 174: You’re a lovely dish and all, I’ll lay. You look a well-built sort of a lad.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 31 Mar. [synd. col.] They rate [Rita Hayworth] the ‘nicest dish of all’.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society Appendix 3, 167: Dish, attractive male.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 64: dish [...] 3. sexually attractive man.
[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 229: Dish can also mean a show-stopper attractive man (the concept of eat = fellate).
[UK]Observer Rev. 18 July 1: Massow is such a dish.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Culture 13 Feb. 1: I did want to meet Michael Douglas, cos he’s a dish.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

dishclout (n.)

see separate entry.

dish-down (n.)

a disappointment.

[UK]L. P. Smith Words and Idioms in DSUE (1984).
dish-dragger (n.)

a waiter.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Should Worry Ch. 5: Stevie rubbered acrobatically with the result that he upset a glass of ice water down the waiter’s neck [...] It cost me a dollar to bring the dish-dragger back to earth.
dishlicker (n.) (also pan-licker)

(Aus.) a dog.

[Aus]Canberra Times (ACT) 6 Aug. 20/2: [headline] Where the desperates bet on moth-eaten dishlickers.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read How to Shoot Friends 50: Tony agreed to keep training the dishlicker while I am inside.
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 11: He would follow his ‘pan-lickers’ or ‘dish-lickers’ from dog-track to dog-track.
dishrag (n.)

a person who is exploited, treated poorly; note mis-defined as a v. in cit. 1967–8.

[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 117: She could manage this frayed, old dish-rag of a woman, she had no doubts of that.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 106: Dishrag Be excessively submissive to your girl friend.
[US]L. Rodríguez Always Running (1996) 61: I went home in a wheelchair [...] Pancho [...] called me a ‘dish rag’.
[UK]Observer Rev. 14 Nov. 5: I was a dish rag.
[UK]Guardian G2 2 Apr. 16/5: He thought the movie ‘misoginistic’ for presenting Wendy Torrance ‘as a screaming dishrag’.
dish-walloper (n.)

(Aus.) a dishwasher in a restaurant.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Mar. 24/1: Besides, suave specialists are luxuries beyond the purses of improvident dish-wallopers.
dish-walloping (n.)

(Aus.) dish-washing.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 13/2: This splendid legend […] probably evolved by a lately emancipated boiler baronet, who got a passage home by ‘dish-walloping.’.
dishwater blond(e) (n.)

(US) a woman, or man, with ash-blonde hair.

[US]C. Martinez ‘Gats in the Hat’ in Gun Molls Sept. [Internet] ‘It was that dish-water blonde!’ cried Carmen suddenly.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 39: She was a dishwater blonde, with these cow eyes, but a sexy mouth.
[US]W. Motley Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) 304: He was quite a big guy, tall, a dishwater blond.
[US] M. McBride Frank Sinatra in a Blender [ebook] He pointed with an ink pen to a dishwater blonde on the floor.
[Aus] A. Nette ‘Chasing Atlantis’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] A dishwater blonde in her forties, tonight she wore black cotton pants.
dish-wrestler (n.)

a restaurant dish-washer; thus wrestle dishes v., to wash dishes.

[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 56: Was that lousy dish-wrestler still arguing the toss?
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 74: Not even the crummy kind [of job] like wrestling dishes in a greasy spoon.

In phrases

dish of chat (n.) (also dish of chit-chat)

a talk, a conversation.

[UK]Morn. Chron. 14 Aug. 4/1: That would afford him a much greater gratification than even a dish of chat with the Ex-Emperor.
[UK]Kentish Gaz. 1 Feb. 3/3: Mrs Surmise [...] dearly loves a little dish of chat.
[US]W.A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. I 97: I thought I would take a dish of chat, for that was the most I expected to get.
[US]Jeffersonian Republican (PA) 29 Feb. 4/1: Vot vill them ladies do, Jim, / Vot like their dish of chat.
[UK]Morn. Chron. 10 Nov. 1/7: I might as well finish my letter by giving you a dish of chit-chat of the day.
[UK]Berks. Chron. 14 June 6/5: Every guest who entered [...] to partake of a cup of tea, or dish of chat became [...] a member of the family.
[UK]N. Devon Jrnl 26 Jan. 7/3: By way of dessert, we treated ourselves to a ‘disgh of chat’ with ‘mine host’.
[US]Pulaski Citizen (TN) 3 Apr. 3/8: They think no more of asking a young Miss to indulge ina dish of chat than an old maid would.
Newberry herald (SC) 22 May 2/4: As the saying is ‘Maurice does not kill a cow every day,’ so we are not able to give you a readable dish of chat every week.
[US]Breckenridge News (Cloverport, KY) 20 Jan. 1/3: I met him in the road; had er nice dish er chat with him, too.
[US]L.A. Herald 19 Feb. 3/2: The women dropping in [...] for a dish of chat and a cup of tea.
[US]Lexington Gaz. (VA) 26 July 1/6: Aside from furnishing gossip [...] and who does not like his dish of chat — the country paper [etc.] .
side-dish (n.)

(US) a mistress.

[US]Broadway Brevities Aug. 36/2: He’d take his side-dish Tillie Zinc, living on the same street, and walk her right past his wife, emitting cat-calls, laughing loudly and occasionally flipping a roll of bills right across his wife's nose!