Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hay n.

1. [20C+] a bed; also in the context of a place for sexual intercourse; thus great in the hay, an above-average sexual performer [the use of hay for stuffing mattresses].

2. [20C+] as a metaphor for insignificance.

(a) a small sum of money; usu. in phr. that ain’t hay, remarking on a substantial sum.

(b) in fig. use, something worthy of notice.

3. [1930s+] as something smokeable [note Kipling ‘The Taking of Lungtungpen’ (1880): ‘’Tis no good [...] fillin’ my pouch wid your chopped hay. Canteen baccy’s like the Army. It shpoils a man’s taste for moilder things’].

(a) (US) tobacco; cigarettes.

(b) (US drugs) marijuana.

In compounds

hay butt (n.) [butt n.1 (2b)]

[1940s+] (drugs) a marijuana cigarette.

hayhead (n.) [-head sfx (4)]

[1940s–70s] (US) a smoker of marijuana.

In phrases

bale of hay (n.)

[1960s] a stock of money.

hit the hay (v.) (also hit the haybag, hit the slats, hunt the hay)

1. [20C+] to go to bed; thus in the hay, asleep.

2. [1900s–20s] (also beat the hay) to sleep.

3. [1940s+] (also go into the hay) to have sexual intercourse, to ‘go to bed with’.

4. [1950s+] (drugs) to smoke marijuana.

pound the hay (v.)

[1910s] (US) to sleep.

that ain’t hay (also there ain’t no peanuts, ...persimmons) [the perceived insignificance of the various items]

[1930s+] (US) a phr. used to mean that something is a large and/or significant amount.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

hayband (n.) [SE hay, the supposed content + the cigar-band]

[mid-19C] a second-rate cigar.

hay burner (n.)

see separate entries.

hay eater (n.) [? derog. ref. to white farmers]

[late 19C–1930s] (US black) a white person.

hayfoot (n.) [the placing of a piece of hay and one of straw in the right and left boots so that otherwise ignorant farmboys could learn the difference]

[late 19C–1950s] (US) a farmer; also as a term of derision, a peasant, a rustic.

hay-footed (adj.)

[late 19C] (US) rustic, unsophisticated.

haymaker (n.)

see separate entries.

haypile (n.)

[1900s–30s] (US) a bed or mattress.

hay-pitcher (n.)

[late 19C–1940s] (US) a farmer, a peasant.


see separate entries.

hay-shaker (n.) (also hay-pounder)

[20C+] (Aus./N.Z./US) a farmer, a simple peasant; also as adj.

hay-tosser (n.)

[early 17C; 1900s–10s] (US) a farmer.

In phrases

no hay on (someone)

used to state that one is not naive, foolish.