Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pull v.

1. [mid-18C–mid-19C] to drink.

2. in senses meaning lit. or fig. to ‘move’.

(a) [early–mid-19C] (also pull away) to pilfer, to steal; also attrib.

(b) [19C+] to arrest and take before a magistrate; to take before any authority figure; to stop and search on the street; of a place, to raid (see cite 1875) often as get pulled v.

(c) [late 19C+] to accuse, to have someone arrested.

(d) [1910s+] of a club doorman, a ‘steerer’, to attract clients.

(e) [1920s+] to pick up for sexual purposes, to seduce.

(f) [1920s+] of a prostitute, to attract a client.

(g) [1950s+] (US black) of a pimp, to enlist a new prostitute.

(h) [1960s+] to lure a woman away from another man, esp. of a pimp.

3. to act in a way that is calculated to deceive.

4. to get hold of, to obtain.

(a) [late 19C+] (Aus., also pull off) to obtain from or beg for, usu. money.

(b) [20C+] (US campus) to obtain, to achieve.

(c) [1920s] to earn a wage.

(d) [1920s+] (US campus) to earn a grade in an examination.

(e) [1930s+] to be allotted, to serve or carry out.

(f) [1940s+] (US Und.) to receive a jail sentence; to serve a jail sentence.

5. [late 19C+] (orig. US Und.) to draw a gun or other weapon.

6. [1910s+] to leave, to go away [pull out v. (2)].

7. [1910s+] to masturbate; usu. in comb. with a n. meaning penis (see under relevant nouns, e.g. pull one’s pud under pud n.1 ); thus pull off

8. [1950s+] to remove, to censor.

9. see pull down v. (3)

In compounds

pull dude (n.) [dude n.1 (1)]

[1990s+] (US black) an informer.

pulling party (n.)

[1970s] (US) group masturbation.

In phrases

in pull

[early–mid-19C] under arrest.

Mr Pullen is concerned [pun on pull in ]

[early 19C] an arrest has been made.

on the pull

[1980s+] looking for a sexual encounter.

pull a... (v.)

see separate entry.

pull (a/the bag) away (v.)

[mid-19C] to pick a pocket or purse.

pull down on (v.)

see separate entry.

pull in (v.) (also pull up)

[early 19C+] (orig. UK Und.) to arrest; thus pulled in/up, arrested.

pull it (v.)

1. [early 19C] to run off as fast as one can.

2. [1960s] (US) to leave.

In phrases

pull off (v.)

1. [mid-19C–1900s] (UK/US Und.) to steal.

2. [late 19C+] to masturbate, oneself or another person.

3. [1900s] (Aus.) to stop doing something [? SE pull up].

4. see sense 3a above.

pull one’s duff (v.) [duff n.2 ]

[1930s+] (US) to masturbate.

pull the chain (v.) [lavatory imagery]

1. [1990s+] (US) to masturbate.

2. see SE phrs. below.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

pull-down (n.)

see separate entry.

pullout (n.)

see separate entry.

pull-through (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

I could pull her on like an old gumboot

[1960s+] a phr. used of a sexually alluring woman by the man who desires her.

pull about (v.) [19C]

1. to masturbate.

2. to handle roughly or unceremoniously, esp. of a man abusing or harassing a woman.

pull caps (v.) [the tearing ofoth each other’s headgear]

[mid-18C–early 19C] of women, to fight, to squabble, esp. over a man.

pull down (v.)

see separate entry.

pull for (v.)

[late 19C+] to support, to back up.

pull on (v.)

see separate entries.

pull one off (on) (v.) (also pull one on, pull one over)

[1920s+] (US) to hoax, to trick to ‘pull a fast one’ (on someone).

pull oneself over (v.)

[late 19C] to eat.

pull one’s handkerchief (v.)

[late 19C] (US teen) to make (sexual) advances.

pull one’s plum (v.) [? nursery rhyme ‘Jack Horner’: Little Jack Horner sat in a corner / [...] He put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, / And said, ‘What a good boy am I!’]

[2000s] (Irish) to be idle.

pull out (v.)

see separate entry.

pull shoe strings (v.) [ext. of colloq. pull strings]

[1930s–40s] (US black) to exert influence, esp. surreptitiously.

pull someone’s chain (v.) [1940s+]

1. to annoy someone, to agitate.

2. to lie, to deceive.

pull someone’s coat (v.) (also pull, pull someone’s coattails, ...jacket, tug someone’s/the coat) [Mezzrow & Wolfe, Really the Blues (1946): ‘The phrase pulling my coat [...] refers to what a man does when he grabs your coat-tail and tugs it two or three times, as a warning or hint or cue when he can’t speak up directly; the sort of thing someone might do when you’re in a group of people and he wants to call your attention to something; a variation on the nudge’]

[late 19C+] (orig. US black) to draw attention, to point out, to nag, to give information on.

pull someone’s string (v.)

[1990s+] (US) to amuse, to excite, to stimulate.

pull the chain (v.) [lavatory imagery]

1. [1930s+] (orig. US) to bring to a conclusion, to make a decisive move to end a period of uncertainty.

2. [1950s] (S.Afr. gang) to abduct people from a public place, robbing the men and/or raping the women.

3. see sl. phrs. above.

pull the chain on (v.) (US)

1. [1950s+] to dismiss, to abandon, e.g. an idea.

2. [1980s] to murder, to kill.

pull the coat (v.) [the image is of being held back by a hand pulling one’s coat]

[1970s] (Aus.) to make little effort.

pull the other one (it’s got bells on) (also pull the other leg, ...tit) [tit n.2 (1)]

[1920s+] a derisive rebuttal of an improbable statement.

pull the plug (v.) [electrical imagery]

1. [1930s–40s] (US Und.) to set things going.

2. [1970s+] to stop performing an action, to terminate; cf. pull the plug on

pull the plug on (v.) [electrical imagery]

1. [1940s+] to terminate, to bring to an end, usu. abruptly; also to murder.

2. [1990s+] to treat very harshly.

pull the string (of the shower bath) (v.)

1. [mid-19C–1930s] to cause something to be released or made common knowledge, to reveal something previously hidden.

2. [late 19C] to die.

pull the trigger (v.)

[2010s] (US campus) to make oneself sick.

pull up (v.)

1. [early–mid-19C] to work as a highwayman; thus pull up a jack v., to stop a coach in order to rob it.

2. see pull in

In exclamations

pull the chain!

[1920s] (US) shut up! stop talking (rubbish)!