Green’s Dictionary of Slang

short adj.1

1. [17C+] of an individual, impoverished, out of cash.

2. [mid-18C+] insufficient, esp. of money; thus short bread, not enough cash.

3. [mid–late 19C] of banknotes, in large denominations [orig. cashiers’ jargon; large denominations mean fewer notes, which take a shorter time to count].

4. [1910s+] (US prison) of a prisoner, having only a few weeks or days of a sentence to serve.

5. [1950s] (drugs) of an injection, weak.

6. [1960s+] (US milit.) near the end of a term of duty, spec. the twelve-month tours of Vietnam.

7. [1990s+] (drugs) in insufficient quantity for the money paid.

In compounds

short go (n.)

1. [1930s–60s] (US drugs) short measure on a drug deal; a weak injection.

2. [1960s] a shortage of drugs.

short-hitter (n.)

[1960s] (US campus) one who cannot hold their drink.

short on (adj.)

[1940s+] badly supplied, wanting.

short piece (n.) [piece n. (7a)]

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) a purported ounce of a narcotic that has in fact been shaved or otherwise reduced.

short pot (n.)

[late 17C–early 18C] a short measure used to cheat drinkers in a tavern; also attrib.

In phrases

on the short

[2000s] (US drugs) buying drugs without paying the full price.

run short (v.)

[late 19C+] (US) to run out of money.

suffer with the shorts (v.)

[1940s] (US black) to be out of cash, to be impoverished.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

short and sweet (n.)

[1910s] (US) a small, rare-cooked steak.

short arm (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

short boy (n.) [the Short Boys gang, fl. c.1850 in New York City]

[mid–late 19C] (US Und.) a thug.

short-coat (v.)

[1900s] to circumcise.

short con

see separate entries.

short count (n.)

[1950s+] (drugs) a short measure; also attrib.

short dog (n.) [dog n.7 (1)]

[1960s+] (orig. US black, also short-dog bottle) a small bottle of cheap alcohol, usu. wine.

short end (n.)

see separate entry.

short end (of the stick) (n.)

see under stick n.

short eyes (n.) [for ety. see shut eyes n.]

[1970s+] (US prison) a child molester.

short fuse (n.) (also short wick)

[1960s+] (orig. US) a short temper.

short hair (n.) [their shaved heads]

[1970s] a convict, esp. a new one.

short heels (n.)

see separate entry.

short heist (n.)

see separate entry.

short-histe (adj.)

see separate entry.

shorthorn (n.) [agricultural imagery; cf. longhorn n.] [late 19C–1940s] (US, mainly Western )

a newcomer, an innocent.

short-length (n.)

[mid-19C] (Scot.) a glass of brandy.

short-limbered (adj.) [SE limber. ‘The detachable fore part of a gun-carriage, consisting of two wheels and an axle, a pole for the horses, and a frame which holds one or two ammunition-chests. It is attached to the trail of the gun-carriage proper by a hook’ (OED)]

[late 19C–1900s] short-tempered.

short money (n.)

see separate entry.

short-mouthed (adj.)

[1900s] (W.I.) verbally agile, good at snappy repartee.

short nails (n.) [nailhead n.]

[1960s–70s] (US black) an unkempt, unattractive woman, esp. with messy hair.

short-nose (n.)

[1960s–70s] (US) a .38 revolver, which has a short barrel.

short sheet (v.) [SAmE shortsheet, the UK ‘apple-pie bed’]

[20C+] (US) to mistreat, to trick someone; thus short-sheeting n.

short short (n.)

[2000s] (US black) a very short time, very soon.

short stop

see separate entries.

short story (n.)

see separate entry.

short strokes (n.)

see separate entry.

short stuff (n.)

1. [1950s] a short person.

2. [1980s+] (US Und.) a quick and spontaneous con trick, thought up on the spur of the moment and workable only while the target is on hand.

short time

see separate entries.

short trill (n.) [? obs. SE trill, to trundle, to whirl]

[1940s] (US black) a short walk.

short ’un (n.) [SE short one]

[late 19C] 285ml (½ pint) of coffee.


see separate entries.

In phrases

short-order shrimp (n.)

[1970s] (US gay) ‘a drunk sailor leaned up against an alley wall and quickly sucked off’ (Rodgers, Queens’ Vernacular, 1972).

short pants court (n.)

[1950s] (US juv.) a juvenile court.