Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chew v.

1. [mid-19C+] (orig. US) to eat.

2. [late 19C+] (US, also chew one’s cabbage, ...yap) to talk.

3. [20C+] (US) to argue, to protest.

4. [1920s] to stop, to ‘swallow’.

5. [1930s+] (US) to fellate.

6. to pressurize, to harass.

7. [1940s+] to perfom cunnilingus.

8. [1940s+] (US black) to abuse, to attack verbally or physically.

9. [1950s] in fig. use of sense 1, to annoy, to ‘eat’.

10. [1990s+] (US campus) to be bad, to be disappointing.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

chew-water (n.) [dial. chew-water, left-over cooking water, thrown out for the pigs]

[1940s+] (W.I.) thin, tasteless soup.

In phrases

chew down (v.) [joc. use of SE + ref. to jew down at jew v.]

[1930s–60s] (US) to cheat financially.

chew into dishcloths (v.)

[late 19C–1900s] (US) to destroy completely, to annihilate.

chew (it) over (v.) (also chew (on), chow (it) over)

[mid-19C+] to discuss, to consider, to ponder.

chew lead (v.) [lead n. (1)]

[19C] (US) to be shot to death.

chew nails (v.)

[1970s] (US campus) to be enraged.

chew ’n’ spew (n.)

1. [1960s+] (Aus./US, also chew it and spew it) a cheap restaurant.

2. [1980s–90s] (Aus. prison) any ready-cooked meal, e.g. hamburgers, fish and chips.

3. [1980s+] (Aus. prison) prison food.

4. [1980s+] (Aus. prison) prison officers.

chew on (v.)

1. [1960s+] (US) to nag, to pester, to irritate.

2. see chew (it) over

chew one’s bit (v.) [SE champ at the bit, (of a horse) to be restive] [20C+] (US)

to be anxious or upset.

chew one’s cabbage (v.)

see sense 2 above.

chew one’s cud (v.)

see separate entry.

chew one’s own tobacco (v.) (also chew one’s own meat)

[mid-19C–1900s] (US) to rely on oneself.

chew one’s tobacco twice (v.) [1920s]

1. (US) to be mean, to be tight-fisted.

2. to ponder an action or opinion before committing oneself.

chew one’s yap (v.)

see sense 2 above.

chew (on) someone’s ass (v.) (also chew (on) someone’s arse, chew someone’s ass (out), …butt, ...can off, …end out, ...tail)

1. [1910s+] (orig. US milit.) to tell off, to berate, to criticize severely; thus ass-chewing, a severe scolding.

2. [1980s] to attack physically.

chew out (v.)

see separate entry.

chew someone’s ear (v.)

see separate entry.

chew someone’s face (v.) (also chew the face off) [note 1887 Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Oct. 12/1: ‘In the absense of her parson-bestowed spouse she gradually evolved a partiality for chewing the radiant hasher’s eyebrow, and developed an undue fondness for the encirclement of her waist by his humerus, ulna and radius’]

[1930s+] (US campus) to kiss.

chew the boot (v.)

[1940s–50s] (US) to converse, to talk something over.

chew the carpet (v.)

see separate entries.

chew the cheese (v.)

[1980s+] (US campus) to vomit.

chew the cud (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the fat (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the grease (v.) [var. on chew the fat v.]

[1910s–20s] to talk something over.

chew the Irish bubblegum (v.)

[1980s] to chatter foolishly, to talk nonsense.

chew the rag (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the rug (v.)

1. [late 19C+] to gossip, to chatter.

2. [1970s+] (US) to lose emotional control, to suffer a temper tantrum.

chew up (v.)

see separate entry.

In exclamations

chew on this! (also chew on it! ...that!) [this/that/it is the penis]

[1930s+] an obscene retort.