Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chew v.

1. (orig. US) to eat.

[US]L.W. Garrard Wah-to-yah, and the Taos Trail 52: Cutting a piece of dried ‘buffler’ to ‘chew’ I [...] fell asleep.
J. Flynt ‘The Amer. Tramp’ in Contemp. Rev. Aug. 2: Now there’s Schenectady. You can chew all right there [...] I had heard Buffalo was a good chewing town.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘The Rat’ in Sandburrs 112: I’m goin’ to chew, come wit’ me an’ feed your face. D’ treat’s on me.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 301: Chew—to eat.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 50: Chew. – To eat. [...] Chewins. – Food, that which is chewed.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 62: I chewed long and vigorously on a half-inch steak.
[UK]I. Hebditch ‘Weekend’ unpub. thesis in Hewitt (2000) 133: It was always amusing to see the boys trouping off down to the toilets with their cokes to chew their pills.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 101: So we sat down again and we sipped and we chewed.

2. (US, also chew one’s cabbage, ...yap) to talk.

[US]S. Crane George’s Mother (2001) 124: Say, Kel, hear what this mug is chewin’?
[US]H.F. Day Landloper 33: ‘I don’t know what you are chewing about,’ sneered the fat man.
[US]C. Odets Rocket to the Moon III i: Let us chew some brass tacks.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 108: That god-damned old ... let him come around here and chew his yap at me.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 241: They liked to chew over the news in the morning newspaper.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 142: I made with a lot of words. We’ve done a lot of chewing, Doc.
[US]T. Berger Who is Teddy Villanova? 10: ‘I need only hear it once.’ ‘Well, you better,’ said he [...] ‘because I ain’t gonna chew my cabbage twice.’.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 45: chew To talk. Often referring to a lengthy discussion of some issue, when people chew it over. From c.1920, ANZ.

3. (US) to argue, to protest.

[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Press 9 Dec. in Stallman (1966) 112: ‘What’s de little Dago chewin’ about?’ ‘He wants t’ scrap!’.
[US]B. Stiles Serenade to the Big Bird 47: Major McPartlin had on his squadron CO look, ready to start chewing.
[US](con. 1910s) S. Longstreet Pedlocks (1971) 217: Don’t chew at me, Bella. Get dressed.
[US]E. Shepard Doom Pussy 152: The visiting colonel got upset [...] and chewed a little.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov.

4. (Aus./US black) to abuse, to attack verbally or physically.

[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 7 Mar. 5/2: They Say [...] That Ras. T. didn’t half chew some of the non-marchers on Saturday night.
[UK]W. Eyster Far from the Customary Skies 64: I ain’t gonna let that bastard chew me.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 21: A Highway Patrol Captain showed up and chewed those bastards good for ‘creating a hazard’.
[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen 🌐 28 Sept. Today I went to a bush party. Heather was being a real bitch. She started chewing at me as soon as I started to get drunk. Nice. I was joking around and she started to get on my case.

5. to stop, to ‘swallow’.

[UK]P. MacGill Moleskin Joe 53: Chew them long words, Carroty! [...] Speak good English like me. Were you spliced, or weren’t you?

6. (US) to fellate.

[US] ‘Rosie’s Beau in “Oh-Oh” IX’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 17: Then he took out his thing and made her get down and chew on it.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[UK]Guardian CiF 20 Nov. 🌐 I’m just recovering from a stag do in Birmingham. The highlight was getting chewed off by some Eastern European in a lap dance establishment.

7. to pressurize, to harass.

[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Dissolve Shot’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective May 🌐 Tell me, was Michaelson chewing you for blackmail dough?

8. to perfom cunnilingus.

[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 87: After chewing a gal’s cunt / He’d give a loud grunt / And try to bite off her two teats.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 53: Try to recall the color of the wool you’re chewing.

9. in fig. use of sense 1, to annoy, to ‘eat’.

[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 124: What’s chewin’ you, man?

10. (US campus) to be bad, to be disappointing.

Online Sl. Dict. 🌐 chew v 1. to be of poor quality, displeasing. (‘That movie really chewed.’).

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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

(W.I.) thin, tasteless soup.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

In phrases

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

(US) to cheat financially.

[US]M. Bodenheim Naked on Roller Skates 148: Semitic vultures allow themselves to be ‘chewed down’ from forty to twenty dollars for a suit worth five dollars and sixty cents.
[US]M. Levin Old Bunch (1946) 557: Me, maybe, you can chew down, you old ganef.
L. Hughes Under a Flare 59: Paul chewed him down to 150 p. Not bad for a beginner [HDAS].
chew (it) over (v.) (also chew (on), chow (it) over)

to discuss, to consider, to ponder.

[Ire]C. Macklin Man of the World Act IV: Come away Counsellor Plausible—come away, I say—let them chew upon it—let them chew upon it.
[US]T. Haliburton Nature and Human Nature II 229: Take your pencil now, and write down a few facts I will give you, and when you are alone meditating, just chew on ’em.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 May 5/3: We invite the Gospel authorities to chew the matter over for a day or two. None, but professional ruffians of the deepest dye would, on leaving gaol, consent to reside in a place so labelled.
[US]H. Frederic Seth’s Brother’s Wife 112: What are they chewing on to-night? [...] the Sigel racket?
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 148: I’ll tell you nothing [...] Chew on that a while, governor and see how it tastes.
[US]Fr. Klaeber ‘A Word-List From Minnesota’ in DN IV i 10: chew, v. To study with great concentration for some time. ‘He chewed the lesson for four hours.’.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe on the Job 83: I’ve chewed it over some; but I ain’t quite made up my mind.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 176: He chewed it over with his wife, an’ she was for it too.
[UK]V. Palmer Passage 29: When I rattle on about things I’ve been chewing over, you’re silent as an owl.
[US]J. Lait Put on the Spot 146: We’ve been chewing it over down in the hut.
[UK]J.G. Brandon Gang War 22: I got a slant at ’er eyes once or twice when the men were chowin’ matters over.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 47: I was chewing this over as I walked along the street.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 72: It was something I could chew on while a cab hauled me down to the station.
[UK](con. 1940s) G. Morrill Dark Sea Running 189: We didn’t need no two-bit philosophers to chew on it.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 162: He paused at this point, to let us chew it over.
[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 309: They rush into each other’s arms and start chewin over old times.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 40: Captain Woofer gave them his craftiest look and chewed on his pipestem, letting the two detectives chew on the remark.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 174: I could see two men wearing very solemn expressions as they chewed it over with my boss.
[UK]S. Armitage ‘Revision Exercise with Textbook Examples’ in Kid 74: It needed no chewing over.
chew lead (v.) [lead n. (1)]

(US) to be shot to death.

West Flaming Feud 54: Mebbe they hanker to chew lead [HDAS]. 🌐 As the one-handed Ash, players can whack enemies [...] and make them chew lead with the boomstick, a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun.
chew nails (v.)

(US campus) to be enraged.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 1: chew nails – to be extremely angry: I’m so mad I could chew nails.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 236: He looked mad enough to chew nails and spit out.
chew ’n’ spew (n.)

1. (Aus./US, also chew it and spew it) a cheap restaurant.

[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxii 6/1: a chew it and spew it: A very cheap sleazy cafe.
J. Ramsay Cop It Sweet! 22: CHEW AND SPEW: Cheap cafe.
[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 113: The Hasty Tasty food emporium (which was sometimes called The Chew ’n’ Spew).
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 23: Cew [sic] it and Spew it Cheap restaurant.
‘Wiley06’ ‘Beat!’ at 🌐 Trish, tired by an evening’s hard work at the chew and spew, doffed her apron and donned her jacket.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 60: First of all Sylvia The Swooper [...] worked in the Hasty Tasty Hamburger Bar and Restaurant which was sometimes aptly referred to by the Cross desperates as the ‘Chew ‘n’ Spew’.
[Aus](con. 1950s) in P. Doyle Get Rich Quick (2004) 14: I stopped for breakfast at a chew and spew.

2. (Aus. prison) any ready-cooked meal, e.g. hamburgers, fish and chips.

[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 75: chew and spew Chinese take-away food which proves not particularly palatable; more generally, any food [...] which is not particularly palatable; food which (literally or metaphorically) makes one vomit.

3. (Aus. prison) prison food.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Chew ’n’ spew. 1. Prison food.

4. (Aus. prison) prison officers.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 Chew ’n’ spew. 2. Prison officers.
chew on (v.)

1. (US) to nag, to pester, to irritate.

[US]J. Conroy Disinherited 109: What’s chewin’ on you?
[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 71: You keep chewin’ on me bitch, I’m gonna climb your frame.
[US]C. Loken Come Monday Morning 23: She always used proper English like that, particularly when she had something to chew on him about.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 57: My boyfriend always chews on me when I go out without him.
[US]Lehr & O’Neill Black Mass 9: ‘[I]f we [the FBI] were chewing on the Mafia, it was very difficult for the Mafia to be chewing on them’.

2. see chew (it) over

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

to be anxious or upset.

[US]T.J. Farr ‘The Language of the Tennessee Mountain Regions’ in AS XIV:2 90: John’s chewing his bits.
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)

(US) to rely on oneself.

S.A. Hammett Piney Woods Tavern 59: It’s allers best for every man to chaw his own tobackker [DARE].
F.B. Lloyd Country Life 202: Chew your own tobacco. Hold your head up. Look the sun in the face [DARE].
[US]S. Clapin New Dict. Americanisms 108: Chew (to) one’s own meat. To attend to one’s own business; to do a thing oneself.
chew one’s tobacco twice (v.)

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

[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 350: Chaw one’s tobacco twice. [...] To be stingy. ‘Mr. Thompson does not buy much tobacco, because he always chaws it twice.’.

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

[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 350: Chaw one’s tobacco twice. [...] to consider for a long time before acting. ‘He will chaw tobacco twice on that proposition.’.
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. (orig. US milit.) to tell off, to berate, to criticize severely; thus ass-chewing, a severe scolding.

[US](con. 1917) ‘W.W. Windstaff’ ‘A Flier’s War’ in Longstreet Canvas Falcons (1970) 280: H.Q. is chewing out my arse why we’re not flying right now.
[US]Moss Hart Winged Victory I x: He just chews your can off.
N. Mailer letter 30 Apr. in Selected Letters (2014) 17: When you are bawled out by a sergeant or officer [...] it is called ‘getting your ass chewed out’.
[US] in T. Shibutani Derelicts of Company K (1978) 104: As one man commented [...] ‘It’s tough enough to be a Boochie without having some sergeant chewing your ass all the time.’.
[US]Lay & Bartlett Twelve O’clock High! (1975) 194: That iron-assed general has been chewing their tails.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 84: Downtown just chewed my end out again.
[US](con. 1945) F. Davis Spearhead 70: I told you Hinky-Dink’d chew your ass if you didn’t give him the word.
[UK](con. WWII) G. Sire Deathmakers 287: The Colonel might [...] come up to him and chew his ass for not moving the column fast enough.
[US]P. Mandel Mainside 26: Got my ass chewed out.
[US]F. Elli Riot (1967) 59: I’ll probably get my tail chewed for spoutin’ off.
[US]J. Kramer Instant Replay 124: He chewed my butt.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 219: He’ll have you on the carpet and he’ll chew your ass to a bloody rag.
[US]N. Proffitt Gardens of Stone (1985) 8: Lieutenant Webber chews my ass; I chew your ass.
[US]J. Wambaugh Secrets of Harry Bright (1986) 265: He slammed the door, which was something he did only when he was about to give one of his cops a royal ass chewing.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 111: It was perfectly fine for a foreman [...] to chew on your ass about some minor detail.
[UK]M. Collins Keepers of Truth 3: Sam Perkins [...] took me back into his office and chewed my ass real good.

2. to attack physically.

[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 106: You can’t expect to just turn a killer on and off [...] He’s not going to be able to chew ass one minute and sit quietly [...] the next.
chew out (v.)

see separate entry.

chew someone a new one (v.)

(US) to reprimand severely.

[US]D. Winslow ‘The San Diego Zoo’ in Broken 150: if Lubesnick did send him, he’s going to chew Schneider a new one.
chew someone’s balls off (v.) (also chew someone’s ballocks off, …bollox off, ...nackers off ) [balls n. (1); ballocks n. (1); knackers n.]

to reprimand severely.

[UK]‘J.H. Ross’ Mint (1955) 161: Old Stiffy’s hopping mad [...] Chewed my fucking balls off, something cruel.
[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 115: ‘You better arst the sergeant.’ ‘He’ll chew my nackers off.’.
[UK](con. 1930s) Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 34: ‘A ballocking’ is the standard term for a telling-off. It started life as ‘chew (someone’s) ballocks off’.
[UK]K. Waterhouse Soho 151: Chewed my bollox off. Said I wasn’t paid to sit around in Soho clubs getting pissed all day.
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’]

(US campus) to kiss.

[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 210: The three couples began to chew each other’s faces as soon as we left the shore.
[US]R. Chandler Playback 59: He chewed her face some more.
[US]L. Birnbach Official Preppie Hbk.
[Ire]R. Doyle Van (1998) 596: Bimbo and Anne Marie were chewing the faces off each other.
chew the boot (v.)

(US) to converse, to talk something over.

[US](con. 1945) F. Davis Spearhead 25: I wanted to see you too, Lawrence, so I could line your face up with your voice when we got to chewing the boot on the radio.
chew the carpet (v.)

see separate entries.

chew the cheese (v.)

(US campus) to vomit.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 57: You’re looking pretty green there. Are you sure you’re not going to chew the cheese.
chew the cud (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the fat (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the Irish bubblegum (v.)

to chatter foolishly, to talk nonsense.

[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 156: You’re an intelligent man. And there you sit, chewing the Irish bubblegum with a couple of airheaded, tittering matrons.
chew the rag (v.)

see separate entry.

chew the rug (v.)

1. to gossip, to chatter.

[US]F.P. Dunne in Schaaf Mr Dooley’s Chicago (1977) 43: They sat there ’n chewed the rug for near an hour.
Lucas, Katz & Huyck Amer. Graffiti 18: Nothing I like better than chewing the rug with a pal [HDAS].
Chronos Chronicles 🌐 Y’all wanna chew the rug about death and quantum wave fuctions [sic] while I get some duct tape to help Scrhoedinger’s cat serve a useful purpose for once?

2. (US) to lose emotional control, to suffer a temper tantrum.

[US]R. Barrett Lovomaniacs (1973) 14: Think [...] before you start kicking and rolling in the aisles and chewing the rug.
G. Szamuely in N.Y. Press 30 Nov. n.p.: Such a notion would cause Administration officials, not to mention the Bill Kristols and John Podhoretzes, to chew the rug.
T. Kotletz at Civilians Against Terror 🌐 Hitler was a terrorist whose truck-bomb was the Wehrmacht. Everything was emotional and personal with him, including public orations and diplomatic negotiations. (He would rant and shout during military conferences. It was said, he would ‘chew the rug’).
chew up (v.)

see separate entry.

In exclamations

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

an obscene retort.

[US]F. Norris Moran of the Lady Letty 258: I’d rather lead an expedition than a German, and you can chew on that, Nathaniel Ridgeway.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Prisoner and Escort’ in Cockade (1965) I iii: You chew on this – should I have any more ... now jag it in.
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 1609: I said to myself, let them white folks chew that.
[US]H. Ellison Shatterday (1982) 307: Chew on that one, you creep.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 24: Chew on it! Eat it! Mercy!
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 180: A clitoris is the only part of the human body that exists purely for pleasure. So chew on that fuck-face!
posting at 4 Feb. 🌐 Chew on that, suckers!!!