Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spree n.

[? SE spray, a drinking bout, but ? dial. spreagh/spreath, a cattle raid, ult. Gaelic spréidh, cattle (Partridge); Hotten (1860) suggests Fr. ésprit, spirit or Du. root, as do B&L]

1. a hearty, boisterous good time, thus spree-hunter, a devotee of such amusements.

[UK] ‘Exciseman Outwitted’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 98: They arriv’d at an inn and relat’d the spree.
[UK]J. Burrowes Life in St George’s Fields 7: The many nightly sprees we have had together in this place.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 8: Those sort of choice spirits who are always ready for a ‘spree’ [...] to keep them from getting into more serious mischief at home.
[US]A. Greene Glance at N.Y. I ii: No, sir-ree! I’m open for a spree!
[Aus]Cornwall Chron. (Launceston, Tas.) 11 Aug. 2/7: A party of pleasure (or as their slang goes, a prime spree, or a lark).
[UK]Bell’s Penny Dispatch 27 Mar. 3/2: Amidst the modern school of spree-hunters, this nob of nobility is counted number one.
[US] ‘Ruff Sam’s Bear Fight’ Spirit of the Times 4 Mar. (N.Y.) 14: I was skinin’ of her when the boys kum up, an’ sech a nuther spree we had arter we got to the Squire’s I never spects to have agin.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes III 135: The cabbage-tree mob [...] are always ready for a ‘spree’.
[US]Athens Post (TN) 22 Feb. 1/7: The entire legislature of Texas took a ‘spree’ together.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 128/2: ‘Here’s a spree!’ shouted Jack, dancing an extempore dance on the kerb.
[Aus]Geelong Advertiser (Vic.) 21 Nov. 2/7: [I]f they want what in slang is termed ‘a spree’ they can get as jolly on it [i.e. ‘colonial wine’] as they can on anything else.
[Aus]Hamilton Spectator (Vic.) 7 Jan. 1/7: Sometimes he may be tempted out on a ‘lark,’ or a ‘spree’.
[Ire]C.J. Kickham Knocknagow 274: He had almost made up his mind that the cordial at Ned Brophy’s wedding would have proved the commencement of a protracted ‘spree’, which would cost Norah much anxiety and suffering.
T.B. Reed Willoughby Captains (1887) 103: ‘We’ve just been down to see the boats. Awful spree to see old Riddell steering!’.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 2: The jolly sprees we used to have in the bush townships.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 1 July 1/6: There was only one J.P. in the district, and he dearly loved a spree.
[UK]W.W. Jacobs ‘Bill’s Lapse’ in Monkey’s Paw (1962) 108: We ’ad a bit of a spree last night [...] My throat’s as dry as a cinder.
[UK]G.R. Sims Off the Track in London 170: The moving spirit of the ‘spree’ is a typical American ‘cattleman’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Mitchell on the “Situation”’ in Roderick (1972) 716: At their last shanty spree together, English Bill had backed up Adelaide Adolphus to take down German Charley.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 569: A fourwheeler, probably engaged by some fellows inside on the spree.
[UK]W. Holtby Anderby Wold (1981) 277: I’m taking missus in tid Hardrascliffe to-night for a bit o’ spree like.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 212: There was an old whore named McGee / Who was just the right sort for a spree.
[US]W. Brown Monkey On My Back (1954) 118: The headlines read: teen age hoods stage gun spree in little spain.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 40: Willy kept talking about Red’s spree, which was an extension of the spree he’d been on for a dozen years.
[UK]Guardian Guide 12-18 June 15: Tilly and Chucky [...] are hooking up for a slash and stab spree.
[US]J. Ellroy ‘Grave Doubt’ in Destination: Morgue! (2004) 103: Graham stayed mobile. His spree turf stretched wide. [...] He spreed for seven days.
[UK]Observer Screen 9 Jan. 10: They meet [...] at an LA poker casino and break up after a spree in Reno.
Morn. Call (Allentown, PA) 9 Feb. PA17/1: A man who [...] went on a crime spree in Whitehall township [...] will now have to keep himself busy behind bars.
Austin American-Statesman *TX) 4 Feb. A2/2: A 28-year-old Italioan [...] is accused of shooting [...] six African immigrants [...] in a two-hour drive-by shooting spree.

2. a prolonged bout of drinking; thus on/upon a/the spree, out on a party; spreeing it, drinking excessively.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry III iii: Law, lovee, no, it’s only some gemmen out on the spree. I dare say dat dey’ll stand a drop o’ summat all round.
[UK]F.F.Cooper Elbow-Shakers! I ii: Follow, follow for a Spree; / I’ll stand a mug of Mountain.
[UK]Comic Almanack Jan. 302: Tom’s journey ended, begins his spree; / Slap into the Bull and Mouth drives he.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 184/1: When the stall-keeper above mentioned was away ‘on the spree,’ he took up his stand.
[UK] ‘Six Years in the Prisons of England’ in Temple Bar Mag. Jan. 218: They both got on the ‘spree’ in London.
[Aus]Mercury (Hobart) 23 Apr. 2/5: [from the Stranraer Free Press] [...] on the skyte, on the spree, on the batter.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa (1887) 127: How about your Pa spreeing it?
[UK]E.V. Page ‘It’s Enough to Make a Parson Swear’ 🎵 The housemaid’s leaving, and the cook’s on the spree, [...] It’s enough to make a parson swear!
[UK]W.S. Maugham Liza of Lambeth (1966) 27: Bust it, I don’t go on the spree every day!
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 26 Nov. 130: He is a very steady fellow [...] I cannot believe that he has been on the spree.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 9 Feb. 291: He came into Horwich to go on a spree.
[US]F.P. Dunne Mr Dooley Says 36: Th’ married men start all th’ wars with loose talk whin they’re on a spree.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 53: This trip wasn’t planned as no spree for you.
[UK]Auden & Isherwood Ascent of F6 I ii: You never know, perhaps one day / Better luck will come our way: / It might be tomorrow. You wait and see. / But, whenever it happens, we’ll go on a spree!
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 21: Chook was off duty on the spree.
[UK]Mass-Observation Report on Juvenile Drinking 8: ‘We take half a dozen bottles of beer to one of our houses and then we have a bit of a spree.’ (Boy, 16, Fulham).
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 139: Joe said they were ‘coal-miners arrivin’ back from a spree’.
[US] ‘Go To Sea No More’ in Lingenfelter et al. Songs of the Amer. West (1968) 522: When first I went to Frisco, I went upon the spree.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 144: Old Joe Parsnip gave up his night-soil round and went on the spree.
[Aus]K. Gilbert Living Black 29: They’ve come in from the reserves and they have a big spree when they get their pension cheques.
[Ire]L. Redmond Emerald Square 176: If one of the girls was not with him when he collected his old age pension, he went on a spree.
[UK] (con. 1964) D. Farson Never a Normal Man 150: He squandered his life and his genius [...] but he took the world out on a spree.

In derivatives

spreeish (adj.)

1. tipsy, drunk.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 12: Blood (a.) — a man of high family connexion [...] and a little spree-ish.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 18 Sept. 3/3: An agreement [...] which John had unconsciously signed in a spreeish moment.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 265: You’re as spreeish an old lass as ever sucked at a bottle.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 15 June 3/2: A spreeish looking youth whistleing [sic] to the appropriate name of Bobby Larkin.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 301: Proprietors [...] are frequently annoyed in this way by drunken or spreeish parties.
Amer. Jrnl Psychology 11 346: [...] spiffed, spoon drunk, spoony drunk, spreeish, sprung, squiffed.

2. hedonistic.

[UK]New Sprees of London 4: Such was the style of chaff that the fly, spreeish Harry Flashton pattered to his yokel of a cousin.

In compounds

spree-boy (n.) (W.I.)

1. a very well-dressed man, a dandy; also as adj.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).
[UK](con. mid-1950s) T. White Catch a Fire 139: The top DJs, King Sporty and King Stitt, looking strictly ‘spree-boy’ (dressed to kill).

2. one who prefers pursuing pleasure to working hard; thus spree-girl/-man/-master/-woman.

[WI]C. Thompson These My People 32: The ‘spree bwoys’ at their eternal gambling.
[UK]B. MacMahon Children of the Rainbow 197: Mean, lousy dirty, impoverished Cloone! Burrow for wren-boys, spree-boys, rakes, rapsters, whipsters, mummers, flagwallopers and poachers!
[WI]Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage 526/1: spree-boy/-girl/-man/-woman/-master [...] A person who is more inclined to dress up and have fun than to work; a thoroughgoing fun-seeker.