Green’s Dictionary of Slang

speed n.

1. a metaphorical term meaning style, way of life or action; often as my speed.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 76: This is my speed kid. Let’s have another quart of merry mucilage.
[US]R. Lardner Gullible’s Travels 120: They was plenty o’ class in the field with her, but nothin’ that approached her speed.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 130: The Police Gazette and other two-for-a-nickel periodicals were my speed.
[US]B. Appel Tough Guy [ebook] [T]his was the Bug’s speed. Putting the pins and needles into a guy licked before he started.
[Can]M. Richler Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1964) 92: You’re my speed, Yvette. You’re for me.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 44: Caa-ah? Mah gawd, no. [...] Nah, man; trolleys, buses, an’ subway trains are ouah speed.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 175: This fine bitch is my speed.
[US]L. Heinemann Close Quarters (1987) 250: Coming out here after it’s all over is candy-ass — his speed, dig.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 312: I’m not talking about the nurse [...] The cop’s more your speed, ain’t he Joselito.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 254: speed (n) Class, reputation, way of doings things.
[Scot]I. Welsh Dead Man’s Trousers 109: New Year is more our [i.e. Scots] natural speed.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] Now here’s something [i.e. a woman] more my speed.
[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 97: ‘This is the Stuhl family compound in Toorak, a thirty-room French chateau.’ ‘I see Bob more as the Graceland type.’ ‘You got it [...] This is more the wife’s speed.’.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 174/1: speed n. 2 one’s reputation. 3 one’s unique style, way of doing things.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 84: ‘Mate of yours?’ [...] ‘Not my speed. I was mid-twenties. He was a fair bit older’.

2. energy.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 76: I’d like to manage a big team one year. I’d show them fatheads some speed.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 76: New York often bucks fellows up and makes them show a flash of speed that you wouldn’t have imagined them capable of.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Social Error’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 455: With not much speed left compared to what he brings in.

3. (US) a fast liver, a hedonist.

[US]F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald III (1960) 69: She was a ‘Speed,’ was she? Well — let them find out.

4. of a man, an affectionate term of address.

[US]C. Himes ‘The Night’s for Crying’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 133: He caught a cab pointing the right way, said, ‘Goose it, Speed’.

5. a good time.

[US]D. Runyon ‘Pick the Winner’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 316: She will [...] find some guy who can show her a little speed.

6. (drugs) any amphetamine-based stimulant drug [its effect on the heart and brain].

[US]J. Blake letter 17 July in Joint (1972) 234: Not drinking and taking far less speed than I did in Westchester.
[US]E. Tidyman Shaft 116: Probably on speed. The amphetamines hammering energy out of him and burning up his brain cells.
[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 96: Mick the Musco could’ve settled for speed or big H or even coke.
[US]R. Price Breaks 69: That cocksucker must have slipped me enough speed to wake up a corpse.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 142: An emaciated whitegirl who looked as if she’d been up for a week alternately shooting speed and getting gangraped.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] Vin is dealing speed [...] and he’s claming he’s got police protection.
[US]Africa News Service 29 Nov. 🌐 He tried a little bit of speed (amphetamines), LSD and even crack cocaine, the most addictive drugs known.
[UK]Observer 24 Oct. 29: Speed, for instance, was handy if you needed to be up all night.
[UK]M. Amis Experience 52: You could, in most pharmacies, buy speed over the counter.
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 173/2: speed n. 1 a methamphetamine drug, which may appear in crystal form, in the form of an artificially-produced white powder, or in herbal varieties, also powdered .
[Aus]D. McDonald Luck in the Greater West (2008) 57: He dropped another fingerful of speed.
[UK]K. Richards Life 157: They made good speed in those days. Oh yeah, it was pure. You could get hold of speed at any truck stop; truck drivers relied upon it.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Old Scores [ebook] ‘A gram of speed goes for fifty bucks’.
[Scot]A. Parks Bloody January 60: ‘Christ, that speed’s fucking strong’.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Sunset’ in Broken 177: Speed failed to get him high.

7. attrib. use of sense 6.

[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 31: We’re gonna hit the biggest speed doctor in Chicago.

Pertaining to drugs

In derivatives

speeder (n.)

(drugs) an amphetamine user.

[US]H. Ellison ‘The Hippie-Slayer’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 107: The speeders, the downer fools, the crystal freaks.

In compounds


see separate entries.

speed boat (n.)

(drugs) marijuana, phencyclidine and crack cocaine combined and smoked.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 20: Speedboat — Marijuana, PCP, and crack combined and smoked.
speedcoke (n.) [coke n.1 (1)]

(drugs) a mixture of amphetamine and heroin, seen and experienced as a potent rival/replacement for crack cocaine.

[US]Source Oct. 150: Stay da fuck outta Sugar Hill with dat shit y’all niggas be callin Speedcoke.
speed dealers (n.)

(Aus.) wraparound sunglasses (supposedly popularized among amphetamine sellers).

Urban Dict. 22 Nov. 🌐 speed dealers Originally used by Sydney skaters as a term for wrap around sunglasses typically worn by bikies, westies and speed dealers.
[Aus]Betoota-isms 91: Speed Dealers [...] 1. Sunglasses purchased from a service station 2. Wraparound-style sunglasses with reflective lenses, often lime-green or yellow.
speed freak (n.) [-freak sfx]

1. (drugs) a regular user of amphetamines.

[UK]Oz 6 11: The life expectancy of the average speed-freak, from first shot to the morgue, is five years.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players vii: Looking back at the parade which has passed through our lives, we see [...] sociologists, entertainers, street cats, winos, speed freaks, artists.
[US]J. Wambaugh Secrets of Harry Bright (1986) 187: It’s got a big ugly mouth, a wimpy body, and hops around like a speed freak!
[Scot]I. Welsh Trainspotting 73: Speed’s my drug, it goes well with drink [...] Tommy, the pure speed freak.
[US]K. Anderson Night Dogs 153: A drunk, 250 pound speed-freak Indian.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 82: Tha expression yer see on-a feyces-a people around pissheads or speedfreaks or nutters.
W. Plummer Holy Goof 125: Generally the A-head was brought down from his polychromed nirvana by the speed freak’s wired kinetics and logorrhea.
[US]J. Stahl Bad Sex on Speed 19: The so-small-only-speedfreaks-would-notice thought balloon.
[Aus]G. Disher Heat [ebook] The idiot speed freak who’d arrived.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]E. Shrake Strange Peaches 150: The speed-freak actor, who had just been released from the hospital, jumped off the porch and broke his leg.
[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 170: Now here I was, alone at the bar in a speedfreak fog.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] Tiara, the speed-freak stripper.

3. see also SE compounds below.

In phrases

bathtub speed (n.) [artificial amphetamine, on pattern of bathtub gin/whisky etc, i.e. home-produced liquor]

(drugs) methcathinone, a form of amphetamine that produces a more intense and longer lasting ‘high’ than does cocaine.

K.F. Tucker in LifeWay Church mag. 🌐 On top of all this I had been doing a considerable amount of coke and bathtub speed.
Illinois Police ‘Intelligence Report: Methcathinone’ at 🌐 A new name for Cat [i.e. Methcathinone] has recently surfaced in Wisconsin where some bikers are calling it ‘bathtub speed.’.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 2: Bathtub speed — Methcathinone.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 251: Lots of stories don’t add up [...] Especially when there’s a lot of bathtub stimulant sprinkled in.
speed for lovers (n.) (also lover’s speed) [its aphrodisiac or at least affection-enhancing effects]

(drugs) MDMA.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 14: Lover’s speed — Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). [Ibid.] 20: Speed for lovers — Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA).
[US]Community Counseling and Resource Center 🌐 ‘Designer Drugs’: MDA – love drug, speed for lovers, mellow drug of America.

Pertaining to a style or way of life

In phrases

about one’s speed (also just one’s speed)

(orig. US) suitable, to one’s own taste.

[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 44: He ought to write poetry and crochet. That’s about his speed.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 409: Say, listen O’Toole dere’s a couple o’ coozies in de back [...] Jist yer speed!
not one’s speed

(orig. US) unsuited to one’s taste.

[US]J.T. Farrell Gas-House McGinty 154: Fairies ain’t my speed.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 146: She’s not my speed! [...] I don’t want the damn stuff.
[US]L. Block Diet of Treacle (2008) 107: Because a cold-water hole on saint Marks Place was not her speed.
[UK]M. Novotny Kings Road 85: He’s not my speed, I don’t go along with violence.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 106: High tea at Claridge’s isn’t my speed.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 202: This sedate coach-trip across London is not their speed.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

speedo (n.) [abbr.]

a speedometer; thus speedo needle.

[UK]Passing Show 21 July in DSUE (1984).
[Aus]T. Ronan Vision Splendid 313: He had knocked forty thousand miles on its speedo.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 25: Does your speedo work?
[Can]J. Mandelkau Buttons 51: The speedo needle had broken.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 122: The speedo needle snailed up to fifty.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 120: No use fiddling the speedo on this highway.
[UK]Guardian G2 16 Aug. 10: Things will happen so fast that you won’t even be able to glance down at the speedo.

In compounds


see separate entries.

speed bug (n.) [bug n.4 (2b)]

(US) a fan of travelling at high speed; also attrib.

C. Sandburg Poems for the People 55: Speed Bug Edward Singleton ran his motor car into four people, two of them children.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘The Sins of Kalamazoo’ in Smoke and Steel 51: The speedbug heavens of Detroit.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 45: scorcher. A speed-bug, as in motoring.
speed cop (n.) [cop n.1 (1)]

(orig. US) a motorcycle-mounted police officer, charged with enforcing speed limits.

[US]Dollar Mag. Dec. 205: Speed-cops are posted on the highways with powerful motor-cycles to catch unwary speeders [DA].
[UK]P. Cheyney Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 9: A speed cop once told me that it’s dangerous to park on a curve.
[US]Sat. Eve. Post 3 July 77/3: Speed cops still speak politely to me [DA].
K. Brownlow Parade’s Gone By 323: The action called for the speed cop to come tearing after Leatrice, for her car to slew around on the highway, and for the cop’s motorcycle to hit it dead.
speed freak (n.) [-freak sfx]

1. a very fast runner.

[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself (1985) 15: This thing a speed freak named Dreamer Tatum did to the ligament one Saturday afternoon.

2. (US black) one who enjoys driving or being driven at high speed; also attrib.

[UK]Observer Screen 14 Nov. 7: A speed freak cabbie.

3. see also drug uses above.

speed hog (n.) [hog n. (2)]

one who consistently ignores speed limits when driving.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Sept. 32/1: Speed hogs who have been looking for some opportunity to tear over the earth at excessive rates and quite outside the limit, will get what they want on October 5.
speed king (n.)

(US) a motor-racing champion.

Motoring & Boating 2 178/2: Barney Oldfield [...] Proves Himself King of Race Drivers [...] he who had been denounced as a speed quitter on one day was eagerly hailed as the speed king on the morrow.
[US]Motor Boating Sept. 34: Frank Brocli, former mechanician for Bob Burman, ‘The Auto Speed King,’ assisted as mechanician during the Potlatch events.
[US]Illus. Technical World Mag. June n.p.: [caption] Ralph De Palma. The ‘speed king’ of 1912 [OED].
[US]Pop. Science June 20: The British speed king. Major II. O. D. Segrave, was describing his recent experience in driving his mammoth Sunbeam racer [...] over the sands of Daytona Beach, Fla., for a world's record of 207.01 miles an hour.
[UK]E. Waugh Vile Bodies 174: There were Speed Kings of all nationalities, unimposing men with small moustaches.
[UK]C. Graves Swiss Summer 108: German princes, English speed-kings [...] are usually to be found here [OED].
[US]Pop. Science Oct. 134: It was on this natural speedway, in 1935, that Sir Malcolm Campbell's Bluebird first passed the 300-mile-an-hour mark. In a hair-raising exhibition of driving skill, the fifty-year-old speed king brought his six-ton machine safely to a halt.
[US] ‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 18: You ain’t got your leather jacket on and this ain’t no motorcycle, so quit making like a speed king, kid.
[UK]Western Mail (Cardiff) 22 Nov. 3/2: Yesterday’s event was held to raise money for the memorial fund to the Welsh speed king who died in a rally incident in the summer .
speed man n (n.)

(US teen) a womaniser.

[US]Baltimore Sun (MD) Sun. Mag. 4 Dec. 9/1: [He] stacked up as the ginchiest speed man in school.
speed merchant (n.) [merchant n.]

(orig. US) one who drives excessively fast.

[UK](con. 1916) J.M. Saunders Wings (1928) 34: He was the ‘speed merchant’ of Temple and was rumoured to burn up the roads in and about the quiet community.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 1122: [...] US; anglicised ca. 1920.
[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Speed Merchant: Fast driver.
speed shop (n.)

(US) an automobile supplier specializing in the parts for (and sometimes building) modified cars.

[US]AS XXIX. 102: Speed shop, a parts house, where engine parts and equipment are sold, and sometimes where hot rods are built.
[UK]Punch 17 Oct. 561/1: Engineering firms and speed shops supply every beefed or stripped refinement.
[US]Hot Car Oct. 49/3: You can often pick up reasonable headers off the shelf from a good speed shop [OED].
G. Stokes ‘Bonneville Experience’ 22 Aug. at 🌐 Bonneville has also been a racing environment for speed shops and manufacturing companies to excel and expand in their pioneering years. One such speed shop is SO-CAL Speed Shop founded in 1946 by Alex Xydias and revived in 1997 by famed hot rod fabricator Pete Chapouris.

In phrases