Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hammer n.1

also love hammer

1. [late 16C–mid-19C; 1930s+] (later use US black) the penis.

2. [late 18C] the testicles.

3. [19C] (also hammer man) a strong puncher.

4. [late 19C+] a bodyguard, a thug.

5. [1960s+] (US black) a woman’s thigh.

6. [1970s+] (US) the accelerator; thus put the hammer down or drop the hammer, to accelerate.

7. [2000s] (Irish) a turn, e.g. take a right-hand hammer.

8. (US black) a gun, thus knock hammers, to fire weapons.

In compounds

hammer lane (n.)

[2010s] (US) the fast lane.

hammerman (n.)

[late 18C] a womanizer.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

hammer-handle (n.) (also hoe-handle) [supposed resemblance]

[1920s–50s] (US) the penis.


see separate entries.

hammer-man (n.)

[1920s–70s] (US black) an authoritarian figure.

hammer-school (n.)

[early 19C] a boxing school.

In phrases

drop the hammer (on) (v.)

1. [1970s+] (orig. US) to take decisive action (against).

2. [1980s] to shoot.

3. [2000s] to humiliate.

how’s your hammer hanging?

[1930s+] (US) a phr. used to inquire about someone’s state of well being; the typically facetious answer being: ‘A little to the left and in the dirt’.

put the hammer on (v.) (US)

1. [1940s+] to take decisive action.

2. [1960s+] to demand money.

3. [1980s+] to attack verbally, to slander.

4. (also put the hammer to) to pressurize.

put the hammers to (v.)

[1940s] (US) to beat up.

that’s the hammer [Stock Exchange/auction-house imagery]

[1910s] ideal, perfect, exactly what is wanted.

under the hammer

[1950s+] in trouble, at a disadvantage.

In exclamations

by the hammers of hell!

[1950s] an excl. of surprise or disappointment.

sell your hammer and buy a horn!

[1910s-40s] (US) a dismissive excl, suggesting that a speaker stop complaining and start offering praise.