Green’s Dictionary of Slang

brown adj.2

1. [mid-19C; 1950s] worthy, earnest, totally devoid of any double entendre or ‘smut’ [the brown clothes popular among the sedulously pure Quakers].

2. [1930s+] used in combs. referring to the anus, usu. to imply homosexuality; usu. in combs. below [the equation of brown and excrement, thus the anus].

In compounds

brown family (n.) (also browning family)

[1930s+] a generally obsolete generic term for homosexuals, referring to the predilection for anal intercourse.

brown highway (n.)

[1970s+] the anus.

brown pipe (n.)

[1990s+] the anus; thus brown pipe engineer, a male homosexual, a sodomite.

brown shower (n.) (also b.s., b/s) [on pattern of golden shower n.]

[1990s+] (US) an act of defecation for sexual purposes.

brown trout (n.)

see separate entry.

brown wings (n.) [the ‘wings’ awarded to a qualified fighter pilot]

[1950s+] (orig. Hell’s Angels) hetero- or homosexual anilingus or anal intercourse.

In phrases

get a brown dick (n.)

[1990s+] to perform anal intercourse, to sodomize.

SE in slang uses

Pertaining to currency

In compounds

brown abe (n.) [President Abraham Lincoln’s head is on the cent, a buffalo head is on the nickel]

[1930s–60s] (US black) a cent; thus brown Abes and buffalo heads, small change, cents and nickels.

brown-back (n.) [its colour; the brown ten-shilling notes were issued in 1928 and superseded by the 50p piece after decimalization in 1971; from 1940 until 1948 the notes were mauve rather than brown]

[1910s–70s] a ten-shilling note.

Pertaining to race

brown Betty (n.) [SE brown plus generic/assonant female name]

[1960s] (US gay) a black man.

brown flight (n.)

[1980s+] (N.Z.) the removal from predominantly Maori schools of the children of Pacific islanders, fearful of supposedly low standards.

brown man (n.) [the belief that light skin is best] [1950s+] (W.I.)

a prosperous black man.

brown meat (n.) [meat n. (1)]

[late 19C+] (US) a black woman considered as a sex object.

brown-out (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

brown sugar (n.)

see separate entries.

brown table (n.) [play on SE round table]

[1990s+] (N.Z.) the Maori Establishment; also attrib.

Browntown (n.)

[1950s+] (US) the black area of a town or city.

brown velvet (n.)

[1930s] (N.Z.) a derog. term for a Maori woman, esp. when seen simply as a sex object.

General uses

brown ankle (n.) [he has crawled so far ‘up the arse’ of the authorities that only his ankles are visible]

[1970s+] (N.Z. prison) a sycophant, a toady.

Brown Cow (n.) [SE Jersey cow]

[1970s] (US) New Jersey.

brown critters (n.) [joc. mispron.; note milit. use Bill Harris, bilharzia, Corporal Forbes, cholera morbus]

[mid-19C–1920s] bronchitis.

brown dots (n.) [its packaging]

[1970s+] (drugs) LSD.

brown gargle (n.) [gargle n.]

1. [1950s+] (Irish) stout.

2. [1950s] (US) badly made or weak coffee.

brown george (n.) [ety. unknown; cf. naut. jargon negroes’ heads, brown loaves eaten on board ship]

1. [17C–early 19C] bread.

2. [late 17C–18C] a hard, coarse biscuit.

3. [early–mid-19C] a brown wig [ref. to King George IV].

4. [mid–late 19C] an earthenware jug.

brown gravy (n.)

[late 18C] (UK Und.) melted gold, e.g. golden watch-cases.

brown nose/brown-noser

see separate entries.

brown shell (n.)

[late 19C] an onion.


see separate entries.

brown stuff (n.)

see separate entry.

brown tongue/tonguer

see separate entries.

In phrases

big brown eyes (n.) [heavy-handed euph.]

[1930s–80s] attractive female breasts.

do brown (v.) [cooking imagery]

1. [early 17C; 19C+] (also beat brown) to surpass, to defeat comprehensively; usu. in the phr. done brown or good and brown.

2. [mid-19C] to do perfectly.

3. [mid-19C+] to take to extremes, to ‘go too far’.

do it brown (v.) [cooking imagery]

[mid-19C+] to take to the limit, esp. as in prolonging one’s enjoyment to the point of excess.

do up brown (v.) [positive and negative images in overall sense of action + cooking imagery]

1. [late 19C+] to beat up thoroughly, also in fig. use, to surpass.

2. [mid-19C+] (also do up blue) to do thoroughly, to perform very successfully.

3. [1950s] to deceive, to take in, to surprise.

on the brown side of

[1940s] (US) older than.

In exclamations

brown salve! [ety. unknown]

[mid-19C] used as a rejoinder, meaning ‘I understand’; the expression combines a degree of surprise at what has been said with, ultimately, comprehension of what it means.

brown suit! [? the transgression of some contemporary fashion norm]

[mid-19C] no chance!