Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bat n.1

[SE bat, the animal ]

1. (also bat of Venus) a prostitute or promiscuous woman [like the creatures, they appear at night].

J. Sylvester Lacrymae Lacrymarum 101: Bats, Harpies, Syrens, Centaurs, Bib-all-nights [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. IX 99/1: Behold the bats of Venus, that flitter along the streets every evening.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Bat. A low whore: so called from moving out like bats in the dusk of the evening.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US] ‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Matsell Vocabulum 100: You lie, you bat. I couple with no cove but my own.
[US]Trumble ‘On the Trail’ in Sl. Dict. (1890) 44: You lie, you bat.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 7: Bat, a street walker who travels by night.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 22: bat, n. A loose woman.
[US]B.T. Harvey ‘Word-List From The Northwest’ in DN IV:i 28: tommy, n. A girl. Also called [...] bat.
[US]R. Bolwell ‘College Sl. Words And Phrases’ in DN IV:iii 231: bat, n. A prostitute.
[US] ‘Und. “Lingo” Brought Up-to-Date’ L.A. Times 8 Nov. K3: BAT: A woman of the streets.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 15 Jan. 10A: The cats and the bats [...] played like mad in the backbeat 12.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 24/1: Bat. 1. A prostitute or loose woman.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 790: bat – A prostitute.
[US](con. 1890s) in S. Harris Hellhole 161: Criminals whom Molly still designates by the names with which she first learned to identify them: [...] ‘bats or owls’ – streetwalkers who work at night.
[US]C. Bukowski Erections, Ejaculations etc. 68: You crazy bat [...] I swear I’m going to kill you!
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US] (ref. to 1930s) I.L. Allen City in Sl. (1995) 46: An utterly fallen woman [...] was less often called an alley bat, the bat being a prostitute who works the street by night.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 2: Bat: A prostitute.

2. (orig. US) a foolish, worthless person.

[UK]Old Hunks in Darkey Drama 5 42: De old bat ain’t worth a pin widout his spectacles!
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 June 4/6: Deluded bat, do you realise a tithe of the fun your are causing [...] all over Australia.
[UK]Kipling ‘Slaves of the Lamp — Part I’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 61: You aren’t going up for the Army, you old bat.
[US]Ade Girl Proposition 131: They told her that Gilbert was an all-night Bat and a Sport and that he had a Past.
[US]J.C. Ruppenthal ‘A Word-List From Kansas’ in DN IV:ii 103: bat, n. A disorderly or dissolute person.
[UK]R. Carr Rampant Age 177: He sure musta been a tough bat.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 215: Remembering not to get into a word-wingdo with this trigger-phrased little bat.
[UK](con. 1961) J. Rosenthal Spend, Spend, Spend Scene 11: I couldn’t help myself, you daft bat!
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 459: Whyn’t you let him sit out here somewheres insteada putting him in there with that buncha bats?
[UK]Observer Rev. 29 Aug. 9: There’s this guy, big fucker, massive fuck-off bat.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 137: ‘Them fucking queens, the lucky bats’.

3. an unattractive woman, often old; note earlier old bat

[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 201: Broad or brod – A woman, generally young and opposite of bat or blister, which means an old woman.
[US]H. Sebastian ‘Negro Sl. in Lincoln University’ in AS IX:4 287: bat. Any unattractive girl.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 4: Each and everything must be mellow and no bats allowed. The party is for the able and the lame should know the score if you’re not in step it’s time to blow.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxii 6/1: bat: Young or old ugly female.
[US]H. Sebold Adolescence 250: Girls are judged very harshly. The girl who is pegged as a scab, a shank, a bat, or an ox may be shattered forever.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: bat n. an ugly female.
L. Dawson The Spy Who Came... 20: I [...] glared at the old bat.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 144: Other derogatory terms for women liken their unattractiveness to animals [...] Terms like [...] beast, bat, and boogabear.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett You Wouldn’t Be Dead for Quids (1989) 206: What self-respecting tart, even if she was a bat, would want to jump in the cot with you?
[UK]Observer Mag. 1 May. 35/2: The flourish was different [...] not being the same sex as old bats.
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Irish Fandango [ebook] This was getting tricky. The old bat knew far more than he did.
[Ire]L. McInerney Rules of Revelation 251: Noreen Cusack [...] a dreadful bat even before she hit forty.

4. a quarrelsome, unpleasant woman.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct. 1: bat – female with any undesirable quality, but usually crankiness or unfairness.

5. (US gay) a male homosexual.

[US]‘Lou Rand’ Gay Detective (2003) 96: That’s mostly for the rich old aunties and bats like that.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.

In compounds

batmat (n.)

(N.Z. gay) a single mattress that can be brought out to expand the area a male sex worker uses to entertain the client.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 77: [S]ome contemporary male sex workers use the term batmat (a single mattress stored under a bed, that can be brought out to expand the site into a larger area when entertaining a client).
bat material (n.)

(N.Z. gay) pornography.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 77: [S]ome contemporary male sex workers use the term bat material (pornography).
bat rag (n.)

(N.Z. gay) a towel for post-sex cleaning.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 77: [S]ome contemporary male sex workers use the term batrag (a towel used for cleaning up after sex.

In phrases

bat of Venus (n.)

see sense 1 above.

old bat (n.) [predates sense 3 above ]

an unattractive or foolish old woman; occas. of a man.

[US]S. Crane in N.Y. Press 20 Oct. in Stallman (1966) 82: [to a man] ‘Go ahead, you old bat.’.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 81: She’s an old bat, ain’t she?
[US]Eve. World (NY) 22 Aug. 8/5: There were about twenty old bats in the car.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 348: bat, an old (noun phrase), a woman of ill fame.
[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 132: He brought an old bat in here last night.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Mad mag. Nov. 27: If you see the old bat acting up ... let ’er have it again!
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 16: Calling on a lady, I wanted my shoes shined even if she turned out to be an old bat.
[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 91: She wuz da roughest lookin’ old bat.
[US]J. Roe The Same Old Grind 111: ‘The old bat is really crocked [...] Some of these beat-up old hags can drink more than a man’.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 199: The mad old bat tugged and pulled to get at me.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 103: The old bat said, ‘You remind me of that policeman on that television programme.’.
[UK]Guardian G2 2 July 18: Mad old bat.
[UK]Observer 2 Jan. 26: Films always seem to need some old bat shuffling around in a wheelchair.
[US]J. Lansdale Leather Maiden 161: The one [i.e. news story] the old bat had wanted me to look into.
[US]‘Jack Tunney’ Split Decision [ebook] That didn’t mean the old bat’s all-seeing eyes weren’t on us.
[Aus]P. Papathanasiou Stoning 238: ‘The old bat’s brain has rotted’.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

batmobile (v.)

see separate entry.

In compounds

bat-ass (v.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

bat-fowler/fowling (n.)

see separate entries.

bat hide (n.) (also batwing) [? thinness of the paper money; var. on skin n.1 (4)]

(US) paper money, esp. a $1 bill.

[US]M. Prenner ‘Sl. Terms for Money’ in AS IV:5 357: The term bat hides, meaning money.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
bat’s balls (n.) [var. on cat’s pyjamas n. (1)]

(US) the very best, the ultimate.

J. Lewis Marines 9: ‘This here R ’n’ R’s the bat’s balls,’ one of the officers [...] roared [HDAS].

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

In phrases

In exclamations

bat crap!


[US]Heggen & Logan Mister Roberts II v: roberts: Why, what Dolan said—one of my letters turned up . . . doc: Bat crap!