1. in senses of display, ostentation.
(a) a nouveau riche, ostentatious person.
|Low-life 74: The Jemmies, Brights, Flashes, Puzzes, Pizzes and Smarts of the Town [are] preparing to ride out in fives and sixes.|
|Better Late than Never 33: What, young flash away turned duellist!|
|20 Nov. in Padbury View of Dightons (2007) 41: [pic. caption] Beau N-sh – What a Flash.|
|Real Life in London I 559: Many a twelver † does he get by buying up broken images of persons who sell them by wholesale, and he of course gets them for little or nothing: then what does he do but dresses out his board, to give them the best appearance he can, and toddles into the streets, touting†† for a good customer. The first genteel bit of flash he meets that he thinks will dub up the possibles,∮ he dashes down the board, breaks all the broken heads, and appeals in a pitiful way for remuneration for his loss; so that nine times out of ten he gets some Johnny-raw or other to stump up the rubbish.|
|Benno and Some of the Push 86: A brother, known as ‘The Flash’, who was recognised as one of the best-dressed ‘guns’ in the metropolis.‘At the Opera’|
|Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 74: Flash.–A gaudy or well-dressed person.|
|Sporting Mag. Oct. XXV 45/1: Don’t you know me? Jenny Dash! / Every where the go and flash!|
(c) ostentation, showiness, vulgarity; also adj. (see cite 1872).
|Great News from Hell 14: Three Irish Fortune-hunters, who [...] used to cut no small Flash about the Garden.|
|London Hermit (1794) 19: You can keep pace with them in flash and expenses.|
|‘Humbug Club Song’ in Hilaria 43: The captain’s a compound of flash and cockade, / Cosmetics, pink powder, with curl carronade, / And his feats are confin’d to box-lobby parade.|
|‘Midnight Mishaps’ Bentley’s Misc. Aug. 203: ‘No flash, – it won’t do, – you’ll undress,’ said the taller of the three.|
|Sydney Gaz. 5 Dec. 2/5: With respect to that spirit of association which is understood among you by the slang term of ‘Flash,’ I would entreat all those who are not bent on getting hanged, to beware of giving into it.|
|Sam Slick in England II 129: I make allowances for the gear, and the gettin’ up, and the vampin’, and all that sort o’ flash.|
|Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 25 Apr. 3/1–2: [Bobby is] always on points, and somewhat ambitious to give important arrests to the stiffs (newspapers) for the purpose of making a terrible flash and gammoning the flats.|
|Saratoga in 1901 207: Cant words [...] used to be the mode at Saratoga years ago. Swell, nobby, spooney, jolly, loud, bore and a half-dozen other flash words.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 327: He ast me fur the loan of the diamond an’ emerald ring he gimme, so’s tuh make a flash before his uncle from Ireland who’s got money.|
|It’s a Racket! 225: flash—[...] showy appearance.|
|Put on the Spot 73: To show he was a big-timer, he flashed me in front o’ Kinky. Kinky had a grand eye for that kind o’ flashes.|
|Pal Joey 39: Think of the flash, as they used to say in vaudeville.|
|‘Good-Doing Wheeler’ in Life (1976) 77: I don’t go for no flash, I’m out for cash.et al.|
|Pimp 98: You ain’t got no front and flash.|
|‘Bell Boy’ [lyrics] on Quadrophrenia [album] I work in a hotel, all gilt and flash.|
|Muscle for the Wing 96: Shuggie was a hybrid of flab and flash.|
|(con. 1964-65) Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 98: It [i.e. a performance] needed some flash.|
|Yes We have No 132: The foundations have rotted, but the flash remains.|
|Drama City 106: Show no flash, hold a job up at the car wash.|
|Gutted 59: The flash, the wheels, the bling, the clobber...it’s as obvious as a donkey’s cock.|
(d) (US Und.) a show-off, a braggart.
|Detective Story 18 Feb. [Internet] Why, that cheap flash couldn’t get even with a wop peanut seller!‘White as Snow’|
(e) (US Und.) a suit of clothes.
|Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 132: flash, n. Suit of clothes.‘Chatter of Guns’|
|DAUL 71/1: Flash, n. [...] 6. A suit of clothes; an outfit.et al.|
(f) (Aus.) one’s personal appearance.
|Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. (2nd edn).|
2. a periwig; thus rum flash n., a long, full, expensive wig; queer flash n., an old, raggedy wig [? its being worn by an ostentatious person, i.e. sense 1b above].
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Flash c. a Periwig.|
|New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. n.p.: flash a Peruke.|
|Life and Adventures.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Flash, a periwig; rum flash; a fine long wig; queer flash; a miserable weather-beaten caxon.|
|Dict. Sl. and Cant.|
|New and Improved Flash Dict.|
3. in the context of the criminal and/or sporting worlds.
(a) cant or criminal slang; also attrib.
|Life and Character of Moll King 10: This Flash, as it is called, is talking in Cant Terms, very much us’d among Rakes and Town Ladies.|
|Life’s Painter 144: The explanation of the Cant, Flash and Slang terms [...] gives at one view, a perfect knowledge of the artifices, combinations, modes and habits of those invaders of our property, our safety and our lives, who have a language quite unintelligible to any but themselves.|
|New Dict. Cant (1795).|
|Settlement at Port Jackson 207: A leading distinction, which marked the convicts on their outset in the colony, was an use of what is called the flash, or kiddy language.|
|‘The Blue Lion’ inI (1975) 31: They’ll cut a dash, and hear the flash.|
|Musa Pedestris (1896) 88: I soon learned to patter flash.‘Ya-Hip, My Hearties!’ in Farmer|
|Tom and Jerry I iv: Flash, my young friend, or slang, as others call it, is the classical language of the Holy Land; in other words, St. Giles’s greek [...] Flash, my young friend, or slang, as others call it, is a species of cant in which the knowing ones conceal their roguery from the flats.|
|‘All England Now are Slanging It’ Museum of Mirth 40/1: No, no Barbary tongue at all, merely a little rum slum to put the knowing ones awake and queer the flats with. [...] Flash is cant, cant is patter, patter is lingo, lingo is language, and language is flash.|
|N.Y. Daily Express 20 Nov. 2/7: Robbing Store Tills. — [...] Among thieves this feat is termed in their flash dialect till-tilting.|
|Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 4 Mar. 2/1: I was nabbed (I know you understand a little flash).|
|Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 39: I’ve got but one book on the flash, and that’s Captain Grose’s dictionary.|
|Autocrat of the Breakfast Table 300: The young fellow called John [...] said it was ‘rum’ to hear me ‘pitchin’ into fellers’ for ‘goin’ it in the slang line,’ when I used all the flash words myself.|
|Experiences of a Convict (1965) 120: To ‘stick up’ a person, house, or dray, means, in Australian ‘flash’ phraseology, to come suddenly with presented arms upon them.|
|Sl. Dict. 163: Flash ‘flash, my young friend, or Slang, as others call it, is the classical language of the Holy Land; in other words, St. Giles’s Greek.’ ― Tom and Jerry, by Moncreiff. Vulgar language was first termed FLASH in the year 1718, by Hitchin, author of ‘The Regulator of Thieves, &c., with account of flash words.’ “FLASH” is sometimes exchangeable with ‘fancy.’.|
|Post to Finish III 86: Some knowledge of slang is and always was part of a gentleman’s education. Why, when the late Lord Lytton wrote ‘Pelham’ it was brought against him that ‘his knowledge of flash was evidently purely superficial.’ Flash, my sister, is merely [...] thieves’ argot.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 6 Sept. 24/1: ‘Twisting a fawnie’ is ‘flash’–slang for stealing wedding-rings.|
|Exploring Aus. Eng. 13: One enterprising convict, James Hardy Vaux, put together a vocabulary of the criminal slang of the colony – the ‘flash’ language – in 1812.|
|Lingo 32: This criminal argot, or flash language, used for clandestine communication within the convict subculture, gave quite a few terms to the broader vernacular.|
(b) a generic term for the criminal underworld.
|Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/2: Within a rattler stands Moll Flash, / To see the kiddies die.|
|‘Crib & the Black’ Boxiana I (1971) 481: Ye swells, ye flash, ye milling coves, who this hard light see, / Let us drink to these heroes, come join along with me.|
(c) sporting jargon.
|Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 80: Of course, those words and sayings which are appropriate to the turf, the ring, and field-sports, are equally considered as flash.|
4. with ref. to money or commodities (often counterfeit).
(a) (UK Und.) a large bundle of notes, esp. when used in a game of three-card monte to entice victims; thus make a flash v., to exhibit a large bundle of notes.
|‘Her Muns with a Grin’ Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 50: All moonshine to stash — is the young lightning’s flash / [...] / that is got a by a smash, / At the vendor of vet.|
|Artie (1963) 46: He can always make a flash o’ the long green.|
|Rough Stuff 12: If a man or a woman made a flash of any kind there they was either torpedoed (drugged) or robbed.|
|Sharpe of the Flying Squad 218: If they are absolutely broke they get their pals to set them up with what is termed ‘a flash,’ that is a wad of notes to be flashed in front of a victim.|
|Popular Detective Mar. [Internet] Tommy had the visitor’s leather, full of green, in a hip pocket, along with his flash.‘Frozen Stiff’|
|Texas by the Tail (1994) 101: Want to show a bundle of flash? The banker will benevolently count it out for you.|
|Airtight Willie and Me 30: I had loaned him my total flash.|
|Hard Bounce [ebook] Junior brought out the flash money — a hundred wrapped around a thick wad of ones.|
(b) (UK Und.) imitation gold coins or banknotes; also attrib.
|Ticket-of-Leave Man 26: Converting the twenty-pound ‘flash’ into cash, or as Jem would have said: ‘Planting the big ’un!’.|
|Marvel 17 Nov. 47 2: He was a useful chap at passing the flash stuff [...] ‘Gave me a free hand looking after my work here – turning out flash money, which paid a sight better than the doss-house, you bet!’ [...] By this time he had sorted out from the box several bundles of forged banknotes.|
|Phenomena in Crime 81: Imitation Bank of England notes known as ‘flash’. (So called because it is ‘flashed’ before the eyes of a dupe).|
(c) (UK/US Und.) cheap but alluring items, e.g. cheap jewellery, used to lure players into carnival games, confidence tricks etc.
|Penny Showman 50: The front flash or paintings were fastened up in the windows.|
|Und. and Prison Sl. 37: flash, n. 1. Cheap jewlery; anything that is meant to be impressive.|
|AS IX:1 26: flash. Something that attracts attention.‘Prison Parlance’ in|
|‘I’ll Gyp You Every Time’ in Men of the Und. 178: The prizes I used as ‘flash’ — percolators, blankets, clocks — were also numbered.|
|Men of the Und. 322: Flash, 1. A display to attract gambling victims.|
(d) (US) (genuine) jewels.
|Thrilling Detective Oct. [Internet] [of emeralds] So Nick still thought I had the green flash?‘Crepe for Suzette’|
(e) anything counterfeit.
|Venetian Blonde (2006) 147: My friend here wants to know if them pointers are real or just for flash.|
(f) (US gay) cheap jewellery worn by homosexual males.
|Queens’ Vernacular 82: flash [...] 2. flashy jewelry of poor workmanship; going the flash = wearing cheap jewelry.|
5. see flash of lightning under lightning n.
6. in senses of brevity .
(a) (orig. US) a quick look around.
|Mr Dooley in the Hearts of his Countrymen 130: Run in, an’ take a flash iv it.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 230: It’s a pipe he never took more’n one flash.|
|Stealing Through Life 295: Stick with Buddy a moment – I’ll take a flash myself.|
(b) (orig. US) a brief glimpse [initially a ref. to the conscious ‘flashing’ by striptease/burlesque artists].
|Barkeep Stories 17: ‘Well, de hobo gets a flash of him an’ lets one yell out [...] an’ tears fer de front door’.|
|Out for the Coin 44: Just then I got a flash of Dike Lawrence bearing down in our direction.|
|Old Man Curry 70: These burglars could take one flash at the top of the deck and know just when to draw.‘By a Hair’|
|Fighting Blood 250: Lots of guys passsing turns for another flash at her. She was easy to look at and no mistake.|
|Red Wind (1946) 28: I got a flash of him on the street night before last but I lost him.‘Red Wind’ in|
|Big Con 87: That will give him the first flash.|
|DAUL 71/1: Flash, n. [...] 3. A glance, as at credentials.et al.|
|Men of the Und. 322: Flash, [...] 2. A glance. 3. A signal of recognition.|
|Now You Know 246: Got this picture out of his bag, so I know he wants to give me a flash of it.|
(c) a brief glimpse when offered to a man by a woman inadvertently revealing her thighs, breasts or genitals; or vice versa, of a penis.
|[||Knocking the Neighbors 81: He had gone to the Dressing Room and taken a private Flash at the Magazine Beauty].|
|‘Mae West in “The Hip Flipper”’ [comic strip] in Tijuana Bibles (1997) 93: Lotta got a flash of the Johnson bar.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|Owning Up (1974) 202: We all have our obsessions, and Mick’s was what he called a ‘flash’, a view of thigh and knicker.|
|Current Sl. V:4.|
|Eng. Madam 32: Some of them wouldn’t leave the office until I’d given them a quick flash.|
|Glitz 8: Pissing in an alley when a girl comes along? Pretend you don’t see her and give her a flash?|
|(con. c.1970) Phantom Blooper 148: Tracy’s goodbye flash brings a hoot and a holler from a squad of giggling pogues as they shove past me, hot on her trail.|
|(con. 1964-65) Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 40: ‘It’s amazing how far a little flash goes,’ she added cheekily, slowly raising her skirt [...] to show the crotch of her white lace panties.|
|happyhooking.blogspot.com 24 July [Internet] Men will loudly exclaim ‘Oh my god’ when you accidentally give them an upskirt flash while you’re not paying attention.|
(d) a sign of flirtatious behaviour.
|Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 266: When we went to Ally’s party, back in Geordie land, she definitely gave me a flash.|
7. in senses of suddenness.
(a) (US) a surprising piece of news or a rumour.
|Tales of the Ex-Tanks 223: After you’d got your money down on the right one [...] the flash ’ud come in on one of the other skates.|
|Front Page Act III: Hold the wire! I’ve got a flash for you.|
|World’s Toughest Prison 799: flash – A rumor.|
|Queens’ Vernacular 82: flash 1. tidings, news scoop.|
|Property Of (1978) 224: I got a flash for you [...] It ain’t yours no more.|
(b) (US) a burst of inspiration, a sudden idea.
|Professor How Could You! 90: However, I have a flash. I got it when come along in that car.|
|letter 9 May in Mitgang (1968) 305: I had a flash that the Hand of the Potter felt experimental.|
|We Are the Public Enemies 140: Alvin Karpis had a hot flash. ‘Why don’t we all go to Florida?’.|
|Jimmy Brockett 20: Jack and I had been overseas together after we cleaned up on a flash we worked on the cockies outback.|
|in Sweet Daddy 8: I got this here flash – like, why don’t make with something new.|
|Psychotic Reactions (1988) 11: The real vision, the real freaking flash, was just like the reality.in|
|Serial 29: She [...] had a flash that made her feel a whole lot more integrated about Kate.|
|(con. early 1950s) L.A. Confidential 106: He stopped on a flash: garbage cans, full, lined both sides of the street.|
|Robbers (2001) 253: Flash: call Katie. No, give her the space she’s claiming.|
(c) a flashback.
|Stealing Through Life 287: There had been a time when it would have made a sensation, but not now [...] it would be only a one-day flash.|
|Get Shorty [film script] MARTIN: I’m sitting here, I’m looking at you and I’m having these flashes. You know, flashbacks, of memories. (touches her hair) Of us.|
8. a success.
|Harder They Fall (1971) 45: He is not nearly the flash in business.|
9. in the context of drugs.
(a) the instantaneous effect that follows the injection of a narcotic or other drug; also in non-drug use.
|Really the Blues 16: It was a lot more than a mere sex flash.|
|cited in L.A. Times in (1986).|
|Panic in Needle Park (1971) 43: Cocaine and bombitas are both stimulants, and combined with heroin, a depressant, they produce an electrifying ‘rush’ or ‘flash’ far more pleasurable to the addict than heroin alone.|
|Stay Hungry 145: I just shot it up and sat there laughing at this spade I was with while I had this monster flash, like creamin off in my head.|
|Death Row 202: I went over the same things to try to be high again [...] I’m happy, but I don’t have that flash like I had.|
|Little Boy Blue (1995) 285: They’re starting that lately [i.e. adding procaine to heroin], makes the flash stronger . . . but they cut the dope.|
|Lowspeak 59: Flash – the effect of cocaine and to a lesser extent methedrine.|
|Mr Blue 89: It makes the flash better.|
|ONDCP Street Terms 9: Flash — [...] the rush of cocaine injection.|
|Life 260: If you do it in the vein you get an incredible flash.|
(b) a flashback to a previous psychotropic drug experience.
|We are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against 240: Everybody gets acid flashes – suddenly something trips you out and you’re back up high.|
(c) the effect of LSD.
|Current Sl. V:4.|
|ONDCP Street Terms 9: Flash — LSD.|
10. a cigarette lighter.
|Start in Life (1979) 212: Mog wants his flash back [...] Moggerhanger sent me. He wants his lighter back.|
11. a general term of address.
|Mean Streets [film script] 73: The interest is going up [...] do you realise that, flash?|
to act in a vulgar manner, to show off.
|Diary (1964) lxvii: Shall I look out for a cause to speak to, and exert all the soul and all the body I own, to cut a flash, strike amazement, to catch the vulgar.|
|April-Day Act I: So handsome! so young, / And cut such a flash / As he pranc’d it along!|
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd edn) n.p.: To cut a bosh, or a flash; to make a figure. Cant.|
|Sporting Mag. Jan. V 221/2: So come round me ye sportsmen, that’s smart and what not, / All stylish and cuttting a flash.|
|Tailors’ Revolt 7: snip cried aloud, ‘Ah, ha, I’ll cut a flash.’.|
|Morn. Post (London) 18 Aug. 3/4: ’Twill be our turn to feast, and cut a flash.|
|My Cousin in the Army 131: With air unruffled by the splash, He thus cuts out a ‘bit of flash,’ Which turn’d the attention of the crowd.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Oxford Jrnl 5 Jan. 3/5: He said he wanted [the purse] a short time to cut a flash with it.|
|Life and Adventures.|
(Aus.) to show off, to be very well known or successful, to cut a ‘fine figure’.
|Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.|
|I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 61: Don’t try to cut the flash with me. That bushfire blonde didn’t give you the first looko.|
in an attempt to show off; ‘a person who affects any particular habit, as swearing, dressing...taking snuff..., merely to be taken notice of, is said to do it “out of flash”’ (Vaux).
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang.|
(UK Und.) to talk, usu. slang or underworld cant.
|Life’s Painter 120: Some they pattered flash with gallows fun and joking.|
|Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 80: I FIRST was hir’d to peg a Hack [...] sometime back, / Where soon I learn’d to patter flash.‘Ya-Hip, My Hearties!’ in Moore|
|‘Pickpocket’s Chaunt’ (trans. of ‘En roulant de vergne en vergne’) in(1829) IV 260: I pattered in flash, like a covey knowing.|
|Bk of Sports 262: [note] Tom is ‘the one’ to patter flash, And make the Coveys laugh.|
|Sixteen-String Jack 303: Why he actually patters flash—how very vulgar, low and priggish.|
|Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 39: Patter flash, my lucky, you’re as used to it as I am.|
|Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/2: There he is, pottering [sic] his flash to a spicey moll.|
|‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Vocabulum 100: Come, Bell, let us track the dancers and rumble the flats, for I’m tired of pattering flash and lushing jackey.|
|Western Dly Press 6 Dec. 3/3: Tramps [...] have a slang language of their own, not altogether unlike the ‘patter flash’ of the thieves.|
|Cincinnati Enquirer 7 Sept. 10/7: [heading] How Any One Can Get Up in the Vernacular. And Patter Flash Like a Real Call.|
|London Standard 15 Feb. 6/6: The cant term ‘to patter the flash’ — i.e., to talk in slang.|
|A Book of Scoundrels 242: He loved above all things to patter the flash.‘Deacon Brodie’|
|Landloper 33: Because I do not patter the flash lingo with you, you appear to take me for a college professor in disguise.|
(US Und.) to consume or otherwise use anything that is being displayed as a lure in a confidence trick.
|Venetian Blonde (2006) 232: When the garbage workers – the fakirs pitching vegetable cutters – got hungry they could feed on the display. Scoff the flash. [...] A carnie always liked to work the broadie top – the girlie show. He could scoff the flash.|
(UK Und.) to talk in thieves’ cant.
|Canting Academy (2nd edn) 180: Stam flesh To Cant.|
|Eng. Rogue IV 152: Which Arts are divided into that of High-Padding, Low-Padding, Cloy-Filing, Bung-Nipping, Prancers Prigging, Duds-Lifting, Rhum-Napping, Cove-Cuffing, Mort-Trapping, Stamp-Flashing, Ken-Milling, Jerk the Naskin.|
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Stam-flesh, c. to cant.|
|New Canting Dict. n.p.: stam flesh To Cant ; As the Cully Stams flesh rumly; He Cants very well.|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Stam flesh, to cant (cant).|
|New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: stam flash to cant.|
|Dict. Sl. and Cant.|
|Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].|
|Modern Flash Dict. 31: Stam fish – to cant.|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].|
|Vocabulum 85: stamfish To talk in a way not generally understood.|
SE in slang uses
see separate entries.
1. a gaudily dressed woman [‘upon the model of a rainbow’ (Ware)].
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|
2. a sight [rhy. sl.].
|‘The Cockney Handbook: Rhyming Sl.’ on powdermonster.net [Internet] flash (of light) – sight (As in [...] ‘she give me a flash’).|
see under lightning n.