Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bet v.

In phrases

bet a fat man (against a pile of shit) (v.) [shit n. (1a)]

[1930s+] (US black) to assure or to believe with absolute confidence.

bet a five pound note to a raspberry (v.)

[1940s] to make what one considers to be a certain bet.

bet a funky monkey and two old maids (v.)

[1980s] (US black) to be certain.

bet a pound to a piece of shit (v.) (also bet a pound to a pinch of poop) [shit n. (1a)/poop n.2 (3)]

[1940s+] a statement denoting the speaker’s absolute confidence, whether in a real bet or merely a point of view.

bet like the Watsons (v.) [the Watson Brothers (fl.1880s–1910s). They were legendary punters but their background is unknown; poss. b. in Bendigo, Victoria they have been variously cited as Sydney hoteliers and outback shearers in New South Wales]

[1920s–70s] (Aus.) to bet heavily.

bet London to a brick (on) (v.) (also bet London to a lump of crap) [crap n.1 (2)]

[1960s+] (Scot./Aus.) to lay long odds; thus phr. (it’s) London to a brick.

bet one’s balls (v.)

see under balls n.

bet one’s boots (v.) (also bet one’s best Sunday boots, …bootlace, ...braces, …breeches, ...socks, gamble one’s socks)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US) to be certain, to wager everything in total confidence.

bet one’s bottom dollar (v.) (also bet one’s bottom ace, ...last dollar, stake one’s bottom dollar, wager one’s bottom dollar)

[mid-19C+] to be absolutely certain.

bet one’s buttons (v.) (also bet one’s gig-lamps, ...a hat, bet one’s hat,’s last button, …last pair of pants, ...pants, ...shirt, …Sunday shirt, wager one’s beaver)

[mid-17C; mid-19C] to bet all one’s money, to go the limit, to commit oneself unreservedly to something.

bet one’s eyes (v.)

1. [mid–late 19C] (US gambling) to watch a game but not get involved in the betting.

2. [late 19C] (US) to commit oneself unreservedly.

bet one’s head to a China orange (v.)

[mid-late 19C] to be very certain.

bet one’s neck (v.)

[late 19C-1920s] (US) to be absolutely sure, to commit oneself unreservedly.

bet one’s (sweet) ass (v.) (also bet one’s (black) arse,’s bottom,’s (sweet) butt) [arse n. (1)/ass n. (2)/butt n.1 (1a)]

[1910s+] a phr. used to imply the certainty of a suggested course of action; usu. as you bet your ass.

bet one’s (sweet) life (v.) (also bet one’s bones, ...sweet by-and-by)

[mid-19C+] to be absolutely sure, to commit oneself unreservedly; thus (you) bet your life!

bet on the wrong side of the post (v.) (also run on the wrong side of the post) [SE winning post]

[late 18C–early 19C] to make a losing bet.

bet the farm (v.)

[1940s+] (US) lit. and fig., to bet unreservedly.

I’ll bet (also I bet)

[late 19C+] a phr. used to imply (depending on context) the speaker’s enthusiastic or sceptical response to what they have just heard.

want to bet?

[1940s+] a challenging refutation of the previous speaker’s assertion.

In exclamations


see separate entry.


see separate entry.

you bet! (also you betcha! you betcher! you bet your boots!)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US) a general excl. of affirmation, agreement, certainly! I’ll say so! indeed!

(you) bet your life! (also (you) bet a quid!, (you) bet your sweet (life)!)

[mid-19C+] (orig. US) an excl. of affirmation.