Green’s Dictionary of Slang

heavy n.

1. [mid-19C–1940s] (US, also heavy man, heavy merchant) an actor playing a serious or tragic part in a melodrama; occas. of an actress.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

3. in the context of violence.

(a) [late 19C+] a heavyweight boxer.

(b) [1910s+] a thug, a villain, esp. a violent criminal (also as portrayed in cinema and theatre); also in fig. use, e.g. a moralizer [note B.E.: ‘A heavy Fellow, a dull Blockish Slug’].

4. in fig. use, an important, meaningful person.

(a) [1910s–20s] (US campus) a girlfriend, a boyfriend, an important date.

(b) [1920s+] (US) an important or powerful person.

5. [1920s–40s] (US) a large, fat person.

6. [1930s–50s] (US Und.) a bankrobber, a safecracker.

7. [1940s+] (US/Aus.) hard work, heavy labour.

8. [1950s+] (drugs) a hard drug (heroin, cocaine) rather than a soft one (cannabis etc).

9. [1960s] (Aus.) a detective.

10. [2000s] (UK Und.) constr. with the, armed robbery.

11. see heavy wet n.

In phrases

come the heavy (v.)

[1970s] to act in an aggressive or moralistic manner.

do the heavy (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] to swagger, to show off.

2. [1900s] (Aus.) to make strong sexual advances.

lay heavy on (v.) (also lay on the heavy)

[1970s] (US/Aus.) to lecture, to sermonize, to reprimand.

on the heavy (also at the heavy)

[1920s+] doing violent crime, armed robbery, e.g. of banks.