Green’s Dictionary of Slang

slack n.1

[SE slack, that which hangs loose]

1. (also back slack) impertinence, cheek.

[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan I 156: ‘None o’ your slack,’ says I [...] ‘none o’ your pokin’ fun at me.’.
[UK] ‘Gallery of 140 Comicalities’ Bell’s Life in London 24 June 2/4: Toddle, you precious old brimstone! Let me have no more of your slack; and when you return take care you bring a civil tongue in your head!
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 15 n.p.: Light as fedders we come back, / Ready wid more saucy slack .
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 10 Oct. 3/3: The plaintiff [...] gave the court such a vast quantity of ‘slack’.
[US] ‘One of the Boys’ in G.S. Jackson Early Songs of Uncle Sam (1933) 58: The boss came in so black, and give me some of his slack.
[US]Green Mountain Freeman (Montpelier, VT) 4 Feb. 1/1: ‘If they’re goin’ to give me their slack, they must expect I’ll be riled’.
[US]H.L. Williams N.-Y. After Dark 37: Look here, girl, don’t you get up your back against me – I ain’t a country squash to stand any of your slack!
[UK]Huddersfield Chron. 9 Dec. 3/1: ‘Now, don’t give us none of your slack or else — ’.
[UK]Weston Mercury 13 May 7/1: ‘None o’ your slack Abel’.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 30 Dec. 10/4: Boils incautiously opened the door, and as the irate Stetson expresses It, ‘gave him some ba k slack’.
[US]H. Blossom Checkers 184: I’ve taken as much of your slack as I’m going to.
[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Bad Boy Abroad 208: He [...] wouldn’t take no slack from no Chicago female.
[US]N.I. White Amer. Negro Folk-Songs 199: [reported from Durham, N.C., 1919] See here, nigger, don’t none of your slack.

2. a spell of inactivity, idleness.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 237/1: When there is a slack the merchants are all anxious to get their vessels delivered as fast as they can.
(con. 1965-66) P. Caputo Rumor of War 250: ‘They’re tired, lieutenant. They’re so tired that half of ’em are half asleep on patrol. They’ve got to get some slack’.
[US]S. King Christine 151: He’s picked up the slack real good [...] Sweeps the floor, takes the crap out of the garage bays at the end of the day.

3. (W.I., also slack puller) a promiscuous woman.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 212: slack puller A woman or girl of easy morals.
[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

4. (W.I.) a slovenly person.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

5. freedom, leeway, relief of pressure.

[US]H. Simmons Corner Boy 207: You could mix it [i.e. child-rearing] up anyway you wanted it, iron hand or slack.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 67: Maybe we should see if they need some slack.
[US]B. Hamper Rivethead (1992) 222: Jackson [...] even agreed that Schobel and I should be allowed a bit more slack in our double-up routine.
[US](con. 1946) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 64: There were points to be had there, Karras figured, and some degree of slack.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Sunset’ in Broken 194: He can get Tommy some slack.

In derivatives

slackness (n.)

1. (W.I.) sloppiness, incompetence.

[WI]S. Selvon Lonely Londoners 11: Moses, he never in this sort of slackness.
[UK]A. Salkey ‘I into history, now’ Jamaica (1983) 10: An’ guess who teach them / an’ you / an’ me / all that slackness.
[UK]R. Hewitt White Talk Black Talk 191: You know, dem is slackness, them things dere.

2. vulgarity; overt sexiness.

[WI]S. Selvon Lonely Londoners 134: Five [...] fanning with his jacket, and jumping up like if is a real carnival slackness.
Shabba Ranks [song title] Where Does Slackness Come From.
[WI]M. Montague Dread Culture 174: Slackness and badness soft to culture right now. Rankin chat too much slackness. Mu nuh like him at all.
[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 48: Slackness vulgarity.

3. (W.I.) lewd, vulgar lyrics used in popular songs.

[UK]D. Hebdige Cut ’n’ Mix 125: It wasn’t long before ‘slackness’ was all the rage.
[US]C. Cooper Female Sexuality in Lyrics of Bob Marley and Shabba Ranks 1: Conventional wisdom in Jamaica [...] defines Bob Marley’s reggae lyrics as the peak of ‘culture’ and Shabba Ranks’s lyrics as the veritable bottom of ‘slackness’.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 2 July 15: I and I no love slackness, that a pagan desire.
L.A. Times (CA) 19 June 53/2: The hard-core dancehall lyrics known as ‘slackness’.

In compounds

slack-jaw (n.) [SE jaw/jaw n.]

cheek or impudence; thus slack-jawed adj.

[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 7 Jan. 1/5: ‘Avast there brother; none of your slack jaw, my hearty, or mayhap I may scuttle your nob’.
[US]W.T. Porter Big Bear of Arkansas (1847) 72: Shet your mouth, you imperdent, slack-jaw’d dog.
[UK]Worcs. Chron. 14 June 8/4: Nothing but a little of what is vulgarly called slack-jaw occurred to disturb the harmony of the evening.
[UK]Worcs. Chron. 21 Jan. 2/7: Cookee seemed to have done her duty; there was only one irregularity and some slack-jaw complained of.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 8 Feb. 8/6: And British rights are called ‘slack-jaw,’ / Aboard o’ the Tuscarora.
[UK]Western Times 24 Oct. 5/2: We must have the names of this slack-jaw, mischievous quartette party.
[US]Century mag. (NY) XXXVII 407: I mought do it fur you, bein’ as how ye got so much slack-jaw.
[US]C.E. Craddock In the Tennessee Mountains 33: ’Vander’s lawyer never summonsed but a few of the slack-jawed boys from the Settlemint ter prove his good character.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 14 Oct. n.p.: ‘Gis the men a rest!’ says the slack-jawed man.
[US]D.S. Crumb ‘Dialect of Southeastern Missouri’ in DN II:v 330: slack-jaw, n. Impudent language. ‘Don’t give me any of your slack-jaw!’.
Hastings & St Leonard’s Obs. (Sussex) 4 Dec. 9/6: Look here, I’m just about chock-full; / This slack-jaw ain’t no go.
[Ire]P.W. Joyce Eng. As We Speak It In Ireland.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Sept. 52/2: If Mollie possessed her father’s irascibility, perhaps it would be just as well to leave her with the motor-man. At the same time, he wasn’t going to take too much slack jaw from Paddy, anyhow.
[UK]Birmingham Dly Gaz. 18 Jan. 3/4: Defendant used a lot of ‘slack jaw’ to the police.
slack puller (n.)

see sense 3 above.

In phrases

cut (some) slack (v.) (also cut some room, give some slack, take up (the) slack)(orig. US black)

1. to ease the pressure upon, to permit the subject to relax.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 242: You don’t have no way to take up slack, do you?
[US]H. Rap Brown Die Nigger Die! 29: If the brother couldn’t come back behind that, I usually cut him some slack.
[US]Army Reporter Feb. in Maledicta VI:1+2 251: Cut me some slack, Sir Charles. There’s only ti-ti chow in this pack, some motherfuckers and beans, couple warm bamebas, bottle of Saigon tea, that’s all.
[US]H. Crews A Feast of Snakes 34: He couldn’t seem to cut any slack anywhere. He’d earned it. Goddammit, he knew he’d earned it.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 187: Mrs Madrigal is bound to give you some slack on the rent until you can find a job.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 52: take up the slack [...] to help or assist someone. ‘I was beat down and left-off; cuzz took-up the slack.’.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 59: Shade decided to cut the sensitive noses of the world some slack, and went home to take a shower.
[US](con. 1968) W.E. Merritt Where the Rivers Ran Backward 113: Cut us some slack, Jack.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Phantom Blooper 12: Cleaver [...] is cutting himself a big piece of slack up in his luxurious bunker.
[US]P. Earley Hot House 253: ‘Hey, don’t cut Tom any room because of me. Tom catches what he catches’.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 83: You could cut me some slack.
[UK]P. Baker Blood Posse 230: He gonna give you some slack.
[US]Source Oct. 213: Following two classics [...] we can cut the fellas some slack.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 83: All because of a fellow cop who wouldn’t cut him any slack.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 115: He showed us how to use our discretion to kick ass when we needed to and to cut slack when it made sense.
[US]C. Stella Rough Riders 46: Cut the brother some slack.
[US]S.M. Jones Lives Laid Away [ebook] ‘You look like you’s gettin’ old, ma brotha. Thought I’d cut you some slack’.
[US](con. 1991-94) W. Boyle City of Margins 158: Donna would like to cut her some slack [...] but she can’t.

2. to hand over money.

[US]D. Claerbaut Black Jargon in White America 62: cut me some slack v. 1. give me some money.
hold onto the slack (v.) [naut. imagery, holding the slack of a sail requires no real effort]

to be lazy, to skulk around.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.