Green’s Dictionary of Slang

leather adj.

(orig. US gay) pertaining to leather fetishism in attire and behaviour.

implied in leather bar
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 244: The place was mobbed with giants in leather, shades, chains, shaved heads.
[US] in Walking After Midnight (1989) 169: I never recognized Earls Court as being a gay ghetto. I saw all these leather people coming into the Kentucky Fried Chicken where I worked [...] I thought they were motorcyclists.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 151: Prancing fairies and psychotic leather fags.

In compounds

leather bar (n.) (also leather lounge)

(orig. US gay) a bar frequented by leather fetishists and sadomasochistic male homosexuals.

[US]J. Rechy City of Night 181: The ‘leather bars’: black-jacketed mesh inside, moving pictures of young men wrestling realistically, murals of motorcyclists at a race, their faces sexually aroused.
[US] in S. Harris Hellhole 220: The leather bars with [...] moving pictures of men and women wearing black leather jackets and wrestling realistically.
[US]J. Rechy Rushes (1981) 18: Though it is not strictly a ‘leather bar,’ an undercurrent of rough sexuality charges through it.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 294: Campari soda with a spot of rough trade in a leather lounge.
[UK]Guardian G2 24 June 2: We went to a leather bar called The Black And Blue that had a sort of orgy room in it.
[US]E. White My Lives 241: He likes going to a leather bar, the Eagle’s Nest.
leather boy (n.) (also leather man, leather job)

(gay) a male leather fetishist homosexual.

[UK]J. Orton Diaries (1986) 23 July 250: I told Kenneth of the leather job the other night [...] a boy whose mother was Armenian, his father Greek.
[US]J. Rechy Rushes (1981) 113: As he passes by the leatherman brushes Endore’s hand with gloved knuckles.
[UK]Kirk & Madsen After The Ball 183: Cocky mustachioed leather-men, drag queens, and bull dykes.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 136: Too many leather boys been showin up dead.
[US]R. Scott Rebecca’s Dict. of Queer Sl. [Internet] leatherman — a (usually gay) man who is a member of the Leather/BDSM community.
leather freak (n.) [-freak sfx]

(US) a leather fetishist.

[US]Esquire 72 168: The cat is a leather freak!
[US]J. Wambaugh Blue Knight 163: He’s a leather freak and likes to savage a broad. Dresses her up in animal skins and whales the shit out of her.
[UK](con. 1970) W. Sherman Times Square 32: One leather freak whistle at Joe and said, ‘Hi, big boy’.
[UK]Gay News 1 May [Internet] Satin boys could only wish those other men would mistake their black satin for leather. With the sad result of disappointment on both sides: for the leather freak since it was no leather, for the satinist since the other couldn’t answer his call.
leather queen (n.) (also leather Mary) [-queen sfx (2)/Mary n. (2a)]

(orig. US gay) a male homosexual who likes dressing in leather and may also enjoy sadomasochism; also attrib.

Ramparts Mag. 5 55: The unofficial costumes include Batman and Batgirl (Robin is home, sulking); a Hell's Angel; Little Annie Fanny; a drag queen; a leather queen with a chain necklace.
[US]E. Newton Mother Camp 33: ‘Leather queens’ do not look like straight men.
[US]personal ad, adult bookstore Murray & Murrell Lang. Sadomasochism (1989) 89: Male [...] looking for possible SM partners for forced french and greek — no leather queens, please.
[UK]A. Hollinghurst Swimming-Pool Library (1998) 235: There were some interesting punky-looking boys with public school voices as well as real leather queens.
[US]T. Udo Vatican Bloodbath 115: All the riders wore leather hoods, though these weren’t any cheap junk that you bought from some Soho leather queen shop.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle 79/1: leather Mary n. gay man who practices S&M sex. [Ibid.] 79/2: leather man n. gay man who practices S&M sex.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 299: Check it out. Looks like an aging leather queen, don’t he?

SE in slang uses

In compounds

leather bum (n.)

a civil servant who is totally dedicated to work and thus never leaves their desk.

[Ire]S. Beckett Murphy (1963) 96: There will be more joy in heaven over Murphy finding a job than over the billions of leatherbums that never had anything else.
leather-face (n.)

(US) an emotionless face or the individual with such a face; thus leather-face(d) adj.

[UK]J. Whetstone Promos and Cassandra IV iv: Well letherface, we shall haue you Asse ere you goe.
[US]W.G. Simms Guy Rivers I 77: But why not trade now, Bunce? – what’s to hinder us now, you leather-faced Jew?
[US] C. Sealsfield cited in AS XVIII:2 (1943) 126/2: He had the impassable leather-face of the pilgrims of Plymouth [DA].
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 243: You ain’t one of these leatherface people. I don’t want no better book than what your face is. A body can set down and read it off like coarse print.
leatherhead (n.)

see separate entry.

leather medal (n.) [a ‘real’ medal is metal]

(US) a fig. medal for failure, laziness, the booby prize.

‘XYZ’ Knickerbocker Tour of N.Y. State (1968) 39: He ought to have a ‘leather medal’ for his design.
[Aus]N.-Y. National Advocate 22 July 2/2: After an intense and laborious spoon exercise, it was decreed that Col. Stone, of the Commercial, being the greatest gourmand, was entitled to the leather medal, he having punished seven plates of soup.
Long-Island Star 9 Feb. 2/5: [A man executes his horse, with duelling ceremonials]. For this gallant act of bravery, it is recommended that the ladies and gentlemen of the place should present him with a leather medal.
[US]Harvardiana iii 147: A leather medal his reward should be.
[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 9 Nov. 2/3: Reward of Merit. [headline] 1. A Leather Medal each – very thick and solid. . . . [to some voters]. A pair of horn goggles – regular dead-eyes – [to other voters].
[US]B.H. Hall College Words (rev. edn) 190: LEATHER MEDAL. At Harvard College, the Leather Medal was formerly bestowed upon the laziest fellow in College.
[US]O. Kildare My Mamie Rose 147: Old man, you certainly deserve another medal for this, but this time, it should be a leather one.
leatherneck (n.)

see separate entry.

leather piece (n.)

(US black) any garment, esp. a coat, made of leather.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 48: This dude jacked me up for my leather piece. [Ibid.] 245: leather, leather piece Leather or leatherlike jacket.
leatherskin (n.)

(US) a derog. name for a Native American; thus leather-skinned adj.

[US]W.A. Caruthers Kentuckian in N.Y. I 22: This Pete Ironsides that I’m ridin’ on, has more of a Christian soul in him than any leather-skin between Missouri and Red River.
[US]Brooks Strong Hearts 42: I’ll brain you like a mad-dog, you leather-skinned yelper [HDAS].

In phrases

all leather (adj.) [the toughness and durability of leather]

of a person, dependable, trustworthy.

[US] in DARE.