1. hard blows, e.g. in a prizefight or fig. from a volley of bullets (see cit. 1889); thus pepperer n., a fighter or boxer, in Pepper Alley, suffering a ssuccession of blows.
|‘Battle’ in Fancy I XVII 407: The combatants now got into a desperate rally, and Josh, receiving the most pepper, till he put in a Gaslighter in the middle of his opponents mug.|
|Pierce Egan’s Life in London 2 Jan. 389/2: Samson made one or two excellent stops, but nevertheless he got into Pepper Alley, and was made a member of the Turf Club, by a flooring hit .|
|Bell’s Life in London 29 Apr. 3/1: ‘Blow my dickey,’ exclaimed Tom, ‘We’ll give him pepper’.|
|Times 23 Aug. 4/3: Chairman.– What did they mean by giving you ‘pepper,’ as you call it? Prosecutor.– It is their slang for beating.|
|Don Juan in London II 221: The friends of the chanceried gentleman then cried ‘Enough’; but the pepperer did not seem to think so.|
|Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 1 Jan. n.p.: Dick exhibited the most punishment; that is to say, the face of Curtis had napt lots of pepper.|
|Era (London) 26 Jan. 10/4: Lane, after administering a tidy dose of pepper, gave his man the crook, and threw him a burster.|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 15 July 2/2: Ruggy napped pepper and went down.|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 Aug. 2/5: His antagonist napped pepper on the frontispiece.|
|(con. 1823) Fights for the Championship 70: Some heavy exchanges followed, in which both received pepper.|
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Apr. 4/1: Both received pepper on the nasal protruberance.|
|Fire Trumpet III 79: Now then, you six, blaze a volley into that low bush [...] That’s it boys! Hurrah! We’ll give them pepper! They won’t come to close quarters, not they!|
|(con. 1835–40) Bold Bendigo 60: Blow me dickey! He’s a-giving him pepper.|
2. serious trouble, usu. as give (someone) pepper.
|Oddities of London Life I 207: ‘I’ll appeal to the sessions,’ said the boy, ‘and, maybe, I vont give you “pepper” neither’.|
|Little World of London 3: [A] war-steamer is to be launched; she is pierced for 120 guns, and ‘Won’t she give the Rooshins pepper?’.|
|‘’Arry to the Front!’ in Punch 9 Mar. 100/2: Old Beakey’s a brick, and means pepper, — there’s hopes it’ll end in a fight.|
|Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 7 June 44/1: ‘There’s an old act of George II that will meet the case [...] We’ll give him pepper’.|
|Robbery Under Arms (1922) 113: By Jove! we shall get pepper from Sir Ferdinand when we go in.|
|Zealandia’s Guerdon 239: They got pepper for this, an’ later were sent back to Pungarehu.|
3. (Aus.) in gambling, a heavy bet against.
|Bell’s Life in Victoria (Melbourne) 30 May 2/4: [Y]ou should give Crockford ‘pepper’ [...] ‘Give, what-is-it pepper? what is that?’ ‘Oh you know, lay all you can against him’.|
4. zest, vitality; thus peppery adj [note mid-19C gambling pepper, heavy betting].
|[||Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 1 Sept. n.p.: The particulars of a most diabolical piece of villiany [sic] [...] which we shall serve up with pepper-sauce in our next].|
|My Brilliant Career 71: Gertie, the boys, and myself had to perform our morning ablutions in a leaky tin dish on a stool outside the kitchen door, which on cold frosty mornings was a pretty peppery performance.|
|Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 128: For Heaven’s sake, a little pepper today! Heads up, everybody!‘Little Sunset’ in|
|Arrowsmith 84: That damn’ orchestra playing that damn’ peppery music.|
|Ring Nov. 10: full of pepper or pep – Full of action.in|
|Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1995) 34: She is full uh pepper.|
|Ten Detective Aces Sept. 🌐 One thing you had to hand the old boy—he had pepper.‘Rock-a-Bye Booby’ in|
|Bagombo Snuff Box (1999) 96: Got a little pepper left in him, at that.‘Souvenir’ in|
|Unsinkable Molly Brown 27: I like a doxie with a bit of pepper to her.|
5. (US black/teen) an attractive young woman.
|Burn, Killer, Burn! 98: Wait until you see this pepper I’m meeting tonight. Hummmmmmmmm!|
6. (UK drugs) heroin [the powdered drug is often light bown].
|🎵 I got run a white for the kiddies, that means i got pepper and salt.‘Mostman’|
a state of being beaten up.
|Carlisle Patriot 9 Dec. 2: The hitherto genteel apperance of the swell had left him, and his mug had paid a visit to Pepper Alley.|
|‘Battle’ in Fancy I XVII 406: No one could deny that they were bang-up in Pepper-alley.|
1. a sharp, hard blow.
|Carlisle Patriot 9 Dec. 2: The pepper-box was again administered and Williams went down quite distressed.|
|Pierce Egan’s Life in London 20 Feb. 29/1: Young Gas and Don’t-know-who used the pepper-box towards each other most unmercifully.|
2. (US) an ill-tempered individual, a grumbler.
|Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 11 Oct. n.p.: That old pepper box [...] had best keep quet and not have too much to say about the Life.|
3. see also SE compounds below.
SE in slang uses
(US) a derog. term for a Mexican or Mexican-American; thus pepper-bellied adj.
|Somebody in Boots 202: It just goes to show how tricky them spiks can be. You took twenty-five lashes fer that pepper-bellied lascar.|
|in Current Sl. IV:3–4 (1970).|
|Baja Oklahoma 19: ‘[P]epperbelly food [...] Beans and cheese and cornmeal is all it is. [...] Pepperbellies eat pepperbelly food but they don’t know any better’.|
|Maledicta VII 24: By about 1920, the name pepper was fairly common [for Mexican-Americans] and soon variegated to pepper gut, pepper belly, and hot pepper belly.|
|Dict. of Invective (1991) 229: pepperbelly, a Mexican.|
|L.A. Times 24 Jan. 22/1: The nationwide reputation of Mexican food languished in the real of slur — ‘pepper belly,’ ‘taco bender’.|
|Border [ebook] [of a Guatemalan] ‘What are you doing here, pepperbelly?’.|
1. (US) the head.
|(con. 1843) White-Jacket (1990) 190: Of dark nights they had dropped shot down the hatchways, destined ‘to damage his pepper-box’, as they phrased it.|
2. a pistol.
|Shorty McCabe 57: One big duffer, with rings in his ears and a fine assortment of second-hand pepper-boxes in his sash.|
3. see also sl. compounds above.
1. the head.
|Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 477: Down he tumbl’d plump, / By which unfortunate disaster, / He so much bruised his pepper-castor.|
2. (US) a revolver.
|in Century Illus. Mthly Mag. (1890) 39 190: Badger and I would trudge to our room arm in arm, carrying our money in a shot-bag between us, and each armed with a Colt’s patent ‘pepper-caster’ .|
(W.I.) an irascible, quick-tempered person.
|cited in Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).|
(US) a show-off.
|‘Pretty Boy’ in Tell Them Nothing (1956) 123: ‘If it wasn’t for the women [...] I wouldn’t have got that poke,’ I said. ‘Yeah, they’re all pepperheads.’.|
(UK juv.) to lose one’s temper, to become emotional.
|Luckiest Girl in School 9: ‘Indeed I shan’t!’ flared Winona indignantly [...] ‘That’s right! Upset the pepper-pot! I was only trying to comfort you!’ teased Percy.|