Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wolf n.

1. a male overtly pursuing women for sex; also attrib.; thus wolfy adj.

[Sir W. Knollys in Lady Newdigate-Newdegate Gossip from a Muniment Room (1897) 9: I will no way ffayle to [...] deffend the innocent lamb from the wolvyshe crueltye & fox-like subteltye of the tame bests of thys place].
[US] in H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 421: The Reverend Cotton Mather meanwhile, used the term in its modern lecherous sense in 1721, describing an Anglican clergyman, James McSparran, as a ‘grevious wolf.’.
[US]J.C. Neal Charcoal Sketches (1865) 35: Dabbs was decidedly out of sorts — perhaps beery, as well as wolfy.
[UK]Thackeray Vanity Fair 314: ‘Rawdon,’ said Becky [...] ‘I must have a sheep-dog [...] I mean a moral shepherd’s dog [...] A dog to keep the wolves off me.’.
[Aus]M. Clarke Term of His Natural Life (1897) 214: ‘Fast’ society, where animals turn into birds, where a wolf becomes a rook, and a lamb a pigeon.
B.L. Quinn Substitution for Marriage 12: To prevent heretics from discovering, if possible, the rottenness prevailing among them, from the lowest in the [clerical] office to the highest old grey-headed wolf in the fold [...] the best, safest, and most expedient plans were thought out and adopted for the enslavement of women, by making them ‘Blessed Creatures,’ or consecrated prostitutes.
[US]J. Washburn Und. Sewer 129: The baneful influence of the wolf who beguiled and dazzled her by wild romances.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 203: He is a prize Bunk, a two-handed Grafter, a Short-Change Artist and a Broadway Wolf.
[US]C. McKay Home to Harlem 88: ‘Black woman riding her nigger. Great life, boh!’ [...] ‘Ain’t it better than being a wolf?’.
[US]V.F. Nelson Prison Days and Nights 98: Among these were numerous degenerates (or ‘wolves,’ as they are called).
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 265: Who’d want to leave Olivia De Havilland to all those Washington wolves?
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 136: It’d be safe enough with the door open and her dressed up like a sore thumb; even an old wolf like Alfalfa would hesitate before he ruined a frock like this.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society 101: A young dancer, married to a girl who had been in the same profession and who was now the mother of his two children, told me: ‘It wasn’t my wife who had to keep off the wolves, it was me.’.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 114: Dad was a harmless wolf who loved to whistle at passing girls, but it never went beyond that.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 79: A customer pulled in, a good-looking woman in a convertible. He forgot all about me and strode over to the pumps, his face contorted into a wolf grin.
[US]J. Ridley Conversation with the Mann 83: The wolves were constantly circling, eager to get a little play.

2. (US) an obsessive, one who is very keen.

[US]Van Loan ‘Scrap Iron’ in Taking the Count 232: He was always a wolf for the coin.

3. (US Und.) a tramp who rides on passenger trains by virtue of strength rather than cunning.

[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 31: Ramblers are further subdivided into two classes: [...] ‘Wolves’ [are] tramps who depend on brute strength to accomplish their ends.

4. (US gay) a predatory male or female homosexual; esp. in context of prison.

[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 32/2: WOLF. Boy-seducer.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 50: At that place [i.e. a prison] I got to be an experienced wolf. I knew more about sodomy than old boy Oscar Wilde.
[US]J. Fishman Sex in Prison 59: They are of the passive type, known variously as ‘punks,’ ‘girls,’ ‘fags,’ ‘pansies,’ or ‘fairies,’ as distinguished from their inmates who take advantage of their favors, that is the active participants. These are known in prison slang as ‘top men’ or ‘wolves.’.
[US]L.L. Stanley Men at Their Worst 187: One of our greatest problems in prison is that of keeping the ‘fish’ from the ‘wolves,’ or the young prisoners from the influence of the hardened criminals.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 99: The perennial bachelor [...] gained a certain amount of prestige in certain circles [...] from being known as a wolf, or a jocker, or a Turk.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 264: A baby-faced, small-framed, good-looking kid who looked about fourteen years old, he was perfect prey for the jailhouse wolves.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 139: In prison a con looking for a sexual outlet with a sweet kid is called wolf. He needn’t be a homosexual nor necessarily is the kid [...] However for one reason or another, a marriage of convenience might take place.
[US]H. Rawson Dict. of Invective (1991) 222: The modern jocker [...] is an aggressive male homosexual or wolf.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 163: He’d been raped and beaten by a few wolves while everyone else was asleep.
[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Wolf: Predator.
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 28: Let me see if you’re a lover (been having anal sex) or a fighter (been keeping the wolves off ya!).

5. (US) an older, usu. homosexual, tramp who travels with a young boy.

[US]N. Anderson Hobo 103: The term ‘wolf’ is often used synonymously with jocker.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 161: Whenever a man travels around with a lad he is apt to be labeled a ‘jocker’ or a ‘wolf’ and the road kid is called his ‘punk,’ ‘preshun,’ or ‘lamb.’.
[UK]K. Mackenzie Living Rough 132: ‘That guy’s a wolf,’ whispered Hank, ‘and that punk that he hangs around with is a mission stiff too.’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[Can]O.D. Brooks Legs 3: I knew he was a wolf and going up the kid’s rear, and wolves are my pet hate.

6. (US) a member of a teenage gang, or ‘wolfpack’.

[US]N.Y. Times 1 May 23: Did the young wolves attack her because she is white and they are black?

7. (US Und.) a criminal who works alone [SE lone wolf].

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.

8. (W.I. Rasta) one who is not a Rastafarian but wears their hair in dreadlocks.

‘Patois Dict.’ www.dancehallareaz.com [Internet].

9. (drugs) phencyclidine [its non-recreational use as an animal tranquillizer].

[US]H. Feldman et al. Angel Dust 124: The large number of street names it has been accorded over the years: [...] wolf.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 22: Wolf — PCP.

10. (US prison) a 15-year sentence.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 217: wolf, n. – a fifteen-year sentence.

11. a lesbian.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 71: any gay woman [...] wolf.

12. a professional poker player.

[US]R. Campbell Wizard of La-La Land (1999) 2: Messina, the poker wolf [...] a man who nearly always walked away a winner.

In compounds

wolf bait (n.)

(US teen) an attractive female.

[US]Chicago Trib. Graphic Section 26 Dec. 7/1: Jive Talk [...] Smooth Girl Slick chick. Sweet stuff. Wolf bait. Queen of hearts. P-38. Able Grable. A good deal. A doll. Smooth potato. Hot gingerbread. Pretty pigeon. 20-20 little squab.
wolf-call (v.)

to whistle at a passing woman in an admiring, lustful way; also as n.

[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Wolf Call: Hi Ya Babe.
[US]Time 27 Sept. 12/1: Grins, whistles, wolf-calls [...] followed her in this exclusively male territory.
[US]Spectator 6 June 726/3: The streets are lined by groups of lounging youths watching the girls go by (but no whistles or wolf-calls).
[WI](con. 1940s) L. Bennett ‘Body Beautiful’ in Jamaica Labrish 67: Dem walk de pretty walking, while / De bwoy dem call wolf-call.
Diary diPrest 15 Aug. [Internet] didnt realize that fukking second graders were so tall these days but these kids i was sure were about my age started to wolf call me as i walked home. immature. bullish. male pigs.
wolf pack

see separate entries.

wolf’s handshake (n.)

(US gay/prison) the tweaking of a new inmate’s cheek by a veteran homosexual.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 155: He might have his cheek tweaked (blubber or wolf’s handshake) by a hopeful contact.
wolf-whistle

see separate entries.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

wolf-trap (n.) (also trap)

(US) a cheap, poss. crooked casino.

[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 366: The games [of faro] were conducted, in what were called ten per cent houses, or, as classically rendered by the masses who patronized them, ‘wolf-traps,’ or ‘dead-falls.’ [Ibid.] 373: Often while the old man would be wending his way homewards, having left his last cent in some of the ‘traps,’ he would unceasingly discourse to himself on the topic of his bad luck.
[US](con. mid-19C) H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 185: Those extraordinary gambling dens genrally known as Wolf-Traps, but sometimes as Snap Houses, Deadfalls and Ten Per Cent Houses, are said to have originated in Cincinnati about 1835.

In phrases

wolf in the breast (n.)

(UK Und.) a trick practised by strolling beggar women, who ask for alms to obtain medicine to deal with a gnawing pain in their breast.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: Wolf in the Breast. An extraordinary mode of imposition, sometimes practised in the country by strolling women, who have the knack of counterfeiting extreme pain, pretending to have a small animal called a wolf in their breasts, which is continually gnawing them.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1788].