Green’s Dictionary of Slang

white adj.

1. [late 16C–1940s] silver; usu. as white money

2. [mid-19C+] honest, upright, fair-dealing [coined without any consciously negative overtones and representing a rare (if unsurprisingly) positive racial stereotype, the term has been used in an increasingly ironic manner, esp. since 1960s].

3. [1960s] (US black) patronizing, exploitative (but not necessarily white-skinned).

4. [1970s+] (S.Afr.) cheeky, insubordinate [used of a black person ‘getting above themselves’ and thus trespassing on perceived white prerogatives].

Pertaining to silver

In compounds

white-bait (n.)

[early 19C] (UK Und.) silver.

white broth ken (n.) [SE broth + ken n.1 (1); cf. soup n. (1)]

[mid-19C] (UK/US Und.) a place where stolen silver is melted down.

white buzman (n.) [buzman under buz n.]

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a pickpocket, esp. one who steals silver, white handerchiefs.

white fish (n.)

[mid-19C] a silver dollar.

white george (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) a (silver) half-crown piece (2/6d = 12½p).

white horse (n.)

[1910s] (UK und.) silver goods.

white jack (n.)

[mid-late 19C] (UK und.) a silver watch.

white jenny (n.) [? abbr. SE engine]

[18C–19C] a watch made of foreign silver.

white lot (n.) [SE lot, an article]

[19C] a silver watch (and chain).

white money (n.) (also white cash, white coin)

1. [mid-16C–early 17C; mid-19C+] silver coins.

2. [20C+] (US) an illegal political contribution [it is seen as ‘invisible’, unlike green dollars].

3. [1940s] large banknotes [the old large ‘white’ £5 note].

white one (n.)

1. [late 19C] (Uk Und.) a silver coin.

2. [1920s] (US Und.) a diamond.

3. [1920s–40s] (US Und.) a silver watch [sense 1].

4. [1940s] (US black) a white shirt .

white prop (n.) [prop n.3 (1)]

[mid-19C] a diamond stickpin.

white slang (n.) [slang n.2 (2)]

[1910s] (US Und.) a silver watch chain.

white soup (n.) [soup n. (1)]

[late 18C–19C] (UK Und.) silver that has been melted down from the original, stolen plate.

white swelling (n.)

1. [early 19C] (UK Und.) a large quantity of silver.

2. see also SE compounds below.

white toy (n.) [toy n.1 (5)]

[mid–late 19C] a silver watch.

white ’un (n.)

[mid–late 19C] a silver watch.

white wool (n.)

1. [early 17C] (UK Und.) the silver pieces that are left with the victim of a substitution fraud.

2. [late 17C–mid-19C] silver in general.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

white... (n.)

1. see also under relevant n.

2. see also separate entries.

Pertaining to alcohol, esp. gin

In compounds

white can (n.)

1. [1990s+] (Aus.) a can of Carlton Draught or Swan Light beer.

2. [2000s] (Aus.) in Papua New Guinea, a can of South Pacific Export beer.

white coffee (n.)

[1920s] (US Und.) bootleg whisky.

white eye (n.) [its alleged effect; one’s eyes apparently roll up in their sockets, exposing the whites]

[19C–1910s] cheap, rough whisky.

white horse (n.) [its translucency and its effects]

1. [1900s–30s] (US) pure alcohol, diluted for drinking; also attrib.

2. see also drug compounds below.

white lady (n.) [SE white lady, a cocktail made of two parts of dry gin, one of orange liqueur and one of lemon juice]

1. [1930s+] (Aus.) methylated spirits.

2. see also drug compounds below.

white lightning (n.) [the effects]

1. [1920s+] (US) illicit home-brewed whisky or poteen.

2. see also drug compounds below.

white line (n.) [ety. unknown]

1. [late 19C–1920s] (US tramp) alcohol that has been diluted.

2. [1910s] a drinker.

3. [1910s–30s] (also white lime) alcohol; also attrib.

whiteliner (n.) [white line ]

[1950s] a habitual drinker of alcohol; one who deals in illicit alcohol.

white mule (n.) [it has a ‘kick like a mule’]

[late 19C–1960s] (US) homemade whisky made from grain alcohol.

white port (n.)

[mid-18C–mid-19C] (UK Und.) gin.

white satin (n.) [the term is still in use as a proprietory name for a brand of gin, Sir Robert Burnett’s White Satin Gin]

1. [mid-19C–1900s] gin, esp. as a euph. used by women.

2. see also general compounds below.

white tape (n.) (also white wool) [tape n.1 ]

[18C–mid-19C] gin or genever.

white velvet (n.)

[mid-late 19C] (UK Und.) gin.

white wine (n.) [euph.; gin was seen as a degenerate drink]

[early–mid-19C] gin.

Pertaining to drugs

In compounds

white bag (n.) [bag n.1 (6); the colour of the drug; cheaper Mexican heroin is brown]

[1970s] (US black/drugs) high-quality heroin.

white brick (n.) [brick n. (2c)]

[1980s+] (drugs) cocaine (in bulk).

white cloud (n.) [var. white ghost ]

[1980s+] (drugs) crack cocaine smoke.

white cross (n.) (drugs)

1. [1900s–20s] cocaine.

2. [1940s–50s] morphine; heroin.

3. [1970s] amphetamine pills with a white cross cut into one surface.

white devil (n.)

[2000s] (UK black) crack cocaine.

white dust (n.) [the form in which the drug is sometimes sold] [1970s] (drugs)

1. phencyclidine.

2. LSD.

white dynamite (n.) [its colour and effects]

[1990s+] (drugs) heroin.

white ghost (n.) [the white smoke it exudes]

[1980s+] (drugs) crack cocaine.

white girl (n.) [girl n.2 ]

[1970s+] (drugs) cocaine, heroin.

white goods (n.)

[1920s] (US Und.) narcotics; also attrib.

white lady (n.) [its colour, although the bulk of late-20C+ heroin is light brown; note cocaine is a ‘feminine’ drug, see girl n.2 ] [1960s+] (drugs)

1. cocaine.

2. heroin; thus white queen n., good quality heroin .

3. see also alcohol compounds above.

white lightning (n.)

1. [1970s+] (drugs, also white light) LSD.

2. see also alcohol compounds above.

white line (n.)

[1980s+] (US drugs) cocaine.

white line fever (n.) [the line n.1 (5c) of the powdered drug that is inhaled by users]

1. [1970s+] the obsessive use of cocaine.

2. see also general compounds below.

white mosquitoes (n.) [the mosquito-bite-like mark left after an injection]

[1940s–50s] cocaine or any powdered drug.

whiteout (n.)

[1980s+] (drugs) isobutyl nitrite [its effect on the brain].

white-out (n.)

[1980s+] (US drugs) a momentary loss of consciousness while taking cocaine.

white owl (n.)

[1990s+] (US black/drugs) a cigar denuded of tobacco and filled with marijuana .

white pipe (n.) [pipe n.1 (3d)]

[1990s+] (S.Afr.) a mixture of marijuana, tobacco and a crushed tablet of Mandrax (the brandname of methaqualone).

white pony (n.)

cocaine.

white powder (n.)

[1940s+] any form of narcotic or other drug that comes in the form of white powder.

white serpent (n.)

[1990s+] heroin.

white shit (n.) [shit n. (5)]

1. [1970s+] heroin.

2. [1990s+] cocaine.

white silk (n.)

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) morphine crystals.

white sugar (n.)

1. cocaine.

2. [1990s] (drugs) crack cocaine.

white widow (n.)

[1990s+] (drugs) a form of marijuana (i.e. super-compacted skunk n. (4a)) that is so dense as to exude white crystals.

General uses

In compounds

white alley (n.) [marbles imagery]

[late 19C–1930s] (US) an opportunity, one’s ‘best shot’.

white-arsed (adj.) (also white-ass) [arse n. (1)/ass n. (2)]

1. [1920s+] a general term of abuse.

2. [1990s+] (US black/campus) a derog. ref. to third-rate white American culture; used by both whites and blacks.

whitebait (n.)

[2000s] (N.Z.) a thin person.

white-bag man (n.)

[early 19C] a pickpocket.

white-belly rat (n.) [this variety of rat supposedly blows on the thing it bites to minimize the pain]

[1920s–50s] (W.I.) a hypocrite.

white cow (n.) [cow n.1 (6)] (US)

1. [1920s+] a vanilla milkshake.

2. [1940s+] a vanilla ice-cream soda.

white ewe (n.) (also ewe)

[17C–18C] (UK Und.) a young and beautiful female member of a criminal gang.

white eyes (n.) [the term paleface is generally fictional and invariably used by whites rather than the ‘Red Indians’ to whom they attribute it]

1. [20C+] (Native American) white people.

2. [1960s+] (S.Afr./US black) a white person.

white hat (n.) [white hats were worn by the heroes and black hats by the villains in the old, silent Western films]

1. [1960s+] a hero, a ‘good’ character (as opposed to a ‘bad’ one) in any fictional medium.

2. [1990s+] (US campus) a wealthy, smug, white male.

white homie (n.) [homie n.3 ]

[2000s] (N.Z.) middle-class children aping the lifestyle of working-class children.

white house (n.) [underpinned by a ref. to the White House, home of the US presidency]

[1950s–70s] (US black) the world of white society.

white lilies (n.)

[1940s] (US black) bed linen.

white line fever (n.) [the white lines that divide traffic lanes]

1. [1970s+] (US) an obsessive driver.

2. see also drug compounds above.

whiteliner (n.)

[1900s] (US) a tramp who follows the harvest but who occasionally turns to criminality.

white meat (n.)

[1990s+] (US black) the intestines and internal organs.

white mouse (n.)

1. [late 19C] a network of unoffical information; rumour and gossip.

2. [late 19C] an informer; a gossip.

3. [1900s] (Aus.) a gullible person.

white mouth (v.)

[2000s] to fellate; thus as n., fellation; thus white-mouthing n. [the white semen].

white-on-white (n.)

1. [1940s+] (US black) a white Cadillac with white interior finish and white upholstery; also as adj.; thus white-on-white-in-white, a black person who seeks the supposed status of association with white people, esp. through a white girlfriend and a white Cadillac.

2. [1950s+] a white shirt.

whiteout (n.)

[2000s] (US) a temporary loss of consciousness [as opposed to a fullscale SE blackout].

white owl (n.)

1. [1900s] (US) a chamberpot.

2. [1970s] a white penis.

white pointer (n.) [SAusE white pointer shark, aka ‘Great White Shark’]

[1990s+] (Aus.) a highway patrolman.

white rat (n.)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) an albino prisoner.

white Russian (n.) [the similarity of white semen to the colour of a white Russian cocktail]

[1960s+] (gay) the oral exchange of semen.

white satin (n.) [play on black velvet under black adj.]

1. [1950s] (Aus.) a white woman, considered sexually.

2. see also alcohol compounds above.

white serjeant (n.)

[late 18C–19C] a wife who dominates her husband.

white shirt (n.)

[1950s+] (UK/US) a senior police or prison officer, who (in UK) wears a white shirt rather than the blue of the junior ranks.

white sneaker set (n.)

[1960s] (US gay) homosexual society.

white-staff (n.) [SE white staff, ‘a white rod or wand carried as a symbol of office by certain officials, e.g. the steward of the king’s household and the lord high treasurer’ OED]

[mid-18C] the penis.

white sugar (n.)

[1980s] (US) a white (usu. female) sadomasochist.

white swallow (n.)

[1990s+] (US, mainly west coast) semen, usu. in the context of fellatio.

white swelling (n.)

1. [late 18C–mid-19C] pregnancy; a pregnant woman.

2. [mid–late 19C] a suet dumpling.

3. see also silver compounds above.

white top (n.)

[1990s+] (US campus) an old (white-haired) person; also as adj.

whitewall (n.) (also white sidewall)

[1970s+] (orig. US milit.) a very severe ‘short back and sides’ haircut, orig. in the US Marines; also as adj.

white wings (n.)

[late 19C] (US short order) eggs.

In phrases

white about/around the gills (adj.)

see under gills n.1

white it out (v.) [? one SE whites out, i.e. erases, that period of one’s life]

[late 19C–1950s] (Aus.) to serve a jail sentence.