Green’s Dictionary of Slang

dead adj.

1. of a bottle, finished, empty.

[UK]Swift Polite Conversation 62: I beg your Ladyship’s Pardon; but this Small-Beer is dead.
[US](con. WWI) H.F. Cruikshank ‘So This Is Flanders!’ Battle Stories July [Internet] The lieutenant tips up the little flask again, an’ then I had to brighten up for the flask was soon dead.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 236: An M.T. is an empty bottle, one bearing Moll Thompson’s mark, i.e. M.T., a corpse, dummy, marine-officer, marine, dead-marine or marine recruit, dead recruit, dead ’un.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.

2. of people, forgotten; of things, ideas, unfashionable, out of style.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 244/2: To use his own words – ‘everything has but a time,’ the country got ‘dead’ to him, and people got ‘fly’ to the ‘shallow brigade;’ so Peter came up to London.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 108: Looking about for something which would give the newspaper, which was a ‘dead one,’ a new lease of life.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 38: The saloons are far from being dead.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 4: ‘Crooner Jimson,’ ‘Mike and Red,’ the upstate trio whose never dead.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2 47: That’s dead, adj. Irrelevant.
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 47: shit’s dead, that [...] I don’t gang bang any more, that shit’s dead.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 170: Guys in dead shoes and fifty-pence suits stood around trying to predict the future.
[UK]Guardian G2 23 Sept. 5: But the era of the supermodel is totally dead. It’s so over.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 23 Jan. 3: Trainers are no way dead.

3. of a house or place, uninhabited, empty, deserted.

[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 171: There warn’t nobody stirring; streets empty, and perfectly dead and still, like Sunday.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 151: He tramped one quiet road after another on the look out for a dead ’un — a house furnished but untenanted.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 6 July 626: I guess it’s a dead town by now.
[US] in A. Cornebise Amaroc News (1981) 19 Oct. 116: The ‘Y’ cafeteria was a dead place now.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Who Killed Bob Teal?’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 273: The joint’s dead.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 95: ‘Is it a dead gaff?’ ‘Sure there ain’t a soul there.’.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 32: You pick a dead gaff – a house you know or think is empty – sound the drum by knocking at the front door to make sure.
[UK]R. Hauser Homosexual Society 74: Whenever I go home to the dead street my family has always lived in, I could scream.

4. (US tramp) reformed.

[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 387: ‘Dead’ means that he has left the fraternity and is trying to live respectably. [...] ‘I’ve been dead now about ten years.’ he said.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 324: There’s many a ‘dead’ grafter who’s down and out, who [...] can no longer support himself.
[US]Marion (OH) Daily Star 25 Mar. 6/3: A ‘dead criminal’ is one who has become discouraged, reformed, or given up grafting.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 302: Dead—reformed. A ‘dead’ criminal is said to have ‘squared it’; he has quit the road or the game through discouragement or a kind of reformation.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 60: Dead. – [...] Reformed. A crook or tramp who has forsaken the old ways will state he is ‘dead,’ meaning, perhaps, that he has had a new birth in righteousness, and at any rate meaning most decidedly that his past is buried, dead.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

5. having no knowledge.

[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 15: ‘First I’ve heard of it, Chief. I don’t know nothin’.’ ‘It’s up to you, McKlowd.’ ‘I’m dead about it too, Chief. [...]’ ‘How about you, Billy?’ ‘Dead too.’.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 60: DEAD. – Out of touch with events and persons in the underworld or on the road ; the opposite of ‘wise.’.

6. of a place, esp. a club, a party, boring, unexciting.

[US]Dos Passos Three Soldiers 326: Europe’s dead and stinkin’, Yank.
[US]C.G. Finney Circus of Dr Lao 87: Damn place was dead when I got here, an’ it’s been getting deader.
[US]H.S. Thompson in Proud Highway (1997) 303: Folk City was so dead.
[US] M. Scorsese Mean Streets [film script] 20: This place is dead.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Diamonds are for Heather’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] It’s stone-dead in here innit eh?
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 22: Fairmount [i.e. a drug selling ‘corner’] had been dead most of the last year, when Stashfinder and the other knockers hit it hard, chasing the action back up to Mount and Fayette.
[UK]Observer 9 Jan. 18: The old Britain is dead but nothing is yet taking its place.
[US]C. Eble UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2016 3: DEAD — quiet, unexciting: ‘That party was dead’ .

7. finished, lost, spec. arrested, captured.

[US]E. De Roo Go, Man, Go! 14: You don’t know? Man, you’re dead.
[US]I. Freeman Out of the Burning (1961) 15: She’d put a red flower in her hair, and roll her big eyes, and talk in that croonin voice. Man, I was dead!
[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 24: This grub ratted on the kid; in my book he’s dead.
[US]D. Pendleton Executioner (1973) 101: These things are too damn hard to come by. I don’t leave them laying around in a dead drop.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 1: The heat comes, I’m dead anyway.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 12: One day headmaster strolls in when I’m giving head / and says Forsyth / you’re dead.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 25 Sept. 1: Michael’s gonna shut him up. After this fight, Eubank is dead, man. Finished.
[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Dead: (1) No, as in ‘That’s dead.’.
[UK]Guardian 15 Dec. 51/4: ‘You’re dead, pal. That’s plumb: tell your story walkin’, mate’.

8. (US black) penniless.

[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 304: I’m dead, brother [...] I need a dime to get some Lipton.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 164: The trouble is I’m dead [...] the trouble is it must have fallen out me pocket.

9. (US campus) facing trouble.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 3: dead [...] in serious trouble: ‘I can’t believe I forgot about this test – I’m dead.’.

10. (US) on bad = good pattern, first-rate, excellent.

‘10 Millenial Words’ in femalenetwork.com 23 May [Internet] Dead Definition: noun. When one dies after seeing something that slays (or really looks good); can also be used to refer to oneself when he/she is in big trouble or stress. How to use it: ‘I have never seen her in sleek hair! So dead!’.

In phrases

dead hook (v.)

(UK Und.) to kill, to hang.

H. Lemoine ‘Education’ in Attic Misc. 117: The dolman sounding, while the sheriff's nod, / Prepare the snitcher to dead hook the whack.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ (Egan Boxiana III) 622: The dolman sounding, while the sheriff’s nod / Prepare the switcher to dead book the whack.
have someone/something dead (v.) [predates sense 7 above; var. on knock cold under knock v.]

(Aus./US) to have at one’s mercy; to dominate completely, to astound.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Oct. 12/4: When the P.D. [corset] knocks at the door of even the least susceptible man’s heart he surrenders his discretion. He is lost. The girl has ‘got him dead.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Dec. 25/2: Nobody gave the newcomer a ‘hand’ on her first appearance, but at the end of the act she’d ‘got ’em dead,’ and was re-called several times.
[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 104: ‘I’ve got everything dead.’ ‘I see you have.’ ‘Then it’s for you to lay in for all the favors you can get.’.

SE, meaning not alive, in slang uses

In compounds

dead alive (adj.) (also dead and alive)

1. stupid, dull-witted.

[UK]Berks. Chron. 27 June 2/2: The Brunswickers were asleep, but not dead-alive, although in a state of somnolency.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 22 June 1/2: The Dead-Alive Government [...] as a body, a cabinet, a government [...] they are defunct, insensate, moribund, dead, to all intents and purposes.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

2. of a person, miserable, down in the mouth; of a place, depressed, depressing.

[Aus]Examiner 10 Apr. 7/2: Miss Graddon’s acting was improved, even into animation, in the dead-alive scene.
[UK]Morn. Chron. 17 Mar. 1/5: Lawrence and Jackson gone, Stothard and Smike and poor Newton dead-alive, and Leslie emigrated.
[Ire]Cork Examiner 4 Sept. 4/5: Proper houses or cottages for the peasant labourers of Ireland, instead of damp styes [...] in which these dead-alive unfortunates are forced to dwell.
[US]Bartlett Dict. Americanisms 109: dead-alive. Dull, inactive, moping.—Barnes’s Dorset Gloss. We often hear the expression, ‘He is a dead-alive sort of a man’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]H.D. Traill in Eng. Illus. Mag. I, 541: The city has greatly revived of late... it has ceased to belong to the category of the dead-alive, and has entered that of the lively [F&H].
[US]Coconino Sun (Flagstaff, AZ) 19 Nov. 3/2: My friend, from the deadalive town of Nogood / If you would keep far away.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 16: It’s the dead-and-alivest hole I ever seen.
[UK]E. Pugh Harry The Cockney 250: Of all the dead-and-alive holes this is one.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Living (1978) 251: You’re a young man and this place will seem to you a dead alive sort of hole.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 222–3: She suddenly took to writing letters even more discouraging than those of Oscar, saying that Capricornia was a dead-and-alive hole, that the climate was hellish.
[UK]J. Symons Man Called Jones (1949) 66: It’s been a dead-and-alive morning – until you gentlemen came.
[UK](con. c.1918) D. Holman-Hunt My Grandmothers and I (1987) 18: It’s a dead-alive place in the winter.
[UK]D. Davin Breathing Spaces 46: You felt the place wasn’t such a dead-alive hole, after all.
dead ass

see separate entries.

dead bird (n.) [like the bird, it cannot ‘move’; note Stephens & O’Brien, Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. (ms.; 1900–10): ‘derived from pigeon shooting [...] the prowess of any champion shot that “anything he aims at is a ‘dead bird’”.’]

1. (Aus.) a certain bet, a sure thing.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 20 July 3/3: Has he never put a caser on a dead bird for himself?
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 July 15/1: All the while, however, bookmaker Bob Phillips was making a volume for the despised gelding and letting his most intimate friends know that he had the proverbial dead-bird up his inevitable sleeve.
[Aus]Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld) 6 Feb. 30/4: I never let my moke go unless I’ve got a pretty sure thing on [...] I never let him race unles he’s a dead bird.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 59: DEAD BIRD: a certainty, i.e. a horse to win. [...] General use: anything absolutely certain to result or occur.
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Slingin’ Tips’ in Jarrahland Jingles 39: Ev’ry one a real dead-bird.
[Aus]L. Esson Sacred Place in Three Short Plays 43: Reynolds gave me a tip – a deadbird.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 10: bird: A certainty. Especially, ‘make a dead bird of something.’.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 47: One of these days we’d strike a race with most of ’em in it and then we’d be betting on a dead bird.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 232/1: dead bird – an absolute certainty.
[Aus] (ref. to 1890s) ‘Gloss. of Larrikin Terms’ in J. Murray Larrikins 202: dead bird: a horse certain to win.
[Aus]Ozwords Oct. [Internet] dead bird (often shortened to bird): an absolute certainty to win. This term was established in Australian horseracing circles by the 1880s, a transferred use from pigeon shooting where a pigeon about to be released and shot by a marksman was regarded as being as good as dead.
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 6: A ‘good thing’ might also have been referred to as a ‘sure thing,’ or a ‘certain cop,’ or a ‘sure cop,’ or a ‘dead bird’ or a ‘dead cert’.

2. (US) a hopeless case or situation.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 73: If you ain’t got nobody to go to the front for you it’s a dead bird.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Aug. 44/1: I had to make them drunk to get across, and, by Heavens, I’m nearly a dead bird myself.
dead card (n.) [SE dead card, a card that has been discarded in a game and is no longer to be used by the players]

1. (US) something that is unlucky, unfashionable or unpopular.

[US]Kansas City Jrnl (MO) 28 Mar. 3/2: He is firmly convinced that he must serve his sentence of ten years [...] ‘I’m on a dead card.’ ‘What! Have you given up hope?’ ‘Yes, I’m on a dead card an’ it’s too late...’.
[US]A.H. Lewis Sandburrs 60: One of d’ city’s jackleg sawbones is there, mendin’ Emmer wit bandages. But he says himself he’s on a dead card, an’ that Emmer’s going to die.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 218: Nix! You got your money on a dead card. We follow the horses.
[US]Eve. Bull. (Honolulu) 16 Sept. 10/4: One more fiasco like this and wrestling is a dead card in Chicago.

2. used of an individual, one who is characterless, dour.

[US]Wash. Times (DC) 14 Nov. 19/1: They did not like to see one of their own Gang put out in front to get the Gaff [...] They preferred that it should be some Dead Card who wore Congress Gaiters and Throat Warmers.
dead cargo (n.)

(UK Und.) the proceeds of a robbery that have turned out to be less valuable than hoped.

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: dead Cargo a Term also used by Rogues, when they are disappointed in the Value of their Booty.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 314/1: dead cargo, [...] butin qui ne répond pas à l’attente des voleurs.
dead chicken (n.)

(US) a doomed person, a lost soul.

Mila De La Hunt ‘The Rocking Chair’ on Mobius [Internet] Julian calls me every day but I don’t come to the phone. ‘The first time I see him, he’s a dead chicken,’ I say to my husband.
dead-drop area (n.)

(UK Black / gang) an area that is invisible to CCTV cameras.

[UK]Guardian G2 1 Sept. 25/2: dead-drop area — no CCTV.
dead duck (n.)

see separate entry.

dead-end street (n.) [synon. for cul-de-sac; there is in dead an extra implication of passivity on the woman’s part]

the vagina.

[US]Maledicta IV:2 (Winter) 185: The anatomical relationship of the bower of bliss and its main channel is indicated in such phrases as […] hoop, leading article, dead end street and house under the hill.
[UK]Solar Project ‘Zeitgest’ [lyrics] on ...in Time [album] You sit on my face, I dine at your Y / Blow job, gob job, sixty-eight / You feed your face and eat my meat / My fist into your Dead End Street.
deadeye

see separate entries.

dead fall (n.) [the drunks ‘fall down dead’ + ? pun on SE deadfall, a trap for large game]

1. a cheap, poss. corrupt 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’.
[US]Dly Globe (St Paul, MN) 29 Oct. 1/4: Almost unconscious from the effects of his frequent libations he was steered by his companions to a ‘dead-fall’ gambling house.
[US]Chariton Courier (Keytesville, MO) 1 Jan. 1/6: Had he been back by the citizens and public sentiment [...] the gamlbing dead fall would not exist as a menace.
[US]A.H. Lewis Wolfville 12: I now rises to ask what for a limit do you put on this deadfall anyhow?
[US](con. c.1835–55) H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 185: Those extraordinary gambling dens generally known as Wolf-Traps, but sometimes as Snap Houses, Deadfalls and Ten Per Cent Houses, are said to have originated in Cincinnati about 1835.

2. (US) a rough saloon.

A. Wetmore Gazetteer Missouri 337: At a small pot-house grocery or dead-fall of the village [...] there was a lingerer .
[US]N.O. Weekly Delta 23 Nov. p.1 in A.P. Hudson Humor of the Old Deep South (1936) n.p.: We adjourned over to the nearest dead-fall, tuck a whoppin’ horn of Ball Face.
[US]W. Hilleary diary 22 Mar. in A Webfoot Volunteer (1965) 170: The lovers of ‘red eye’ were loth to leave the ‘dead falls’.
Affairs in Alabama II 841: A ‘Dead-fall’ is simply a small shop or store where for a few pounds of stolen cotton or a measure of corn, white thieves give whiskey to black ones .
[US]Sacramento Dly Record-Union (CA) 18 Aug. 8/2: Effect of the Licence Law in Ohio [...] Factory Hill, Commercial Street and the Hay Markket [...] still flourish [...] and show up precisely the same list of dead-falls.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 10 July 3/4: One day he went over to the Dead Fall saloon [...] Them folks at the Dead Fall [...] wanted to make trouble.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 375: Our party lose over a half-million in that Barclay Street deadfall during the past year.
[US]Hawaiian Gaz. (Honolulu) 23 Jan. 4/1: The Country Dead-Fall. The saloon has no place in the country districts, and the sooner all such are abolished, the better.
[US](con. 1870s–80s) H. Asbury Barbary Coast (2002) 103: A solid mass of dance-halls, melodeons, cheap groggeries, wine and beer dens, which were popularly known as deadfalls.
[US] (ref. to 1857) H. Asbury Gangs of Chicago (2002) 51: The little nest of gamblers dominated by the patrician John Sears had become, in 1857, a large and discordant colony of deadfalls and skinning joints.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 4 Oct. [synd. col.] Keenan Wynn [...] supported by a horde from the 42nd Street deadfalls, gave [the show] plenty of life.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 230: Milwaukee is loaded with dead-falls, joints, clip-dives and carnival midway attractions, cheap, corny and crummy.
[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 141: She must have been old enough to hang around the local deadfalls.
[US]E. Thompson Garden of Sand (1981) 127: It was [...] tacked onto the rear of an ordinary old nigger whorehouse on an unpaved deadfall called Moseley.
[US]W. Blevins Dict. of the Amer. West : deadfall A low-class den of drink and gambling.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.
dead fish (n.)

(US) an impoverished individual; one who has lost all their money gambling.

T.A. Dorgan Judge Rummy’s Court 25 Feb. [synd. strip cartoon] Hey Judge — let’s have a couple of bucks till Saa’dy night, will ya? Ima D.F. (dead fish).
dead game (adj.)

(US campus) dissolute, ostentatious; usu. as dead-game sport.

[US]J.E. Badger Joaquin, the Terrible 31/2: Gentleman Dave, the Dead Game Sport.
[US]Courier (Lincoln, NE) 19 Jan. 4/2: My friends would be greatly surprised if they knew that I had married a dead game sport.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 302: In your dead-game sporting days did you ever, by chance, paint your nicotine fingers with iodine?
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 28 Mar. 12/2: Oh the pledges we tmake and the vows we take / On the morning after! / [...] / As dead-game sports we’re as mud in the rain / On the morning after.
[US]Monroe City Democrat (MO) 1 Nov. 7/2: He endeavoured to demonstrate to the ‘boys’ that he was a dead game sport [...] he set up drinks with lavish generosity.
Clio Messenger (MI) 15 Jan. 7/1: He was a dead game gambler, an’ played fer big stakes.
[US]Hal Boyle Associated Press 9 Aug. n.p.: He had [...] the nonchalant air of a dead-game guy ready for any adventure [W&F].
deadhead

see separate entries.

dead heat (n.) [pun on SE (neck)tie/tie (dead heat or draw)]

(Aus.) a necktie.

[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 10: The group were all well dressed and most of them were wearing whistle and flutes and dead-heats around their Gregory Pecks.
dead horse (n.)

see separate entries.

dead house (n.)

1. (Aus.) a room in an outback public house set aside for those who are incapably drunk.

[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 15 June n.p.: At the bush public houses any hole is supposed to be good enough for them [i.e. drunks] to sleep in [...] the dormitory provided [...] going by the name of ‘the Lushington crib’ or ‘the dead house’.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 352: He was snoring in a back room, like a man in the deadhouse of a bush shanty.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I 214: I remember coming to myself in the dead-house of a bush inn once.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Dec. 14/3: The shanty-keeper didn’t know that Andy had been seasoned by his between-time short ‘drunks,’ and when he thought his victim had become stupid enough, he turned him into the ‘dead-house’ at the rear and piled round him a host of empty bottles.
[Aus]Duke Tritton’s Letter n.p.: I rambled over to the Rubbity Dub and had a pint of Oh My Dear. In fact I had several and finished up in the dead house, broke to the wide.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Oct. 44/1: The drunks’ bottle contained mostly water; occasionally it was ‘dosed’ and put the recipient to sleep, when he could be conveniently stowed away in the dead-house – minus his cheque. [...] When he came to his senses he found a horrifying array of dead marines strewn about him.
[Aus] in A. Marshall These Are My People (1957) 143: I always wake up in the dead house or in a camp fire.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 59: dead house A hotel shed where drunks were dumped. ANZ.

2. (US tramp) a saloon that does not offer a free lunch.

[US]Sun (NY) sec. B 11 Sept. 12/5: The tramp has created a unique classification of saloons he frequents [...] either a ‘dead house’ or a ‘free’. The dead houses’ are saloons selling five-cent whiskey and having no free lunch. The frees are saloons selling ten-cent whiskey and providing a free lunch.

3. (US) a particularly unappealing bar or saloon.

[US]Chicago Trib. 14 July 2/5: [headline] War on the cheap drink saloons [...] The initial step against the ‘dead houses’ was taken last Saturday.
[US]H. Leverage ‘Dict. Und.’ in Flynn’s mag. cited in Partridge DU (1949).

4. (US) a prison.

[US]N. Algren ‘No More Christmases’ in Entrapment (2009) 262: Slip the cuffs on! Bust the Big Man! Put me in the deadhouse, Oliver!
dead Indian (n.) [the negative stereotype of allegedly alcoholic Native Americans]

(US) an empty bottle.

[US]A. Borowik Lions, Three: Christians, Nothing 42: It’s looking for old wine in new bottles which is a waste of time and if there are a lot of bottles it can get pretty dull [...] hence the expression ‘dead Indians’ [HDAS].
dead knowledge (n.)

(Aus.) deceit, cunning; thus dead-knowledge man, a cunning or deceitful man.

[Aus]Shearer (Sydney) 2 Dec. 4/5: They have grown hoary in beggary, falsehood, cunning, generalship, servility, ‘dead knowledge’ and debauchery, and are a curse and a menace about stations [AND].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 Jan. 14/2: An old swaggie – a genuine ‘dead-knowledge man’ – on the Darling told me how some years previously he had wanted a letter written, and [...] determined to master the art.
dead leg (n.)

a down-and-out, a failure.

[UK](con. 1961) J. Rosenthal Spend, Spend, Spend Scene 19: You’ll get your beer and Woodbines, you bloody deadleg! I won’t see you short!
deadlights (n.) [var. on daylights n. (1)]

the eyes.

[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 170: His dead lights are up, and skylights clos’d.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 159: I bunged up both eyes for him, and put in the dead lights in two tu’s.
[UK]E. Howard Jack Ashore I 304: Then down with your deadlights, show your papers, whence from, where bound to?
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Innocents at Home 385: She was always dropping it [i.e. a glass eye] out and turning up her old dead-light on the company empty.
[UK]Henley & Stevenson Admiral Guinea I vi: O, I can hear a flea jump! But it’s here where I miss my deadlights.
Richmond Time Dispatch (VA) 2 May 51/3: [cartoon caption' Ding Bust Your Deadlights!
[US]Garland City Globe (UT) 21 Nov. 6/2: Blawst my deadlights, an’ this ’ere (pointing to me) is what I’m to work with.
Amarillo Dly News (TX) 16 Oct. 24/1: [cartoon caption] If it Ain’t Kids It’s Dogs Wots Gotta Souse Me Deadlights.
deadlock/locker

see separate entries.

deadlurk/lurker

see separate entries.

dead man

see separate entry.

dead marine (n.) (also marine, marine officer, marine recruit) [orig. naut. jargon, now mainly Aus. use; Fraser & Gibbons, Soldier & Sailor Words & Phrases (1925): ‘William IV., when Duke of Clarence and Lord High Admiral, at an official dinner, is related to have said to a waiter, pointing to some empty bottles, “Take away those marines!” An elderly major of Marines present rose and said: “May I respectfully ask why your Royal Highness applies the name of the corps to which I have the honour to belong to an empty bottle?” The Duke, with the unfailing tact of his family, saved the situation. “I call them marines because they are good fellows who have done their duty and are ready to do it again!”’]

an empty bottle (cit. 1903 refers to a cask).

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Marine officer, an empty bottle, (sea wit) marine officers being held useless by the seamen.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) [as cit. 1785].
[UK]J. Davis Post Captain (1813) 26: You steward! don’t you see this bottle is a marine.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Northampton Mercury 27 June 2/2: He piped all hands and made them finish the bottle, declaring that if he rose again he would find nothing but a dead marine.
E.J. Trelawny Adventures Younger Son (1835) 23: To see their case-bottles properly filled, no marines among them,with plenty of grog in their lockers .
[UK]Navy at Home II 227: ‘Boy! take these here marine officers off the table,’ pushing the empty bottles to one side.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 172: MARINE, or marine recruit, an empty bottle.
G.F. Berkeley My Life etc. II 302: Our host did wake, but seeing a bottle with wine in it, closed his eyes, and Loraine soon made another marine .
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1860].
J.B. Stephen ‘Drought and Doctrine’ in Sladen Aus. Ballads (1888) 240: We filled a dead marine, Sir, at the family watering-hole.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Darling River’ in Roderick (1972) 87: When the louth chaps see an unbroken procession of dead marines for three or four days they know that Bourke’s drunk.
[Aus]Gadfly (Adelaide) 18 July 18/2: On Saturday night, June 30, the local bung turned on the beer-tap for the last time, and the town on Sunday morning was a dead marines’ cemetery.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 16 Sept. 4/7: I’m pinched by a burly pea jist as I’m gettin’ away with a bag of marines from a woodshed.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Oct. 44/1: When he came to his senses he found a horrifying array of dead marines strewn about him.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 73: Dead marine: An empty bottle.
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 4 Feb. 1/1: Bottle-O! Collector and Marine Dealers.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 7 July 11: Spare me days! You could have knocked me down with a wiff out of a dead marine.
[UK]‘William Juniper’ True Drunkard’s Delight 236: An M.T. is an empty bottle, one bearing Moll Thompson’s mark, i.e. M.T., a corpse, dummy, marine-officer, marine, dead-marine or marine recruit, dead recruit, dead ’un.
[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 29 June 9/2: If the food is all gone, or there’s not a drop in the bottle, the Australian will tell you there’s ‘not a skerek left.’ And the empty bottle’s a ‘dead marine’.
[Aus]R. Park Poor Man’s Orange 152: So they drank, and the dead marines mounted up in the corner.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[Aus]D. O’Grady A Bottle of Sandwiches 56: I’m dry as last week’s dead marines.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 18: Dead marine: An empty beer bottle, but definitely not an empty aluminium beer can.
deadmeat (n.)

see separate entry.

In compounds

dead neck (n.) [i.e. one who is dead from the neck up]

a very stupid person.

[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 125: They were awake and lively; they weren’t deadnecks.
[US]H.C. Woodbridge ‘Miscellany’ in AS XXXVI:3 227: deadneck, n. Dope, an individual who lacks pep or adventurousness.
dead one (n.)

see separate entry.

deadpan

see separate entries.

dead pecker (n.) [pecker n.2 (2)]

(US) an impotent old man.

[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 195: Its great to be here among the Dead Pecker Club again, listening to all the dead peckers mouth off like they still had a little vinegar left in them.
deadpicker (n.)

1. (US tramp) one who robs passed-out drunks.

[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 203: Dead picker – A yegg who robs a drunk or dead one.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 22: You crumb-elbowed dead-picker.
[US]N. Algren ‘Watch Out for Daddy’ in Entrapment (2009) 142: All she is now is a deadpicker and Enright gets half of what she steals.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 66: dead picker A prostitute who robs drunken patrons; a robber of intoxicated persons.

2. (US) a general term of abuse; thus adj. deadpicking.

[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 92: That crummy deadpicker left the downstairs door open.
[US]N. Algren ‘No More Christmases’ in Entrapment (2009) 262: You scabby dead-picking amateur you.
dead pigeon (n.)

1. (US) a guaranteed and absolute failure, often in the context of a forthcoming election.

[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 161: It looked as if Eb would have to be marked up as a Dead Pigeon.
[US]B. Schulberg What Makes Sammy Run? (1992) 98: All I know is either you plunk for Merriam around here or you’re a dead pigeon.
[US]M. Shulman Many Loves of Dobie Gillis 77: Unless somebody would start this mob to the sugar bowl, I was a dead pigeon.

2. one who is doomed.

[US]V. Lindsay Golden Whales of Calif. 92: Your Daniel is a dead little pigeon / He’s a good hard worker, but he talks religion.
I. Wolfert Battle for the Solomons 3: A fellow watching muzzle-flashes in the distance and waiting for the roar and smack to tell him whether he’s a dead pigeon.
[US]G. Marx Groucho Letters 59: The male is a dead pigeon.
R. Blesh Keaton 228: Once out the door unarmed and he’s a dead pigeon.
L. Goran She Loved Me Once 131: But if I catch that little bastard he’s a dead pigeon.
A. Herman Joseph McCarthy 299: ‘He’s a dead pigeon.’ In fact, McCarthy’s political demise was not inevitable.

3. one who is unconscious.

[US]B. Appel Plunder (2005) 220: A few more drinks and Tommy would be a dead pigeon.
dead president (n.) (also dead man, dead one, president) [the pictures of US presidents that are printed on the various denominations]

(US) a $1 bill; thus in pl. money.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 16: The heavy hen was [...] getting ready to lay down a few dead ones on this skull. [Ibid.] 22: My dead Presidents piled most high.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 6: Understand, I don’t want to knee pad but the score is piling up and its relief I crave. You must believe I could use some extra presidents.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 119: For your information, there’s about two hundred dead men in that roll.
[US]Little Walter [song title] ‘Dead Presidents’.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 87: This bitch come over talkin’ about she gon’ choose me. I say, ‘Bitch, what about those dead Presidents?’ She say ‘I got the money, Daddy, I got the money.’.
[US]Eric B & Rakim ‘Paid in Full’ [lyrics] How could I get some dead presidents?
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 13: Maurice [...] always kicked the same lousy fifty dead presidents across the bar at closing.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 154: We Words (My Favorite Things) [...] Funds. Lucci. Cheddar. Duckets. Benjamins. Dead Presidents.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 318: Davey goes like he’ll put up half the dead presidents for the hit.
dead pudding (n.)

(US campus) something easy.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 19: dead pudding. Something easy.
dead rabbit (n.)

1. (US) a street thug, a hoodlum [the New York City street gang, known as the Dead Rabbits, who would parade brandishing such a corpse, the symbol of their defeated rivals, as their standard].

[US]N.Y. Daily Trib. 14 Sept. 7/2: Juvenile Rioters. -- Two gangs of juvenile rowdies, varying in ages from 8 to 14 years, one boasting in the title of Dead Rabbits, and the other that of the Bowery Boys. . .
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 72: rabbit A rowdy. ‘Dead rabbit,’ a very athletic rowdy fellow.
[UK]G.A. Sala My Diary in America II 348: As Mayor of New York he rendered excellent service [...] making his municipality a terror to the ‘shoulder-hitters,’ ‘plug-uglies,’ and ‘dead rabbits’.
[US]Appleton’s Journal (N.Y.) 19 Feb. 212/1: They are far more brutal than the peasantry from whom they descend, and they are much banded together in associations, such as ‘Dead-Rabbit,’ [and] ‘Plug-ugly’.
[US]Congressional Record 12 Apr. 2327/1: We should protect the ballot-box from violence [...] from the ‘short boys’ and ‘dead rabbits,’ of this country [DA].
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.

2. a hopeless person, one who has absolutely no chance.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Get Next 100: After he gets to the age of 60 he is a dead rabbit and it’s the woods for his.
[US]C.B. Davis Rebellion of Leo McGuire (1953) 94: I thought we was dead rabbits and no fooling.

3. an impotent penis, incapable of erection.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
dead rag (n.) [the do-rag n. (2) or bandanna handkerchief, worn by gang members to indicate their affiliation]

(US black gang) a dead gang member.

[US]G. Smitherman Black Talk.
dead shot (n.) [SE dead shot, an expert marksman]

1. (US) very poor quality or adulterated whisky [it ‘kills’ the drinker].

[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 10 May 1/4: Gentry laid his trouble at the door of ‘dead shot,’ commonly called whiskey.
[US]Fayetteville Obs. (TN) 19 Jan. 2/1: ‘Dead Shot Whiskey’ [...] one pint of such liquor would kill the strongest man.
[US]Phrenological Jrnl & Life Illustrated 64 138/2: These poor fellows (white, as well as black,) may be secured for the ticket which ‘treats’ them on their way to the polls to a drink of ‘dead-shot whiskey.’.

2. (US black) sexual intercourse, whether vaginal or anal.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[UK]Solar Project ‘Zeitgest’ [lyrics] on ...in Time [album] We honk for cookies, we knock it out / We mash the fat, we mess around / Jig-a-jig, rub-a-dub, dead shot, Donald Duck / You wanna feel my Bethlehem steel / Mary Poppins, TNT, Bristol City / I bite into your cats and kitties.
dead stock (n.) [Carib. stock, animals bred for slaughter]

(W.I.) a ‘non-event’.

[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 13: Dead-stock not happening; a non-event: u. dead-stock business.
dead time (n.) [time n. (1)] (US prison)

1. any time spent in prison that does not actually diminish one’s sentence.

[US]B. Jackson Killing Time 178: The three months that I had already did was dead time. They say a man can’t do dead time. Well in Arkansas you can do as much as the courts want you to do.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 132: Time wouldn’t start running till he hit the penitentiary gates. County jail was dead time.

2. any period of one’s prison sentence when one is prohibited from associating with other prisoners.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 25: Dead Time Used to describe the manner in which some inmates in general population serve their prison sentence. Even though they have access to programs and activities, they do not take advantage of these privileges.
dead turkey (n.)

a hopeless person, a person or thing that has absolutely no chance.

National Post 5 Dec. [Internet] This thing is a dead turkey. It’s not enough that we have the god-damned health care and Kyoto and now we’ve got this goddamned $700-million on the gun registry.
‘Rev. of Austin Powers 3 – Goldmember’ at Fazed.com [Internet] There is no escaping the fact that the plot is a turkey, the script is a dead turkey.
dead ’un (n.)

see separate entry.

dead whiteboy (n.) [play on dead president : before 2009’s Barack Obama, all US presidents had been white men]

(US black) a dollar bill of any denomination.

[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 151: Hobbes [...] slapped a tweny on the counter. ‘One dead whiteboy for the black man.’.
deadwood

see separate entries.

In phrases

dead as...

see separate entry.

dead for (adj.) [var. on SE dying for]

(Aus./US) desperate for, in great need of.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 Feb. n.p.: Got a cigar in yer old clothes, matey? / Lor’ blue me if I’m not dead for a smoke.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 37/1: ‘Martin’s goin’ ter carry a squirt, but he’s dead fur us. Tumble?’ / Dan Hurden nodded.
[US]Black Mask Aug. III 55: You got the mud, Adams? [...] I’m damn near dead for a smoke.
[US]J.D. Macdonald Slam the Big Door (1961) 159: Then you’re dead for sleep. What good are you?
dead on (adj.)

see separate entry.

give someone the dead hand (v.)

1. (US campus) to betray.

[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 16: give the dead hand To be treacherous.

2. (US) to grope a woman in a crowd, e.g. on a tube train.

[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 157: You riding the subway to work [...] a fine fox has got her back to you; some degenerate will lean over past you and give her the dead hand.
wouldn’t be seen dead with (someone) in a 40-acre paddock

(orig. Aus.) an expression of extreme dislike.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1353/2: Cockneys, late C.19; in C.20 gen. and widespread’.

In exclamations

play dead!

(US teen) be quiet!

[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 28 Feb. 47/3: If they don’t want to reveal their name you might get ‘Joe Slump, the midget,’ or be told to ‘cop a breeze’ (leave), or maybe ‘play dead’ (keep quiet).

SE, meaning complete, utter, in slang uses

In compounds

dead cop (n.) [cop n.1 (2)]

(Aus.) a sure winner, also attrib.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 2 Sept. 7/5: His pals put up their ‘thick ’uns’ with a ‘dead cop’ kind of snigger.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 48: To say a horse is a ‘dead cop’ is to mean a sure winner.
dead-copper (n.) [copper n. (3)]

(Aus.) a police informer.

[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 306: Anyone who voiced his suspicions of the Bower-bird to the authorities would be known as a ‘dead-copper’, more to be avoided than any maniac.
dead cunt (n.) [cunt n. (4)]

(Aus.) a strong term of abuse.

[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 119: The even more serious dead cunt, applied to an undesirable, often malevolent, male.
dead finish (n.)

1. an outback drinking saloon.

[Aus]G. Boothby On the Wallaby 294: These grog shanties, or ‘dead finishes’ as they are often termed, are the curse of the bush. [Ibid.] 296: After a big shearing, [...] everyone with plenty of money to spend, these back country ‘dead finishes’ are nothing more nor less than little hells.

2. (Aus.) the absolute, the complete; the end.

[UK]J.H.M. Abbott Tommy Cornstalk 64: As an afterthought, he enjoins upon you the necessity for ‘looking slippery’. Your single swear-word speaks volumes. [...] You will mount and ride again, and above all you will look forward joylessly to a night without food or fire, and an interrupted sleep. This again is the Dead Finish. / There are few colloquialisms more expressive of wearisome disgust, dissatisfaction and discontent than is ‘Dead Finish.’ It is almost synonymous with ‘the Last Straw’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 9 July 17/1: Mungindi is situated on the N.W. border of N.S.W. and is a ‘dead finish.’.
dead nark (n.) [nark n.1 (6)] (Aus.)

1. something very unsatisfactory.

[Aus]Melbourne Punch 25 Feb. 4/4: Ho, this state of matrimunny, it’s a dead nark on a lad, / An’ it’s sobered up a push of chaps I meet.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 10 Apr. 5/3: Now, this was what was termed a ‘dead nark,’ especially as Christmas Eve was approaching.

2. a spoilsport.

[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 18: Up to yeh, too, fer er dead nark.

3. a very bad temper.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Dec. 43/1: Owning a very nasty and soured disposition (bushmen term it ‘a dead nark’) he was continually growling and cursing at everything and everybody.
dead oodles (n.) [ety. unknown, but Cohen, Studies in Slang (1985), suggests progression from scadoodles by mispron. of first syllable]

(orig. US) a large quantity, many.

[US] ‘South-Western Sl.’ in Overland Monthly (CA) Aug. 131: A Texan never has a great quantity of any thing, but he has ‘scads’ of it, or ‘oodles,’ or ‘dead oodles,’ or ‘scadoodles,’ or ‘swads’.
[US]Bolivar Bull. (TN) 26 Feb. 3/1: An ounce of prevention is worth dead oodles of cure.
[US]Sweet & Knox Mexican Mustang 80: When I kem here in '46 thar was dead-oodles of game all around here, — bar, and deer, and wild turkey, and all kinds of varmints.
[US]Kansas Agitator 11 May 1/2: The ‘boys’ have been having dead oodles of fun.
[US]Paducah Sun (KY) 13 Mar. 4/2: Grover Cleveland will stand out conspiciously in the history of the Democratic, while [...] Col. W.J. Bryan will be buried in dead oodles of oblivion.
[US]Sweet & Knox On a Mexican Mustang, Through Texas 100: When I kem here in ’46 thar was dead-oodles of game all around here.
N.-Y. Tribune (Sunday Mag.) 23 Nov. 16/4: He’s a rare old specimen of a gent startin out to make dead oodles of money in commercial pursuits.
Mohave Co. Miner (Kingman, AZ) 16 Oct. 2/1: Canada and Australia have dead oodles of wheat to sell.
dead ringer (n.)

see separate entry.

dead shit (n.)

(Aus.) a general term of abuse; also as adj.

Geoff Mill Nobody Dies But Me (2003) 122: And you can tell him if he don’t come up with some cash I’ll trace the deadshit through the Red Cross and leave a little bundle of bloody joy on his doorstep.
[Aus]A. Buzo Macquarie 58: The revolution, you dead shit.
[Aus]D. Maitland Breaking Out 29: You’re still a bloody dead-shit.
[NZ]H. Beaton Outside In Act II: di: We talked, that’s all. ginny: About what? Me? Deadshit me?
[UK]K. Lette Mad Cows 140: Do you always behave like such a fucking deadshit when a friend’s in trouble?
[Aus]S. Maloney Something Fishy (2006) 216: You don’t know the half of it, you dopey deadshit.
[UK]Private Eye 7-20 Jan. 26/3: Pity you never bumped into that other deadsshit who dressed up as a big pink prick.
dead square (n.) (also dead white)

(US) an honest individual.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: There are only two terms which describe an honest man; to wit, a ‘dead square’ and ‘dead white’.
dead tumble (n.) [tumble n. (1a)]

(US Und.) an obvious give-away, discovery in the act of a crime.

[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 213: It’ll be a dead tumble if we’ve arst the way to the station.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 321: Dead tumble, A discovery or arrest in the act of committing a crime.

In phrases

dead ring of

(Aus./N.Z.) the absolute image of.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘On a Bender’ in Benno and Some of the Push 74: Benno’s shape was the dead ring iv that iv Griffo.
[Aus]G.H. Lawson Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms [Internet] RING, THE DEAD—Similar; a likeness.
[NZ]D. Ballantyne Cunninghams (1986) 72: Bob said they were the dead ring of Gil, especially Gilbert. The kids looked embarrased.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 177: He was the dead ring of me.
[Aus]G.W. Turner Eng. Lang. in Aus. and N.Z. 107: The list of items valid in both countries is a long one and would include [...] dead ring of ‘dead spit of’.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 35/1: dead ring exact likeness.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
on the dead (level) [ext. of SE phr. on the level]

1. (US) unarguably, without escape.

Times-Democrat (New orleans, LA) 14 Mar. 25/6: ‘Mimosa, I’se got you on de dead level; I seed you [...] wid a feller wid a black moustache’.

2. in earnest, sincerely, straightforwardly, honestly.

[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 72: ‘You really believe that?’ ‘On the dead level.’.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 30: Aw, them skoits is dopes, on the dead level.
[US] ‘The Cowboy and the Maid’ in J.A. Lomax Songs of the Cattle Trail 39: Fifty head ’o cows, and not / One of ’em, on the dead, / Is a crackin’ thoroughbred.