Green’s Dictionary of Slang

school n.

1. in terms meaning a group or gang.

(a) a gang of beggars or thieves (usu. pickpockets) working as a team.

[UK]Hickscorner Biii: I sawe a pece that was lyke myne / And syr all my fyngers were arayed with lyme / So I conuayued a cuppe mannerly / And yet I played all the foole / For there was a scoler of myne owne scole / And syr the horesone aspyed me.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 74: This is a lush ken in the neighbourhood of Southwark. The Rum Cul – a downey card, is patronised by the leary and slang schools, in winter, his long room, or ‘slanging lumber’ is the scene of many choice spree and downey movements.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 77: school A gang of thieves. ‘A school of knucks,’ a gang of pickpockets.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 7/2: Seeing so many different ‘schools,’ and all upon the ‘make-game,’ [he] thought it would be ‘cocum’ to ‘plant’ his stuff for safety’s sake.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Sue stole a reticule and a brooch. She’s the smartest lady’s pocket thief in the company (or ‘school’), and all the thieves are smitten with her.
[UK]Pall Mall Gazette 2 Jan. 4/3: Quite a ‘school’ of youthful grasshopppers are in possession of one corner of the ice [F&H].
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 70: School, a knot of thieves.
[UK]G.R. Sims Off the Track in London 211: The ‘schools,’ as these groups of young thieves are called, are assembling for the evening work.

(b) a group of gamblers gathered for a game.

[Aus]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
Commercial Jrnl (Sydney) 15 July 2/3: [W]hat is, in flash language, called ‘A School’ or in other words two individuals master and man, tossing half-pence into the air, for no less a sum than five shillings each call.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 220/1: Some classes of patterers [...] work in schools or ‘mobs’ of two, three or four.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Sept. 5/3: He can tell of the grim law that sobered the Flat, / Of the rough court that ear-marked the mate-robber Mat; / He can tell of the poker-‘school’s’ nocturnal din, / Of the peace that went out, when its ‘guardians’ came in.
[Aus]K. Mackay Out Back 270: A mob of men [...] poured out of the bar door, and started a ‘heading school’ in the road. For half-an-hour the pennies spun into the air amid a chorus of ‘I bar,’ ‘Foul throw,’ and ‘Heads it is!’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Nov. 15/1: The rest devoted their time mostly to two-up, and occasionally some of them would stroll over to the Italians’ ‘dump’ and earnestly encourage the guileless foreigners in their labors. Then, satisfied that the blanky Dagoes were proving the ground for them, the exhorters would rejoin the ‘school.’.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘The Passing of Gundagai’ in Rio Grande’s Last Race (1904) 105: On Sundays he controlled a ‘school’, / And played ‘two-up’ the livelong day.
[Aus]Mirror (Sydney) 31 Aug. 8/1: On Sunday, August 17, a school playing two-up openly off Buckingham-street, City, was raided, and the police got 13 of the players.
[Aus]G.H. Lawson Dict. of Aus. Words And Terms 🌐 SCHOOL — Gathering of gamblers.
[Aus]‘William Hatfield’ Sheepmates 197: Several lost their all in the great two-up game that started out in the open between the shearers’ hut and the kitchen. Fritz went into the ‘school’ with three pounds in his hand, and left [...] with forty.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 147: He took this uniquely Australian gambling game from lanes and back alleys into elaborately furnished ‘schools’, well protected from interference by either police or ‘strong-arm’ men.
[Aus]G.A. Wilkes Exploring Aus. Eng. 13: One enterprising convict, James Hardy Vaux, put together a vocabulary of the criminal slang of the colony – the ‘flash’ language – in 1812. His list includes plant, new chum and school.
[Aus]M. Walker How to Kiss a Crocodile 83: Of course there was a two-up school. They even gave me $100 to join in.

(c) a gang of meths drinkers.

[UK]G. Fletcher Down Among the Meths Men 15: Harry the Ram will be running the Chicksand gang or school, call it what you like.

2. prison [i.e. a school of crime].

[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London II 78: Here join the Speculator and the Fool, / Greybeards, and youngsters rather fit for school, / (At least for any school but this alone, / Where College vices in the shade are thrown).
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 13: The ‘School’ (as the existing reformatories are familiarly termed by thieves).
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 234: Bourne asked him what he had done in civil life. ‘I was at school.’ [...] Whitfield explained quite simply, that he had been serving a sentence in gaol.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 51: school – Jail.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 124: School – euphemism for a reform school or Borstal.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 43: Nor had I attended the right schools [...] Paramatta, Grafton or Long Bay jails.

3. any specific era in the history of hip-hop/rap music; usu. in phrs. old school and new school [the exact division between the two remains a source of much debate among fans].

[US]P. Atoon Rap Dict. 🌐 school (n) A specific era in hiphop history. There have been many discussions about the difference between the ‘Old School’ and the ‘New School’.
[SA]IOL News (Western Cape) 23 Mar. 🌐 I write mostly old-school Afro-pop and they do new-school country.

In derivatives

schooling (n.)

1. a criminal gambling party.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Globe (London) 25 Mar. n.p.: A batch of these grimy ones being brought up the other day for playing pitch and toss – in the local vernacular, schooling – in a public place, their counsel argued that they were driven to it by destitution [F&H].

2. a term of confinement in a reformatory.

[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 501: This young —— just come home from a schooling (a term in a reformatory).

In compounds

schoolboy (n.)

(N.Z. prison) one who is serving a minimal sentence.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 159/1: schoolboy n. an inmate serving a short sentence.

In phrases

big school (n.) [as compared to little school ]

(US tramp) a state prison.

[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 650: Big School—penitentiary.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 199: Big school or house – The state penitentiary.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
little school (n.) [in contrast to big school ]

(US Und.) a juvenile reformatory.

[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 652: Little School—Reformatory or House of Correction.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 209: Little school – Reformatory or house of correction.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
new school (adj.)

1. in rap music use, of anything recent or new, not old school

J. Salzman Encyc. African-Amer. Culture and Hist. IV 2268: [His] musical innovation also provided the transition from the early commercial sound of rap, known as the ‘old school,’ to the ‘new school’ rap.
[US]Source Aug. 59: New-schoolers dead prez did the same on their hit record ‘Be Healthy’.
C.H. Werner Change is Gonna Come 284: [heading] ‘Bring the Noise’: The New School Rap Game.

2. (N.Z. prison) the latest generation of young criminals, seen as changing the standards and assumptions of prison life.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 123/2: new school adj. of a young inmate from the new generation of criminals, representing different beliefs and attitudes from those of established inmates.
old school (adj.) (also old skool) [SE old school, n. and adj. describing old-fashioned things] (orig. US black)

1. used of anything typical of the fashions, music and general styles of a previous era; orig. of the 1960s–70s, now of the 1980s and even 1990s; also as n.

[US]J. Bouton Ball Four 15: The manager (he’s out of the old school, I think, because he looks like he’s out of the old school, short, portly, [...] twinkly-eyed).
[US]C. Heath A-Team 2 (1984) 170: There’s a lot of old school in him when it comes to dealing with women.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 46: Granmom had this boyfriend name of Louis, no-account hustler type, wore velvet jackets, wide-brimmed hats, dressed like old school.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘Time After Time’ Wire ser. 3 ep. 1 [TV script] Old-school-ass bitch.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 63: The old man was old school. You get a job, you work hard, you get married, you support your family, end of story.
[UK](con. 1960s) Guardian Weekend 2 Apr. 26: Plimsolls and trainers were in, but strictly old school: Green Flash, Converse baseball boots.
[Aus] G. Johnstone ‘No Through Road’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] We’re looking down at these two old-school looking rifles.
[US]P. Beatty Sellout (2016) 14: He’s an old-school criminal defense attorney.
[Aus]N. Cummins Tales of the Honey Badger [ebook] My boss at the time [...] was old school and as hard-arse as they come.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Shore Leave 101: This was Cassidy being old-school, and Swann admired him.
[US]S.A. Crosby Razorblade Tears 207: ‘He went old school and slipped me his number on a piece of paper’.

2. in rap music use, used of anything pertaining to the early days of the musical style, esp. the work of such performers as Grandmaster Flash (b.1958) or Afrika Bambaataa (b.1957); also as n.

[[US]Mad mag. June 48: In like flew this charged up raven from the old school of two-four].
[US] Ice-T ‘Six in the Morning’ 🎵 Out the back window I make an escape / Don’t even get a chance to grab my old school tape.
[US]King Tee & Mixmaster Spade ‘Ya Better Bring a Gun’ 🎵 They’re all from the old school, nobody’s modern.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Aug. 20: Also, if you ever run short of ideas for new slang, just go back to the old skool.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 44: Bringing in a heavyweight old-school producer like Clive Linklater.
[UK]Observer Screen 6 Feb. 10: Hip hop from the old skool.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 24: This old dude here in the suit might be O.G. —know what I’m sayin’? Original Gangsta! Old school!
[US]UGK ‘Swisha And Dosha’ 🎵 I from the old school (uh!) / Like MJG and Ball.

3. (N.Z. prison) referring to the beliefs and knowledge of a veteran prisoner.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 129/1: old school adj. (of an inmate) who has spent a lot of time in prison over many years and is fully familiar with the culture, codes of practice and history of prison life.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

schoolie (n.) (also schooly) [abbr.]

1. (Aus.) a schoolteacher.

[UK]Wild Boys of London I 285/2: He saw the nephew of the schoolmistress with his arm round Lucy’s waist. [...] ‘I’m only a ’prentis, and he’s a schooly’s nevvy; and—and I’ll punch his hie into his helbow.’.
[Aus]G. Casey Snowball 17: Tough type for a schoolie, he is.
[Aus]A. Chipper Aussie Swearers Guide 65: Chalkie (also Schoolie). School teacher.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 76: A few further examples: [...] chalkie – teacher. Closely related to the last is schoolies – nowadays usually applied to schoolchildren, though it may also be used to include teachers, a usage dating from at least the late 19th century.

2. a schoolgirl.

[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 182: Here were all the stages of womanhood [...] from pubescence to the final development where Juliet was [...] He had never actually pursued schoolies, but seeing these, he understood why a lot of men did.
[Scot]I. Welsh ‘A Smart Cunt’ in Acid House 184: They caught him shagging a schoolie.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 62: Everywhere you look there’s little posses of hooched-up schoolies and shopgirls.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 179: schoolie Sexy schoolgirl.
[Scot]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: There’s two wee lassies – schoolies likely – over in the corner, silvery dresses and St Tropez tans.
[Scot]I. Welsh Dead Man’s Trousers 138: Fucked by a gang of strap-on-wearing schoolies.

3. (Aus.) a trainee.

[Aus]N. Keesing Lily on the Dustbin 89: Karen, who has just started work as a [...] ‘schoolie’ or cadet ‘journo’.

In compounds

school bag (n.)

(N.Z. gay) an underage male prostitute.

[NZ]W. Ings ‘Trolling the Beat to Working the Soob’ in Int’l Jrnl Lexicog. 23:1 71: In New Zealand there have been many terms for a young male street worker. These include school bag, street solicitor, merchandise, Kleenex, commercial, trade, street trick, and Illegal Tegel.
schoolboy (n.)

1. (drugs) codeine, cough syrup, even cocaine, anything seen (by heroin users) as a drug for ‘beginners’.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 223: schoolboy codeine.
[US]L. Young et al. Recreational Drugs.
[US]D.E. Miller Bk of Jargon 324: Codeine, Also schoolboy. Codeine is always taken by mouth, is famous as a cough suppressant, and is also used in treatment of diarrhea.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 19: Schoolboy — Cocaine; codeine.

2. (US black) a neophyte in the street life, an apprentice criminal.

[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
school-butter (n.)

a whipping.

[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Loyal Subject (1750) V:4: Anc. He was whipt like a Top, I never saw a Whore so lac’d: Court School-butter? Is this their Diet? I’ll dress ’em one running Banquet.
[Ire]F. Kirkman Eng. Rogue IV 269: [They] lashed him soundly, giving him School-butter, and then sent him away.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: School-butter a Whipping.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Dyche & Pardon New General Eng. Dict.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

In phrases

go to school at Bromley (v.) [the celebrated 1920s Bromley dance band, based in Bridgetown and named for its leader, and its association with hedonistic fun]

(W.I.) not to go to school at all and thus to become a rough, ignorant person.

[WI]cited in Allsopp Dict. Carib. Eng. Usage (1996).
hot school (n.)

(Aus.) a dramatic, challenging environment.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Aug. 13/4: I’ve been in some hot schools one place and another, but that bush joint in Karamea secures my recommendation as the star item.
schoolbook chump (n.)

(US black) one who is academic, but not very sophisticated or worldly-wise.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 38: He like a schoolbook chump... stupid, ignorant, hide in d’ books all d’ time.
schoolboy scotch (n.)

(US black) cheap wine.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 187: Wine itself was disparagingly referred to as schoolboy scotch, sixteen-year-old shaving lotion, and sixteen-year-old after shave.
take to school (v.)

(US black) to educate (in ‘street’ terms).

[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Phantom Blooper 24: Don’t you know why the Phantom Blooper is here, man? The Phantom Blooper has come to take your white ass to school.
[US]Da Bomb 🌐 28: Takin’ (someone) to school: Teaching someone a lesson; showing someone up; showing someone that you are better.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 148: ‘Kansas.’ [...] ‘They’re takin’ Temple to school.’.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 54: We beat the nets and Dr J. [...] But the Kentucky Colonels took us to school after that.
teach school (v.)

(US gay) to initiate someone into the world of homosexuality.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 37: to introduce to homosexuality [...] teach school (‘Where did you teach school, Professor, the third glory hole from the right?’).