Green’s Dictionary of Slang

school n.

1. in terms meaning a group or gang.

(a) [early 16C; mid-19C–1910s] a gang of beggars or thieves (usu. pickpockets) working as a team.

(b) [early 19C+] a group of gamblers gathered for a game.

(c) a gang of meths drinkers.

2. [early 19C+] prison [i.e. a school of crime].

3. [1990s+] 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].

In derivatives

schooling (n.)

1. [mid-19C] a criminal gambling party.

2. [late 19C] a term of confinement in a reformatory.

In compounds

schoolman (n.)

[early–mid-19C] a fellow member of a gang.

In phrases

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

[1920s–60s] (US tramp) a state prison.

little school (n.) [in contrast to big school ]

[1920s–40s] (US Und.) a juvenile reformatory.

new school (adj.)

[1990s+] in rap music use, of anything recent or new, not old school

old school (adj.) (also old skool) [SE old school, n. and adj. describing old-fashioned things] [1980s+] (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.

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.

SE in slang uses

In derivatives

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

1. [late 19C+] (Aus.) a schoolteacher.

2. [1970s+] a schoolgirl.

3. (Aus.) a trainee.

schooly (n.) [1980s+] (US black)

1. anyone who wishes to go to school and further their education.

2. a naïve, unsophisticated person, a conformist.

In compounds

schoolboy (n.)

1. [1960s–80s] (drugs) codeine, cough syrup, even cocaine, anything seen (by heroin users) as a drug for ‘beginners’.

2. [1970s+] (US black) a neophyte in the street life, an apprentice criminal.

school-butter (n.)

[17C–early 19C] a whipping.

schoolcraft (n.) [? its popularity among teenagers + see schoolboy ]

[1980s+] (drugs) crack cocaine.

In phrases

come to school (v.)

[1940s] (US black) to be educated (in ‘street’ terms).

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]

[1920s] (W.I.) not to go to school at all and thus to become a rough, ignorant person.

go to school in August (v.) [August is a school holiday]

[20C+] (W.I.) to be uneducated, to display one’s ignorance.

hot school (n.)

[1910s] (Aus.) a dramatic, challenging environment.

schoolbook chump (n.)

[1970s+] (US black) one who is academic, but not very sophisticated or worldly-wise.

schoolboy scotch (n.)

[1970s+] (US black) cheap wine.

take to school (v.)

[1990s+] (US black) to educate (in ‘street’ terms).

teach school (v.)

[1970s+] (US gay) to initiate someone into the world of homosexuality.