Green’s Dictionary of Slang

blank n.

1. a euph. for a variety of obscenities, e.g. bugger n.1 , shit n., bastard n. etc.

[Ire]Dublin Morn. Register 1 Oct. 3/2: The verses from Magdalen are very maudlin productions indeed; they are blank blank, nothing but blank.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) II 163: I wouldn’t give a blank for such a blank blank, I’m blank, if he don’t look as though he’d swaller a blank codfish.
[UK]Maidstone Teleg. 19 May 3/6: Here you are plenty for eating and drinking without (blanking) about and slaving yourself to death, and who the (blank’s) going to pay for lodgings, when the (blanked) guardians are paid to look after us.
[Aus]M. Clarke Term of His Natural Life (1897) 270: ‘My blank!’ cried Burgess. ‘You blank blank, is that your blank game? I’ll blank soon cure you of that!’.
[US]‘Bill Nye’ Bill Nye and Boomerang 81: He called upon blank to everlastingly blank such a blankety blank blank, idiotic blank as the young man was.
[US]World (N.Y.) 15 Aug. 1/1: Why, you long, lean blankety blank blank . . . you ought to be strung up by the thumbs, you big, ugly ham.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Drover’s Wife’ in Roderick (1972) 48: But they don’t hurt us, the little blanks.
[Scot]Aberdeen Eve. Express 21 Mar 3/2: We have got a blank blank old general here who’s mad on it, and we are here on fatigue duty.
[UK]Punch 4 Apr. 251/2: The man had asked me why the blank, blank I didn’t let my blank self out at so much a blank hour for a blank steam-roller.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Billy of Queensland’ in Roderick (1967–9) II 300: A Blank he knows as a Gory Scamp.
[US]C.E. Mulford Bar-20 Days 29: What th’ blank are you doing?
[UK]T. Burke Nights in Town 306: If I find the blank blank blank what trod on my blank blank ’and, I’ll —!
[US]‘Digit’ Confessions of a Twentieth Century Hobo 48: What the blank are you blank blank hobos doing in there?
[UK]J.B. Booth London Town 52: Why the crimson, blue-black Hades don’t you send down the carmine rope, you blank, blank, blank?
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 85: My — oath! We had a blank here once with one o’ them blanks.
[US]B. Cerf Anything For a Laugh 58: Catch him! Catch the blank blank blank!
[Aus]J.M. Hosking ‘39–45 Star, Aus. Model’ Aus. First and Last 73: Those N.C.O.s were blanky blanks.
[US]A. Hine Unsinkable Molly Brown 142: I sure as blank wasn’t ready for a blankety-blank watery grave, so I just blank well took the others along with me.
[US](con. 1950s) McAleer & Dickson Unit Pride (1981) 83: It beats a blank.
[US]R. Marcinko Rogue Warrior (1993) 187: What the blank are you gonna blanking do when you’re blanking sitting fifty blanking feet underwater [...] ?

2. (Und.) a potential victim — e.g. of a street robbery or a crooked sideshow — who proves to have no possessions or money to steal.

[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 16 Aug. 2/3: [S]hould the victim of these marauders make resistance, or [...] should he prove a ‘blank,’ and no plunder be found upon him, woe betide the unlucky wight.
[US]W. Keyser ‘Carny Lingo’ in 🌐 Blank — a player who looks like a good mark but who actually has few dollars to spend.

3. (US prison) an aspirin.

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 198: blanks, n. – aspirin tablets (1950s).

4. a bad or insignificant, worthless person.

[[UK]Hants. Advertiser 13 June 2/4: [of one from whom a street seller will get no money] Instead of taking turn and turn about, he picks out all the ‘capitals,’ and leaves [...] the ‘blanks’].
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 29/1: Blank. 1. A zero; a loser [...] 3. A dolt; a worthless fellow.
[US]J. Blake letter 7 Sept. in Joint (1972) 219: He was such a fearful blank.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 317: ‘God,’ I concluded, ‘maybe I won’t be an angel, but I do know I’ll try not to be a blank.’.

5. (orig. prison) a rejection, esp. of a parole application.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Crusaders’ in Chisholm (1951) 81: ‘Blank number one,’ I sez. The parson sighed.
[US]C. Himes ‘Every Opportunity’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 247: He didn’t think it [i.e. a job offer] was so hot but it beat a blank, anyway.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 85: If he’s in a bad mood or he doesn’t like your face [...] you get a big blank.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 11: All I had got was a right blank.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 27: He preferred a straight blank; then he knew it wasn’t anything to do with [...] him personally.
[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 174: I’ll set you up [...] You won’t get no blank.

6. a halt, a stop.

[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 60: Then the police siren is heard. [...] A blank is put on the rumble and everybody puts the law into effect.

7. a fault, a bad characteristic.

[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 317: I asked the Big Man to overlook my blanks and to make a cool way for me.

8. (drugs, also blanks) any powder sold as a narcotic but absolutely without effect; thus generic for second-rate drugs.

[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 93–4: If a junkie tastes some stuff before he uses it and it’s real sweet he figures he’s bought a blank and gets upset. So we put in the quinine to make it bitter.
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 47: blank [...] A container filled with a non-narcotic powder, such as talcum powder, baking soda, or cleanser, and sold to the addict as heroin. Also called lemonade.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[US]D.E. Miller Bk of Jargon 325: Also H, big H, blanks, [...] dope, doojee, hard stuff, junk, horse, smack, skag, schmeck.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 3: Blank — Container of non-narcotic powder that is sold as heroin. [...] Blanks — Low quality drugs.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

draw a blank (v.) (also draw blank(s), draw it blank) [SE draw a blank, ult. drawing a blank ticket in a lottery]

to fail, to be disappointed, frustrated.

W. Dunkin Parson’s Revels (2010) 58: My Ancestors might claim some Rank; / But as for me, I drew a Blank.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 211: As for me, less grieved at having drawn a blank in the lottery of love, than rejoiced at getting my neck out of an halter, I returned to my master’s.
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Mar. 1/4: Shifter having returned from Charley’s Mount, attired himself gorgeously, and sallied forth on Wednesday, brimful of expectation, to have a good time with his long-lost pals. He got to the office, and drew it blank.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Windy hills o’ Wellington’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 262: Perhaps it ain’t New Zealand’s fault I’ve drawn New Zealand blank.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 17 Feb. 3/4: But we draws a blooming blank, / For the strong-room held — a nixey!
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Joseph’s Dreams and Reuben’s Brethren’ in Roderick (1967–9) II 97: He drew a blank on Chek-’em run — / Got bushed, too, you’ll be bound.
[US]S. Ford Torchy 8: But you ain’t drawn any blank. I’ll shinny on your side, Mr. Pepper, as long’s you’ll let me.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Gallant Gentleman’ in Moods of Ginger Mick 118: I’ve took me gamble; an’ there’s none to blame / Becos I drew a blank.
[UK]Wodehouse Clicking of Cuthbert 15: Mrs Smethhurst rolled her eyes about the room searching for someone capable of coming to the rescue. She drew blank.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl. 16: drew a blank—failed to get loot; lost out.
[UK]K. Fearing Big Clock (2002) 158: We’ve drawn a blank so far.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 243: The private detectives, Herb, Harry Phillips, the Mantis had all drawn blanks.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 165: You drew a blank with me, because of Charlie, drat him.
[US]T. Berger Reinhart in Love (1963) 194: Try as he would to get at least some of the old snottiness from her in lieu of sex, he drew a blank.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 49: draw a blank – To forget; unable to remember.
[US]D. Wells Night People 96: You’ve drawn a blank with a chick.
[US]G. Swarthout Skeletons 37: I draw a blank there.
fire blanks (v.)

of a man, to be infertile, to ejaculate infertile semen.

[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS 183/2: fire blanks To have sexual intercourse without impregnating the woman, when the couple wishes to have children; for a man to have sexual intercourse when he is physically unable to father a child.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 19: Blanks (Firing) Impotence.
[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: firing blanks v. Post snip ejaculation. e.g. ‘You can put the ribticklers away love, I’m firing blanks.’.
Goldie BBC Radio 5 [radio] I need to get home to make sure I’m not firing blanks.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 342: ‘I’ve also drilled them wonderfully and thoroughly [...] And, unlike yourself, I don’t fire blanks’.
pull a blank (v.)

(US) to be rejected; cit. 1936 refers to sexual rejection.

[US](con. 1920s) Dos Passos Big Money in USA (1966) 980: I never used to pull a blank when I drank.
slip someone a blank (v.)

to deceive.

[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 138: When it comes to doing the hair-trigger friendship act, Pinckney’s the real skookum preferred. But this was once when he slipped me a blank.
shoot a blank (v.)

1. (US) to fail, to have no luck.

[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 186: I [...] called the phone answering service. I shot a blank.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 103: Let’s not shoot any more blanks.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 195: Shoot a blank Turned down when asking for a date.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 171: You musta shot a blank the rest of the night.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 33: We shot a blank, then?

2. (US black, also shoot blanks) to attempt sophisticated conversation but to fail in so doing; to use words that have no ‘target’.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 91: Sometiems dude jus’ shoot a blank. His shit jus’ off th wall — jus’ falls off.
[US]P. Cornwell Body of Evidence (1992) 54: Maybe I’m shooting blanks, Pete.
shoot blanks (v.)

1. to ejaculate infertile semen; thus blank shooter n.

[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 307: ‘I got ten bucks says Firesteen shot blanks,’ Goober said.
[US](con. 1953) R. Kahn Boys of Summer 169: ‘Reese’s great hurt is that he has only a daughter. He wants a son. He told me the other morning, ‘I guess I’m shooting blanks’.
[US]S. King It (1987) 518: I’m telling you that you aren’t shooting blanks.
[Ire](con. 1980s) G. Byrne Pictures in my Head 153: When I told my brother I was to become a father, he said, ‘Well, you’re not shooting blanks anyway’.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. 🌐 shoots blanks (he...) n. Term often used for ejaculate ejected by a man who has had a vasectomy, i.e. ejaculate from a sterile male.
Kirsten’s Collection 🌐 My married WAF clerk wanted to get pregnant and have a baby. Her husband, was a blank shooter, but she didn’t know that I was as sterile as he was so when she asked me to be the daddy of her babies, I said hell ya!
[SA]A. Lovejoy Acid Alex 62: I found I had started sprouting ball hairs and underarm fluff. I finally stopped shooting blanks and my voice broke.

2. of a man, to fail to achieve an erection, to be impotent.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 28: He dug that young poontang — even though at his age I knew he was shooting blanks.
[UK]K. Lette Foetal Attraction (1994) 161: More and more men are shooting blanks, you know.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 129: His friends told him it would radiate his nuts and make him shoot blanks.