Green’s Dictionary of Slang

steam v.1

1. (orig. US) to be annoyed, to be angry, to talk aggressively.

[[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 10/2: Joe was not much of a swearer, but all he knew in that line ‘steamed off’ just then at an amazing rate].
[US](con. 1913) ‘Gunboat’ Smith in Heller In This Corner (1974) 42: I was only steaming. [...] I’m finished and I know it. I just wanted to say it for those reporters standing there.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 114: Jimmy’s really steaming.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 125: Then Dad came in steaming off the boozer, no one took notice, business as usual.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 38: You fucked . . . summin J cos . . . hes steamin at y . . . you.

2. (also get someone’s steam up) to annoy, to infuriate; note extrapolation in cit. 1990.

[UK]A.C. Mowatt Fashion V i: Can’t I knock him into a cocked hat with a word? And now he’s got my steam up – I will do it!
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 2: She said ‘childish’ to steam me.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 96: Whenever I talk about my old lady – kind of steams me.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 259: Doesn’t it steam your pumpkin that Archie [...] would be alive if Speaker had given up the ice?
[US]J. Stahl Happy Mutant Baby Pills 83: What he said took a while to sink in. Then it steamed me.

In compounds

steam-up man (n.)

(S.Afr.) a person who incites another to commit a crime.

[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 106: A ‘steam-up man’ is one who incites others to commit a criminal act.

In phrases

steam up (v.)

1. (also get the steam up) to become angry or emotional; usu. as steamed (up) adj. (2)

[UK]Fast Man 15:1 n.p.: From the appearance of the man in the bag truss, it was now evident, to use a vulgarism, he was ‘getting the steam up.’ In a few seconds, he was so swollen with excitement, that he smashed his cooked hat to atoms [etc].
[US]H.L. Williams Black-Eyed Beauty 13: Come, don’t you get the steam up only just on that, Bill.
[US]H.L. Wilson Somewhere in Red Gap 154: ‘St. John Hammersmith!’ says he, steaming up.

2. to energize someone, to stimulate emotionally (or sexually), to arouse; to infuriate someone.

[US]H. Wiley Wildcat 183: Ol’ Vang Rouge sho’ steams a boy up, but it ain’t fillin’.
[UK]H.C. Witwer in Collier’s 17 June 22/4: Are you asking me to go with you so’s to steam Rags Dempster up?
[US](con. 1920s) C.W. Willemse Behind The Green Lights 333: Little Augie has got the news and he’s steaming up a lot of punks.
[US]D. Fuchs Low Company 53: That was what it was, a stand-up. The soda jerker had steamed himself up all day and now he was in a frenzy with frustration.
[US]W.F. Whyte Street Corner Society (1955) 45: Sometimes, just to steam me up, Danny tells Spongi to send me on an errand.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 76: I didn’t tell you all this to steam you up.
Wodehouse Frozen Assets 61: She’s one of those calm, quiet girls you’d think nothing would steam up.

3. to speak emotionally.

[US]T. Thursday ‘Raw, Medium, and Well Done’ in Blue Ribbon Western June [Internet] ‘What’s more,’ steams up Horse Tooth, ‘I knew that bum years ago [...] the big flounder-head borreys ten bucks from me and promptly forgets same.’.

4. to get oneself drunk.

[US]A.J. Liebling Honest Rainmaker (1991) 25: The Chief, who had been steaming up on Creole coffee laced with contraband Cuban rum.