1. (later use W.I.) stupid, ignorant [SE dark, unenlightened, uninformed, as in dark ages].
|Squire of Alsatia IV i: I am not so dark neither; I am sharp, sharp as a needle.|
|Official Dancehall Dict. 12: Da’k backward: illiterate, not sophisticated: u. ‘im da’k yuh see/he’s very stupid, dumb.|
2. (20C+ use Irish/W.I.) weak-sighted, nearly or actually blind.
|Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1862) 29: The Irish [...] use the word dark as synonymous with blind; and a blind beggar will implore you ‘to look down with pity on a poor dark man’.|
|Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/1: The screever is a character who claims recognition as a professor of the fine arts [...] with fish, flowers, etc. drawn upon the flaga or pavement with coloured chalk Some of these ‘dark’ gentlemen [...] procure for themselves canine companions .|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 393/2: ‘It’s five years, sir,’ she said, ‘since I have been quite dark, but for two years before that I had lost the sight of one eye.’.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Nov. 14/4: ‘[T]he poor man is shtone blind, that’s fer why not.’ / ’Twas the troot, sir; the man had bin makin’ the goo-goo eye was dar-rk frim his birth.|
|My Oul’ Town 93: Poor Ned was blin’, or, as they say up the country, ‘dark’, from his birth.|
|Honey Spike n.p.: ‘I’m dark,’ the old man quavered [...] ‘I’m as dark as midnight’ [BS].|
3. (UK Und.) hidden.
|Newcastle Courant 9 Sept. 6/5: When we enter the chovey and dub the jigger, slour us in and remain dark until you hear a cat mew.|
4. culturally / ethnically pertaining to black people and as such usu. derog, but see cite 1978; see combs. below [dark n. (2)].
|Brother Ray 64: I played a lot of music which had originally been done by blacks and then reinterpreted by whites. [...] These tunes got dark all over again [...] when I got my hands on them [...] 268: [T]here’s no way Middle America was going to permit some dark cat to shake his ass on TV with millions of white chicks [...] hollering for more.|
5. (Aus. Und.) angry (with).
|Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. 🌐 3. Ill-disposed. As in ‘to be dark on someone’.|
|(con. 1945–6) Devil’s Jump (2008) 75: Christ, he’d be dark if he knew we were even talking about him like this.|
6. (UK black) aggressive, very serious.
|in Living Dangerously 174: It’s too dangerous [in Hackney], too many dark (dangerous) people.|
|Hooky Gear 38: His . . . mood . . . which is fuckin dark when . . . ever your . . . name . . . come up.|
7. (UK teen) a general negative, bad, unpleasant, second-rate etc.
|Scholar 120: You must think I’m a dark cunt, to come off wi’ dem talks dere.|
(S.Afr.) the township of Alexandra, near Johannesburg.
|in Drum (Johannesburg) 40: A velvet pall [...] hung over Alexandra township [...] In this evening frock, the ‘Dark City,’ as it is called, could compete for loveliness with any other town [DSAE].|
|Treason Cage 207: The people of the ‘Dark City’ of Alexandra, an unusually stubborn and independent suburb of a hundred thousand Africans lying just outside the municipality .|
|Crime in S. Afr. 109: The township known as ‘Dark City’, is notorious as a crimogenic area.|
|Portrait of Apartheid 245: One of them is called ‘Alexandra’. There are no street lights in Alexandra; so it has been nicknamed ‘the dark city’.|
|Martyrs and Fanatics 163: Because there was electricity on only a very few streets, Alexandra was called ‘Dark City,’ and crime was rife.|
|City Press 1 Sept. on Alexandra.co.za 🌐 ‘Hope begins to glow in the Dark City’ After a prolonged pause in meaningful development, relief is in sight for 350 000-plus residents of Alexandra.|
(usu. Aus./US) a derog. term for a black person, a Native Australian.
|Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Apr. 24/4: That evening the colored folk of P.M. saw stars, blood and hair. One dark cloud stopped a bottle with its ear, another was seen dressed in its boots only. After dark none were seen at all.|
|DN IV:ii 163: dark cloud, n. A negro.‘Addenda – The Northwest’ in|
|Phenomena in Crime 231: I spotted a dark cloud (he meant a negro).|
|Amer. Dream Girl (1950) 24: Suddenly, Tony shouted: ‘Dark clouds’.‘The Fastest Runner’ in|
|,||(ref. to c.1900)DAS.|
|Lang. of Ethnic Conflict 46: Color Allusions, Other than ‘Black’ and ‘Negro’: [...] dark-brethern, dark-cloud [1900. Also used for any gathering of blacks].|
(Aus.) a derog. term for an Aborigine.
|Burn 66: Keep outa this, blackface [...] You heard, dark man. Shut your trap.|
see separate entry.
|Joys of War 62: The next patrol was out at dark o’clock again. [...] By the time we reached our objective it would be first light in an hour.|
(N.Z. prison) a holding area for newly arrived prisoners.
|Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 52/2: darkroom n. the waiting room where a new inmate is placed when he first enters the prison, before he is escorted to his wing and cell.|
(W.I.) a person of mixed race, with one-quarter white to three-quarters black.
|‘Commissioners of the Almshouse v. Whistelo’ in Criminal Law Cases (NY) III (1825) 200: My father was white; he was a Scotchman, a servant ; and my mother was a dark sambo.|
|Trans. of Ethnological Soc. new ser. I 4: the aboriginal native was nearly black — a very dark Sambo (to use the West Indian term) but not a Negro.|
|cited in Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).|
|Police Jrnl: a Review for the Police Forces of the Empire 1 Jan. 209: She was dark sambo (very dark brown) in colour.|
|Centre of the Labyrinth 8: You is a pretty one. A class of a dark sambo girl!|
(US) a black person, usu. a woman, in a sexual context.
|Same Old Grind 152: Her face an ebony mask, Zehya did the royal high-step down the lounge aisle [...] ‘Hey, dark stuff, bring it over here,’ called a customer.|
|(con. 1964–8) Cold Six Thousand 241: ‘Suppose I want dark stuff?’ ‘You call Al at the chambermaids’ union. It’s good trim, if you don’t mind schtupping in a mop closet.|
SE in slang uses
(UK / US prison) a prison punishment cell.
|Reports from Committees on Secondary Punishments 25 Mar. 6: What is the longest period that any person has been put in solitary confinement in the dark cell ?|
|Reports from Commissioners 26 July 305: You were reported for not picking oakum [...] and for noise, and [...] you were then placed in the dark cell.|
|DAUL 56/1: Dark-cell (p) In some prisons, a small, ill-ventilated, lightless cell used for punishment and psychopathic observation. ‘Fritz broke up (wrecked his cell) last night. They got him In the dark-cell waiting for the bug doctor (psychiatrist) to gander (look) him over. If he ain’t nuts, that joint will shove him over the line (drive him Insane).’.et al.|
(UK Und.) one who keeps a mistress and only dares visit her surreptitiously at night.
|New Canting Dict. n.p.: dark Cully a marry’d Man, who keeps a Mistress, and creeps to her in the Night, for fear of Discovery.|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.|
|London Spy I 11: I have had most of these Dark Engineers you saw my patients; for they are seldom free from Clap.|
(UK Und.) a dark lanthorn.
|Discoveries (1774) 43: A dark glim; a dark Lanthorn.|
|Whole Art of Thieving.|
|Sporting Mag. Feb. 258/2: A dark glim — A fark lantern.|
1. the vagina.
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
2. (US prison) a punishment cell.
|Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA) 23 Feb. 5/4: The captain [...] decided that I should be triced up by the thumbs for six hours each day for three days and that i should be put in irons and kept in the dark hole for thirteen weeks.|
|Sun (NY) 25 Jan. 3/1: The Horrors of the dark Hole, Atlanta’s Star Torture Chamber [...] No mattress or bed — just floor [...] Men were kept there weeks at a timew [...] chained standing for intolerable periods.|
3. (S.Afr. gay) the anus.
1. a room used to confine the insane.
|DSUE (1984) 291/2: ca. 1600-1850.|
2. a tavern offering bedrooms for the night.
|Pandora Act I: The dayly terror of getting such diseases as inhabit your dark houses, has frightened me into better purposes.|
|London Spy III 48: [heading] A Chamber in the Dark-House at Billingsgate, and, its Furniture Described.|
a thief’s candle or light, made so as to shut out the light when not needed.
|Regulator 19: A Glim-stick, alias Dark Lanthern.|
|Mysteries and Miseries of N.Y. I 36: I’m agoin’ to open it with a jimmy and a dark lantern, to be sure!|
1. a servant or agent who takes and transmits a bribe offered to his master.
|Love in a Wood I i: joyner.: You are the Picklock and dark-Lanthorn of Policy.|
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: A Dark-Lanthorn, the Servant or Agent that Receives the Bribe (at Court).|
|New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|Life and Adventures.|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Dict. Sl. and Cant.|
|Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|Satirist (London) 6 May 147/2: ‘Come, strike up Dark-lanthern!’ says I, / Ven the old ’un beginned for to scrub.|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open [as cit. 1835].|
|New and Improved Flash Dict.|
2. (US) an African-American.
|Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 23 Aug. n.p.: Not far from No. 4 there is a nest where a woman ties up [...] It is said to be a resort of both colors, though dark lanterns predominate.|
(US black) the night.
|N.Y. Age 11 July 7/1: Hilda Byrd sits on her stoop every darktime [...] waiting for Frank Simpkins.‘Truckin ’round Brooklyn’ in|
(US) for an African-American clientele.
|On Broadway 18 June [synd. col.] It’s a new dark-and-tan Harlem spot.|
(Aus.) very dark.
|Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 96: The shop’s as dark as an abo’s arsehole.|
|May Martin 26: I’d go for you and take a bear out of a trap, if ’twas as dark as a nigger’s pocket, for I always knows bow to fight .|
|Mustee 426: It was dark as a nigger’s pocket afore we fetched her.|
|Frank in the Woods 121: After a few minits’ lookin’ — or, I should say, feelin’ — for the cave war as dark as a nigger’s pocket — I found the young painters.|
|(ref. to 1863)Memories of the Lost Cause n.p.: It was as dark as a nigger’s pocket. I was sleepy, hungry and tired. I could feel the gray-backs moving around.|
|Nth and Sth American Railway Rev. 29: It was as dark as a nigger’s pocket. I was sleepy, hungry and tired.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Oct. 48/1: For a while the sorely-tried convoys stumbled up that twisted gully, as dark as a nigger’s pocket, every night, cursing all the way up to the spring and down again.|
|Loving Couple 91: ‘Dark as a nigger’s pocket in here,’ Fran said, sweeping her mink coat around her.|
see black as Newgate under black as... adj.
(Can./US) very dark.
|Black Forest Village Stories (trans.) 235: The moon retired behind a large cloud; so that [...] it was almost ‘as dark as the inside of a cow’.|
|Roughing It 37: We fastened down the coach curtains [...] and made the place as ‘dark as the inside of a cow.’ as the conductor phrased it.|
|Leicester Chron. 21 June 6/1: I assure you the streets roundabout were, as Mark Twain puts it, dark as the inside of a cow.|
|Dly Morn. Astorian (OR) 20 Dec. 3/1: Till ten yesterday morning it was as dark as the inside of a cow.|
|Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 30 July n.p.: There I was ion the middle of a black threacherous bog in a night as [...] dark as the inside of a cow.|
|Boss 315: The night’s as dark as the inside of a cow.|
|Eve. Bull. (Honolulu) 21 June 7/1: Old Peter Jackson, who was as dark as the inside of a cow on a dark night, was adored by a tremendous following.|
|Two and Three 3 Mar. [synd. col.] This dinge had a complexion that darker than the inside of an old boot.|
|Runyon à la Carte 129: It is darker than a yard down a bear’s throat except when it lightnings.|
to say nothing; esp. as imper. dark it! be quiet! keep quiet!
|Era (London) 14 Mar. 3: ‘Keep it dark,’ says he.|
|Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant.|
|Bird o’ Freedom (Sydney) 7 Feb. 3/3: ‘Why don’t you keep it dark’.|
|Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 23 Jan. 3/6: ‘Cabbie, ’ sez he, ‘keep it dark; / It don’t do for folks to know as / How I do this bloomin’ lark’.|
|Viva La Madness 36: ‘Keep it dark, Sonny’ [...] ‘Who are you, tellin me to keep quiet?’.|
(UK black) to kill.
|Deadmeat 261: If [...] the shit did go off, I was ready to dark them out.|
to feign ignorance or incompetence.
|Pall Mall Gaz. 15 May 12/1: A race of budding swindlers [...] classed with Mr Charlton who plays ‘dark’ at billiards in the hope of getting some money ‘on’ before contending for the cue.|