Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sheet n.

[abbr. SE sheet of paper; note WWI milit. on the sheet, charged with an offence]

1. a newspaper, a magazine [mainly US since 20C+].

[UK]Foote Knights in Works (1799) I 64: Quires of news-papers! now, I reckon, you read a matter of eight sheets every day.
[UK]Thrale Thraliana i Aug.-Sept. 153: Mr Murphy was ingaged in a Periodical Paper called I think the Grays Inn Journal [...] & said he must go to Town to publish his Sheet for the Day.
[Scot]Burns To Mr Peter Stuart in Works (1845) 338: Your sheet, man, (Though glad I’m to see’t, man,) I get it no’ ae day in ten.
J.H. Warren Crying Shame of NY 43: There is a newspaper in this city that finds its way daily into the hands of nearly a quarter of a million of readers, a sheet that has coined millions by its advertising patronage alone.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 101: He had skimmed through the well-known sheets.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 23/2: The editor of a sheet up there, moved by the fact alluded to, on being asked what a phenomenon was, answered, ‘A dramatic company that pays cash for its advertising.’.
[US]J.J. Flinn Hist. Chicago Police n.p.: Neither paper spared abusive language nor epithets of questionable decency, and [...] careful fathers and husbands hesitated before introducing the sheets into their families.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 86: I must appear deeply engrossed in this sheet.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 Nov. 4/7: So the sheets all sagacious and slim / Proceeded to say / Their nakedness rustic and grim / Was rather outre.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 187: You must boost this sheet up till New York rings with your exploits.
[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 652: Sheet—newspaper.
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 306: I forgot you don’t get the scandal sheets.
[US]T. Thursday ‘The Wild Whampoo of the Whampolo’ in Blue Ribbon Sports Dec. 🌐 Boy, that’s a natural for forty yards of publicity! [...] you guys watch my stuff in the sheets!
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 16 Jan. [synd. col.] He [...] collected so much that the sheet put him on straight salary to save money .
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 72: Give us a bo-peep at the Sydney sheet.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 89: One sheet reprints all his speeches.
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 330: It’s a six-page dirt sheet in trade size, like the Reporter.
[US]D. Goines Inner City Hoodlum 57: I read the sheets this morning.
[US]J. Wambaugh Glitter Dome (1982) 283: They threatened to turn it over to some Hollywood scandal sheet.
[US] in J. Breslin Damon Runyon (1992) 138: He understood his business as being one in which those who shower the editor with the most praise usually are regarded as the finest talent on the sheet.

2. (US tramp) a shirt.

[US]Sun (NY) 21 May 28/1: ‘If I make fifty or sixty bills dis winter I’ll buy myself [...] a couple o’ sheets (shirts)’.

3. a single unit of paper currency, e.g. £1, $1, one euro.

[US]Marion Star (OH) 6 Aug. 2/4: The women who do the counting are careful [...] I have never heard of their making a mistake even of a single sheet.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 204: ‘The dice get hot for a guy like this maybe once in his whole life.’ ‘They get too damn hot when I lay my sheets down.’.
[UK]F. Norman Bang to Rights 48: Which if it did happen would cost some one half a sheet.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 167: If I start spendin’ half a sheet more’n normal somebody’ll suss me out in a flash.
[UK] (ref. to 1930s–70s) R. Barnes Coronation Cups and Jam Jars 207: Sheet – £1.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 85: Forty sheets at five tae one, I’d gie ye.
[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 75: I was gonna ask man an’ man for eighty sheets.
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Cartoon City 77: A pal from Finglas offers us thirty sheets so we think to ourselves ‘thirty’s good business’.
[Ire]P. Howard Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightdress 36: If that jammer’s still got a full set of alloys [...] when I come back, there’s ten sheets in it for you.
[Scot]T. Black Ringer [ebook] n.p.: Twenty sheets a night I started paying him.
Twitter 26 May 🌐 A worthless exercise in how to trouser the sheets. They must think we were born yesterday.
Central Cee ‘Tension’ 🎵 All I had was a ten sheet.

4. (US Und.) a cigarette paper.

[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 335/2: sheets, n. Cigarette papers.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[UK]T. Thorne (ed.) ‘Drill Slang Glossary’ at Forensic Linguistic Databank 🌐 Sheets - cigarette papers.

5. (US Und.) an official police record.

[Scot]B. Stuart Adventure in Algeria 72: [in the French Foreign Legion] [A]s he had not had a crime on his ‘sheet’ for about ten years he was let off with a caution.
[US]Chicago Trib. 10 Oct. n.p.: ‘Sheet’ is a police record. The hood has got a sheet and wants to give half a yard for a pass, but I’m not on the clout so I house him.
[US]N. Algren Chicago: City On the Make 76: Any good burglar with a sheet a foot long can buy a pass at a C-note per sheet.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 165: If a person under the Act kept his sheet clean for a period of seven years dating from his last discharge from prison then you were no longer under starters orders.
[US]Current Sl. I:2 5/2: Sheet. n. A police record.
[Aus]J. Alard He who Shoots Last 81: He had a sheet as long as your arm.
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 93: I bet he got a sheet down there damn long as mine.
[US]T. Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities 145: The chances are the police have a sheet on that young man.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 111: They got about three hundred sheets and Marty he claimed about a hundred and eighty.
[US]R. Campbell Wizard of La-La Land (1999) 199: He got a sheet on him [...] you could put through the wash twenty times and it still wouldn’t come out clean.
[US]G. Pelecanos Right As Rain 20: You got a sheet [...] they gonna put your thin ass away.
[US]Simon & Pelecanos ‘Amsterdam’ Wire ser. 3 ep. 4 [TV script] A long time ago. Before I had a sheet.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 108: There’s nothing in your sheet to suggest it [i.e. murder]. No violence.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Broken’ in Broken 32: ‘[H]e’s thirty-eight, with a sheet’.

6. a perforated sheet of LSD-impregnated blotting-paper, which can be torn into 100 separate doses of LSD.

Standard-Speaker (Hazelton, PA) 27 Dec. 5/5: The sheets contained approximately 600 hits, or doses, of LSD.
P.Z. Brite Exquisite Corpse 77: [...] the Vietnamese boy he’d scored the sheet of acid from yesterday.
M. Lites Tales from the Tweak Side 30: I’d never seen a whole sheet of acid before and to me an experienced ‘tripper’, this was a real treat.

In compounds

In phrases

brown sheet (n.)

(UK black) a £10 note.

[UK](con. 1979–80) A. Wheatle Brixton Rock (2004) 121: A brown sheet a day was paid.
bunk sheet (n.) [bunk n.2 (1)]

(US) a sensational newspaper.

Macon Republican (MO) 24 Oct. 2/2: The Democratic bunk sheet, which is being distributed broadcast over the state.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 266: I got to go back to the daily bunksheet.
scream sheet (n.) [screamer n. (3b)]

(US) a tabloid newspaper (more recently on digital media); also attrib.

Marion Cty Herald (Palmyra, MO) 6 May 1/1: ‘Pep’ songs from the ‘Flower City Scream Sheet’ also enlivened the evening.
[US]Lincoln Jrnl Star (NE) 17 Aug. 12/5: A scarlet scandal is spread across the front page of ther scream sheet.
Chula Vista Star (CA) 11 June 2/4: Take for instance those ‘scream sheet’ yarns about the Japs blowing up German ships.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 104: Father Barry bought [...] the Manhattan scream sheets.
[US]Arizona Dly Star (Tucson, AZ) 20 Aug. 24/4: That scream-sheet expose of ‘The Morrison Story’ [...] is a disgrace to Arizona journalism.
Battle Creek Enquirer (MI) 19 Apr. 7/1: Her name appeared first in a London scream sheet, then in a U.S. tabloid.
Jackson Sun (TN) 27 Aug. A11/3: He [...] replaced him with the executive chairman of Breitbart, the right-wing scream sheet.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

sheet alley (n.) (also sheet lane)

bed; thus go down sheet alley into Bedfordshire, to go to bed.

Southern Echo 17 July 2/5: I was safely within Sheet Alley [...] I had not been asleep many minutes before [etc].
[UK]H. Baumann Londinismen (2nd edn) 204/1: down sheet alley into Bedfordshire ins Bett.
Mid-Sussex Times 9 Aug. 2/6: We [...] get ship-shape — or rather tent-shape before dark. When the time came to enmter ‘sheet-alley’ we were thankful.
[UK]Bucks Herald 16 Nov. 5/7: Up Wooden Hill and Down Sheet Alley.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1047/1: sheet-alley or -lane. Bed.
sheet-boy (n.)

(Aus.) a bookmaker.

[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 167: There’ll be plenty for all of us. We’ll get it off the sheet boys [bookmakers].
sheet change (n.) [sheets are changed once a week]

(N.Z. prison) a very short sentence.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 163/2: sheet change n. a very short sentence.
sheet jumper (n.)

(N.Z. prison) one who commits suicide by hanging (presumably having knotted their bed sheets to make the ‘rope’).

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 164/1: sheet jumper n. an inmate who commits suicide by hanging.
sheet-slinger (n.)

(US campus) a chambermaid.

[US]Eaton Democrat (OH) 14 Mar. 1/6: A Detroit chambermaid calls herself ‘the sheet-singer of Michigan’.
[US]Watchman & Southron (Sumter, SC) 23 Jan. 3/2: The comparison of a prima donna to Jervey’s chambermaid is that one was a sweet singer and the other a sheet slinger.
[US]Chicago Trib. 3 Dec. 16/1: ‘What is [a] chambermaid?’ [...] ‘A sheet slinger’.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 59: sheet slinger, n. A chamber-maid.
[US]Bonham Dly Favorite (TX) 29 Aug. 3/4: The girls are called ‘pillow punchers and sheet slingers’.
[US]Herald & Rev. (Decatur, IL) 6 Nov. 1/2: Lauretha Woodland, one of the quickest and tidiest sheet-slingers in the Midwest.

In phrases

cheat sheet (n.)

(US campus) notes smuggled into an examination.

[US]L.P. Boone ‘Gator Sl.’ AS XXXIV:2 156: A cribber must find a pony to ride (someone to give information on the test), or secure a cheat sheet (key).
[US]Poston ‘Problems in the Study of Campus Sl.’ in AS XXXIX:2 118: One may mention cheat sheet ‘notes which a student illicitly brings to an examination’.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 48: cheat sheet – A pony.
drag through the sheet (v.)

see under drag v.1

have a sheet short (v.)

(Aus.) to be eccentric.

Kiama Reporter (NSW) 14 May 2/6: Mr. Hannaford was asked what list he was dealing with, and he replied it was the one starting with Dapto. Several voices came from the other corner of the room that there were two-lists with different dates, but both commencing with Albion Park. ‘Somebody’s a sheet short’ was Mr. Albert Cook’s comment .
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
[Aus]N..C. Pyakare Frightful Prospect [ebook] [E]veryone was standing around staring at her like she was a sheet short.
K. Kingsley In the Presence of Angels [ebook] He looked at her as if she were a sheet short. ‘What in God’s name are you talking about?’.
hit the sheets (v.)

1. to go to bed.

[UK]C. Hamilton Prisoners of Hope 56: All I ask is that you’ll do what you're going ter do without talkin' about it and let me go on to hit the sheets. I’m absoballylootly all in [OED].
[US]Jrnl. Gaz. (Mattoon, IL) 16 Oct. 19/1: Lucinda and Sawyer hit the sheets.
L. Barnes Lie Down with the Devil 62: The driver was simply tired, eager to hit the sheets.

2. (US) to have sexual intercourse.

[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 10: Hitting the sheets so early?
[[US]W. King ‘The Game’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 306: I’m with this Edith broad I been trying to lay on sheets for the past half month. [Ibid.] 309: This doll is a champ on the sheets! She is brutal; death on sheets, man!].
J. Evanovich One for the Money 68: And he’d been tolerably nice to me, even though it was obvious we weren’t destined to hit the sheets together.

3. (US gay/lesbian) to be passive to the overtures of another woman.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
take the sheet (v.) [the recipient is lying on the bed sheet when receiving caresses]

(US gay) to allow a partner to indulge in active lovemaking (and thus become a passive recipient).

[US]Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 206: ‘These studs, talking about how “I don’t take the sheet.” You know what I mean “don’t take the sheet,” don’t you? That mean a stud make up to a fem all the time, a few did not make up with a stud’.