Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fire n.

1. venereal disease [the pain it causes].

[[UK]Chaucer Parson’s Tale line 429: Half the partie of hire privee membres were corrupted by the fir of seint Antony].
[UK]Shakespeare Comedy of Errors IV iii: They appear to men as angels of light; light is an effect of fire and fire will burn; ergo, light wenches will burn. Come not near her.
[UK]Jonson Alchemist II i: The decay’d Vestall’s of Pickt-hatch ... That keepe the fire a-liue there.
[UK]R. Brathwait Strappado 152: Akes in the ioynts, and ring-worme in the face, Cramps in the nerues, fire in the priuy place.
[US]Cokaine ‘Nann Colt’s Fire’ 162: [He] carry perhaps Nann Colt’s fire in his Breeches, have her claps.
‘Letter from a Missionary Bawd’ in Carpenter Verse in English from Tudor & Stuart Eng. (2003) 426: Whose amorous fire shot through her does make / Her Lord’s backbone as well as forehead ake.
[UK]London Jilt pt 1 A3: An other has liken’d them [i.e. whores] to Sampson’s Foxes, who carry fire in their Tails to burn the standing Corn.
[UK]N. Ward ‘The Insinuating Bawd’ Writings (1704) 80: Your Extasies of Joy, with a Pox to ’em [...] have struck up such an unextinguishable Fire in my most Pleasurable Apartment, that I fear it’s past the Power of Tunbridge Waters, Aqua-Tetrachimagogon, or the Pick-a-dilly Engineer, to stop the Flames from consuming the whole Miserable Tenement.
[UK]London-Bawd (1705) 1: She has formerly been one of Sampson’s Foxes, and has carried so much fire in her Tail, as has burnt all those that have had to do with her.
[UK]London-Bawd (3rd edn) Ch. i: She has [...] carried so much fire in her Tail, as has burnt all those that have had to do with her.
A. Ramsay Lucky Spence’s Last Advice [ballad] My Bennison come on good Doers, / Who spend their Cash on Bawds and Whoors / May they ne’er want the wale of Cures / for a sair Snout; / Foulfaw the Quacks that Fire smoors / and puts na out.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 89: Poor Donald he rose up again, / As nothing did him ail, Sir; / But little kennd’ this bonny Lass, / Had Fire about her tail, Sir.
‘The Original black Joke. Sent from Dublin’ 🎵 The cuning [sic] sly Jade show’d him a trick / & sent him away with fire in his stick.
[UK]Machine 2: Add Fire to what was all on Fire before.
[UK]Nancy Dawson’s Jests 36: There Nancy and Lucy no more can bewail, / The woful effects of fire in their tail.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 533: Did not jove send down Madam iris, / The rainbow wench, whose tail on fire is.
[UK]The only True LIST, of those celebrated SPORTING LADIES [broadsheet] She has lately been at Lichfield [...] where by to often starting has twice taken fire, but is now perfectly recovered.
[UK]‘The bankrupt Bawd’ in Hilaria 35: But, luckless Bawd! the after day / Her stock on fire they found, sir .
[UK]Flash Minstrel! in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) I 108: He went to sweep a flue one day, / Which had been on fire they say; / And clergy he got burnt so bad, / To give the trade up he was glad.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 15 Oct. n.p.: the whip wants to knowHow that young man [...] is since he got burnt at Suse Bryant’s [brothel]. You must get something stronger than camphine to draw the fire out .
[US]Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 4 Jan. n.p.: [He] asked her how she came to set fire to one of his shipmates, and he replied that if folks did not want their fingers burnt they must keep them out of the fire!
[UK] ‘My Own Darling Kate’ Rakish Rhymer (1917) 149: I’ve caught crabs from the ‘shrubs’ round the high German c—ts, / Caught the ‘fire’ from the Bridgets so nate.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 69: She’d left behind a souvenir, I’d have you all to know, / And in nine days, to my surprise, there was a fire down below.
[US]‘Digg Mee’ ‘Observation Post’ in N.Y. Age 22 Nov. 9/6: [of someone suffering a STD] Just ask the doc. For a while, my lad’s in hock ( [...] you can’t play with fire without being burned).

2. the vagina.

[UK] ‘The Old Mans Wish’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy I 17: A Fire (which once stirred up with a Prong) / Will keep the Room temperate all the night long.
‘Coal Black Rose’ 🎵 Come in, Sambo, don’t tand dere shakin, / De fire is a burnin and de hot cake a bakin.

3. (US Und.) danger, pressure, esp. from the police; thus on fire, very dangerous.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
D. Hammett Big Knockover (1972) 291: Suppose you build as much fire as you can out here in front while I’m stopping this egg’s bleeding, Milk River.
[US]R. Prather Always Leave ’Em Dying 108: The heat on me had been bad before, but it was really a fire now, an eighteen-alarm inferno. We’d read all the morning papers and listened to the news broadcasts; all of them had the latest developments.
[US](con. 1930s) N. Algren ‘The Last Carousel’ in Texas Stories (1995) 158: By rights, as one of the hands in the shearing, I ought to be right up there taking some of the fire.

4. (US short-order) a portion of chilli.

Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD) 1 Nov. 22/1: ‘Bowl o’ chili, Charlie, ’n a cup of coffee.’ ‘Bowlla fire — one,’ droned Charlie’.

5. pertaining to smoking.

(a) (US black) a cigarette.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

(b) (US black) a marijuana cigarette.

D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 19 July 13: We’d better put out the fire, cause the man who rides the screaming gasser is in port.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive [as 1941].

(c) (US) matches or a cigarette lighter.

[US] ‘C.C.C. Chatter’ in AS XV:2 Apr. 211/2: Common articles of food lose some of their sameness when given figurative names: [...] Gimme some fire is a request for a match.
[US]C. Himes Real Cool Killers (1969) 45: ‘Give me some fire and less of your lip.’ Sheik said. Choo-Choo flipped a dollar lighter and lit both cigarettes.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 4: fire – flame from a match or lighter.

(d) a mixture of crack cocaine and methamphetamine.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 9: Fire — Crack and methamphetamine.

(e) bad or weak crack cocaine [it burns the throat or play on burn v. (1)].

[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 102: How you gonna open up and sell fire? ’Cause that’s what the customers said it is. The cracks taste like fire. That shit is nasty!

(f) (US black/drugs) potent marijuana.

[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) 🌐 Fire (noun) Marijuana.
[US]Ebonics Primer at 🌐 fire Definition: some good weed. Example: Nigga this that fire, fire.

(g) (US drugs) notably potent heroin, sometimes laced with ferntanyl.

[US]N. Walker Cherry 230: There wasn’t a lot of heroin. Just two grams. Gary said, ‘This shit’s supposed to be fire’.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] [L]aying the bricks of fentanyl out on tables and cutting it into pans of heroin, then distributing the fire into the small glassine bags that will go out on the street.

6. (US Und.) a firearm.

[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 91: You dudes gonna be packin all your fire to the meet?

In compounds

firebrand (n.)

a victim of a venereal disease.

[UK]Nocturnal Revels 2 181: We beg, however, that the reader may not put a false contstruction upon this last expression [i.e. Fr. for ‘a lit fuse’], and think that there was the least reason to suspect a firebrand on either side.
firelock (n.) (also tinder-box)

the vagina.

[UK]Robin Goodfellow, His Mad Pranks and Merry Jests E3: Maids in your smocks, Looke well to your locks, and your tinder Boxe.
[Ire] ‘The Manual Exercise’ Irish Ballads 2: Make ready your cartridge observe what I say, / And also your firelock for that’s my desire.
[UK] ‘The Tinder-Box’ Flash Chaunter 3: Said Roger unto Jane [...] Come, let me strike a light in your tinder-box. / Dear Roger, said the maid, my tinder-box is new, / It never has been open’d, but I cannot refuse you.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
fireship (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

set on fire (v.) (also set fire to)

to give someone a venereal disease.

[UK] ‘The Poor Whores Complaint’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 218: If we set them on fire at both ends, / The devil he may quench them.
[UK]The only True LIST, of those celebrated SPORTING LADIES [broadsheet] Eliz. Hen-y must be guarded against, as she has not only set fire to many Farmers, but burnt several of their men.
[UK] ‘Covent Garden Ramble’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 78: This little dirty stinking slut, Set me all on fire.

In exclamations

SE in slang uses

In compounds

fire-bug (n.) [regional AmE nickname for a firefly or glow-worm]

1. (US) a device used to create fire, a form of fire-bomb.

letter Oct. 10 cited inPittsburgh Dly Commercial (PA) 7 Nov. 3/7: I found another of their ‘fire-bugs’ which consists of a tin can holding about a quart, in the centre of which is suspended a smaller can. The inner can contains powder, and the space around it is filled with cottonand turpentine. A time-fuse communicates [...] It exploded [...] covering the ground with fire.

2. (und.) an arsonist.

[US]Buffalo Morning Exp. (NY) 27 Feb. 2/6: [headline] capture of a ‘fire-bug’ / Choate, the Supposed Newbury Port, Mass. Incendiary Under Arrest.
[US]Pitssburgh Dly Post (PA) 16 Feb. 4/2: incendiarism / A firebug visited Jno. Cook’s stable [...] and while Mrs Cook was milking her cows, set fire to the structure.
[Aus]Nth Eastern Ensign (Benalla, Vic.) 27 Jan. 2/3: These ‘fire-bugs’ who maliciously set fire to the properties of others.
[US]Cooperstown Courier (ND) 9 Jan. 6/2: The Criminal Calendar / A trio of firebugs, who have been infesting Trempealeau county, Wis., have been bagged.
[Aus]public notice cited in Teleg. (Brisbane) 28 Aug. 2/7: ‘Fire-bugs, take warning! The gallows are ready and hanging ready to begin. Suspicious characters had better give Elko a wide berth’ .
Eldridge & Watts Our Rival, the Rascal 299: Even among rascals, the ‘fire-bug’ is a monstrosity. [...] No other distinct class of rascals exhibits such callous indifference or utter recklessness in the sacrifice of life and property.
Wilkes-Barre Record (PA) 2 Jan. 2/4: The firebugs started the fire in the haymow.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Sydney) 25 Aug. 8/2: Added to the general outlawry, there have been terrible depredations by fire bugs. An incendiary only a few days ago fired the arsenal at Toulon.
[Aus]Advertiser (Adelaide) 27 Aug. 11/5: Apparently it only needs the sight of a Cabinet Minister to make [a suffragette] long for blood and to turn her into a reckless hatchet-slinger, bomb-thrower, or ‘fire- bug’.
[US]Wkly Jrnl-Miner (Prescott, AZ) 1 Jan. 2/1: [R]avages of the ‘firebug’ [...] have reached enormous dimensions in the metropolis.
Brooklyn Dly Eagle 4 Jan. Long Is. supp. 8/5: [headline] think boy firebug started ten fires / Series of Incendiary cases [...] Laid to Lad Seeking thrills.
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 5 Mar. 8/1: The supposed firebug evidently watches every move that is being made.
[US]Lebanon Exp. (OR) 31 Aug. 1/2: An unidentified firebug [was] seen attempting to set fire to the M.E. Phillips & Son store.
: The ‘Phantom Fire-Bug,’ the incendiarist who has eluded observation despite a police watch on the premises, set fire to an unoccupied house for the third time .
[US]Greenwood Commonwealth (MS) 25 May 6/2: [He] has become a professional firebug. His speciality is hotel mattresses.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 4 Jan. 1/6: It is possible that a miniacal firebug, who is believed to be responsible for the fires, may have thought the golf club house was unoccupied.
[UK]P. Hoskins No Hiding Place! 190/1: Fire Spaniels or Fire Bugs. Incendiaries.
[US]Boston Globe (MA) 18 Feb. 7/2: A firebug touched off the $2,000,000 blaze that swept baltimore’s historic waterfront.
[US]R. Conot Rivers of Blood 383: Only Dorton and Robert Ernest Pegues of all those who might be termed major firebugs was caught.
[Aus]Benjamin & Pearl Limericks Down Under 35: A firebug in old Parramatta, / Was really as mad as a hatter.
[Aus]P. Papathanasiou Stoning 62: There was clearly a firebug at large in town.

see separate entries.

fire-catcher (n.) [such clothes are worth using only to light a fire]

(W.I.) old, ragged, workclothes.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).
firecracker (n.)

(US) a term of address, suggesting one who ‘explodes’.

[US]T. Pluck Boy from County Hell 88: ‘Too late for that [i.e. escape], firecracker. You sit tight’.

see separate entries.

fire fluid (n.)

(Aus.) strong liquor; spirits.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 July 8/3: This total represents 88 millions of pints, or 11 millions of gallons of fire-fluid. Or – just imagine it – a lagoon of grog six miles square and a little over three feet deep throughout!

In phrases

fire-lurker (n.) [lurker n. (1)]

one who begs on the basis of having lost their possessions through fire.

[Scot]Edinburgh Rev. July 481: The writer then enters into details as to ‘the Fire-Lurkers,’ or those ‘who go about begging for loss by fire’.
fireplug (n.)

see separate entries.

fire power (n.)

(US black) physical strength and ability.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 237: fire power Physical or mental strength and ability.
[US]G.V. Higgins Patriot Game (1985) 88: This guy with more firepower’n the Sixth Fleet comes in.
fire prigger (n.) [prigger n.1 (1)]

one who robs those who are otherwise preoccupied with watching their, or someone else’s, home burn down.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 131: Fire-Priggers. [...] These wretches who attend on fires, and rob the sufferers under pretence of coming to give assistance.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Fire priggers, villains who rob at fires under pretence of assisting in removing the goods.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 314/2: fire priggers, [...] voleurs qui, dans un sinistre, s’emparent de marchandises et de valeurs, sous prétexte de les arracher aux flammes.
fireproof (adj.)

1. (orig. US) invulnerable, guaranteed against failure.

[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 281: He pitches it into her most uncommon powerful [...] but she seems close and stubborn, and perfect fireproof.
[US](con. 1890s) S.H. Adams Tenderloin 171: The Doc is fireproof. But there might be something doing with some of his gang.
[UK]Sun. Tel. mag. 12 Dec. 18: It’s terribly easy to make arrangements so you’re fireproof.

2. (US Und.) having made one’s peace prior to death.

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 36: fireproofed, adj. having made peace with the world before dying.
fireproof peter (n.)

(US Und.) a safe that is ostentatiously fireproofed, but offers no real security from safebreakers.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 70/1: Fire-proof peter. A seemingly strong safe which is merely fireproofed but can easily be broken by safe-crackers.
fireworks (n.)

see separate entry.

on fire (adj.)

doing very well, typically of a rock band, a sportsperson or some similar achiever.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 141: The basketball team has won eight straight — they’re on fire.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 7: There’d been nights not so long ago, nights like Carlisle, when the Grams had been on fire.
[US]E. Wald Escaping the Delta 259: B.B. [King] was on fire. [. . .] It was one of the greatest blues performances I have seen.
[US]M. Mesko Confessions of a Caddie 127: Mike [a golfer] was on fire, throwin 'em at the pins and draining everything he looked at.
put out fires (v.)

to deal promptly with sudden crises.

[US]G.P. Pelecanos Firing Offense 20: As the manager [...] he knew what his priorities were: to put out fires and to protect his salesmen from the main office.
‘Elvis Costello’ Unfaithful Music 343: A few days later, my manager arrived back from London to put out fires.