Green’s Dictionary of Slang

front n.1

1. (orig. UK society, also frontage) cheek, audacity.

‘Jenny’s Bawbee’ Jovial Soget inngster 106: He thought to win wi’ front o’ brass, / Jenny’s bawbee.
in J.T. Coleridge Memoir of J. Keble (1869) 63: I am not very much au fait in Latin and Greek; but my nerves are more steeled, and my front more bronzed of late months, so I shall bully away in the Schools as fearlessly as ever.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 Apr. 4/3: He hadn’t the ‘front’ to put his name to it.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 May 9/2: There are many things connected with George Augustus’ views with which we disagree, but (we’ve ‘front’ enough to disbelieve anybody) we’re prepared to fight anyone who says he’s inaudible or prosy.
[UK]Referee 9 Mar. in Ware (1909) 137/2: There is another rendering of the word ‘front’ in use among some clever folk, but I wouldn’t for the world suggest that the promoters have any of that – to say nothing of 420 ft. of it.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 30 Aug. 2/2: ‘Come here, Tommy," said Flossie [...], ‘and let me look at your beautiful legs,’ [...] Tommy held his dimpled legs proudly up for display, and [...] in a loud voice said, with true Early Bird front, ‘Now let us look at yours’.
[US]Hopkinsville Kentuckian (KY) 9 Mar. 3/3: The old slang words ‘cheek’ and ‘gall’ have been dupplanted by the word ‘front’.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Return of the Wanderer’ Sporting Times 14 Apr. 1/4: His friends managed to find a good berth for him / In America, for they’d the frontage to say / Over here there was no chance on earth for him.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 154: I have never had the moral courage, or the ‘front’, to tell a dun that he was mad.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Individualist’ in Roderick (1967–9 II) 330: ’Tis the cant of the Calico Jimmy, of the Fatman with front as of brass, / Of the parson, the boodler and lawyer, and the hopelessly dull middle class.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 75: Say, it took all the front I had in stock just to tag along as an also ran.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 151: He had a Front like the new Pennsylvania Station and the soft Personal Attributes of a Numidian Lion.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 97: Wonder they ’ave the front to put ’em up.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Goldfish’ Red Wind (1946) 156: ‘I like your front,’ he said, ‘even if you are crazy.’.
[Aus]Williamstown Chron. (Vic.) 30 Mar. 8/4: It is surprising the ‘front’ of some young fellows who submitted themselves for selection in a premiership side. Some of the ‘drongoes’ who pranced around the oval would not get a kick in a free fight.
[UK]A.B. Hollingshead Elmtown’s Youth (1975) 316: About half of their talk is ‘front’.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 80: She’s got more front than Selfridges.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 98: You ain’t got no front and flash.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: That arse – you know, the consorter what dollied you on the bust last year – [...] Give me a nice serve in there and had the front to ask me to sign up for a shoppying blue after court.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Get Daley!’ Minder [TV script] 63: Anyway, you got a bit of front coming here.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Real Thing 11: ‘Vince Rossiter is a mad dog.’ ‘He’s certainlty got some front, I’ll give him that’.
[UK]I. Rankin Strip Jack 19: Did Watson really have the front to get the London papers involved?
[UK]K. Richards Life 128: He was very, very sure of himself [and] he certainly put up a lot of front.

2. in senses of disguise or subterfuge.

(a) one’s external appearance or style, a pose, esp. one that masks one’s failings, whether financial or otherwise.

[[UK]Misogonus in Farmer (1906) III ii: I overcame my father, man! here with all his front].
[[UK]Two Wise Men and All the Rest Fooles V v: Was there euer such a monster hatch’d [...] So shameless, so frontlesse a beast as thou art?].
[UK]C. Roberts Adrift in America 205: All you have to do is put a good ‘front on,’ and waltz in with the crowd.
[US]Ade Artie (1963) 29: I know boys that went down there and put on a dizzy front.
[US]Ade More Fables in Sl. (1960) 114: They kept up an Affectionate Front before their Acquaintances.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 24 July 2nd sect.11/3 : These diamonds [...] were loaned by him to Johnson says Little, to enable the fighter’s wife to make a ‘front’.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Girl & the Graft’ Strictly Business (1915) 93: He was all silk hat, diamonds and front. He was all front.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 4 July [synd. col.] Some of them think they can get away with it [...] by putting on a big front and acting as if they knew all about things.
[US]‘Digit’ Confessions of a Twentieth Century Hobo 43: ‘Say, you two guys aren’t on the road?’ ‘We certainly are, buddy.’ ‘You keep up a good front.’ ‘Oh, we are not exactly broke.’.
[US]J.T. Farrell World I Never Made 95: He didn’t like those insincere glad-hand types. They were all front.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 179: He could throw out a front, strike an attitude.
[US]C. Himes ‘Let Me at the Enemy’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 37: Here you is strainin’ yo’self to keep up a front.
[US]A. Zugsmith Beat Generation 32: To keep up his front, he kept telling himself they’d pulled in Rajah.
[UK]A. Baron Lowlife (2001) 10: I have to keep this front up.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 86: Only people who had nothing found it necessary to employ front.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 34: If you weren’t tough, you at least put on a tough front.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 407: It was DeAndre who had to give up the front, who was reduced to professing true love.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 5: His perfectly timed an perfectly authentic rudeboy front [i.e. pose].
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 223: I give him my best, can-do front, but fuck that.

(b) a respectable cover or appearance, esp. as a mask for illegal activities.

[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes I 95: Robber, bully, and blackleg, he still continued to maintain an unabashed front.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 17: I made a bold front and told him what I wanted to do.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Jones’s Alley’ in Roderick (1972) 41: We must put on front an’ go on with it now.
[US]Neihart Herald (MT) 18 Apr. 2/4: A hobo’s fly [...] He puts on a good front, bums on the fly, which is hustlin’ on the street.
[US]S. Ford Odd Numbers 258: Tutwater explains how his first investment is to be a new silk lid, [...] and a silver headed walkin’ stick. ‘Good business!’ says I. ‘You’ll need all the front you can carry.’.
[US]W. Scott Seventeen Years in the Und. 61: A good ‘front’ (appearance) in their line is essential to success.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 135: The professional check man [...] puts on a ‘big front’.
[UK]P. Cheyney Dames Don’t Care (1960) 13: ‘What’s your front?’ he asks. ‘I’m fakin’ to come from Magdalena, Mexico.’.
[US]N. Davis ‘Don’t Give Your Right Name’ in Goulart (1967) 19: He had a swell front.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 29: It served as a handy front when one was working the income tax fiddle.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 136: Most of these were just ‘front’ — a super show-off to their important friends.
[US]C. Fleming High Concept 114: For reasons J.R. cannot explain, his front was never exposed.
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 134: If I want credibility in New York and Monte Carlo I must have a front. Like a casino.
[US]Simon & Burns ‘The Pager’ Wire ser. 1 ep. 5 [TV script] I’m just a front, a clean name for the Liquor Board.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] The office is mostly a front.
[UK]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] ‘He was married, you know.’ ‘Yes, but that could be a front, boss.’.

(c) a person who is employed or a place that is designated to maintain a respectable appearance behind which third parties, e.g. organised criminals, can hide; e.g. the ‘innocent’ manager and/or purported owner of what is in fact a Mafia-controlled casino.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 33: The store was but a ‘front’ or blind for a poker game.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 80: Front. – [...] a grocery store may be the front for a bootlegger’s dive.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’ in Red Wind (1946) 88: Atkinson. Big Hollywood lawyer. Front for the boys.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 17 Nov. [synd. col.] Bonnie edwards’ ‘front’ is Conrad Nagel. The real heart-interest is a statesman.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 149: Doc had me take him to Dreamland then, a tea joint with a cigar-store front on South Dearborn.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 12: Leon’s a front and you know it.
[UK]J. Gosling Ghost Squad 51: He had used his barber shop as a useful ‘front’ for the traffic in [...] forged coupons.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 97: That means they’d have to bring in a third party as a front.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 800: front– One who maintains an apparently innocent enterprise as a blind behind which lawless persons may work without fear.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 95: A lot of little people are also ‘fronts’ for such operations.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 158: He’s got this golf course job that’s really a front.
[UK]B. Chatwin Songlines 30: Its author, a former Marxist, insisted that the Aboriginal Land Rights Movement was a ‘front’ for Soviet expansion in Australia.
[UK]Observer Crime 27 Apr. 28: Front. A person with a clean criminal record providing an acceptable face for a known criminal owning a club or business.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 74: He bought a cheapo legal motor [...] from a car front.

(d) (UK Und.) anything one needs – smart clothes, a clever line of speech, a personal style, a mental attitude – for the successful promotion of one’s schemes.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 60: I’ve got the front – meaning my layout of togs. [Ibid.] 146: A front is of value to the busted man. It’s his whole stock in trade. It’s the complete works.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 88: Only day before yesterday Curry from the Front Office was telling me that if he had your ‘front’, as he called it, he’d be living near the Park.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 190: One needed a ‘front’ to make a hit with the managers, and fronts cost money.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 126: When they put on all the ‘front’ they can, they ‘get on’ better.
[US]N. Anderson Hobo 140: The younger hobos, especially those who are on the road and off again by turns, are able at times to save money and put on a ‘front’.
[US]J. Thompson ‘The Cellini Chalice’ in Fireworks (1988) 66: Mitch Allison was as lowdown as they come, but his front was strictly high-class.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 207: I bought me several fronts, old boy, and each one of them motherfuckers cost me a grand.
[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 38: To get your game together usually involves the presentation of self in a particular way which requires certain props. [...] Although he often desires these things for their own sake or as symbols of ‘success,’ he is also aware that they constitute his front, the props he needs to make the proper impression.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 239: Somebody threw a brick through her side window and stole her clothes – all her clothes. It’s hard for her to work without a front.

3. (US) a suit.

[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 6: He was not particularly desirous of running across many of his acquaintances while wearing his present ‘front’.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 91: My front I had left back in Chicago.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of The Toilsome Ascent’ in Ade’s Fables 180: Three days later, however, he was on hand, with chaste Neckwear and a jaunty Front.
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 149: What’re you supposed to do with the fin – buy a new front and a new heater?
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 205: Front – A whole layout of new clothes.
[US]E. Anderson Hungry Men 116: You got a pretty nice front on you there. Where did you get that suit?
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.
[US]M.A. Crane ‘Misc.’ in AS XXXIII:3 224: Most of us have little trouble understanding the story of the cat (or stud) who, having eyes to make the scene with his chick (or hen), dons his front (or threads), his skypiece, and his kickers, jumps into his short (or wheels, or lush-wagon), and plays on down to her pad (or rack, or crib).
[US] ‘Honky-Tonk Bud’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 54: He was choked up tight in a white-on-white / And a cocoa front that was down.
[US]D. Claerbaut Black Jargon in White America 64: front n. a suit of clothes; an outfit.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 64: I’ve been peddling bills and doing odd jobs, trying to put enough scratch together to get a new front and go home.

4. (US Und.) a watch and chain; jewellery.

[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 46: It was not many weeks [,...] before I could ‘bang a super,’ or get a man’s ‘front’ (watch and chain).
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 366: We grifters had a damn good right to nick a front or peel a poke so long as Wall Street and Washington were picking everybody’s pockets.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 405: Front – watch and chain.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 80: Front. – [...] A watch and chain, this because of the impression of prosperity and respectability given the wearer. Jewellery, for the same reason.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US] ‘I Was a Pickpocket’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 77: I got to be quite an adept in touching men for supers and fronts.

5. (US Und.) a shop window.

[US]Spokane Press (WA) 22 Sept. 7/3: He stops to lamp up a bunch of red neckties in a glass front (shop window).

6. (US Und.) an assistant, usu. for purposes of diversion, in a criminal act.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 36: front [...] Some general currency, but used mainly by crooks whose operations require a shield or distraction. An auxiliary defense; a ‘stall’; a secondary who interposes his person or contributes overtly to a surreptitious action.

7. (US Und.) a high bail bond.

[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 225: front—[...] (2) Heavy bail bond—e.g. ‘He made a ten grand front’ (gave bonds in the sum of $10,000).

8. in pl., a woman’s breasts.

[UK]‘Henry Green’ Loving (1978) 121: Then she sat up in bed with her fronts bobblin’ at him like a pair of geese.

9. (US black) in pl., clothes.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 2: The mellow little old frames are showcasing their ‘frantic threads,’ and the cool kitties are riffing in their ‘mad fronts’ and daddy you better believe everything is much straight.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 91: Joe, you have a short [car], some fronts [suits], and a fine ticker [watch] too.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 27: Mr. Soul’s fronts were spectacular: black iridescent silk shirt with balloon sleeves, white lamé jump suit, black patent-leather shoes with enormous heels, and a black fedora, ‘ace-deuced to the side’.

10. (US drugs) a payment for drugs, i.e. not on consignment.

[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 37: He promised me he was going to get the big thing [a kilo] and I told Kitty to tell him I’d be waiting. I told him I didn’t have no front, and he said it was OK.

11. (US black) in pl., the teeth.

[US]Ebonics Primer at www.dolemite.com [Internet] fronts Definition: teeth Example: Yo, that fool ass nigga knocked my gold fronts out.

12. see front money n.

In phrases

get in front of (v.)

to outwit.

[UK]Sporting Times 13 Sept. 1/3: ‘Got in front of that faithful domestic that time, didn’t I?’.
get one’s front uptight (v.)

(US black) to assemble the ‘props’ required to present oneself in a desired manner, usu. expensive material possessions.

[US]Milner & Milner Black Players 38: To get your game together usually involves the presentation of self in a particular way which requires certain props. [...] Although he often desires these things for their own sake or as symbols of ‘success,’ he is also aware that they constitute his front, the props he needs to make the proper impression. Erecting this front is known as [...] getting your front uptight.
give a front (v.)

(US) to pose as better off than one actually is.

[US]St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘To give a front’ means to look well with no money in your pockets.
go to (the) front (v.)

(US Und.) to provide a criminal with a respectable image.

[US]H. Green Mr. Jackson 159: Blessed if I know who it is that always goes to front when a rap comes in against him, but some one does [...] he’s never been caught with the goods yet.
more front than Brighton (beach) [pun on SE (sea-)front]

a phr. used of one who is very cheeky, daring or outspoken.

Gambit 18-22 174: They've got more front than Brighton, these people.
[UK]C. Rayner Running Years 201: Stood there lookin’ as though she’d got more front than Brighton.
[UK]J. Sullivan Trotter Way to Millions 45: ‘You’ve got more front than Brighton, ain’t you?’ I said. ’I’ve told you, Boycie, my luck’s changing. I'm on a winning streak’.
[UK]Indep. 5 June 1: The naked protestors with more front than Brighton.
[UK]S. Cutler You Can’t Always Get What You Want [ebook] It valued those golden attributes with which I had fortunately been born — native cunning, a measure of charm, the balls of King Kong, and more front than Brighton.
more front than Buckingham Palace

a phr. used of one who is very cheeky, daring or outspoken.

[UK]R. Cook Crust on Its Uppers (1992) 25: We’re knockers [...] More front than Buckingham Palace ! Form dodgy companies. Knock. Knock at nightclubs, restaurants, swimming-pools, the South of France, chemmy in Paris . . . knock knock knock .
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Watching the Girls go by’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] He’s got more front than Buckingham Palace ain’t he?
A. Prior Old Man and Me 21: Whatever else you might say about the Old Man, he had more front than Buckingham Palace.
more front than Harrods (also more front than Selfridges) [Harrods and Selfridges, very large London department stores]

a phr. used of one who is very cheeky, daring or outspoken.

[UK]F. Norman Bang to Rights 80: What does she take me for a mug or what? She’s got more front than Selfridges.
Plays & Players 17 76: You've got more front than Selfridges you know that?
[UK]Management Sciences 36 24: Our first example had more front than Harrods and more rabbit than Sainsburys. He had been there, done that, seen everything and missed no opportunity to let everyone know what a success he was.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Rev. 12 Mar. 62: I’ve always had more front than Harrods.
[UK]K. Richards Life 36: At the front of the [factory] building there was a garden and a beautiful pond [...] which is where you learned about ‘more front than Harrods’ [Ibid.] 201: What Robert Fraser and Christopher Gibbs had in common was nerve and fearlessness - more front than Selfridges.
more front than Milne’s [Milne’s, once a large department store in Auckland] (N.Z.)

1. extremely cheeky.

[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 136: more front than Milne’s 1. Cheeky. 2. Large-breasted woman. Both refer to Auckland’s Queen Street department store of yore.

2. of a woman, large-breasted.

see sense 1.
more front than Myers (also more front than Foy and Gibson’s, ...Mark Foy’s, ...the National Bank) [names of retailers are large department stores in respectively Melbourne and Adelaide] (Aus.)

1. a phr. used of one who is very cheeky, daring or outspoken.

[Aus]F.J. Hardy Four-Legged Lottery 87: Must get back to the game. Some of these bastards have more front than Myers; might get their hand caught in the tin.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. (2nd edn) 347: More front than Foy and Gibson’s, said of a person who is extremely daring in his or her demands, or of a girl with large breasts.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Great Aus. Lover 20: Ah, urgers have got more front than Myers. He says to the Parrot: ‘Shake hands with the man that's just shaken hands with Georgie Moore’.
[Aus]B. Humphries Nice Night’s Entertainment (1981) 165: He’s a cheeky beggar – always has been – more front on him than Myers.
[Aus]H. Garner Moving Out 139: He had more front than Myers, that kid.
[Aus]C. Gorman A Night in the Arms of Raeleen 30: That guy’s got more front than the National Bank [GAW4].
[Aus]Parliamentary Debates House of Representatives 4 Nov. 2548: Mr Keating – He [Mr Howard] is proposing a matter of public importance against us about the erosion of Loan Council standards! As I have said before, you have more front than Mark Foy’s, son [GAW4].
[Aus]Hansard (Aus.) 28 Mar. 791: Mr De Domenico is always a useful deputy to have in these kinds of debates because he has more front than Myers.
Dave’s Jokes [Internet] Being a ‘more front than Myers’ type of guy, I approached Mr [Kerry] Packer and introduced myself.
[UK]P. Skanders Phraseology and Culture in Eng. 241: The names of the dominant local retailers are enshrined also in the similes more front than Myers and more front than Foy and Gibsons, where the play on ‘front’ makes it a comment on someone's impudence or bravado.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 49: Our manager, Champagne [...] has more front than Myer [sic].

2. a phr. used to describe a woman with large breasts.

see sense 1.