Green’s Dictionary of Slang

oil n.

1. as a bodily fluid.

(a) vaginal secretions.

[UK]‘In Praise of Chocolate’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 50: Nor need the women longer grieve, / Who spend their Oyl, yet not conceive.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 190: Her sex oil tasted sharp as brass as it flooded my mouth.

(b) semen.

[UK]Mercurius Fumigosus 42 14–21 Mar. 331: They presently fall backward, lying as in a trance for a quarter of an houre; but having a little Oyle of Man administered to them, they in Threequarters of a year after grow perfectly cured.
[UK]Rochester ‘The Imperfect Enjoyment’ in Sel. Lyrics and Satires (1948) 86: Only too hasty Zeal my Hopes did foil, / Pressing to feed her Lamp, I spilt my Oil.
[UK]C. Deveureux Venus in India II 209: Certainly Fanny was well anointed with the holy oil that first time.
[US] ‘Boring For Oil’ in G. Logsdon Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing (1995) 162: I hadn’t bored more than six inches I know, / And the oil from my auger so freely did flow; / ‘My character you’ve ruined, my garments did soil, / You’ve bursted the bedrock while boring for oil.’.

2. in fig. senses, i.e. that which ‘greases the wheels’.

(a) (US) flattery, sweet talk.

[US]C.A. Davis Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 201: The crittur waent on and talk’ right up to the gineral—and there warn’t a lump of sugar, or a drop of ile in the hull on’t.
Dly Press (Newport News, VA) 29 Apr. 5/2: ‘You’re there with the oil all right,’ replied Mr Jobson, somewhat appeased.
[US]Amer. Mag. Nov. 39/2: ‘Why dearie!’ I remarks, kissin’ her; ‘You know I –’. ‘Easy with the oil!’ she cuts me off. ‘ "Get on your hat and coat’ .
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 80: Watching a cinder dresser as he slips the oil to the coffee joint boss in a tank town.
[UK]B. Ross Tragedy of Z 36: ‘The old oil,’ growled Father, tossing the carbon aside.
[US]J. Weidman I Can Get It For You Wholesale 302: Aah, stop the oil, will you? Who do you think you’re talking to, a kid?
[US]P. Kendall Dict. Service Sl. n.p.: giving the oil . . . smooth talk to whiteash transgression.
[UK]I, Mobster 94: Then it came out that some of the micks from Tammany had been giving him a little oil about being a faithful party man.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 17 July 20: The manager [...] applied the old oil.

(b) graft, bribery, and the money for paying it.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Mar. 4/1: We have ‘shoddy’ enough in the Corporation, and now that ‘ile’ is to be added in profusion, our Corporation will possess the two essential elements of wealth, that will enable it to snap its fingers at the Government.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 121: The sooner we get th’ oil, th’ sooner we’ll begin to light up.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 144: Oil—Money.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 125: Ain’t but a ‘C’ a day for a girl in ‘oil’ to the heat.

(c) (Aus./N.Z.) information, which oils the wheels of communication.

[Aus]Aussie (France) 12 Mar. 6/1: Seeing that thers an Armistice on I thort I’d give yer a little oil.
[Aus]Mail (Adelaide) 16 Feb. 1/4: I’m givin’ yer the Believer Moyle (oil) that I’m goin’ to the Sydney Harbour (barber)’.
[US]M.C. McPhee ‘College Sl.’ in AS III:2 131: If an individual (a ‘date’) is entertaining or interesting such terms as: ‘knows her oil,’ ‘is full of vinegar,’ ‘has a line,’ will be used in praise.
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier.
[Aus]Syndey Morn. Herald 11 Dec. 7/2: Accurate information is either ‘the griff,’ ‘the gen,’ or the ‘good oil’.
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 79: I’ve gotta give ya the dinkum oil.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 25: Joan had rung and given me the oil on Ziegler.
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 37: Oil Good information.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 55: The term [oil] is related to the earlier use of oil for alcohol — and still current as throat-oil or neck-oil. At a time when alcohol was often adulterated, good oil meant the genuine full-strength brew.
[Aus]S. Maloney Big Ask 75: He put his plate down [...] parked his elbows on the table, and gave me the oil.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

(d) facility, ability.

[Aus]Kia Ora Coo-ee 15 Aug. 5/2: Later, while we were burying him, we learned that the Hun had the oil for money making right through, his ‘personal property’ including a crown and anchor board complete with a bag of about 500 Turkish coins.

(e) lies, misinformation.

[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 57: It’s a shame to give a cute kid like that the oil.
[US]J. Archibald ‘No Place Like Homicide’ in Popular Detective Apr. [Internet] Latest dope on the rubout of the bank messenger was that the police [...] would make an arrest shortly. ‘The old oil,’ Willie said.

3. in senses of drink or drugs.

(a) (later US black) alcohol, esp. wine.

[UK] ‘The Slap-Up Cracksman’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 42: Here’s the cove with oil and white.
[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: They nominate ‘bottled electricity,’ ‘lemonade with a stick in it,’ ‘jig-water,’ ‘budge,’ ‘bilge-water,’ ‘bug-juice,’ ‘rat-poison,’ ‘fusel-oil,’ ‘red-eye,’ ‘liquid ointment,’ ‘cut nails,’ ‘hard head,’ ‘benzine,’ ‘nitro-glycerine,’ ‘oil,’ ‘tea,’ ‘eye-water,’ ‘chain- lightning.’ [...] they all want the same article, alcohol, more or less diluted.
[US]Ade Pink Marsh (1963) 124: Yes, seh, ’at’s what made me dange’ous—wuz ’at oil o’ distuhb’ance.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Sept. 15/2: I struck Paul’s camp at dusk, being welcomed with a wealth of joyous profanity and many invitations to take an ‘oil.’.
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/4: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘oil,’ whisky.
[US]J.H. Warner ‘A Word List From Southeast Arkansas’ in AS XIII:1 6: ‘He’s in his oil tonight.’ That is, he is drunk tonight.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Shoulder Straps’ in Thrilling Detective Feb. [Internet] ‘Where’s your oil?’ he called in to the girl. ‘Look in the top of the ice-box. There should be a couple of bottles of ale.’.
[US]D. Claerbaut Black Jargon in White America 74: oil n. 1. whiskey. [...] 2. hard liquor in general.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 187: Hard liquor also had its own vernacular labels – oil, ignite oil, do-it fluid.

(b) (Irish) a drink.

[Ire]S. O’Casey Plough and the Stars Act II: Oh, here’s the two gems runnin’ over again for their oil!
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 119: I didn’t hear [bad language] at home, except when my father had a few oils on him.

(c) (US) coffee.

[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.

(d) (drugs) hashish oil or purified hashish.

[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970).
[US]L. Young et al. Recreational Drugs.
[Can]Totally True Diaries of an Eighties Roller Queen [Internet] 16 July [Internet] She offered me and Kari some oil and we all smoked up. Then we went to the store and talked to a few people. I wasn’t very stoned.

(e) (drugs) heroin.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 16: Oil — Heroin; PCP.

(f) (drugs) phencyclidine.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 16: Oil — Heroin; PCP.

4. (US Und.) nitroglycerin; gelignite.

[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Marionettes’ in Rolling Stones (1913) 74: Opening his medicine case he took out the vial containing the nitroglycerine — ‘the oil,’ as his brethren of the brace-and-bit term it.
[US]F.H. Tillotson How I Became a Detective 93: Oil – Nitro-glycerine.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 242: Gelignite; or, as the boys call it, the oil.
[US] ‘Und. and Its Vernacular’ in Clues mag. 158–62: oil Nitroglycerin.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

5. see oiler n.2 (1)

In compounds

oil merchant (n.) [merchant n.]

(US) a flatterer or a swindler.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 148/2: Oil merchant. 1. A confidence man; a clever swindler who disarms his victims by a smooth line of talk. [...] 2. A liar.
[UK](con. 1940s) G. Morrill Dark Sea Running 109: ‘You’re quite an oil merchant, kiddo,’ she said.

In phrases

know one’s oil (v.)

(US tramp) to be aware, to know what is going on.

[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 343: Oil—’Knowing your oil’ — capable, qualified.
oiled (up) (adj.)

(orig. US) drunk.

[UK]J. White Country-man's Conductor Preface A3: You shall seldom hear them speak Latin but in Ale-houses, or when they are well-oil’d.
[US]Pennsylvania Gazette 13 Jan. 2: He’s Oil’d .
[UK]Binstead & Wells A Pink ’Un and a Pelican 53: Peter Denny, who made no attempt to deny the fact that he was ‘oiled’.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 83: Sometimes, when they comes back ‘oiled up,’ they wants to fight yer for the ’ire.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Consistent Consort’ Sporting Times 13 June 1/4: He has made it a rule not to work when he’s ‘oiled,’ / And when sober the same rule applies.
[US]R. Lardner Treat ’Em Rough 137: I don’t know where they got it but everybody was oiled up and celebrating about beating Camp Custer in the football game.
[UK]Wodehouse Damsel in Distress [Internet] Ch. xx: She has confided to me since that it was seeing me in my oiled condition that really turned the scale.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 71: Both were quite obviously what in the vernacular is known as ‘oiled’.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 19 Aug. [synd. col.] Some mamma, and can she neck! She’s plenty oiled and doesn’t know what she’s doing .
[UK]B. Moore Don’t Call Me a Crook 280: I’ was still half oiled or I’d have known there was bound to be trouble.
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 160: I was oiled and overplayed my hand.
[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 189: You could tell he was a little oiled up.
[US](con. 1950) E. Frankel Band of Brothers 282: I am not tight or plastered, polluted, greased, blind, sozzled, ossified or atomized. I am only a very little bit oiled.
[UK]C. Wood ‘Spare’ in Cockade (1965) I i: We know you keeps slightly oiled.
[US]Rolling Stone 22 Sept. 11: The guards at the mansion were not exactly falling over with delight at seeing a well-oiled Jimmy Buffett entourage bearing down on them.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 149: I was pleasantly oiled. Couldn’t remember where I got the drink.
oil of... (n.)

see separate entry.

old oil (n.) [sense 2a]

1. (US) flattery, insincere charm.

[US]T.A. Dorgan Indoor Sports 24 Apr. [synd. cartoon] ‘Oh yes — yes. I’ve heard of that car quite often.’ The old oil. He’ll shoo his wife in for a ride soon.
[US]H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 141: The lady yegg that run the place was there with the old oil and went ravin’ insane over every dress Jeanne put on.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town iv: Finally she cut it out and give him the old oil and by the time we got to the clubhouse he’d tossed in the sponge.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 87: You will have to haul up your slacks and give her the old oil.
[US]W.R. Burnett High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 421: I was beginning to got to thinking that Art and Max were giving me the old oil.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 1: It was imperative that they be given the old oil.
[UK]Wodehouse Much Obliged, Jeeves 16: Aunt Dahlia tells me you are staying with her [...] in Market Snodsbury while giving the electors there the old oil.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 17 July 20: The manager [...] applied the old oil.

2. (US) nonsense.

[US]A. Baer Two and Three 13 Feb. [synd. col.] This two per cent stuff is the old oil. The bunk.
on the oil

on a drinking bout.

[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 263: When a screwsman’s got a job on, he daren’t go on the oil the night before.
[UK]N&Q 12 Ser. IX 384: Oil (On The). A drinking bout.
straight oil (n.) [straight adj.1 (1)]

(Aus.) the honest truth, the facts.

[Aus]Graphic (Melbourne) 31 Dec. 5/2: He has been given the straight oil by ‘a friend of the trainer’.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 7 Jan. 5/5: I’ve ’eard of the stable oil and the straight oil and the right oil and the dinkum oil; but wotinell sort is this ere gargoyle?
[Aus]Sydney Mail 25 Apr. 36/1: The time is ripe [...] for the reading public to be given the ‘straight oil’ regarding writers who [...] rush into print as authorities on the Outback.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 240/1: straight oil (straight wire, straight stuff) – the ‘true’ facts.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

oil can (n.)

1. (US) a useless person, a good-for-nothing.

[US]Edwardsville Intelligencer (IL) 14 Sept. 4/4: The Flappers’ Dictionary [...] Oil Can: Unsophisticated young man.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Zone of Quiet’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 67: Poor sis! She married a terrible oil can!
[US](con. 1918) J.W. Thomason Red Pants 159: The poor oil-can got it from a bootlegger in the Black Belt.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.

2. (US) a derog. term for an automobile.

[US](con. 1946) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 57: Shit, Joe, can’t you control this oil can?

In phrases