Green’s Dictionary of Slang

arm n.

1. the penis.

[UK]Lustful Memoirs of a Young and Passionated Girl 44: Lying on his back with his arm stiffly standing he seemed pleased to have us examine and handle it.
[US]J.L. Dillard Lex. Black Eng. 33: Other Black terms for the penis include arm (compare armed services shortarm inspection ‘examination for veneral disease’), [etc.].
[US]R.O. Scott Gay Sl. Dict. [Internet] arm: [1940s] penis.

2. (US Und.) the act of robbing someone by choking them from behind and thus rendering them immobile; thus arm-man, one who robs in this way.

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 15: arm, n. The act of robbing with a gilligan. ‘Take that yap out in the alley and put the arm on him.’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 19/2: Arm, the. n. 1. A crushing headlock which robs the victim of consciousness before the commission of a crude crime, such as robbery or rape; the mugg. [...] Arm-man. Any criminal or ruffian Who uses a crushing headlock on his victims; usually, a robber or rapist; a strong-arm criminal; a mugger.

3. (US) a bar, a tavern.

H.B. Darrach Jr. ‘Sticktown Nocturne’ in Baltimore Sun (MD) 12 Aug. A-1/1: ‘tep with me into this arm,’ he said. It was the Corral, a Spik joint .

4. influence, power.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 25/2: since ca.1960.

5. (S.Afr. drugs) a measure of cannabis, approx. the size of a maize cob and weighing about 2kg (4.25 lb).

[SA]Drum (Johannesburg) 27 Aug. 7: Arem (arm): One rand parcel of dagga [DSAE].
[SA]H. Levin Bandiet 120: The bale would be broken up into about a dozen ‘arms’, each of which sold for as much as the original bale. Sometimes the ‘arms’ themselves were sub-divided into ‘fingers’ which would sell for as much as 25p.
[SA]P. Slabolepszy Sat. Night at the Palace (1985) 69: He discovers a plastic bag filled with ‘grass’. With it is a small bundle of tightly rolled dagga arms.
[SA]R. Malan My Traitor’s Heart (1991) 70: You could buy zol on almost any roadside [...] A finger cost ten cents, an arm five rand, and it was very strong.

6. an erection, sexual stimulation.

[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 71: With La Donna I was getting the straight arm, not giving it. And it made me horny beyond endurance.

In derivatives

armful (n.)

1. a wife.

[UK] ‘To Whom it Concerns’ in Rump Poems and Songs (1662) i 113: Correct your prick-ear’d Seervants; and perswade / You long lov’d Arm-fulls; if you can thus trade / In Pigges and Poultry.

2. a plump woman.

[US]D. Corcoran Pickings from N.O. Picayune 200: O, blud-in-ages but it’s yoursel’ [i.e. a portrait of a fat girl] is the fine armful.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Dec. 11/3: Also, legislators are nearly all quite middle-aged and prefer sylph-like women. It is only the man who is young and fresh that dotes on ‘armfuls.’.
[US] ‘Lou Gehrig Goes West’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 118: Give me a hefty armful like Mae West.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 10: Boy, what an armful!

3. (US) an attractive woman.

[US]Broadway Brevities Dec. 44/1: Last month, in a moment of temporary aberration, we described someone called Margaret Kay as ‘a cute little armful.’ Will you forgive us?
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

4. (US Black) a girlfriend.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 17 Feb. 7/1: He is thinking of going all the way to the altar with his latest armful.

In compounds

arm-man (n.)

see sense 2 above.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

armbreaker (n.)

especially energetic masturbation.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus 3 in Viz 98 Oct. 3: armbreaker euph. A particularly vicious wank. ‘What with excellent browsing and sluicing and a couple of armbreakers and what-not, Bertie’s afternoon passed quite happily.’ (from ‘Wooster Wanks Himself Daft’ by P.G. Wodehouse).
[UK]P. Meditzy ‘A Day In The Life Of...’ 29 Apr. [Internet] I was spending the day in the house on my own and had already ‘knocked a few out’ including a couple of ‘arm breakers’ when I decided there was more to life than ‘burping the worm’ all the time.
armpiece (n.)

a companion, i.e. one who is ‘on one’s arm’.

[UK]Indep. Rev. 30 June 4: Never mind their armpieces, who was that gorgeous babe the quartet were boogieing on down to at a New York rock club?
[US]C. Stella Jimmy Bench-Press 125: The girl there? [...] Larry’s arm piece, Leanna.
R.G. Clary Sexual Wreckage [ebook] Joyce was a beautiful armpiece...a chic and hot looking blond with great tits.

In phrases

all arms and legs (adj.) [the idea of there being no ‘body’ to the drink]

(Aus.) of a drink, weak.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 Oct. 4/7: Even the liquor is all arms and legs — there’s no ‘body’ in it.
as long as one’s arm (adj.)

extensive, substantial.

[UK]Wandring Whore III 7: There’s my sister [...] who div’d, and pickt by her own acknowledgement, nine pieces of Gold out of a Cullies pocket at one clap, a bagg of silver as long as her arm (almost) at another clap.
[UK]Dorset ‘On Dolly Chamberlain, A Seamstress’ in Works of Rochester, Roscommon, Dorset (1720) 26: In Revenge I will stitch / Up the Hole next her Breech, / With a Needle as long as my Arm.
[UK] song in Papers of Francis Place (1819) n.p.: He took her to his fathers Barn then he pulled out his long consarn [?] / And it was as long – as this my arm. / And he called it little Davy.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Aug. XXII 278/2: He only runs up a bill as long as my arm.
[UK]M. Edgeworth Love and Law I ii: Corkeran the cooper’s bill, as long as my arm.
[UK] ‘Going To Be Confirmed’ in Luscious Songster 13: The saint pull’d a face full as long as my arm.
[US]D. Crockett Exploits and Adventures (1934) 190: He commenced singing, and his list of songs seemed to be as long as a rainy Sunday.
[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 61: Downy Dick, we call him [...] Dick’s got a head as long as your arm, and that’s a fact.
[UK]Manchester Courier 31 Mar. 14/2: Rocky felt as if he had sand in his head, and a headache as long as a rainy Sunday.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Nov. 35/2: Y’ go t’ a rejister an’ e’ hitches y’ up straight ’n end. If y’ go t’ a pars’n ’e gives yo’ a sermon long ’s me arm an’ prays over yo’ like a bloomin’ corpse, an’ then ’e sez ‘Five quid!’ The rejister’s on’y ten bob an’ no prayin’.
Dly Missoulian (MT) 2 May 10/2: His patience is twice as long as a rainy Sunday.
[US]C. Hamlin ‘Killer Come Home’ in Ruhm Hard-Boiled Detective (1977) 335: They got records as long as my arm.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 181: You’ve a list of charges against you as long as me arm.
[UK]Flame : a Life on the Game 20: Sandra had a criminal record as long as your arm.
break one’s arm (v.) [the idea of breaking one’s arm while patting oneself on the back]

(US) to boast.

[US] in DARE.
[US]Halpert Collection n.p.: Don’t break your arm [Said to someone bragging] [DARE].
chance one’s arm (v.) [? orig. tailor’s jargon, but according to Share, the ref. is to a 1492 feud between the Ormondes and Kildares. The earl of Kildare cut a hole in the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and thrust in his arm, hoping that it would be grabbed rather than simply cut off; thus it was, and the feud ended; note also cite 1897]

to take risks.

[UK]Buchan Obs. 18 Oct. 3/7: As to daily communication between the two places, Mr Murray merely chances his arm at the long bow.
Maidstone Jrnl 10 Sept. 7/2: [A] stalwart navvy [...] stating that if the meeting were not allowed to proceed quietly he would chance his arm against the interrupter.
[UK]Illus. Police News 21 Jan. 4/2: Wel, father, are you going to chance your arm and try to spot the pasteboard?
H. Compton King’s Hussar 35: Old Rootee forgot his prudence, and ‘chanced his arm’ — as the saying goes, when a man risks losing his stripes — by a visit to the canteen, which brought him about nightfall to the guard-room,.
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 107: An’ I thinks to myself, ‘She’s a kind ’un, I bet. I’ll go an’ chance my bloomin’ arm and arst her for a bit o’ tommy’.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 265: Don’t chance your arm in this here town, or there’ll be the deuce of a shine!
[UK]P. MacGill Moleskin Joe 74: I’ve done a short tucker stretch for three weeks, and so I’m chancin’ my arm on Glencorrie, for a wee while.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 41: You thought you’d come up to London and chance your arm.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 66: I’ll chance my arm on this occasion.
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 93: Showed what life was: chanced his arm, tried to be a hero.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 69: To think of that barbarous bloody quack [...] chancing his arm at a minute job like removing a body’s testaments. [Ibid.] 169: He has asked me out for the morrow night. D’you think should I chance my arm and go out with him?
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 261: He would transfer as a DCI, and decided to chance his arm by going on the line.
[UK]‘Derek Raymond’ He Died with His Eyes Open 134: Christ [...] you’re chancing your arm. I’ve never heard anyone come on like that before.
[Ire]D. Healy Bend for Home 276: Arthur Daley, she says. I like that thing. He’s always chancing his arm.
[Ire]O’Byrne Files: Dublin Sl. Dict. [Internet] Chance one’s arm v. phr. Take a risk.
deal (them) off the arm (v.) [the waiter’s ability to carry a line of plates up the arm + ? ref. to gambling jargon deal off the arm, to cheat by sleight of hand; the implication is that the customer is being cheated on food quality]

(US) to wait at tables.

[US]T.A. Dorgan ‘Daffydills’ in El Paso Herald (TX) 13 July 10: ‘Hey Mr Waiter, what does this mean in New York talk?’ Oh piped the man who deals them off the arm, it means [etc].
[US]O.O. McIntyre Bits of New York Life 17 Jan. [synd. col.] John himself with sleeves rolled up deal[s] ’em off the arm and sees that no one takes his place for any ‘charitable dump.’.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 101: He was head chef and dish nurse while she made change and dealt them off the arm.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Dream Street Rose’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 49: My friend deals them off the arm for the guys in her mamma’s boarding-house.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Feature Snatch!’ Dan Turner - Hollywood Detective Feb. [Internet] I [...] hied myself to a cheap beanery on lower Hollywood Boulevard where a dish by the name of Mae Hainey dealt ‘em off the arm.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 88: In the big town, no job, has to deal them off the arm in hashhouse again.
fat arm (n.) [the image of an arm fat enough to take the many injections demanded by such an addiction]

(drugs) a serious narcotics addiction.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 292: ‘I use sixteenths, and they last me about three days.’ ‘You got a real fat arm man.’.
long in the arm

a phr. used to describe a habitual thief.

[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 11 Sept. 1249: He said he had a manager there who was long in the arm, meaning the manager robbed him.
make a long arm (v.) (also put out a long arm, stretch out...)

to stretch out one’s arm to grab something.

J. Nott (ed.) Select Odes from Hafez 77: [note] In familiar language, we often say, that we make a long arm for any thing which we endeavour to reach.
G. Colman Elsmere and Rosa II 331: Our chance is for this world only, but in regard to heaven is is put far out of reach. Elsmere, however [...] was willing to make a long arm for it.
[UK]Blackwood’s Edin. Mag. Feb. 532: I make a long arm from this side the Humber, and hope one as long from the Forth will be stretched out to meet it.
[US]Knickerbocker Mag. Nov. 425: I shall therefore make a long arm, and reach forward into the dominions of posterity, and gather up such crumbs as come within the reach of my fingers.
[UK]Ainsworth’s Mag. 480: But, alas ! my wife [...] set the table in a roar by requesting the captain, not to ‘make a long arm,’ but to ‘make a long nose,’ and pass her the mustard!
[UK]Fraser’s Mag. Jan. 70/1: When the one had had his smoke, he was expected to ‘make a long arm’ and hand it over to the other.
[UK]Sporting Times 11 Mar. 2/5: He settled himself down to his coffee, and made a long arm at the muffins.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith in the City (1993) 61: Make a long arm for the shovel, Comrade Jackson.
[UK]J. Buchan Greenmantle (1930) 257: If there was anything to blab, sooner or later Peter would blab it. Then they would stretch out a long arm and nip you short, wherever you were.
[US]D. Hammett ‘The First Thin Man’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 389: He put out a long arm and stopped a waiter.
[US]P.G. Brewster ‘Folk “Sayings” From Indiana’ in AS XIV:4 267: [If he] is having dinner with the latter’s family, he will be urged by Sam’s ‘woman’ to ‘make a long arm and reach’.
off the arm (adj.)

(US) spontaneous.

[US]S. Johnston Q. of Flat-tops 32: Shonk, it turned out, was an ‘off-the-arm’ poet [HDAS].
on the arm (adv.) [? the writing of notes on one’s cuff]

1. (US) for free, on credit.

[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 12/1: On the arm – Something for nothing in the entertainment industry.
[US]L. Hoban ‘Time to Kill’ Crack Detective Jan. [Internet] But five C’s — when you were just contemplating if Shanty Sam around the corner would go on the arm for another couple of hamburgers — definitely was real kush.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 168/2: Put on the arm. To take something on credit without any intention of repaying, the credit being given as a result of intimidation — indirect petty ex-tortion.
[UK]I, Mobster 78: They’ll wind up putting drinks on the arm.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 4: Dave is workin’ mostly on the arm now, since [...] I am in a financial state of insoluble.
[US](con. 1970s) J. Pistone Donnie Brasco (2006) 118: Mira never spent his own money. Everything was ‘on the arm’ — free with him.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 13: On the arm – eating and drinking without payment.
[US] in J. Breslin Damon Runyon (1992) 140: Acton was known as John Paul Jones, for the amount of time he spent at sea, on the arm, raising a glass of champagne to the setting sun.

2. (US) subject to corruption.

[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] He’s never been able to prove it, but Malone would bet his left testicle that Berger has judges on the arm.
put the arm on (v.) (also give someone the arm)(US/UK Und.)

1. (also arm, put the strong arm on someone) to attack from behind by choking the victim with one’s forearm before robbing them.

[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 44: I put the arm on him and we dragged him through the fence [...] and robbed him.
[US]C.R. Shaw Jack-Roller 85: My buddy, being an old ‘jack-roller,’ suggested ‘jack-rolling’ as a way out of the delima. So we started to ‘put the strong arm’ on drunks.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 15: arm, v. To rob by applying a gilligan hitch. ‘They armed the mark in back of the ginmill.’.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 261: I’d take him in, and ‘put the arm on him,’ holding him tight round his neck while my pals would go to it and rob him.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 125: I gave him the arm alone. I’m rugged as a bull.
[US]W. Motley Knock on Any Door 193: Just before the fellow hit the bridge, they put the arm on him.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 169/1: Put the arm on. 1. To assault by seizing the victim’s head in a crushing arm-lock.
[US]F. Elli Riot (1967) 17: Get ready to put the arm on him.

2. (also lay the arm on) to pressurize with threats of violence, to extort ‘protection’ payments, to beg for money, to blackmail.

[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Giving the arm, beating up a racketeer who is attempting to muscle in on a district.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Butch Minds the Baby’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 341: You take us to him at once, or [...] I will have to put the arm on somebody.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 246: Some old pug [...] put the arm on him for a sawbuck or two.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 40: You might put the arm on him for a few quid.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 61: Maybe we could send them around to put the arm on this Connie bim.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Confessions 149: You should [...] put the arm on the guy for two thousand francs.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 427: He’d found out by putting the arm on some junkies.
[US](con. 1960s) D. Goines Black Gangster (1991) 126: If we put the arm on some of these guys.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 15: Here I was, four hundred miles away, putting the arm on some counter-culture bimbo.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 193: I’m home and not feeling too good when Sheila calls and lays the arm on me. I won’t call it blackmail, but I don’t know what else you’d call it.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 434: Kick loose with who put the arm on you.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 211: Ever since you learned I’ve been getting over at Hobby you’ve been putting the arm on me.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 91: Bulldoggin’ […] verbal harassment as well as a physical and or verbal intimidation […] (Archaic: put the arm on, put the nuts on).
[US]C. Hiaasen Strip Tease 138: She got herself tangled in a blackmail [...] the idea was to put the arm on the congressman.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 267: A guy used to work for you was trying to con some bad guys, and then tries to put the arm on you two.
[US]T. Dorsey Riptide Ultra-Glide 217: We put the arm on them, so they kill two birds with one rock.

3. to reveal scandalous facts about someone, to inform on.

[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 17 May [synd. col.] The French Intelligence Bureau ‘put the arm on’ Stalin’s enemies for him.
[US]H. Roth From Bondage 133: You don’t mean to tell me one o’ those fat I-talian ladies [...] is goin’ to step back heah and put the ahm on us.

4. to make an arrest.

[US]D. Runyon ‘The Old Doll’ s House’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 69: Johnny Brannigan, the plain-clothes copper, puts the arm on Lance McGowan.
[US]D. Runyon Runyon à la Carte 142: Do you not just put the arm on me for it? Do you not just state you have an order for my arrest?
[US]Life 4 Dec. 44: Its cops pounded up tenement stairways, putting the arm on mop-shakers and airmailers.
[US]E. Hunter ‘See Him Die’ in Jungle Kids (1967) 102: They expected to just walk in and put the arm on him.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 371: Cold balls for a minute. Puckered asshole. Cotton mouth. Cops? Could they have put the arm on ... Oh Jesus!
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 210: I told yuh to get ’ere at five o’clock and put the arm on Otto.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 51: If they put the arm on me all I had to say was, ‘I have his wife’s permission.’.
talk someone’s arm off (v.) (also talk someone’s leg off, ...feet off)

(US) to talk incessantly at someone, to harangue.

[US]C.A. Bristed Upper Ten Thousand 149: Ludlow was fairly talked off his feet by the voluble patois of Löwenberg.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 23 July 3: He can talk yer arm off, he talks so much.
L. Powers Farmer Hayseed 92: He has a fixed lingo about wheat, cotton, and silver, and upon these themes he can in his way talk your arm off.
[US]S. Lewis Main Street (1921) 42: Great fellow for chinning. He’ll talk your arm off, about religion or politics or books.
G. Rector Dine at Home with Rector 30: A learned judge of my acquaintance will talk your arm off about his initiation into its mysteries.
[US]Pop. Science Jan. 165/2: He’ll talk your arm off about it if you let him.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 72: I’ve had one hell of a day, listening to Delbert. He can talk your leg off.
P.M. McGrady Youth Doctors 113: People talk your arm off about their operations. They'll gleefully propagandize their latest diet .
R. MacDonald Instant Enemy 22: That boy will talk your arm off [...] His main subject is how the country is going to the dogs.
B.B. Mohs Amazing Mr Mohs 215: Les Helgesen, seller of silos, and businessman extraordinary who will talk your arm off in five minutes.
M. Jensen Daddy by Default 82: We don't bite, though Peg, here, will talk your arm off.
G.A. Warner Springtime in Savannah 298: Charlie and Elmer will talk your arm off.
twist someone’s arm (v.)

to force someone to do something against their will, often ironic.

[[UK]Gem 16 Mar. 6: We can twist Meredith’s tail till he howls. Savvy?].
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 26 oct. 15/3: Sir frerick [...] sees fit to to fly in ‘The Canberra’ ... so will I if they twist my arm.
[UK]Word for Word: Ency. of Beer (Whitbread & Co.) 36/2: Twist one’s arm, to ‘persuade’ one to have a drink, when no persuasion is needed. A facetious action and remark.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Gone Fishin’ 164: ‘How about we take him out some Sunday, an’ show him how to catch real fish? Hire a boat, eh, an’ make a day of ut?’ ‘Yer twisted me arm,’ Dennis said. ‘Next Sunday?’.
[UK]F. Taylor Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 175: I knew we’d twist the bastard’s arm all right.
[UK]C. Dexter Remorseful Day (2000) 188: ‘You’re twisting my arm,’ said Morse. ‘Make it three pints of Guinness,’ said Lewis.
under the arm (adj.) [? the smell or the image of secrecy and hiding]

second-rate, inferior, bad.

[UK]Partridge DSUE.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 31: Some [books] are right under the arm, stand on me.