Green’s Dictionary of Slang

arm n.

1. [20C+] the penis.

2. [1930s–50s] (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.

3. [1960s] influence, power.

4. [1960s+] (S.Afr. drugs) a measure of cannabis, approx. the size of a maize cob and weighing about 2kg (4.25 lb).

5. [1970s] an erection, sexual stimulation.

In derivatives

armful (n.)

1. [late 17C] a wife.

2. [mid–19C+] a plump woman.

3. [1920s-40s] (US) an attractive woman.

In compounds

arm-man (n.)

see sense 2 above.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

armbreaker (n.)

[1990s+] especially energetic masturbation.

armpiece (n.)

[1990s+] a companion, i.e. one who is ‘on one’s arm’.

arm-props (n.)

[early–mid-19C] crutches.

In phrases

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

[1900s] (Aus.) of a drink, weak.

as long as one’s arm (adj.)

[mid-17C+] extensive, substantial.

break one’s arm (v.) [the idea of breaking one’s arm while patting oneself on the back]

[1960s–70s] (US) to boast.

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]

[late 19C+] to take risks.

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]

[1910s–40s] (US) to wait at tables.

fat arm (n.) [the image of an arm fat enough to take the many injections demanded by such an addiction]

[1960s] (drugs) a serious narcotics addiction.

long in the arm

[late 19C–1910s] a phr. used to describe a habitual thief.

make a long arm (v.) (also put out a long arm, stretch out...)

[late 18C–1930s] to stretch out one’s arm to grab something.

off the arm (adj.)

[1940s+] (US) spontaneous.

on the arm (adv.) [? the writing of notes on one’s cuff]

1. [1920s+] (US) for free, on credit.

2. [2010s] (US) subject to corruption.

put the arm on (v.) (also give someone the arm) [1930s+] (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.

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

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

4. to make an arrest.

talk someone’s arm off (v.) (also talk someone’s leg off, ...feet off)

[mid-19C+] (US) to talk incessantly at someone, to harangue.

twist someone’s arm (v.)

[1940s+] to force someone to do something against their will, often ironic.

under the arm (adj.) [? the smell or the image of secrecy and hiding]

[1930s–60s] second-rate, inferior, bad.

weak in the arm (n.) [the publican has supposedly not pulled the beer tap to its fullest extent]

[late 19C–1900s] a short measure of beer.