Green’s Dictionary of Slang

king n.

1. (US campus) the best, usu. used with a suitable n. or v., as -king sfx .

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 June 4/7: There were squatters from Sydneyside and butter kings from Vic.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 25 June 6s/8: A Barrack-street Sausage King exhibited in his window an enormous pig.
[UK]Eve. Teleg (Dundee) 14 Nov. 8/2: Oh, he’s a sport and a man about town. King of Broadway, some call him.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 121: Harry’s the King of the Coloured Chalks, not oil painting.
[Aus]B. Wannan Folklore of the Aus. Pub 38: The notorious ‘Blueskin’, also known as ‘King of the Crimps’.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 43: I’m the king of the caddies, the greatest fucking looper who ever packed a bag.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 94: Mike the King of N16.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 45: Jeff Purvis, undisputed king of press agents.

2. (Aus./US) a respected figure, e.g. in a prison, or the leader of a gang of larrikins; also attrib.

[UK]Blackburn Standard 25 June 6/5: A youth who is known to the police as a ‘king’ of scuttlers, and who has served a long imprisonment for scuttling, was charged with disorderly conduct.
[UK]A. Pratt ‘“Push”’ Larrikinism in Australia’ in Blackwood’s Mag. July 27/1: For more than a quarter century before that time larrikinism had flourished almost unchecked, and all the larger Australian cities had suffered under a curious species of tyranny exercised by bands of reprobates who, under the leadership of ‘kings,’ were leagued together in secret communities called ‘pushes,’ for the purpose of warring more or less openly upon the reputable classes of society.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 149: Pretty soft for you, George, who never took a chance in your life, to be mixed up with a regular king of crooks.
[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/4: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘King,’ a leader of a group of ‘barons’.
[US]J. Fishman Sex in Prison 94: If a prisoner is called before the warden the others will demand that he tell them on his return what the ‘king’ wanted to know.
[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 67: That hotel was lousy with perverts. [...] I damn near sent a telegram to old Stradlater telling him to take the first train to New York. He’d have been the king of the hotel.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 48: I’m king wherever I go.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 26: I, who was supposed to be the King Con, didn’t even know he was in stir.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 186: Someone saw her at the races with a man who’d been a king at the prison where he’d spent years, one of those heavies whose names the other ex-prisoners never allowed themselves to even whisper outside.
[US](con. 1990s) in J. Miller One of the Guys 72: ‘One of the kings went to jail or somethin’, and someone killed him [...] a Blood killed him or somethin’’.

3. (gay) a masculine lesbian.

[US]Homosexuality & Citizenship in Florida 24: Glossary of Homosexual Terms [...] king: Same as dike .
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 26: king (n.): The outstanding lesbian in any certain area.
[US] in S. Harris Hellhole 232: Rusty [...] speaks from her own point of view, as a king and also as a top ‘merchant’. [Ibid.] 260: She’s a fool ever to have fallen for her or any other bulldyke king in the House of Detention.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 70: king [stud] (les sI = lesbian potentate).
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 132: King (old term for diesel dyke, like tom).

4. (US black) a term of address.

[US]Ebonics Primer at [Internet] king Definition: informal greeting, as from a Caucasian towards a Negro; used to acknowledge the others’ presence, w/o seeming disrespectful Example: What’s shakin’, king?
[UK]Observer (London) New Rev. 19 Feb. 9/3: ‘You lot, my young black kings. You can do this as well’.

5. see king hit n.

In compounds

King’s books (n.)

a pack of playing cards.

[UK]Leeds Mercury 18 Apr. 4/5: ‘The King’s Books’ [...] The pack is often spoken of as a ‘book’ and the King’s Books, when prepared by card-sharpers.
king daddy (n.) [sense 2 above + daddy n. (6)]

(US teen) the very best of a person, place or thing; thus the female counterpart queen mama n.

‘Snark’s Top 10 in Anime, Action, Sci-fi, Kung-Fu, and Comedy’ 11 Aug. [Internet] Blade Runner is without a doubt the all time king daddy of sci-fi noir films.
King Rat (n.)

(Aus.) a much admired person.

[Aus]B. Oakley Salute to the Great McCarthy 84: Next day, McCarthy’s King Rat at the office. Melbourne is a football town, and half the population come round to touch his hand.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

king’s picture(s) (n.) (also pictures of his majesty) [the royal features as engraved or printed on money]


[UK]T. Randolph Muses’ Looking Glass IV iii: Tell her, Plus, she must have the Kings Picture too.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: King’s Pictures, c. Money.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 92: A brace of King’s pictures is her usual expectancy.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Wild Oats (1792) 19: I carry my purse of gold in my pocket [...] there’s twenty pictures of his majesty.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 132: Don’t spoil the King’s picture by touching it.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 84: [He] pulled out a sovereign, and hastily putting it into the Old Thatchpate’s hand, observed, ‘Don’t you love the King’s picture?’.
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 132: Here, mate — here’s a picture of hiis royal majesty — giving the sailor alongside a new guinea.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 4 Feb. 5/6: Money in general is known as: The Actual, Coliander Seeds, [...] Hard, John Davis, King’s Pictures, [...] Nonsense, Oil of Angels, [...] Rowdy.

In phrases

draw the king’s picture (v.)

see under draw v.4