1. (US black) beer, wine; a glass of beer [it ‘gets one’s steam up’; but note late 19C US proprietory steam beer (pump)].
|Mariner’s Sketches 23: The adice of the old French piloet [...] not to drink too much water, but always qualify it with a little steam [i.e. rum].|
|Life in Boston & N.Y. (Boston, MA) 13 May n.p.: How much steam do you put aboard in one day?|
|A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 35: The man who attempted to palm off a telephone slug in payment for a steam. [Ibid.] 109: How would a nice steam hit you?|
|Black Jargon in White America 81: steam n. 1. beer. [...] 2. wine.|
2. (US) a temper.
|Valley of the Moon (1914) 65: The fightin’ taught me to keep down the steam an’ not do things I’d be sorry for afterward.|
3. (Aus./N.Z.) cheap wine, esp. if laced with methylated spirits; methylated spirits drunk by itself.
|Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 71: Steam, cheap wine, esp. laced with methylated spirits.|
|Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 21 Oct. 6/4: We had a ‘blue’ about me not drinking the ‘steam’ (methylated spirits).|
|Riverslake 169: I’ve got a bottle of steam in my room.|
|Restless Men 68: Just duck behind the hedge with a couple o’ bottles of steam.|
|Burn 49: Once I hid in a food truck on a long spell with a bottle of steam and got through a tin of biscuits.|
|Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 43: Steam Wine.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 199: steam Cheap and very nasty liquor, ANZ early C20. Originally methylated spirits on its own or mixed with a modifier such as cheap, fortified wine.|
4. (US) blame, sarcasm, intense criticism.
|Hero Ship 200: Most of the conversation in their kitchen was of steam and bull—English—and of slashes, who studied too hard or buckets who studied not hard enough.|
5. (drugs) phencyclidine.
|Family 99: Some LSD which turned out to be p-c-p animal tranquilizers, or steam, as it is known in dope-land.|
|Medical Pharmacology 321: Phencyclidine has been [...] nicknamed ‘steam’ by drug users.|
6. (US) problems, difficulties, trouble.
|Gonif 83: Grab a phony name and join the army. [...] By the time you come out a lot of the steam’s off.|
|No Beast So Fierce 234: Cover the door [...] Aaron’s got steam.|
SE in slang uses
(US) a brothel, masquerading/doubling as a sauna.
|(con. c.1970) Phantom Blooper 30: Mr. Greenjeans caught your ass in the ville. Inside that steam-and-cream full of twelve-year-old whores that you own with that fat Gunny from Arkansas.|
see separate entries.
(US black) an act of fellatio.
|Central Sl. 49: steam clean A blow job.|
(US gay) a male homosexual who frequents the steam-room of a baths.
|Queens’ Vernacular 28: steam daddy [queen] middle-aged homosexual spending most of his time in the cloudy steamroom of a baths.|
(US prison) a potato pie, a cooked potato.
|[||Sl. Dict. 246: Steam-engine potato-pie at Manchester is so termed].|
|Und. Speaks n.p.: Steam engines, boiled potatoes (prison).|
see separate entries.
1. to release one’s (pent-up) emotions, to become angry or noisy and excited.
|[||N.-Y. National Advocate 28 May 2/3: By this time her voice and gestures indicated that she was getting on the ‘high pressure’].|
|Recollections of the Last Ten Years 78: Much of his language is figurative and drawn from the power of a steam-boat. To get ardent and zealous, is to ‘raise the steam.’ To get angry, and give vent and scope to these feelings, is to ‘let off the steam.’.|
|Letters of Major J. Downing (1835) 169: I never know’d the Gineral blow off steam so long as he did this time.|
|Tom Brown’s School-Days (1896) 199: Joining them in some chorus of merry voices; in fact, blowing off steam, as we should now call it.|
|Ask Mamma 265: They have let off the steam of their small talk, and have nothing left to fall back upon but repetition.|
|Dublin Eve. Post 17 Aug. 2/5: The follies [...] of the meeting [...] were in reality no more than a blowing off of so-called ‘Protestant steam’.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 30 May 16/3: Of course I know right well that some people are born with such a ridiculous amount of energy that they must let off steam in some way or become unhealthy.|
|Lancs. Eve. Post 11 Oct. 4/4: Our neighbours [...] are merely ‘blowing off steam’.|
|Aus. Felix (1971) 22: The authorities, with great good sense, let it pass for what it was—a noisy blowing-off of steam.|
|Letters to James Joyce (1968) 143: Your third section is bloody inspirin’ fine. Want to let off a little steam over it.letter 7 June in Read|
|Main Street (1921) 371: We all get peeved sometimes and want to blow off steam.|
|Babbitt (1974) 58: ‘Look here, old man, oughtn’t to talked about Zilla way I did.’ ‘Rats, old man, it lets off steam.’.|
|Main Stem 95: I hope that super was just letting off wind.|
|(con. 1920s) Studs Lonigan (1936) 825: They got to get off steam some way.Judgement Day in|
|Golden Boy I v: You and Carp blowing off steam.|
|Vancouver Sun (BC) 23 Oct. 42/1: ‘I gotta blow off steam too, or blow me block off’.|
|(con. 1919) Mad in Pursuit 33: He knew that once she had let off steam like this she was all right.|
|They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 102: Wouldn’ve touched ’im. Just lettin’ orf steam.|
|letter 6 Dec. in Charters II (1999) 231: Once in a while I go into NY & see my wild friends & blow off steam.|
|Scene (1996) 17: Davis needs me [...] if only to shoot off a little steam.|
|Chosen Few (1966) 93: ‘Do you really believe that or are you just blowing off today’s steam?’ ‘I believe it and I’m still blowing off steam.’.|
|Adolescent Boys of East London (1969) 155: When you’re young you want to let off a bit of steam [...] it’s a way of expressing yourself.|
|Black Players 19: When he particularly felt like letting off steam he would take out one of two pistols he kept for the purpose and blast a few holes in the wall.|
|(con. 1940s) Tattoo (1977) 100: Well, I knowed he would have to blow off some steam about it.|
|Fort Apache, The Bronx 209: If you just let them blow off steam they’ll go away after a while.|
|Lily on the Dustbin 24: Women used to let off steam domestically with a fine range of substitute expletives. ‘Holy Moses!’, ‘Holy mackerel!’, ‘great balls of fire’, ‘good gravy’, ‘jumping Jehosaphat’ and ‘muddy great bucket of pitch’.|
|Cause of Death (1997) 96: We really can’t say that the culprit wasn’t some kid blowing off steam.|
|Observer Rev. 10 Oct. 3: To let off steam, she does a bit of primal screaming.|
|Right As Rain 210: When she asks you where you been all night, it’s just her way of lettin’ off a little steam.|
|Dalko 37: [H]ard-working hard-drinking men who spent long weeks in the factories, then relaxed and blew off steam in the neighborhood taverns.et al.|
2. see blow off v.2 (3)
(US) to chatter aimlessly and pointlessly.
|View from the Bridge 17: You think I’m blowin’ steam here?|
|N.Y. Times Book Rev. cited in Cong. Wkly Reports 1323: [This] is a ferociously reported book, a tribute to old-fashioned digging in an age when lots of reporters are content to blow steam on television talk shows.|
see steam v.1 (2)
see steam up under steam v.1
very quickly, very easily, energetically.
|Pickwick Papers (1999) 391: Tother one [...] has got a barrel o’ oysters atween his knees, vich he’s a openin’ like steam.|
|Sportsman 23 Jan. 2/1: Notes on News [...] The lean kine of the Custom House eat up the fat ones ‘like steam’.|
|Sporting Times 2 Jan. 1/4: We got on like steam for some time.|
|Sporting Times 18 Jan. 2/2: We ate and drank like steam wherever we stopped on the road to Lewes.|
|Funny Wonder 5 Feb. 1: I wagged the old curl-case like steam.|
|We Were the Rats 26: If they’re not a wake-up I can get set for a caser like steam.|
|(con. 1944) Rats in New Guinea 17: Look out [...] or he’ll reef twenty quid off you like steam.|
see like shit off a shovel under shit n.
to be very mean.
|Between the Devlin 41: ‘[T]hose two pricks wouldn’t give you the steam off their shit’.|
|(con. 1970) Dazzling Dark (1996) II v: She wouldn’t give you the steam, that one.Danti-Dan in McGuinness|
|Sheepshagger 133: Been up to is tight-arsed tricks again as he? Fuckin typical. Tight as a gnat’s twat yew are, Marc, d’yew know that? [...] Wouldn’t give the steam off yewer turds as a Christmas present yew.|
(US) to whistle.
|Walk on the Wild Side 75: When I put on the steam you can hear it two blocks — it means drop everything, it’s the nab.|
an image of utter insignificance, thus used in not give (someone) the steam off (one’s) piss, to imply absolute contempt.
|(con. 1920s) Your Dinner’s Poured Out! 219: He wouldn’t give you the steam off his piss.|
|Smokey Hollow 142: Them nuns are mean rips [...] They wouldn’t give you the steam off their piss.|
|Layer Cake 110: Dudes who hate them with a vengeance, cos of envy or fear, who wouldn’t give ’em the steam off their piss.|
|Glorious Heresies 114: You know he doesn’t deserve the steam off your piss?’.|
|🌐 It's one thing to be incompetent, and it's a whole different game to not give the steam off your piss.on Twitter 7 June|
(Aus.) to tease.
|I’m a Jack, All Right 98: Gawd, are the fellers going to take the steam out of you when they hear this one.|