Green’s Dictionary of Slang

steam n.

1. [late 19C–1970s] (US black) beer, wine; a glass of beer [it ‘gets one’s steam up’; but note late 19C US proprietory steam beer (pump)].

2. [1910s] (US) a temper.

3. [1930s+] (Aus./N.Z.) cheap wine, esp. if laced with methylated spirits; methylated spirits drunk by itself.

4. [1960s] (US) blame, sarcasm, intense criticism.

5. [1970s] (drugs) phencyclidine.

6. [1970s] (US) problems, difficulties, trouble.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

steam-and-cream (n.) [SE steam, i.e. of the sauna + cream v.]

[1970s] (US) a brothel, masquerading/doubling as a sauna.


see separate entries.

steam clean (n.)

[1980s] (US black) an act of fellatio.

steam daddy (n.) (also steam queen) [daddy n. (8)/queen n. (2)]

[1970s] (US gay) a male homosexual who frequents the steam-room of a baths.

steam engine (n.) [? the steam that emanates from the hot potatoes]

[1930s] (US prison) a potato pie, a cooked potato.


see separate entries.

In phrases

blow off steam (v.) (also get off steam, let off (the) steam, shoot off steam, let off wind)

1. [early 19C+] to release one’s (pent-up) emotions, to become angry or noisy and excited.

2. see blow off v.2 (3)

blow steam (v.)

[1950s] (US) to chatter aimlessly and pointlessly.

like steam (adv.) [20C+ use (Aus.)]

[mid-19C+] very quickly, very easily, energetically.

not give someone the steam off one’s piss (v.)

[1980s+] to hold in absolute contempt.

not give someone the steam (off one’s turds) (v.)

[1970s+] to be very mean.

put on the steam (v.) [railroad or factory whistle imagery]

[1950s] (US) to whistle.

take the steam out of (v.)

[1960s] (Aus.) to tease.