Green’s Dictionary of Slang

natural n.

1. when pertaining to a ‘state of nature’.

(a) an idiot; one who is untutored or unsophisticated; often the potential victim of a confidence trick.

[UK]T. More Debellacyon Salem Works 934/1: It could never be done more naturally, not thovgh he that wrote it were even a very naturall in dede [OED].
[UK]Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet II iii: This drivelling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole.
[UK]Dekker Gul’s Horne-booke 10: For they which want sleepe (which is mans naturall rest) become either mere Naturals, or else fall into the Doctor’s hands.
Rowlands A Fooles Bolt is Soone Shott 22: The Duke of Brunswicke had a naturall, Whom all the Court did, sotton Ioris call.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Natural [...] a Fool.
R. Steele Conscious Lovers II i: I own the man is not a natural; he has a very quick Sense, tho’ a slow Understanding.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 102: Both condemned me to be anointed like a Witch, and to slabber like a Natural.
[UK]Ipswich Jrnl 2 July 1/2: A Fellow half a Natural called Dicky [...] being aggravated by one of them [...] Stabbed him in the Back.
[UK]Colman & Garrick Clandestine Marriage I ii: This ridiculous love! we must put a stop to it. It makes a perfect natural of the girl.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]M. & R. Lovell Edgeworth Essays on Irish Bulls 206: I crept under a bough, and stood like a fool, or a perfect natural, till well nigh day.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]J. Neal Brother Jonathan II 42: He’s your brother, I guess? [...] sort of a naiteral too, I guess.
[US](con. 1843) Melville White-Jacket (1990) 41: ‘What’s that ’ere born nat’ral about?’ – ‘He’s got a fit, hain’t he?’ were exclamations often made by the less learned of his shipmates.
[UK]J. Strang Glasgow and Its Clubs 247: The half-witted natural who is found strolling through the nettled pathway.
[UK]Dickens Our Mutual Friend (1994) 200: He was thought to be no better than a Natural.
[UK]E.K. Wood Johnny Ludlow II 242: The man opened his mouth and closed it again; like, as Molly put it, a born natural.
[Aus](?) H. Lawson ‘A Gentleman Sharper and Steelman Sharper’ in Roderick (1972) 224: I suppose I’ll have to have patience with a born natural.
[UK]Sporting Times 14 Mar. 1/5: An old woman of the village was about to marry a man who was looked on as what they call in Derbyshire a ‘natural.’ The vicar meeting her, said: ‘So, you are going to marry old Dick then, Susan. I suppose you know he isn’t quite right.’.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 117: City sharps, town flats, and village naturals.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 251: A natural whose wife had had him locked up because he had made up his mind to have a baby by their fifteen-year-old daughter.
[US]M. Braly Felony Tank (1962) 48: I bet they thought you were a natural. They probably thought you were going to cop out to every job pulled in this country in the last fifteen years.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 254: Just when you thought she was a complete innocent or ‘natural’ or maybe even not quite right in the head.

(b) a mistress; a prostitute.

[UK]T. Shadwell Squire of Alsatia I i: Ay, ay, you broke windows; scoured; broke open a house in Dorset Court, and took a pretty wench, a gentleman’s natural, away by force.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Natural c. a Mistress, a Wench.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

(c) an illegitimate child.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Natural-children, Bastards.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: natural a natural son or daughter, a love begotten, or merry begotten child; a bastard.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. pertaining to gambling [abbr. SE natural winner].

(a) (gambling) a winning combination, esp. in craps.

[UK]O. Goldsmith Citizen of the World I xxxviii 165: He loked all the time with such irresistable impudence, that [...] something in his face gave me as much pleasure as a pair-royal of naturals in my hand.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 59: They were playing ‘twenty one’ [...] The banker drew a ‘natural’ and the mob signed their checks.
[US]H. Asbury Sucker’s Progress 42: A great many of the technical terms used in Craps, including ‘nick’ and ‘natural,’ are derived from Hazard.
[US]C. Himes Rage in Harlem (1969) 24: Jackson threw another natural for the twenty, then crapped out.

(b) fig. use of sense 2a, good luck.

[US]E. Anderson Thieves Like Us (1999) 7: There’s a natural for us up this road.

(c) (US prison) ext. use of sense 2a, a seven-year sentence.

[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 167: Seven years, a natural — and all because a chippy blonde had mentioned a cocaine party, and he had been nuts about that blonde.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

3. (orig. US) one who is naturally suited to a job or skill; one who is naturally talented.

J. Gordon letter 31 Aug. in Breslaw Records of the Tuesday Club of Annapolis (1988) 141: We look upon the one to be a Natural [...] in vocal music, that is to Say [...] by nature furnished with those gifts that are requisite to form a good singer .
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 50: It’s a good thing that bird’s a natural.
[UK]J. Quirk No Red Ribbons (1968) 280: Decent people are doing it, too. You’d be a natural.
[UK]A. Bleasdale Scully 148: That’s what I mean about you being a natural. You don’t have to do anything dramatic, you already are.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Thicker than Water’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] He was a natural with the bugle.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 93: I’d make a very good head-shrinker, a fuckin natural.

4. when pertaining to ‘one’s natural life’.

(a) (also nat) one’s life.

G.L. Gower Gloss. Surrey Words 27: In my natural, phrase for ‘in my life’, ‘at any time’ [...] ‘I was never on good terms with her in my natural’.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 16 Nov. 4/3: If I’da done ’arf the things before I was converted that I’ve done since, I’da bin wearin’ Government togs for the rest of my matural.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Dec. 16/4: [N]ext thing I knew my bathbrick wot I’d left behind took me right under the ear, an’ I cleared for me natural, with the ole woman’s son arter me – hell-for-leather.
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Apr. 2/4: Do the canaries an’ git put away for three months! Me! Me, as has stood in Club Row, Befnal Green, every Sunday mornin’ for the las’ fifty-seven years an’ never faked a bird in me pleadin’ natural!
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 134: They’s stuck me down aside one o’ the nicest bits o’ frock I’ve ever played the goat with in my nat. Reg’lar fancy rib!
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Intro’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 20: A squarer tom, I swear, I never seen, / In all me natural, than this ’ere Doreen.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 50: Much as I liked America, I didn’t want to have England barred to me for the rest of my natural.
[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 21 Aug. 5/5: We’re on the lousy thirty bob and we’ll be on it for the rest of our blanky natural.
[UK]N. Scanlan Tides of Youth 276: The Sounds’ll do me for the rest of me natural.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 37: You can be sent to Prevention Detention for the rest of your natural. I’d die on the Isle of Sheppey.
[UK]‘Frank Richards’ Billy Bunter at Butlins 191: You look the stoopidest idjit I’ve ever seen in my natural.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 86: I couldn’t be spending the rest of my natural doing little jumps when red-haired men came through the door.

(b) (US) a life sentence.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 14 Aug. 1/2: ‘The square chivvied cow will be sent up for his gory natural’.
Corcoran ‘The Blue Wall’ in Grayson Stories for Men (1936) 132: The Commonwealth sent him to Graymoor for a ‘natural’ – for life.

5. (US) something certain to succeed, a winner; something inevitable.

[US]R. Lardner Big Town 180: I’m going to tell you a secret and if you don’t keep your clam shut I’ll roll you for a natural.
[US]J. Lait Broadway Melody 3: He has clicked with a new song [...] he knows ‘Broadway Melody’ is a ‘natural’.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Publicity for the Corpse’ in Thrilling Detective Dec. [Internet] I figured the fifteen round bout was a natural for a capacity house.
[US]J. Thompson Alcoholics (1993) 107: I’m telling you it’s a natural.
[US]T. Thackrey Gambling Secrets of Nick The Greek 111: He has a Blackjack, or a ‘natural,’ and wins his bet at once.

6. (US black, also natch, natchie) a bushy hairstyle, in which one’s hair is allowed to grow naturally, rather than being subjected to straightening or similar styling.

[US]H. Rap Brown Die Nigger Die! 89: It ain’t the dude with the natural. I’d rather see a cat with a processed head and a natural mind than a natural head and a processed mind.
[US]D. Claerbaut Black Jargon in White America 73: natchie n. a poorly groomed black hairstyle; a sloppy natural. natural n. 1. the normal, unstraightened hairstyle of a black person. 2. a large, bushy hairstyle.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 53: The driver had a high natural.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 138: Tall, nice natural, wearin’ dat nice suit. [Ibid.] 141: Both males and females admired an attractive person with a ‘fonky’ natch.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 104: He pictured himself in that Afro-ish bush of the boy’s [...] the style had been called a natural way back in the sixties.
[US]G. Pelecanos Night Gardener 126: His cousin thought the world stopped turning in the 70s [...] He would have worn a natural too, if he could get it.

7. (US black) one’s ‘natural-born’ self.

[US]Who Took Weight? 33: He likes to see you being your natural? [HDAS].

In compounds

In phrases

for one’s natural

as if one’s life depended on it.

[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Quinton’s Rouseabout and other Stories 47: Many a time he went speeding back to the homestead for his natural, with the boys galloping at his heels, yelling threats of vengeance, cracking stock-whips, and occasionally firing a gun.
get off the natural (v.)

(US drugs) to become intoxicated.

[US]F. Elli Riot 44: If a guy wanted to get off the natural in a zoo like this, he didn’t have much choice.
not on your natural [abbr. SE natural life, thus var. on not on your life (see under life n.)]

absolutely not.

[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 239: A core of quids? Never in your natural.
[UK](con. WWII) B. Aldiss Soldier Erect 136: You’ve never been to Indore in your natural!
throw a natural (v.) [sense 1b above]

to experience good luck.

[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 154: Mutt threw a natural yesterday and cleaned up.