Green’s Dictionary of Slang

book n.

1. a pocket book, a wallet.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 33: A more daring hustle is, where a person being run against violently, as if by accident, and his arms kept down forcibly, while the accomplice [...] draws either his watch, money or book .

2. in lit. use.

(a) a magazine, a periodical; mainly illiterate use.

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) xi: This here clever book [i.e. Blackwood’s Mag.] is read all over the British King’s dominions.
[US]Mad mag. June 20: He digs your book [i.e. Mad] too.
[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 95: I just swiped [...] some o’ dem ol’ friggin’ books outta my ol’ man’s dresser.
[US]Frank Zappa ‘Lonely Person Devices’ [lyrics] Eric gave me a magazine to read on the airplane; it was one of his favourite books.
[US]Ian Dury ‘Razzle in my Pocket’ [lyrics] ‘Hold on sonny,’ said a voice at my side. ‘I think you’ve taken one of my books.’.

(b) (US black pimp) a supply of names and addresses of clients, e.g. of a prostitute.

[US]J. Mills Panic in Needle Park (1971) 76: She used to go out on dates, like from her books — she had whole filing drawers full of books and index cards on all her dates, you know, even with what they talked about on the last date, so when she saw the guy again, no matter how long it had been, she could bring up the same subject and ask him about it.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 246: She brought a book in with her and wants to lay it on me. It looks very respectable, Daddy, with very good names in Frisco.
[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972) 38: book. Telephone book kept by a prostitute, consisting of phone numbers, addresses and descriptions of clients. It is sold for very high sums of money when a prostitute leaves the business or changes her location.

3. in betting, i.e. the ‘book’ where wagers are entered.

(a) a bet.

[UK]Disraeli Henrietta Temple 260: Am I to be branded because I have made half a million by a good book.
[UK]F. Smedley Lewis Arundel 476: He has backed the Dodona colt for the Derby, and has got a heavier book on the race than he likes.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Aug. 2/3: The really knowing man is one who ‘bets round,’ in other words, ‘makes a book’ on the race.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 101: ‘Making a book upon it,’ common phrase to denote the general arrangement of a person’s bets on a race.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor III 358/2: Some ‘make a book,’ risking from two or three half-crowns [...] and sometimes more than they can pay.
[as cit. 1860].
[UK]J. Payn ‘A Change of Views’ in High Spirits II 109: He had a knowledge, too, of practical mathematics, which enabled him to make a book upon every great racing event of the year.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Apr. 10/3: So cunningly did one of these metallicians tot up his little book on the recent Sydney Cup that he stood to lose £25 no matter which horse won.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Mar. 1/4: ‘Women want comfort.’ Oh, indeed. Since when? Give her choice between a ton of coal and a pair of four-inch heeled Louis XIV shoes — we’ll make a book on it!
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 6 Nov. 6 Nov. 4/6: He was a gentleman of the welsher species, and after making a fairly heavy book [...] did a bunk on Cup night.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 17: Here is where we make a book.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 167: ‘Good Lord! What, making a book on it?’ ‘I understand he is accepting wagers from those in his immediate circle, sir’.
[US]‘Paul Cain’ ‘One, Two, Three’ in Penzler Pulp Fiction (2006) 4: Lonnie makes a book.
[US]H. Ellison ‘The Man with the Golden Tongue’ in Deadly Streets (1983) 73: He was the collector for a horse book.
[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 198: book, n. – a wager.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 7: ‘Well, maybe they don’t want me very much, Jack’ the second man said. [...] ‘I wouldn’t fancy making a book on it, Dave,’ Lynn said.

(b) a bookmaker’s business; usu. in phr. make a book.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 265/2: Some act also as touters or touts [...] These men, I am assured, usually ‘make a book’ (a record and calculation of their bets) with grooms, or such gentlemen’s servants, as will bet with them, and sometimes with one another.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Sept. 9/2: The assembled ‘books’ outside Tattersall’s gazed with ‘lack-lustre eye’ upon the coming meteorological change.
[UK]Sporting Times 19 Apr. 6/1: Didn’t know how to bet, so gave him address of dear old Breeze, who was keeping my own book.
[US]F. Hutcheson Barkeep Stories 91: ‘Wot was dey layin’ again Chicago?’ ‘Dey don’t make no book on dem ball games’.
[Aus]Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 3: We brought up Ikey Gizzard (’im they call the Golden Dook) / And several other chaps as makes a ready-money book.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Derby Bet’ Sporting Times 28 May 1/3: I took over his book and his clients two days ere that Derby was fought, / And all unsettled bets must be settled, say I, for the good of the sport!
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 230: ‘I’d make a book, go in the ring.’ [...] ‘Be a bookie, eh?’.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Big Shoulders’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 589: He calls himself the Flannagan Brokerage Company and makes the biggest football book in this country.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘A Good Boy’ in A Man And His Wife (1944) 71: It’s a fact that Paddy ran a book.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 132: My book beats him and beats him.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 37: ‘Jockey’ Brynes [...] ran a book that longshoremen were expected to patronize.
[UK]A. Baron Lowlife (2001) 6: An ambition to make a book.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 102: Eventually, he got a licence to make a book on the flat at Flemington racecourse.
[UK]J. Carr Bad (1995) 96: I started keeping book.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 71: I heard that Kupferman was a big time bookie, back in the 50’s. Was he running a book at the Utopia?
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 146: It’s the only book in town that lays track odds on parlays.
[US]C. Stella Eddie’s World 107: I’m putting my book up for sale [...] Fifty cents on the dollar. Same as the wiseguys pay.
[US]C. Stella Shakedown 4: The guy upstairs ran book for Nicky.

(c) attrib. use of sense b, pertaining to bookmaking.

[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 132: Our people think the shooters were knocking off the place for book money.

(d) (Aus./US) a bookmaker.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Jan. 5/1: Then comes a hoarse roar from the books. ‘Three to one you don’t name it.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Jan. 13/4: ‘How about Student, though?’ asked the bushy. ‘Oh, you must pe kweek,’ snapped the ‘book’.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Old Pardon, the Son of Reprieve’ in Man from Snowy River (1902) 13: And we heard the ‘books’ calling the doubles — / A roar like the surf of the sea.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 3 Jan. 2/5: This [...] sent backers home with a vivid recollection that they had returned to the ‘books,’ their first day’s winnings, plus interest.
[US]B. Fisher A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 3: I wanta get this on before the books get wise.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 24 Dec. 2s/4: The turf would be dead / if they banished the Books!
[US]H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 337: I bet you got the books all yellin’ for the cops! You clean up with dollar bets at six to five.
A. Baer Says ‘Bugs’ Baer 7 Sept. [synd. col.] As there were no pin boys around to set Miske up in the next alley, the books paid off on Jack [Dempsey].
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 295: It’ll be fixed which one of us is going to win. Depends on the books.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 96: Charles lay down his fork and said it was a skinner for the books.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 94: Maybe the book’ll wear up to a fiver’s worth of my dough.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 112: Jockey Byrnes, the book for the mob.
[US]M. Puzo Godfather 240: He would have to go crosstown to his ‘book’ to run the noontime action.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 13: The books had promised a third of the take to whichever side won.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 103: He will do the different thing than they all expected, and the sports books too.
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 42: A ‘bookmaker’ [...] was, and is, sometimes abbreviated to just a ‘book’.

4. (orig. US prison) a fig. book of punishments and/or broken rules.

(a) the maximum sentence for a given crime; usu. as the book.

[US]Hopper & Bechdolt ‘9009’ (1909) 4: You’ll wish they’d handed you the book and you’d been hung.
[US]DN V 448: Give one the book, v. To give a convicted person the maximum penalty.
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 42: ‘What did they give you – the works, didn’t they?’ [...] ‘Yeah. The papers got that much straight. Yeah. Both barrels. The book.’.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 47/2: Got the book, received maximum sentence.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: Dead set the best bake in history they give me and I got the book for a shit pot dud.

(b) a one-year jail sentence.

[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 338: Book — One year in jail.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks 11/1: Book, sentenced to jail for one year.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US] in T.I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 87: I’m lucky I got six months. Could of given me the book, a year.

(c) a life sentence, usu. as the book; thus bookman, one serving a life sentence.

(con. 1915) P.C. Murphy Behind Gray Walls 12: The Judge gave you the ‘book’ (meaning life term) didn’t he?
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 72: He had a murder rap that sent him up for the book.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 30: bookman One serving a life sentence.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 32/1: Book, the. 1. The full penalty of the law imposed by the Court or the order of the Parole Board. [Ibid.] 79/1: Get hit with the book. 1. To be sentenced to life imprisonment as an habitual criminal; to be sentenced to the maximum penalty provided by law.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 69: Christ! The book, huh? That’s a lotta time.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 791: book – A life sentence.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 77: You’re dealin’ hands with no good bands / and soon you’ll wind up with the book.

(d) in non-criminal contexts, any form of severe punishment.

[US](con. 1943–5) A. Murphy To Hell and Back (1950) ‘I’ll report you,’ he screams. ‘You’ll get the book.’.

5. the context of reading.

(a) (Irish) a class in primary school.

[Ire]P. O’Keeffe Down Cobbled Streets, A Liberties Childhood 17: And what book are you in now?

(b) (US campus) an assiduous, hard worker.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 1: book – nerd: ‘He never leaves his room. He’s such a book, always studying.’.

(c) (US campus) a study period.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 1: book – a session of studying: I’ve got a book this weekend.

6. (drugs) the shape.

(a) a small paper packet of a drug.

[US]Murtagh & Harris Who Live In Shadow (1960) 187: Paper – A very thin paper fold containing a small amount of a drug: also called book, card, deck.

(b) (US drugs) 100 doses of LSD.

[US]ONDCP Street Terms 4: Book — 100 dosage units of LSD.

7. (Irish) a single parent’s allowance [? from the book in which payments are registered].

[Ire]Irish Times 14 Nov. n.p.: She leaves the name of the father off the birth certificate, so she can go on the ‘book’ [BS].

In phrases

clear the book (v.)

(US Und.) of the police, to accuse a criminal, who may have been arrested on another charge, of various unsolved crimes.

[US]D. Maurer Big Con 292: To clear the book. For the police to attempt to pin several unsolved crimes on a known criminal.
do the book (v.)

(US Und.) to serve a life sentence.

Writer’s Monthly (US) Dec. 541: Doing the Book — Life imprisonment.
[US]G. Milburn ‘Convicts’ Jargon’ in AS VI:6 437: book, the, n. A life-time sentence. ‘He’s doing the book.’.
[US]W.R. Burnett High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 309: ‘I was doing the book, myself.’ ‘Life?’ ‘Yeah.’.
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 9: How it feels to ‘do the book’ in one.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 19: Doing the Book A life sentence. Can also mean a person was sentenced to the full extent of the law. (Archaic: bookful).
do the book and cover (v.)

(US Und.) to be imprisoned for the rest of one’s natural life.

Probert Encyc. [Internet] DO THE BOOK AND COVER Do the book and cover is American slang for to be imprisoned for the rest of one’s life.
make book (on) (v.)

1. to wager (on), to gamble (on); also fig.

[US]Ade Artie (1963) 26: I’ll make book right here that you’re livin’ off o’ your mother or sister and payin’ no board.
[US]H.C. Witwer Fighting Blood 245: We make book on the first fight and lay two to one you don’t knock Christopher out.
[US]M. Harris ‘Facing the Mob’ in Gangland Stories Feb. [Internet] They’re making book that Bad News’ll find some show-off way of squaring things.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Shakedown Sham’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective May [Internet] I’ll make book the bullet in the sallow mug’s ticker matches the rifling of this gat.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 276: The busy little guys making last-minute book, eight to five on Toro, five to nine on Lennox.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 128: He patterned that scam [...] off this Davidson’s job [...] I’ll make book on it.
[US]W. Diehl Sharky’s Machine 226: If I was making book on this question, I would give odds she didn’t know a thing about it.
[US]O. Hawkins Chili 23: She [...] has a nice home and a nice husband with a nice job. I’d make book on it.

2. to conduct a surveillance on someone.

[US]N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 161: ‘Someone has put a watcher on me?’ ‘That’s right. There are detectives making book on you.’.

3. to run a bookmaking operation.

[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 222: He makes book up there and I run for him.
[UK]A. Petry Narrows 312: I don’t make book on crazy sons of bitches [...] If I did, I’d be out of business in twenty-four hours.
[US]W. Diehl Sharky’s Machine 245: He makes book in a fag bar out on Cheshire Bridge Road.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 161: The owner, a Greek guy, made book.
[US]G. Pelecanos Right As Rain 226: Usually, you see a guy hangin’ around with restaurant employees like that, it means he’s making book.
on the book

1. on credit.

[UK](con. 1930s) Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 18: To have things on credit [...] ‘On the book’, and in pubs ‘on the slate’.

2. involved.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 91: That’s how Old Dewey and pricey got Geno on the book.

3. (UK prison) being a category A (high-risk) prisoner.

[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 29: His every move would be recorded in his category A book [...] and this is why being category A is called ‘on the book’ by prisoners.
on the books

(US) good for credit.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 15: On the Books Having money on account in your name.
throw the book at (v.) (also chuck the book at, drop the book on, hit with the book, shy the book, toss the book at) [the ‘book of rules’ that one has contravened, orig. in legal context, to throw the book at, to give someone a maximum sentence]

(orig. US) to discipline heavily, to reprimand severely.

[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 42: As soon as they finds you’ve got no political pull, the judges and all git very moral; throw the book at you and tell you to add up the sentences in it.
[UK]T. Burke Limehouse Nights 259: A stretch? Lorlummy, they fair shied the book at ’im.
[US]V.F. Nelson Prison Days and Nights 261: If he’s an ex-con they’ll throw the whole book at him and bury him for life.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Hit with the book, a life sentence pronounced by the trial judge.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Three Wise Guys’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 409: The judge throws the book at him when he finally goes to bat.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 37: He’d wind up with some Dago judge throwing the book at him.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 33: Bop, he hit us with the whole book.
[US]A. Hynd We Are the Public Enemies 11: A rural judge [...] threw the book at him – ten to 21 years.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 238: throw the book To be given a life sentence.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 225/1: Toss the book at. 1. To sentence to life imprisonment; to impose the maximum penalty provided by law.
[US]J. Steinbeck Sweet Thursday (1955) 125: She threw the book at me.
[US]R. Chandler Playback 172: You’ll just have to throw the book at me.
[US]H. Ellison Web of the City (1983) 100: I ever see you in here again, I’m going to personally see that the book’s tossed at you.
[Aus]J. Walker No Sunlight Singing (1966) 196: If you get caught throwin’ a leg over one o’ them they’ll hit you with the book.
[UK]A. Wesker Chips with Everything II i: All the officers in charge of this camp have got their guns on you and they’re aiming to throw the book at you – the whole, heavy, scorching book.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Mama Black Widow 173: You should be bright enough to know why he got the book thrown at him.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 138: They would throw the book at him because they wanted him already.
[Aus]A. Weller Day of the Dog 101: I’ll throw the book at you if you don’t start talking, Dougie, and I do so detest violence.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Healthy Competition’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I got nicked for fly-dumping a couple of months ago, I mean, they’re going to chuck the book at me this time.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 17: Five’ll get you twenty they’ll drop the book on you.
[UK]J. Healy Grass Arena (1990) 153: Caught round here, they’d throw the book at me.
[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 98: The judge really threw the book at him!
throw the book away (v.)

(orig. US) to abandon the usual rules and regulations.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 223/1: Throw the book away. 1. To conduct court proceedings without regard to due process of law [...] 2. To adhere to the letter rather than to the spirit of the law; to exercise undue severity in court proceedings.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

book-beater (n.) [beat the books under beat v.]

(US teen) a hard worker (at school).

[US]Yank (Far East edn) 24 Mar. 18/2–3: Some of today’s teen-agers – pleasantly not many – talk the strange new language of ‘sling swing.’ In the bright lexicon of the good citizens of tomorrow [...] A grind is a ‘book beater’.
(con. early 1960s) R. Lewis Walter Rodney’s Political Though 30: He recalls Rodney living on Block B Chancellor Hall [c. 1962] and described him as being ‘a serious book-beater’.
bookbinder’s wife (n.) [play on ‘her’ occupation: ‘manufacturing in sheets’; note the bookbinder’s daughter: an initiation rite whereby the apprentice bookbinder closes his eyes expecting a kiss and receives a brush full of paste across the mouth]

the vagina.

[Rape of the Bride v: If they [i.e. 'Ladies'] take in any Diversion in the Author’s Sheets, they’ll [...] give him a great deal of Pleasure. If there are any double Entendres in this Composition, their candour will interpret in the most favourable Construction].
[UK]Gentleman’s Bottle-Companion 14: Let us now toast some female; the first my muse greets, / Is the Book-binder’s wife who well stitches in sheets.
[UK]‘Toasts’ in New Cockalorum Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) II 30: The bookbinder’s wife; that stitches best in sheets.
[UK]‘A Song of Sentiments’ in Fake Away Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 280: Lads pour out libations from bottles and bowls, / [...] / The bookbinder’s wife manufacturing in sheets.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
book bluffing (n.)

(US Und.) a form of swindling whereby one offers an expensive book to the buyer, but actually hands over a cheap one, which has been substituted during the packing process.

[US]N.Y. Times 28 Sept. 2: When picking pockets does not pay, they [i.e. street boys] try ‘book bluffing’, that is, they sell handsome books to strangers, and then wrap it up nicely in the operation, subsituting another cheap book; making sometimes several dollars with a few books.
Water-Cure Jrnl June 134/1: Cotton picking, on the wharves; iron stealing, in dry docks; ‘smashing baggage,’ under pretense of carrying it; and ‘book bluffing’ a kind of a mock book-selling, are all means of livelihood for the dishonest poor boys of New York.
[US]Bismarck Wkly Trib. (ND) 29 Mar. 4/6: A bluffing book pedlar [...] is meeting with dippers of hot water from the woman he tries to compel to buy his wares.
book-pad (v.) [SE book]

to plagiarize.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 116/2: ca. 1680–1730.
book rat (n.) [they ‘chew up’ books]

(US) an obsessive reader, a bookworm.

Scribner’s Mthly 79/1: The Book Rat, as we got to calling him [...] was the scholar of our crew .
[US]T.C. Harbaugh Bravo Bill 4: This is an onhealthy locaility for book-rats, an’ boys! [HDAS].
bookrunner (n.)

(Aus. prison) a prisoner who is allowed day release for study purposes.

[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Bookrunner. A prisoner on day release for educational purposes. Implies that a prisoner has found a legitimate way to ‘escape’.
bookworm (n.) [play on SE]

(US Und.) a shoplifter who specializes in stealing rare books.

[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 260: Woolworms specialize in woolens, bookworms steal expensive volumes.
two-leaved book (n.)

the vagina.

[UK]Laughing Mercury 12-20 Oct. 220: A Widow had two or three Daughters that lack’d clasping for their two-leav’d books, one of them having her Book lying open.

In phrases

beside the book (adj.) [SE beside, in addition, over and above + book, in the sense of an authority, a book of rules; 18C+ use is SE]

utterly mistaken.

Walker Parœmiologia 32: He is quite beside the book; mightily mistaken.
book of many pages (n.)

(US black) a dictionary.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 72: They hope that some day, the cats who lay that larcency in the book of many pages (dictionary) will [...] substitute the phrase ‘twister to the slammer,’ for the word ‘key’.
everything in the book(s) (n.)

(US) whatever is available, whatever is known.

[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 141: That night Marylou took everything in the books: she took tea, goofballs, benny, liquor, and even asked Old Bull for a shot of M.
J. Wain Nuncle 49: They’ll soak me for defamation of character and everything else in the book.
get the book (v.) [SE book, i.e. the Bible]

(UK prison) to become religious.

[UK]P. Tempest Lag’s Lex. 95: ‘He’s got the Book’ [...] (a) he has ‘got’ religion.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
out of the books

(Aus.) exceptional, well above average.

[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 154: She wasn’t so awfully good-looking, but she had a shape that was out of the books, and that’s the truth, so help me!
right as a book (adj.)

(US) in good health or spirits.

[US]Portage Sentinel (Ravenna, OH) 7 Jan. 1/1: ‘How air you, Jed?’ says he. ‘Oh, right as a book,’ says I.