Green’s Dictionary of Slang

book n.

1. [early 19C] a pocket book, a wallet.

2. in lit. use.

(a) [19C+] a magazine, a periodical; mainly illiterate use.

(b) [1950s+] (US black pimp) a supply of names and addresses of clients, e.g. of a prostitute.

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

(a) [mid-19C+] a bet.

(b) [mid-19C+] a bookmaker’s business; usu. in phr. make a book.

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

(d) [late 19C+] (Aus./US) a bookmaker.

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

(a) [20C+] the maximum sentence for a given crime; usu. as the book.

(b) [1920s–60s] a one-year jail sentence.

(c) [1920s+] a life sentence, usu. as the book; thus bookman, one serving a life sentence.

(d) [1940s] in non-criminal contexts, any form of severe punishment.

5. the context of reading.

(a) [20C+] (Irish) a class in primary school.

(b) [1960s] (US campus) an assiduous, hard worker.

(c) [1970s] (US campus) a study period.

6. (drugs) the shape.

(a) [1950s] a small paper packet of a drug.

(b) [2000s] (US drugs) 100 doses of LSD.

7. [1990s+] (Irish) a single parent’s allowance [? from the book in which payments are registered].

In phrases

clear the book (v.)

[1930s–40s] (US Und.) of the police, to accuse a criminal, who may have been arrested on another charge, of various unsolved crimes.

do the book (v.)

[1920s+] (US Und.) to serve a life sentence.

do the book and cover (v.)

[1920s+] (US Und.) to be imprisoned for the rest of one’s natural life.

make book (on) (v.)

1. [mid-19C+] to wager (on), to gamble (on); also fig.

2. [1930s] to conduct a surveillance on someone.

3. [1930s+] to run a bookmaking operation.

on the book

1. [20C+] on credit.

2. [2000s] involved.

3. [2000s] (UK prison) being a category A (high-risk) prisoner.

on the books

[20C+] (US) good for credit.

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]

[1910s+] (orig. US) to discipline heavily, to reprimand severely.

throw the book away (v.)

[1940s+] (orig. US) to abandon the usual rules and regulations.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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]

[late 18C–late 19C] the vagina.

book bluffing (n.)

[mid-19C] (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.

book-keeper (n.) [pun]

[late 18C–early 19C] one who fails to return borrowed books.

book-pad (v.) [SE book]

[late 17C–mid-18C] to plagiarize.

book rat (n.) [they ‘chew up’ books]

[late 19C] (US) an obsessive reader, a bookworm.

bookrunner (n.)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) a prisoner who is allowed day release for study purposes.

bookworm (n.) [play on SE]

[1940s] (US Und.) a shoplifter who specializes in stealing rare books.

two-leaved book (n.)

[mid-17C] the vagina.

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]

[late 17C] utterly mistaken.

book of many pages (n.)

[1940s] (US black) a dictionary.

everything in the book(s) (n.)

[1950s] (US) whatever is available, whatever is known.

get the book (v.) [SE book, i.e. the Bible]

[1940s+] (UK prison) to become religious.

out of one’s books

[late 18C–early 19C] out of favour.

out of the books

[1920s+] (Aus.) exceptional, well above average.

right as a book (adj.)

[mid-19C] (US) in good health or spirits.