Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sappy adj.

[sap n.2 /SE sap, which is soft adj. (3)]

1. foolish, stupid; also as n. see cite 1829; note the proper noun that has been extrapolated in cit. 1853.

[US]N. Whiting Albino and Bellama 19: The Cyprian goddesse woo’d her sappey boy.
[UK]2nd Pt Peoples Liberties Asserted 6: When unlimited Prerogatives have sprung up, like Mushromes out of the sappy Apprehensions [...] of inferior Officers [OED].
[UK]M. Stevenson Poems 111: Nor are you Lilly like, but sallow, And sappy-countenanc’d.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]London Standard 19 Jan. 3/4: Spoon — a sawney, a Johnny Raw, a rural, a goose, a pump, a sappy.
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker III 58: Talkin’ cute, looks knavish; but talkin’ soft, looks sappy.
[UK]Sam Sly 24 Mar. 3/3: J—n B—ggs [...] generally known as Sappey, to leave off his childish ways, and be a man in manners if not in age.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) I 5: The Sappeys of Sapcot, a family that were not renowned either for common sense or wordly wisdom.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Plain or Ringlets? (1926) 39: One said, it was young Sir Stephen Sappy; another Captain Hubbub.
[UK] ‘Andro and his Cutty Gun’ in Laughing Songster 15: He ca’d me ay his bonny thing, / And mony a sappy kiss I gat.
[US]County Paper (Oregon, MO) 15 Sept. 2/6: Such words as [...] sappy for silly, scaly for shabby.
[US]F.E. Daniel Recollections of a Rebel Surgeon 145: I used in the sappy days of my adolescence, the ‘fuzzy’ days of my green youth,—to-to attempt poetry!
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Innocents of Broadway’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 117: He has nominated you custodian of his bundle in the sappy insouciance of his urban indiscrimination.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 12 Apr. 9/3: Kocking of a warey optic / Out for Johnneys. sappy green. / Coves wot’s drunk and country Jossers.
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Speedy Sprite’ in Ade’s Fables 37: Loretta found herself between an extinct Volcano of Political World and a sappy Fledgling whose Grandfather laid the cornerstone of Brooklyn.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 97: This sappy fool wrote how he felt like a cad for leaving his regiment in time of war.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 271: They’d [...] put slugs in the collection box, and laughed until a sappy-faced usher kicked them out.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 19 July. [synd. col.] The Times, which has always been nice to Congress, had to express its disgust for the sappier members.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 80: This hunt for Marchesi is makin’ everybody sappy.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 171: Yon sappy creature from the Crooked Bridge that finished up in the Mental Office.
[US]King Tee & Mixmaster Spade ‘Ya Better Bring a Gun’ [lyrics] Cause they walk in the street with intentions to meet / Some sappy lookin punk with Fila on his feet.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 119: This daft-lookin wee cunt [...] lookin it us wi they fuckin sappy eyes.

2. (US) sentimental and mawkish.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 277: Sappy [...] namby-pamby, milk-and-watery. ‘It’s such a sappy book.’.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Life on the Mississippi (1914) 224: He was [...] much better company than the sappy literature he was selling. [Ibid.] 355: ‘Friendship’s Offering,’ and ‘Affection’s Wreath,’ with their sappy inanities illustrated in die-away mezzotints.
[UK]H. Newton ‘Bai Jove’ [lyrics] No intellect troubles the ‘Chappie,’ [...] He prefers to be more or less ‘sappy,’ / And delights in tinsel and show.
[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 56: The Younger and more sappy the Listeners the more elaborate was his Discourse.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Girl & the Graft’ Strictly Business (1915) 97: Sign yourself ‘Mama’s Own Big Bad Puggy Wuggy Boy’ if you want any limelight to concentrate upon your sparse gray hairs. Get sappy.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe on the Job 163: And Hackett Wells nods, smilin’ at her fond and sappy.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 18 July [synd. col.] Those were indeed the sappy days.
[US]W.R. Burnett Iron Man 275: I wish you guys would lay off them sappy songs.
[US]F. Paley Rumble on the Docks (1955) 310: Aw! a mash note.It’s his sappy sister.
[US]E. Dundy Dud Avocado (1960) 13: A look of sappy sweetness that was sharply at odds with [...] his tough, wise-guy manner.
[Ire]H. Leonard Da (1981) Act I: Sappy days, eh?
[UK]R. Dahl Revolting Rhymes n.p.: And made to sound all soft and sappy / Just to keep the children happy.
[US]W.T. Vollmann Whores for Gloria 78: It sounds kind of sappy I guess.
[US]‘Touré’ Portable Promised Land (ms.) 7: Part eternal child, part social crusader, part sappy sentimentalist.
[US]Mad mag. Nov. 63: A sappy, sluggish, 20-minutes-too-long film.
[US]J. MacArthur ‘Jack Rabbit Slim’s Cellar’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Destiny sounds like a sappy love song.
[UK]Guardian G2 10 Feb. 6/3: Collins biggest regret (apart from covering the sappy Mindbenders hit) is talking to the Sun about politics.

3. (US, also sapped) drunk.

[US]Drunktionary [Internet] ‘Sap’ is booze. Sapped. Sappy.

In derivatives

sappiness (n.)

1. (US) stupidity; sentimentality.

[Ire] ‘Petticoat Government’ Dublin Comic Songster 168: Sam Smiggles, who lives in this court, / Says we’re all victims of sappiness.

2. sentimentality.

[US]New York Mag. 23 June 71/1: The sappiness of the whole almost hides the professionalism of the stars.
[US]Spin Aug. 93/2: ‘One Year Down’ perfectly captures the inability to heal a broken heart, and it does so catchily and without resorting to cliches or sappiness.
[US]Field & Stream Apr. 110/1: As bad as hard-earned money that is tossed away on hunting dogs, it is the emotional investment, and attendant sappiness, that is most difficult to justify .

In compounds

sappyhead (n.) [-head sfx (1)]

a fool.

[UK]Bucks Herald 3 Sept. 7/7: ‘Sappy-head’s awfully ill, they tell me.’ [...] ‘I was told it was brain fever’.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 111: Martin could wind a sappyhead like that round his little finger without his seeing it.
sappyheaded (adj.)


[UK]Cobbett’s Wkly Register 12 Aug. 399: What, then, wopuldsappy-headed ‘man of honour,’ Taylor, have a grant.
[UK]P. Pry Reminiscences, Mishaps and Observations 16: I had no appeal against the sapient judge’s sappy-headed decision.
[US]T. Haliburton Nature and Human Nature I 303: Formerly, they poked sapey-headed goneys into Parliament, to play dummey.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 4 July 4/1: He called Mr Craik a ‘sappy-headed’ brute.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 5 Dec. 1/3: Not a squeak from the public or a groan from the sappy-headed stewards.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Aug. 4/7: In salons where Gus and Bertie / Play the sappy-headed swain.
R.F. Gibbons Patchwork Time 258: People sympathized, because people were sappyheaded to begin with.