Green’s Dictionary of Slang

talk v.

1. (Aus.) of a horse, breathing heavily.

[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 67: [A] broken-winded horse, often termed ‘talking’ by turfites.

2. (UK Und.) to confess or turn informer to the police or similar authority.

[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 420: Talk. See squeal, beef, spiel, chew rag .
[US](con. WW1) C. Winant Soldier’s Manuscript 74: . I guess both sides were forced to pretty rough tactics to make [prisoners] talk.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 157: Very, very seldom will a woman of the Underworld ‘talk.’.
L.J. Valentine Night Stick 42: We never did find out who killed him. Higgins held fast to his warped underworld code. He wouldn’t talk.
[US]M. Spillane Long Wait (1954) 170: The guy talked with a little persuasion.
[US]G. Liddy Will 271: The prosecution countered by telling John Dean that I had ‘talked.’ It was [...] an old trick, but Dean, who was weak as well as inexperienced, fell for it.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 10 Nov. 6: Coyle [...] who, to protect himself against being sent up for a second stretch, talks to the cops.

3. (US black/campus, also talk to/with) to have a relationship with someone, to date.

[[US]Venus’ Miscellany (NY) 31 Jan. n.p.: ‘Still harping on my daughters,’ as an old woman said to a young man she caught talking vigorously to Annie in her chamber].
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 108: It is quite correct to remark that a young man is talkin’ or settin’ up or sparkin’ or courtin’, since all these terms may imply an intention to marry.
[US]McKee & Chisenhall Beale Black & Blue 163: And then one of the girls, she didn’t talk like John thought she was going to talk, and so he got mad.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 33: be talking with to be going with, to be dating steadily.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: talk to – date: ‘I’m talking to the guy in the blue shirt.’.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Fall 8: talk – to converse with someone; to date someone; to have sex. ‘You still date James?’ ‘Yeah, we still talk.’.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 Fall 7: TALK — be in the early stages of a romantic relationship; date casually: ‘Mike and Susan have been talking since they met at my birthday party’.

4. (US prison) having a relationship with another person of the same sex while in prison [euph.].

[US]R. Giallombardo Gloss. in Study of a Women’s Prison 208: Talking. Refers to someone engaged in a homosexual act.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

talk doctor (n.)

(US) a psychoanalyst, a psychotherapist.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 326: I told em Mom was a little light in her huaraches and was seeing a talk doctor.

In phrases

all talk and no cider [supposedly orig. at a party in Buck County, PA, which had been arranged to enjoy a particularly good barrel of cider; a political argument began and emotions became so heated that half the guests left, claiming that the ‘party’ had been merely an excuse to wrangle, rather than drink]

(US) all theory and no practice, all proposals and no concrete results.

[US]Irving & Paulding Salmagundi (1860) 141: The people, in fact, seem to be somewhat conscious of this propensity to talk, by which they are characterized, and have a favorite proverb on the subject, viz. ‘all talk and no cider.’.
[US]A. Greene Life and Adventures of Dr Dodimus Duckworth II 71: I think it’s all talk and no cider.
[Ire]Cork Examiner 28 Feb. 4/3: The Pennyslvania House of Representatives is discussing ways and means of redeeming the honour of the state [...] We hope it will not be ‘all talk and no cider’.
[US]N. Kingsley Diary 50: Fine stories are cold comfort, when it is as they say ‘All talk and no cider.’.
[UK]Londonderry Standard 26 June 1/2: The present [American] generation raised on hot cakes and street fixins [...] is all talk and no cider.
[UK]N&Q Ser. 2 V 233: All talk and no cider. This expression is applied to persons whose performances fall far short of their promises.
[[US]A. Ward Artemus Ward: Complete Works Pt II Ch. 5: What we want is more cider and less talk].
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 591: All talk and no cider, which is but another version of Vox et praeterea nihil. It is stated to have originated at a party in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which had assembled to drink a barrel of superior cider; but politics being introduced, speeches were made, and discussion ensued, till some malcontents withdrew on the plea that it was a trap into which they had been lured, politics and not pleasure being the purpose of the meeting, or, as they called it, All talk and no cider!
[US]Nebraska State Jrnl (Lincoln, NE) 31 Dec. 6/2: It is and has been all talk — cheap talk and no cider.
[US]S. Clapin New Dict. Americanisms.
Knoxville jrnl (TN) 24 Sept. 8/6: Some of the would-be merry-makers [...] went home declaring that it had been a party with ‘all talk and no cider’.
[US]Brooklyn Citizen (NY) 16 Mar. 8/7: In England it is ‘much cry and little wool’; in the USA it is all talk and no cider.
[UK]Eve. News Harrisburg, PA) 27 Jan. 1/6: Tokyo radio said the the results of the meeting between [the allies] were ‘all talk and no cider’.
it’s the beer talking (also it’s the booze talking, ...drinks..., ...gin, ...grog..., ...whisky...)

an excuse for any excessive talk or actions when drunk, either at the time or when sober on reflection; thus n. beer talk.

[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 25 Aug. 2/6: He would call me all the lurid names he could think of, but i paid no attention, It was only beer talk.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Oct. 44/1: Jerry did not forget that it was whisky talking – his whisky – and he let it pass in the interests of business.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 21 Feb. 10/4: Roy C. was looking for biff Saturday, but ‘Sport’ reckons it was only a butcher of lemonade and a fag butt that was talking .
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 708: Paying his compliments the Bushmills whisky talking of course.
[US]F. Borden ‘Guns of Gangland’ Gangster Stories Dec. 🌐 Says that some flatty tipped him off that they always keep a lotta loose cash in that front office [...] Course it was only the booze talkin’, but —.
[US]Ehinelander Dly News (WI) 7 May 2/1: He admitted he had used ‘some language that wasn’t quite fot for a public place’ explainging that ‘it was the beer talking’.
[US]E. O’Neill Long Day’s Journey into Night Act III: Don’t know what made me – booze talking.
[Aus]H. Drake-Brockman Hot Gold I ii: Now, Don, stow that. It’s the beer talking.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 11: When I wanted sleep some joker’s whiskey had to start talking.
[NZ]R.M. Muir Word for Word 71: I know you. It’s just the beer talking.
[US](con. WWII) J.O. Killens And Then We Heard The Thunder (1964) 95: Your whiskey must be talking to you.
[US]A.E. Morgan Six-Eleven (1966) 230: Just the booze talking.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 112: Trina kept up the yak. It was the drinks talking and I got warmer and warmer.
[Aus]D. Ireland Burn 146: Balls. He’ll forget by morning. It’s the grog talking.
[UK]Barltrop & Wolveridge Muvver Tongue 61: The saying ‘It’s the beer talking’ is given wrongly by Partridge. He has it as a public-house jocosity when somebody farts; in fact Cockneys say it about belligerence or bravado shown by a person who is half-cut.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 30 Dec. 45/2: If you ask me, this whole thing was started in a pub. It’s the beer talking.
[UK]M. Simpson ‘Reader I Never Married Her’ Catching Up with Hist. 35: It’s whisky talking [...] I’m full of windy sentiment.
[NZ]P. Shannon Davey Darling 90: He refilled his glass. It was the booze talking again.
J. Clifford ‘Mouthbreather’ in ThugLit Aug. [ebook] She was screaming, cursing [...] it wasn't really her saying these things, just the booze talking.
[US]Burlington Free Press (VT) 5 Aug. A13/2: Want to hear more? You can subscribe to ‘It’s the Beer Talking’ for free.
[US]D. Winslow ‘Broken’ in Broken 16: ‘Was that Jimmy McNabb being nice?’ [...] ‘It’s the booze talking’.
[Aus]P. Papathanasiou Stoning 235: It [i.e. an allegation] might just have been the gin talking.
now you’re talking

a phr. stating that the speaker is (finally) dealing with pertinent topics or talking to some purpose.

[US]Wkly Echo (Lake Charles, LA) 2 Dec. 4/1: It is a good thing to be a Government official. Now you’re talking!
Longford Jrnl 18 Jan. 3/1: How many heads did that gentleman have? ‘Three!’ Now you’re talking.
[US]J. Hay Bread-Winners (1884) 142: Exactly! Now you’re talkin’.
[UK]S. Wales Echo 7 Aug. 4/5: ‘Now you’re talking, mister’.
[UK]Dly Gaz. for Middlesborough 8 Apr. 4/1: ‘Oh, now you’re talking!’.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Black Mask (1992) 234: ‘Now you’re talking!’ I cried, recovering my spirits.
[US]W. McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland [comic strip] ‘Please let them go. Just this once.’ ‘Now you’re talking!’.
[UK]G. Squiers Aerbut Paerks, of Baernegum 3: ‘Well, will yer ’ave a drink?’ ’e says. ‘Now yo’me a torkin,’ says feyther.
[US]Van Vechten Nigger Heaven 120: Great! cried Dick. Now you’re talking.
[Ire]S. Beckett Murphy (1963) 44: ‘Now you are talking,’ said Wylie.
[US]E. O’Neill Long Day’s Journey into Night Act III: tyrone: Will you join me in a drink? edmund: Ah! Now you’re talking!
[WI]W.G. Ogilvie Cactus Village 61: ‘Oh, now you is talkin’!’ someone said.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves in the Offing 50: Ah, now you’re talking. That’s important.
[US]J. Conaway Big Easy 14: ‘Now you’re talking,’ Delaverne said.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Go West Young Man’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Ah, well, now you’re talking! I’ll take that.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 225: ‘Get the hired help in for bits of work up our borough?’ ‘Now you’re talking.’.
[UK]M. Collins Keepers of Truth 37: Ed smacked his lips and winked at me. ‘Now you’re talking.’.
talk... (v.)

see also under relevant n. or adj.

talk it up (v.)

to answer, to speak up.

[US]R. Chandler High Window 109: The voice was a harsh low whisper. It was a harsh low whisper I had heard before. ‘All right,’ I said. ‘Talk it up whoever you are. Whose pocket have I got my hand in now?’.
talk like pound notes (v.)

to talk in an affected, supposedly ‘classy’ manner.

[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 130: They are terrabley terrabley precious and they talk like pound notes.
talk mess (v.)

(US black) to abuse verbally, to gossip maliciously.

[US]C.D. Rosales Word Is Bone [ebook] You think I ain’t heard Augustine talking mess about you in the bar?
talk on (v.)

(UK/US black) to slander.

[US]W.D. Myers Scorpions 149: ‘If it wasn’t for people talking on Randy—big-mouth people like you—he wouldn’t even be in jail today’ .
Harlem Spartans ‘Teddy Bruckshot’ 🎵 Talk on my name get touched.
talk one’s head off (v.) (also flirt one’s head off, gab one’s..., gas..., talk one’s ass off, ...leg off, swear the leg off an iron pot, swear a hole in a gatepost, talk the leg off an iron pot, …a pot) [SE talk/gab v./gas v.1 (1)]

to talk incessantly.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 4 Mar. 2/5: We have heard of ‘talking a leg off a tin pot‘ — ‘the fifth wheel off a coach’ — ‘a hole through a man's coat,’ and so forth, but never [...] ‘to swear a hole through an iron door’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 10 Nov. Sept. 3/3: Talk of swearing the leg off an iron pot, why Patrick would have frightened the pistons out of every steamer belonging to the United Kingdom.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Oct. 3/1: They promised me they’d swear a hole through a gatepost for me.
[UK]S.O. Addy Sheffield Gloss. 63: It is said of a very garrulous person that he would talk a dog’s leg off.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Oct. 26/2: Jeff, this fellow Johnson likes to kid when he’s fighting, and he’ll talk his head off if there’s anyone to talk to.
[US]Ogden Standard (UT) 22 May 3/2: David could flirt his head off but [...] her governess turned blue if Gloria as much as mentioned a lover in a novel.
[US]Nicholson & Robinson Sailor Beware! II ii: A cave-man — not a sap that talks their leg off.
[US](con. 1920s) Dos Passos Big Money in USA (1966) 795: Before he knew it he was talking his head off.
[US]S. Lewis World So Wide 105: You may find a lot of stuck-up highbrows here, always gassing their heads off.
[UK]M.F. Caulfield Black City 36: He could talk the leg off a pot, all right.
[US]C. Brossard Bold Saboteurs (1971) 232: Don’t go gabbing your little head off with the other boys.
[Aus]A. Seymour One Day of the Year (1977) I i: He can talk his leg off an iron pot.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 29: I talked my head off, and I was even getting laughs.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn 33: They getya up there and shoot somethin inya and youll talk ya ass off.
[SA]A. Fugard Boesman and Lena Act I: I say! Ou Lena’s talking her head off tonight.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 144: No chance to have a theoretical discussion with this ratbag talking his head off.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 7: You name it, I read it, and I could talk your ass off about it too.
talk out of one’s ass (v.)

to talk nonsense (cf. talk out of one’s arsehole under arsehole n.).

[US]J. Ezsterhas Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse 20: He wasn’t talking out of his ass. He’d gone through those riots and shit and really seen it.
[US]J. Wiles Homelands 55: Ach, Scheiss, Catherine, now you are really talking out of your ass.
[US]L. Shriver Double Fault 217: You’re talking out of your ass, Willy.
[UK]B. Cain Perfect 205: You’re talking out of your ass instead of doing your job.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 101: Now you’re talking out of your ass.
talk out of school (v.)

to tell tales, to talk unguardedly.

[US]C.S. Johnson Shadow of the Plantation 172: ‘Listen, I’m gonna talk but I ain’t gonna say nothing out of school’.
‘Chateau Marmont’ at 🌐 And no one on the benevolently tolerant staff of Chateau Marmont talks out of school about their guests no matter what the guests do.
talk out of the other side of one’s mouth (v.) (also smile out of the other corner of one’s mouth)

to change one’s mind, to contradict an earlier statement.

[US]W.C. Hall ‘Mike Hooter’s Bar Story’ Spirit of the Times 26 Jan. (N.Y.) 581: When you’ve hearn me through you’ll talk tother side of your mouth.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 178: ‘When I do,’ she said complacently, ‘mabbe youse’ll smile out of de other corner of dat mouth of yers!’.
[US]C. Cooper Jr Scene (1996) 6: They’ll be talkin outa the other side of their mouths after tonight.
talk pretty (v.) (also speak pretty)

(mainly Aus.) to speak in an affectionate, friendly manner.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Meeting Old Mates’ in Roderick (1972) 166: You don’t want to ‘talk pretty’ to them, and listen to their wishy-washy nonsense.
[UK]Marvel 23 Dec. 564: I’ll talk pretty to ’em till yer come back.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Oct. 13/2: He had talked pretty at a parsonical pow-wow about brotherly conviviality, and churchmen making friends over a pipe.
[US]Murtagh & Harris Who Live In Shadow (1960) 107: Me, I don’t have to talk pretty through my mouth. My fists talk pretty.
talk sideways (v.)

(US prison) to talk disrespectfully, to talk ‘clever’.

[US]S. Lewis Our Mr Wrenn (1936) 110: My aged parent calls it ‘talking too much and not saying anything.’ ‘Why,’ he exclaimed, ‘it’s kind of talking sideways.’.
[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 40: You talkin’ sideways, dawg, ’cause I don’t need no fuckin’ fish leaking outta the side of their neck on my shit.
talk someone’s ear off (v.)

see under ear n.1

talk someone’s head off (v.) (also jaw someone’s head off) [SE talk/jaw v.1 (1); ext. of prev., but also note talk one’s head off ]

(orig. US) to talk incessantly at someone.

[Aus]K.S. Prichard Working Bullocks 13: He did not want women, ‘jawrin’ his head off’ in the cab of the engine.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 28: He’ll nail us again and talk our heads off.
talk through one’s socks (v.)

(Aus.) to talk nonsense.

[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Roll Up at Talbragar’ in Roderick (1972) 754: Watcher talkin’ about, Jim? [...] Yer talkin’ through yer socks.
talk through the top of one’s skull (v.)

to talk nonsense.

[US]E. Hunter ‘Vicious Circle’ in Jungle Kids (1967) 34: I thought Turk was just hopped and talking through the top of his skull.
talk to a man about a horse (v.)

(Aus.) to urinate.

[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] VITAL AUSSIE VERNACULAR Urinating: 1. To syphon the python 2. Having a snake’s hiss 3. A shot at the porcelain 4. Talking to a man about a horse.
talk toll tawdrum (v.)

of women, to talk smut.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Toll Tawdrum. to Talk Tol [sic] Tawdrum, a term used by Ladies to signify talking a little Loosely, making use of Double-entendres.
talk to the canoe-driver (v.) [play on SE canoe/cunnilingus + play on little man (in the boat) n.]

(US) to perform cunnilingus.

[US]E.E. Landy Underground Dict. (1972).
[UK] ‘Be A Cunning Linguist’ in Maxim Feb. 🌐 Talk to the canoe driver: ‘I wanted to explore Venice,’ Jarrod said forlornly, ‘but I spent most of the trip just talking to the canoe driver.’.
talk up a breeze (v.) [var. on talk up a storm ]

to talk in a fluent, persuasive manner.

[US]C. Himes If He Hollers 132: ‘Now come on, Mistah Alligator, and talk. You was talking up a breeze a while ago’.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 14: He can talk up a breeze like That matter to which you have reference to which and stuff like that.
talk up a storm (v.) (also beg up a storm, jive up a storm)

(US) to talk loudly, at length and impressively.

[US]A.E. Duckett ‘Truckin ’round Brooklyn’ in N.Y. Age 12 Dec. 7/1: Doris West [...] was jiving Eddie Parkus up a storm and he liked it.
[US](con. 1944) J.H. Burns Gallery (1948) 136: I’m not good for much of anything, Rhoda once said, except to talk up a storm.
[US]C. Willingham End as a Man (1952) 35: That meant eight more licks [...] so the freshman began to slobber like hell, just begging up a storm. saying it’d kill him.
[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 454: You talk up a storm [...] about the damn big hats.
talk up at the big gate (v.)

(US black) to threaten to leave.

[US]W. Fisher Waiters 272: Walking out — that’s jus’ a lotta talk. What they call down home talkin’ up at the big gate.
(we’re) talking... [originated in Hollywood where hyperbole is dominant, the implication is often one of slight reproof, i.e. don’t forget, we are not discussing any old topic, sum of money etc. but something quite exceptional or startling]

a use of SE talking with the word ‘about’ unstated, implying not so much person-to-person communication, but as a way of emphasizing the importance and immediacy of the topic in hand, e.g. we’re talking telephone numbers, this will be a very large sum of money.

[US]T. Southern Blue Movie (1974) 75: Now you guys are talking box office!
[US]D. Jenkins Life Its Ownself 119: ‘We’re not talking Mondo Endo here. We’re talking Johns Hopkins, baby. We’re talking Houston Medical. We’re talking Zurich!’ .
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 89: When we’re talking Halloween, we’re talking all-time classic of the drive-in screen. We’re talking the original Jamie Lee Curtis creepola-with-a-butcher-knife [...] We’re talking a movie where anybody can die at any time.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skin Tight 202: I’m talking TV, Dr Frankenstein.
[US]D. Jenkins You Gotta Play Hurt 166: I’m talking Walnut City, baby. The Big Pecan, n’est-ce pas?’.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 183: We’re talking heavy investment here.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 116: That’s a lotta pills. You know we’re talkin pennies.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 86: We ain’t talkin fender-bender, right?