Green’s Dictionary of Slang

heart n.


1. a lover, a sweetheart.

[US]W. Winchell Your Broadway & Mine 20 Nov. [synd. col.] Inez Norton, [Arnold] Rothstein’s ‘heart’.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 17 July [synd. col.] [She] was amazed to see her sympathetic girl friend [...] enter a nightclub with her former ‘heart’.
M. Fulcher ‘Believe Me’ in Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) 3 Nov. 10/3: He hasn’t heard from his heart, Dot Saunders.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Malibu Mess’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. 🌐 You made a sarcastic toast to love. It adds up. You used to be Gallahan’s heart, but not any more.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 1 Jan. [synd. col.] The gal who inspired him [...] finally became his ‘heart’.

2. (orig. US Und.) courage, bravery, spirit.

L. Hellman Dead End [film script] Aah, you just ain’t got any heart. You shoulda slugged her [HDAS].
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 92/2: Heart. A combination of courage and underworld loyalty; moxie; balls.
[US]H. Salisbury Shook-Up Generation (1961) 22: Heart, as the bop defines it, is audacity, devil-may-care disregard for self and consequences.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 206: I don’t figure you got the guts and heart for the street track.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 129: Every junky and wino in the restaurant suddenly got a whole lot of heart and chased me.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Detroit Redhead’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 110: When they got back [from a robbery] they would talk about how cool she had been or how much heart she had.
[US]L. Bing Do or Die (1992) 124: You got the heart to kill someone else?
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 85/2: heart n. courage.

3. (drugs) an amphetamine; a dexedrine [abbr. purple hearts under purple adj.].

[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]P. Gent North Dallas Forty 229: Jake used to take codeine and hearts [...] It made him feel nineteen and untouchable.
[US]D.E. Miller Bk of Jargon 337: hearts: Amphetamines.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 11: Hearts — Amphetamine.

In compounds

heart check (n.)

(US prison) testing the resilience of an inmate, spec. giving a member of a prison gang a mission, such as a murder, to test his loyalty.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July 🌐 Heart Check: Assigning a prison gang member a hazardous ‘mission’ (such as a murder) to see if he’s still down with the gang.
[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 156: Sooner or later all new fish receive a ‘Heart Check’ from the Yard Rats. It is a test of the inmate’s willingness to physically fight back.
[US]D. Winslow Border [ebook] [Y]ou want to see if I’m legit [...] You have a few hundred guys you could give this to, but you want me to pass a heart check.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

heartbeat (n.)

(US black) a lover.

[US]E. Freeman ‘The Whirling Hub’ in Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) 2 Mar. 15/1: The yarn of a widow who had two heart-beats — one [...] a sugar daddy, and the other a gigolo.
heartbreaker (n.)

see separate entry.

heartburn (n.)

see separate entry.

heart-starter (n.)

(Aus.) the first alcoholic drink of the da; also attrib.

[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxv 6/2: heart starter: First drink of the day.
[Aus]J. Byrell (con. 1959) Up the Cross 130: Mick the Muso was enjoying a heart-starter tinny.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 88: SHANE. I musta knocked back a few. AARON. Ya were paraletic (offering him a glass of warm beer) Wanna heart starter?
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 213: [H]e was looking forward to a couple of heart-starter middies .
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 135: To alleviate the pain [of a hangover] one may wish for THE HAIR OF THE DOG, or a HEART-STARTER.

In phrases

heart of the rowl (n.) (also heart of the roll) [? Scot. rail, raul, a line; or ? corruption of SE royal; or ? f. Irish Roll tobacco (manufactured by Messrs. T.P. & R. Goodbody, Co. Offaly, in 1843), the centre being the freshest]

(Irish) the best person.

[Ire](con. 1890s) S. O’Casey Pictures in the Hallway 124: You’re a decent lad, a real decent lad, heart o’ th’ rowl, he said.
[Ire]B. Behan Brendan Behan’s Island (1984) 106: Chuckles, the flower of the flock; the heart of the roll.
[Ire]H. Leonard Out After Dark 166: He was known to be a ‘decent skin’ [...] gave half-crowns to children in the street, called old ones ‘missis’ and told them that they were the ‘heart of the rowl’.
put the heart across (someone) (v.)

to terrify.

B. Moore Judith Hearne 81: That American I [...] Only last week I met him on the stairs when I was going up to bed, half seas over, he was, it was enough to put the heart across you.