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’.
one’s heart doesn’t pump Kool-Aid

(US prison) one exhibits courage rather than cowardice.

[US]G. Liddy Will 304: A big black man walked up to me, smiling, and said, ‘You all right, Liddy. Now we know your heart don't pump no Kool-Aid’.
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.