Green’s Dictionary of Slang

murder n.

also murdah, murdher

1. something (or someone) unbearable, extremely difficult or infuriating.

[UK]Thackeray Paris Sketch Book I 113: I say, that when Raphael painted this picture, two years before his death, the spirit of painting had gone out of him [...] it was time he should die!! There — the murder is out!
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy 281: She’s a fine lump of a girl, but her breath is murdher intirely – phew!
[UK]D. Cook Paul Foster’s Daughter I 231: I’m in love, Ned — that’s what I mean. There! — the murder’s out now!
[UK]M.E. Kennard Girl in the Brown Habit II 162: There, the murder is out.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 31 Dec. 210: Down comes the rain like murdher.
[UK]Sporting Times 4 July 1/3: Though he looked plurry murder, he said nix.
[US]R.J. Tasker Grimhaven 41: It’s murder just to breathe to anybody that you’re thinking about it.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Busman’s Honeymoon (1974) 37: ‘All right,’ he said with a groan, ‘The murder’s out. Entailed. – I admit it.’.
[US]N. Algren ‘Depend on Aunt Elly’ in Texas Stories (1995) 104: For a hundred [dollars], it developed suddenly [...] he was murder.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 180: Then she threshed about and moaned. This was murder. I was as erotic as a stallion. I was losing control.
[UK]P. Terson Apprentices (1970) I iv: The train journey is murder.
[UK]A. Bleasdale Scully 23: What he did was kiss walls and sing to them. It was murder, he’s got a voice like a cat on heat.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 403: Worst double on the board. Never go near it less you’ve fucked double 12 and then come inside on double 6. Murder.
[UK]Guardian 21 Oct. 4: They are murder to peel, take ages to cook and are, well, just a little boring.
[Ire]G. Coughlan Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Murder (n): tough going/difficult.

2. (orig. US black) an excellent or marvellous person or thing.

[US]Wash. Times (DC) 14 Sept. 10/5: Murder — A big gathering; excitement.
[US]F.H. Tillotson How I Became a Detective 93: Murder – A big gathering; excitement.
[US]N.Y. Times 30 Oct. n.p.: It’s Murder [...] There is a terrific amount of theatrical business [OED].
[UK]E. Waugh Vile Bodies 186: It’s sheer murder the way that Marino drives – a fair treat to see ’im.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 230: Right quick another cat spoke up real loud, saying, ‘That’s murder man, really murder’.
[US]Laurents & Sondheim West Side Story I i: Listen I was a smash in that fight. Oh, Riff, Riff, I was murder!
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 203: That’s murder, Papa.
[WI]Francis-Jackson Official Dancehall Dict. 35: Murdah an expression to describe something eye-catching or great, a wicked piece of music, etc.

In phrases

get murders off (v.)

to be severely chastised or punished.

[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 41: If Rafiq’s mum got hurt and I stood by I was going to get murders off my mum.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

murder house (n.)

(N.Z. juv.) a school dental clinic.

[NZ]Bullock in Reid Book N.Z. 240: ‘Missed writing to-day. Had to go to the Murder House instead.’ ‘The Murder House?’ My hand falters to my throat. ‘You mean the Headmaster’s Study?’ ‘No, the Dental Clinic. See?’ [DNZE].
[NZ]L. Leland Kiwi-Yankee Dict. 68: murder house: At most large schools, and for each collection of small ones, there is a small prefabricated building set slightly apart... The children..consider a visit to the school dental clinic an unpleasant necessity, at best. Hence the name.
[NZ]H. Keith Lovely Day Tomorrow 24: She has an appointment that day at the school’s ‘Murder House’ – the dental clinic, with its treadle drill ably wielded by the dental nurse [DNZE].
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
murder-mouth (v.) (US black)

1. to make threats that one couldn’t or wouldn’t ever back up with action; thus as n.

[US]B. Seale Seize the Time 158: Some dudes were high, and wanted to be murder-mouthing – ‘Yeah, I’m going to get a gun.’.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 12: Some people do get through with murder-mouth and nothing behind it.
G.L. Jackson Blood in My Eye xii: Many inmates ‘murder mouth’ and ‘sell wolf tickets’; they do a lot of heavy talking, but when it comes down to the point of action, they disappear.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

T.C. Bambara Sea Birds Are Still Alive 172: If you ain’t some bronze Barbie doll type or the big fro murder-mouth militant sister, you Aunt Jemima.
J. Mardis Kente Cloth 45: Before I went to the joint I would have been all over that nigga talking that murder mouth shit.
murder one

see separate entries.

murder rap (n.)

(orig. US) a charge of murder.

[US]J. Gray ‘The Nudist Gym Death Riddle’ in Vice Squad Detective [Internet] While you’re about it, Swannie, you might as well make the murder rap stick.
[UK]P. Cheyney You Can Always Duck (1959) 75: You can’t hang any murder rap on me.
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 123: There’s a murder rap staring us in the face.
[US]C. Himes Crazy Kill 109: That means a murder rap for one of you.
[US]J. Webb Fields of Fire (1980) 1: Don’t need no murder rap from a junkie dead inside a toilet.

In phrases

blue murder (n.)

see separate entry.

get away with murder (v.)

to flout all proprieties with absolute success, to achieve the otherwise unacceptable; occas. with blue.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 58: He’s been getting away with murder he has — it’s a wonder they don’t tumble to that fathead.
[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 168: If he had discovered anything, he could actually do even half way decent, he would have got away with murder.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 117: They let that stable get away with murder.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 66: Johnny could get away with murder if he wanted to.
[US]J. Thompson Alcoholics (1993) 99: No wonder they thought they could get away with murder.
[UK]E. Bond Saved Scene xi: When someone carries on like ’er, they ’ave t’ pay for it. People can’t get away with murder.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 9: You’d think I was gettin’ away with murder the way he carried on.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 34: A man can get away with blue murder.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 11 Sept. 24: They have five years of being [...] allowed to get away with murder, turning up late.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 182: Big corporations could get away with murder.
holler (bloody) murder (v.) (also yell (bloody) murder)

(US) to raise an outcry, to make a fuss.

[US]Seth W. Payne Behind the Bars 161: The childers hollered murther and set up a big howl.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 8 Jan. 5/3: She stayed in her room yelling every kind of murder.
[US]Odum & Johnson Negro and His Songs (1964) 155: An’ the girls all holler murder.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Snatching of Bookie Bob’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 120: Their mammas are sure to go running around hollering bloody murder.
[US]J.H. O’Hara Pal Joey 56: He yelled bloody murder.
[Ire]F. O’Connor An Only Child (1970) 23: I hid under the kitchen table, yelling bloody murder.

In exclamations


see separate entry.