Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wool n.1

1. courage, fortitude, ‘character’ [orig. boxing jargon].

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 248: wool courage, pluck; ‘you are not half-woolled,’ term of reproach from one thief to another.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 342: Wool bravery, pluck. [...] The highest praise that can be bestowed on a man of courage in lower-class circles is that which characterizes him as being ‘a reg’lar wooled un,’ or ‘a rare wool-topped un.’.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Dec. 6/6: Now as you’ve gathered wool, perhaps ye’d like to go yourself.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Dec. 18/3: Tolstoi for many years had been talking about other people’s sufferings, but he hadn’t been always rushing around to alleviate them. There was, in fact, much cry and comparatively little wool about Tolstoi’s life-work.

2. hair.

[UK]Navy at Home II 211: As Dan reached this critical part of his story, his nostrils dilated, his wool seemed to encrease in altitude, his eye balls glared.
[[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker I 251: [of a black person] Clawin way at her head the whole time, to clear away the stuff that stuck to her wool].
[UK]Tom Cladpole’s Jurney to Lunnun 29: Dat rais’d ma wool, an turnen roun, I thought to fix de hag.
[US]M. Griffith Autobiog. of a Female Slave 212: De barber, he had some wool growin’ on his upper lip jist like de quality men.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Oct. 3/3: A singularly ugly black man who has only a few grizzly locks ‘on the top of his head, tho place where the wool used to grow-ow-ow’.
Nashville Daily Union 26 June 2/4: Negroes have been detected coming out of the city with notes to friends [...] carefully secreted in the convenient depth of Cuffy’s wool.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 129/1: The ‘judy’ who had hold of the jug [...] exasprated at losing her ‘shant,’ clutched the nearest one by the wool, and shook her like a carding machine.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 193: The man was of the Pangwe tribe, noted for thick skulls and luxuriant wool.
[US]R.C. Hartranft Journal of Solomon Sidesplitter 131: ‘Why, master,’ replied Jack, scratching his wool, ‘pretty considerable for an old man.’.
[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 325: Keep yo’r heads cool, boys, don’t yo’ git yo’r wool tangled into knots!
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Oct. 15/1: A curious suspicion in the bush, especially amongst shearers, has it that a man who has no hair on his chest is a thief. When a swag-strap or anything else is lost a chest-inspection is commenced. If no hairless chests are present, the man with the least wool gets blamed. Wonder how this originated?
[Aus]J. Furphy Such is Life 215: You’ll have Collins in your wool.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Municipal Report’ Strictly Business (1915) 156: He was a stalwart Negro [...] with gray wool and a face that reminded me of Brutus.
[US] ‘Uncle Ned’ in T.W. Talley Negro Folk Rhymes 61: Dere wusn’t no wool on de top o’ his head / In de place whar wool oughter grow.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 88: Just like a blackfellow’s wool?
[UK]Post (Lanarks.) 11 May 6/3: I lost my ‘wool’ due to shell shock from the 1914-18 war.
[WI]‘Uncle Newton’ Ups and Downs of Newsy Wapps Bk 2 3: That shearing of our wool [...] that razoring, that twisting and turning of people’s heads.
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 58: And that old stuck-up sonofabitch struts around bareheaded just to show off his slick wool.
[UK]J. Bradner Danny Boy 47: In the breeze Oscar’s hair blew madly, and when it did, causing him to fret [...] Danny would look up at him, and pat his own ‘wool’ affectionately.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 21: Amos had a scraggy beard and a shock of salt–and–pepper wool that looked like an Afro.

3. (female) pubic hair and by extension, a woman as a sex object [metonymic use of sense 2].

[[UK] Machin & Markham Dumbe Knight II i: wife col.: I but not eate of his mutton. pre.: Yet I may deep my bread in the woole, Mistresse Colloquintida. prat.: Goe to sirra, you will bee obscene].
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 226: Cock is a crickly creature, / all covered with wool. / It look like a monkey and smell like a bear, / but I wish my peter was there.
[US]D. Jenkins Semi-Tough 15: She’s deep down a pretty good wool. [Ibid.] 124: My plans for Saturday are to lay around a lot and rest my legs and not eat anything but steak and eggs and fruit, and maybe some wool.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 131: Pubes […] velvet, wig, wool.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 79: [They] were double-D gals with plenty of flank and ass, but to the diappointment and annoyance of Fanella, they showed no wool.

In derivatives

woolled (adj.) [note Lincolnshire dial. good-woolled, said of a sheep that has a good fleece]

plucky, spirited; usu. as good-woolled.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 127: good-wooled. A man of unflinching courage.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 248: ‘You are not half-woolled,’ term of reproach from one thief to another.
[UK]Lincs. Chron. 9 Nov. 3/3: Good-woolled — Plucky.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 342: Wool bravery, pluck. [...] The highest praise that can be bestowed on a man of courage in lower-class circles is that which characterizes him as being ‘a reg’lar wooled un,’ or ‘a rare wool-topped un.’.
[UK]H. King Savage London 37: I was a rare lapper in them days, and you were a reg’lar wooled un to stand up to me then.

In phrases

all wool (adj.)

(Aus./US) excellent, first-class.

[US]H. Garland Eagle’s Heart 55: Jack is my chum; I’d trust him with my life. He’s all wool.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 6 Mar. 5/3: Summarily sacking every colored person about his premises [...] leaving both pubs as all-wool White Australian.
‘O. Henry’ ‘The Missing Chord’ Heart of the West 239: Standing by it was the good, fine, all-wool girl that never let him know it.
all wool and a yard wide (adj.) [advertising copy for clothing trade promotions, orig. by the J O Ballard woollen mill at Malone, NY]

1. of people, excellent, dependable.

[US]G.W. Peck Peck’s Sunshine 85: You want to pick out a thoroughbred, that is, all wool, a yard wide – that is, understand me, I don’t want the girl to be a yard wide, but just right.
[US]C.F. Lummis letter 16 Oct. in Byrkit Letters from the Southwest (1989) 27: Here, too, I met my first all-wool-and-a-yard-wide cowboy.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 15 Apr. 4/8: Put it there, Mr Rayle Straddler! [...] You are a partiot, all wool and a yard wide.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 Dec. 4/7: They are straight as twin pieces of string are, / All wool and a legal yard wide.
[US]F.B. Calhoun Miss Minerva 204: You sho’ is genoowine corn-fed, sterlin’ silver, all-wool-an’-a-yard-wide, pure-leaf, Green-River Lolapaloosas [DA].
[US]N.Y. Tribune 11 Sept. 7/3: They’re all wool and a yard —.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 106: ‘You’ve got the real goods of a fighter in Billy,’ Bert assured her; ‘a yard long and a yard wide and genuine A Number One, long-fleeced wool.’.
[US] in J.F. Dobie Rainbow in Morning (1965) 86: She’s all wool and a yard wide.
[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 347: all wool and a yard wide (noun phrase), an expression which guarantees quality. ‘That suit is all wool and a yard wide.’.
[US]W.R. Burnett Dark Hazard (1934) 62: You’re all O.K., all wool and a yard wide.
[Aus](con. 1944) L. Glassop Rats in New Guinea 215: That cobber of yours you call Groucho is a real soldier. Only little, but all wool and a bloody yard wide.
[UK]‘A. Gilbert’ Nice Little Killing iii 40: No one will ever catch her...with an alibi all wool and a yard wide [OED].
[US](con. 1930s) C.E. Lincoln The Avenue, Clayton City (1996) 114: Reverend Russo, you’re all wool and a yard wide.

2. (N.Z.) fat.

[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
knock the wool out of someone’s head (v.)

(N.Z.) to wake up; to think (or make someone else think) clearly.

[NZ]W.H. Koebel Return of Joe 40: Seems to have knocked some of the wool out of my head already.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 123: knock the wool out of his/her head Help someone think more clearly. Early C20.
lose one’s wool (v.) (also get one’s wool off)

to lose one’s temper.

[Aus]J. Furphy Rigby’s Romance Ch. 14 [Internet] You ain’t my boss; so you needn’t be gettin’ yer bloody wool off.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 4 Feb. 4/6: What wonder that the Governor of Jamaica ‘lost his wool’ a but when he found he had no longer help from the British.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 207: Teddy Dunn ‘lost his wool.’.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 10 Oct. 3/6: There was some straight talkand that was why the Lord Provost ‘lost his wool’.
[UK]Western Gaz. 13 Nov. 4/2: One would not say he lost his temper, but to use another phrase Mr Sweetman had used, he ‘lost his wool’.
[UK]E. Raymond Child of Norman’s End (1967) 268: I nearly lost my wool with him myself last night.
pull someone’s wool (v.)

1. (US) to get angry with.

[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 14: My mother’s she’s comin’ back for me [...] Den peradventure she’s goin’ to pull yo’ wool for yo’.

2. (Aus.) to annoy, to drive into a temper.

[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Faltering Knight’ in Chisholm (1951) 73: ‘Cool orf,’ ’e sez. ‘It’s plain your wool / ’As been pulled ’ard this mornin’.’.

In exclamations

keep your wool on! (also hold your wool on!)

calm down! don’t lose (emotional) control!

[UK]Marvel XV:373 Jan. 10: Hold yer wool on, pard!
[UK]Magnet 15 Feb. 3: Oh, keep your wool on!
[UK]P. MacGill Moleskin Joe 284: Keep your blasted wool on!
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 185: ‘Hurry up. We got a lot of work to-day if you’re to fight to-morrow.’ ‘All right. Keep your wool on.’.
[US]O. Strange Sudden Takes the Trail 130: Keep yore wool on, John; we’re an easy mark.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 272: OK, OK, keep your wool on. None of us’ll know for sure what’s coming till things are wound up.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

wool barber (n.) (also wool-chopper)

(Aus.) a sheep-shearer.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Aug. 6/4: The reason of his ‘down’ on shearers can be readily seen when you hear of the little speech he made to the wool-choppers who were signing the agreement: ‘Stand back, my men – one at a time. I wost my gold wepeatah this time last yeeah.’.
[Aus]T. Ronan Only a Short Walk 18: What did this mob of wool-barbers and tar-boys know about murder?
[Aus]J. Carson in Ammon Working Lives 191: During the shearing season the passing teams of ‘wool barbers’ helped a lot.
wool-bird (n.) (also woolly bird)

(UK Und.) a sheep, a lamb; also attrib.; thus wing of a woolbird, a shoulder of lamb.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘Flash Lang.’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 18: A sheep, a woolly bird.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 247: ‘Only one dish,’ said George [...] ‘And what may that be?’ said the prince. ‘The wing of a wool-bird,’ replied the facetious colonel.
[UK]H. Mayhew Great World of London I 46: Those sneaksmen who purloin animals, are either horse-stealers or ‘woolly bird’ (sheep) stealers.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 96: woodbird [sic] A sheep.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 248: woolbird a lamb; ‘wing of a woolbird,’ a shoulder of lamb.
[UK]H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 26: Those who steal animals. [...] ii. Sheep, or ‘Woolly-bird,’ Stealers.
wool-grower (n.)

1. in boxing, the head.

[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 191: Then they went to work slogging, Jack delivering a ‘head-acher’ on the ‘wool-grower.’.

2. (Aus.) a sheep farmer.

[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 25: Some of you jokers ’d be woolgrowers, I s’pose?
wool hat (n.) (also wool-hat boy) [their stereotypical headgear; urbanites wear silk hats]

(US) a rural person.

[US]Amer. Sentinel 27 Aug. 2/2: Formerly the supporters of General Jackson were said to be the rowdies, the wool hats, the filthy mechanics, &c [DA].
[US]K. Eubank Horse and Buggy Days 170: I was a smart boy from town, and this particular guy thought I was a wool-hat boy [DA].
[US]Chicago Trib. 25 May 14/2: Whether a wool hat boy would know the requirements of old time courtesy is not within our knowledge [DA].
[US]A. Green in Journal of Amer. Folklore [Internet] At one time or another Southern local colorists used these analogs for poor white: [...] woolhat.
wool-hawk (n.)

(Aus.) a skilful shearer.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Nov. 14/2: Let ‘E.J.M.’ send his cobber [...] out to Western Queensland, and if I can’t mobilise at least 50 wool-hawks to shear him blind I will forfeit my tame grandmother.
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.
wool-hole (n.) [orig. printers’ jargon, an old or unemployed printer described himself as being in the wool-hole, a fig. use of wool-hole, defined in Savage’s Dict. of Printing (1841) as ‘a place boxed off sometimes under a stair case, or in any situation where the dust will not affect the press room, in which the wool is carded wherewith to make the balls’]

the workhouse.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Advertiser (Adelaide) 25 Oct. 32/7: The best of the ‘woolholes’ (workhouses) are given honorable mention, and all the 'ganny vials’ (towns where the police dislike hawkers and tramps) are listed.
woolworm (n.)

(US Und.) a shoplifter specializing in woollen garments.

[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 260: Woolworms specialize in woolens, bookworms steal expensive volumes.