Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wool n.1

1. [mid-19C–1910s] courage, fortitude, ‘character’ [orig. boxing jargon].

2. [mid-19C+] hair.

3. [1960s+] (female) pubic hair and by extension, a woman as a sex object [metonymic use of sense 2].

In derivatives

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

[mid-19C] plucky, spirited; usu. as good-woolled.

In phrases

all wool (adj.)

[mid-19C–1900s] (Aus./US) excellent, first-class.

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. [late 19C+] of people, excellent, dependable.

2. [2000s] (N.Z.) fat.

knock the wool out of someone’s head (v.)

[1900s] (N.Z.) to wake up; to think (or make someone else think) clearly.

lose one’s wool (v.) (also get one’s wool off)

[19C–1940s] to lose one’s temper.

pull someone’s wool (v.)

1. [late 19C] (US) to get angry with.

2. [1920s] (Aus.) to annoy, to drive into a temper.

In exclamations

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

[20C+] calm down! don’t lose (emotional) control!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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

[late 19C+] (Aus.) a sheep-shearer.

wool-bird (n.) (also woolly bird)

[late 18C–mid-19C] (UK Und.) a sheep, a lamb; also attrib.; thus wing of a woolbird, a shoulder of lamb.

wool-grower (n.)

1. [mid-18C] in boxing, the head.

2. [1960s] (Aus.) a sheep farmer.

wool hat (n.) (also wool-hat boy) [their stereotypical headgear; urbanites wear silk hats]

[mid-19C–1950s] (US) a rural person.

wool-hawk (n.)

[20C+] (Aus.) a skilful shearer.

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’]

[mid-19C–1900s] the workhouse.

woolworm (n.)

[1940s] (US Und.) a shoplifter specializing in woollen garments.