Green’s Dictionary of Slang

deck n.1

[orig. naut. use]

1. (orig. US) the floor, the ground.

[US] in Spirit of the Times (N.Y.) 27 Feb. 15: You mustn’t [...] keep rolling your eyes about the deck; and when people gets up and sits down, mind you gets up and sits down, too.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 54: Shut up, Seven [...] Nine has now got the deck.
[UK]E. Raymond Marsh 142: The grey hair, damp and wispy, told of nights in the doss or nights ‘on the deck’.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Rock 69: All I see is fists coming. I hit the deck.
[UK]F. Norman in Vogue Oct. in Norman’s London (1969) 28: They kip all over the deck in rows.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 30: Get your feet on the deck! Come on!
[Aus]M. Walker How to Kiss a Crocodile 120: [of a cricket pitch] Next morning before the toss of the coin, the deck looked like a highly polished dance floor.
[UK]G. Tremlett Little Legs 92: Once they’re on the deck they never get up.
[UK]Guardian G2 4 Mar. 18: But guv, there’s some poor geezer on the deck in the obbo.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 292: That’s Special Needs Stevie on the deck, there, dead?
[Aus]N. Cummins Tales of the Honey Badger [ebook] ... landing on the deck with a busted beak and a split eye.

2. the roof of a train or stagecoach.

[US]B.F. Taylor Jan. and June 58: Did you ever creep gingerly [...] up to the deck of a railway Car, when the train was moving? [DA].
[US]W.S. Tyler Hist. Amherst College 185: The driver [...], opening the door, asked if any passenger would resign his seat for one ‘on the deck,’ in favor of a lady [DA].
[US]J. London Road 37: I am on top of the train — on the ‘decks,’ as the tramps call it, and this process I have described is by them called ‘decking her.’.
[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 8: Uneasy lies the head that wears a telescoped crown on the decks!
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Dealer Gets It All’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 150: We’d rode the deck and gunnels on a pullman out o’ Chi.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 57/1: Deck [...] 2. (Hobo) The top of a freight or passenger train. (’To ride the deck.’).

3. (US black) the street.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 9: Honey, my ticker jumps off time whenever you cruise on deck, because your togs naturally climbs your frame, and your map is the road of paradise.

In phrases

hit the deck (v.)

1. to get up from one’s bed.

Alumni Quarterly of Hamline University 10-15 12: At three o’clock yesterday morning I awoke. I had heard the familiar ‘hit the deck’ as our Master-at-Arms shouted.
R.M. Hallet Trial by Fire 257: ‘You might as well go out there and turn the screw with your hands. Hit the deck.’ Slim hit the deck.
[US] letter in K.F. Cowing Dear Folks at Home (1919) 4: Hit the deck, leatherneck – Rise and Shine.
[UK](con. WWI) J.B. Wharton Squad 13: Come on, you guys, hit th’ deck, th’ day’s on!
[US]H. McCoy Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 83: Just a great big hunk of obscene flesh standing there [...] yelling for us to hit the deck.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 158: Up, Paddy, ’it the deck.
[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 25: ‘HIT TH’ DECK!!’ was the next sound Blood heard.
[US](con. c.1970) G. Hasford Short Timers (1985) 105: Hey, hit the deck, leatherneck, we’re moving.

2. to fall down, to throw oneself down.

[US]Columbia Eve. Missourian (MO) 13 Sept. 3/2: I’ll wire and offer it [...] before you hit the the deck.
[US](con. 1918) J.W. Thomason Fix Bayonets! 121: Boche! Hit the deck!
[UK]J. Curtis Look Long Upon a Monkey 186: They both caught Stringy’s shoulders to spin him, lurching, across the floor. At all costs he must not hit the deck. [Ibid.] 191: Stringy hit the deck, curling into a ball, his head tucked on his chest, elbows close to his sides, wrists crossed in front of his fork.
[US]J.P. Donleavy Fairy Tales of N.Y. III i: You know that’s the first time Cornelius Christian’s ever hit the deck.
[US]E. Leonard Glitz 2: He should have [...] screamed in the guy’s face to hit the deck, now, or he was fucking dead.
[US]A. Heckerling Clueless [film script] (Travis jumps onto the crowd. No one keeps him up and he hits the deck).

3. to go to bed.

[US]Danville (Va.) Bee 27 May 3/1: The U. S. Navy has a language or a ‘slanguage’ all its own. [...] ‘hit the deck’ is to turn to [i.e. go to sleep].
W. de la Mare in Proceedings British Academy XXI 247: He hit the deck; he slung his hammock; he went to bed; he retired for the night [...] all signify much the same thing.

4. to be poor.

[UK]J. Curtis You’re in the Racket, Too 39: Just because you’ve hit the deck I don’t see why I can’t have a bit of fun.

5. (Aus.) to pay for a round of drinks.

[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxv 6/2: hit the deck: Pay for the drinks.

SE/sense 1 above, in slang uses

In phrases

on deck [naut. imagery] (US)

1. on the schedule, scheduled.

[UK]Puck (N.Y.) 8 Apr. 83: What’s on deck this aft? [HDAS].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 3 Feb. 7/1: All the good old cant terms about ‘freedom’ and the ‘British flag’ and the ‘ashes of our fathers’ are on deck again in this agitation.
[US]H.A. Franck Zone Policeman 88 176: ‘Shall I borrow a gun, Lieutenant?’ I asked when I found myself ‘on deck’.

2. alive; conscious.

[US]Daily Missouri Democrat 15 Mar. in Miller & Snell Why the West was Wild 208: He is still ‘on deck’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 Feb. 24/2: He stretched Ned out three times in the first round, four in the next, and still the Sunday lad stayed on deck, smothering his face with both arms or doing a ‘Botany’ round the square when things became too lively.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Aug. 12/3: His gallery is supposed to represent the founders of the Commonwealth, among other things. It is to consist mostly of Governors and nonentities. Some of them hardly look big enough to deserve a place even now, when they are still on deck or just newly gone below.

3. available, prepared.

[US]‘Bill Nye’ Bill Nye and Boomerang 15: They loved each other in season and out of season [...] If Damon were at the bat, Pythias was on deck.
[US](con. c.1840) ‘Mark Twain’ Huckleberry Finn 335: When the snakes was asleep the rats was on deck, and when the rats turned in the snakes come on watch.
(con. 1894) S. Crane in Last Words in Stallman (1966) 191: When it comes t’ takin’ care ’a his dorter, he’s right on deck every single possible time.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 72: I’ve got to be on deck where they can slip me the ‘white ones’.
[US]Hungry Horse News 24 Sept. 8/1: We hope to be on deck to greet you when you visit your brother [DA].
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 86: The vig starts when the paper’s onna deck.
[UK]L. Gould Shagadelically Speaking 31: He’s ‘got a crap on deck that could choke a donkey’.
[US]Source Aug. 144: ‘I was like on deck...’ Snoop holds an imaginary gun and squeezes the trigger. ‘On deck, like ready for whatever.’.
Young Jeezy ‘Enough’ [lyrics] I’m on deck, on point, I’m straight, I’m cool.
67 ‘Live Corn’ [lyrics] 3 litre ding-dong skidding round the hill / Swammy on deck and we’re lurking for a kill.

4. present.

[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Death’s Passport’ in Goodstone Pulps (1970) 117/1: Just as I expected Dave Donaldson was still on deck when we ankled in.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 18 July. [synd. col.] It was the maid’s day off and too early for the nurse to be on deck.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Dead Man’s Shakedown’ in Dan Turner Detective Mar. [Internet] When I ankled into his private office above the theater at seven-thirty, he wasn’t on deck.
on the deck [milit. use on the deck, at ground level]

bankrupt, without funds.

[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 12: I’d rather be back in stir again than have another night on the deck.