Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bag n.1

1. as a container or receptacle.

(a) [mid-16C+] the scrotum [note double entendre in D’Urfey, Pills to Purge Melancholy (1719): ‘But what is this that hangs under his Chin, / [...] / ’Tis the Bag he puts his Provender in’].

(b) [early 17C] the vagina; one of many terms that refer to the vagina as a receptacle, usu. for sperm or the penis.

(c) [late 17C+] the womb.

(d) [late 18C–1900s] (UK Und.) a purse.

(e) [1920s] (US prison) a straitjacket, used for punishment.

(f) [1920s+] (US) a contraceptive sheath.

(g) [1940s] the stomach.

(h) [1990s+] (US campus) the buttocks.

2. as a lit. or fig. bag of money.

(a) [mid-19C] (UK Und.) the act and proceeds of pickpocketing.

(b) [20C+] (Aus.) any form of gain, lit. or fig.

(c) [1920s+] (US Und.) the proceeds of any illegal activity, e.g. unauthorized bookmaking.

(d) [2010s] (UK black) £1000.

3. as an unattractive and/or promiscuous person, usu. a woman.

(a) [late 19C+] (US) a promiscuous woman, a prostitute.

(b) [1920s+] (orig. US, also old sack) an unattractive woman, esp. as old bag; occas. as adj.

(c) attrib. use of sense 3b.

(d) [1930s+] a homosexual man, esp. an unattractive and/or passive one.

4. [1910s+] in the context of consumption [a fig. ‘bag’ of food or drink etc].

(a) a measure, e.g. a tankard or glassful, of alcohol .

(b) [1910s–20s] (Aus.) a meal, a ‘feed’, or a drinking session .

(c) a state of drunkenness or intoxication.

(d) (US black) a bottle of beer.

5. [1940s+] (US campus) a despised person, an outsider; one who ‘brings their lunch in a bag’.

6. (orig. US drugs) as a measurement or container of drugs.

(a) [1950s+] a measure of narcotics, typically sold as a nickel bag, $5 worth or a dime bag, $10 worth.

(b) [1950s+] a store of drugs, as carried by a dealer.

(c) [1960s+] a balloon containg heroin, thus through metonymy, the heroin itself.

(d) [1980s+] a quarter-ounce (7g) measure of a drug, usu. marijuana.

7. [1960s] a form of bludgeon made from several socks inside each other, filled with sand packed round a solid, ball-shaped object [abbr. SE sandbag].

8. [1960s+] (US) a bed, orig. a bag of straw or feathers; esp. in phr. bag it, hit the bag, go to bed, go to sleep.

9. see sack n. (2a)

In derivatives

bageroo (n.) [-eroo sfx]

[1930s] (US) a prostitute.

In compounds

bag bride (n.) [ironic use of SE bride]

[1990s+] (drugs) a prostitute who is addicted to crack cocaine.

bag-chasing (adj.)

[1970s] obsessed by obtaining narcotic drugs.

bag dude (n.) [dude n.1 (1)]

[1970s] (US black) a drug dealer.

baghead (n.) (also bag-rat) [-head sfx (4)]

[2000s] (drugs) a heroin addict.

bag ho (n.) [ho n.1 (2)]

1. [2000s] (US black) an extremely unattractive woman.

2. a girl or woman who trades sex for drugs.

bagman (n.)

see separate entry.

bag woman (n.) [the female version of bagman n. (7)]

[1960s+] (US) a female go-between, taking money (usu. bribes or other illicit pay-offs) between two parties.

In phrases

bagged up (adj.)

wearing a contraceptive.

big bag (n.) [SE big, important] [1960s+] (drugs)

1. heroin.

2. a large wholesale quantity of narcotics.

blow out one’s bag (v.)

[mid-19C] to get drunk.

bring a bag off (v.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) to pick pockets (successfully).

chase the bag (v.)

[1960s+] (US drugs) to seek out supplies and/or to be addicted to heroin.

have a bag on (v.)

1. [1940s] to have a hangover.

2. [1940s+] to be drunk or intoxicated with a drug.

have the bag on (v.)

[1900s] to work as a bookmaker.

hooked through the bag (adj.) [hooked adj.3 ]

[1950s] (US drugs) heavily addicted to narcotics.

put the bag on (v.)

1. [20C+] (Ulster) to start out as a beggar [a beggar’s bag].

2. [1970s+] (Aus./N.Z.) to breathalyse [the polythene bag that is part of the breathalysing kit].

run bag (v.)

[1950s] to work as a go-between, esp. to collect or administer money obtained by various criminal activities.

sack the bag (v.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) to pick a pocket.

wear the bag (v.)

[2000s+] (US police) to wear the regulation uniform.

In exclamations

the bag is off!

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) the purse, wallet etc has been removed from the victim; as excl., a statement denoting the successful conclusion of a crime: ‘we’ve done it!’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

bag and bottle (n.)

[mid–late 17C] food and drink.

bag-boy (n.)

[1930s-40s] (Aus.) a bookmaker.

bag-carrier (n.) [the bag in which he keeps his cash]

[1900s] (Aus.) a bookmaker.

bag job (n.) [ job n.2 (2)]

1. [1960s] (US campus) an unpleasant person [i.e. one who deserves a bag over their head].

2. [1970s] (US) ‘an illegal search of a suspect’s property by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, esp. for the purpose of copying or stealing incriminating documents etc’ (OED).

bag lady (n.)

see separate entry.

bagpipe(s)/piping

see separate entries.

bag-slinger (n.) [the trad. street prostitute carried a large bag]

[1930s] (US) a street-walker.

bag-swinger (n.) [their essential equipment] (Aus.)

1. [1920s+] a bookmaker; thus bag-swinging, working as a bookmaker.

2. [1950s–60s] a street-walker, a prostitute.

In phrases

bag it (v.) [Yorkshire dial. bag out, for a farm-worker to bring their packed lunch to the fields]

[1970s] (US campus/teen) to bring one’s lunch in a paper bag.

bag of beer (n.) (also bag o’ beer) [? joc. use of SE; note Fraser & Gibbons Soldier & Sailor Words & Phrases (1925): ‘Bag Of, A: Sufficiency, Plenty; e.g. A Bag of Beer’]

1. [late 19C] (Aus.) a drunk.

2. [late 19C–1900s] a quart pot of beer, holding a mixture of porter and ale.

bag of bones (n.)

see separate entries.

bag of guts (n.)

[late 19C–1970s] (US) a fat person.

bag of hump (n.)

[1930s] a contemptible person.

bag of mystery (n.) (also mystery, mystery bag) [their dubious constituents; note RN use mystery torpedoes, links of love; British Army use spotted mystery]

[mid-19C+] a saveloy, a sausage.

bag of nails (n.) [joc. pron. of SE bacchanals + the disorder of such a bagful]

[mid-19C–1940s] (Aus./US) chaos, disorder.

bag of nuts (n.) (also bag of oats)

[1910s] something, or someone, exceptional.

bag of shells (n.)

[1950s+] (Aus.) a trifle, an unimportant object.

bag of smacked twats (n.)

see under twat n.

bag of snakes (n.)

1. [1910s–50s] (Aus.) a drooping female breast [such a bag is misshapen, lumpy, soft].

2. [1950s+] (Can.) a lively, sexy young woman [the liveliness of such a bag].

bag of tricks (n.) [SE bag of tricks, a clever or dextrous device]

1. [mid–late 19C] the penis.

2. [mid-19C+] whatever one needs.

3. [late 19C] the vagina.

bag of tripe (n.) [tripe n.2 ]

[mid-19C+] an unpleasant person.

bag of wind (n.) (also sack of wind)

[19C+] a talkative person, a boaster.

bag o’ wank (n.) [wank n.]

[1990s+] a general term of abuse.

bag-o-wire (n.) [i.e. if one grasps a bag of (barbed) wire one will get hurt; Bag o’ Wire was black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey’s driver and allegedly betrayed him to the authorities]

[1950s+] (W.I. Rasta) a betrayer.

give someone the bag (v.) [the handing over of a fig. bag of problems, responsibilities etc; SE bag, i.e. of possessions; Nares, Glossary (1822), defines phr. as ‘to cheat’] [late 16C–19C]

1. to depart suddenly.

2. to dismiss, usu. from a job.

3. to jilt or reject a suitor, to end a relationship.

have the bags (off) (v.)

[mid–late 19C] to be well-off, to be rich.

hold the bag (v.)

see separate entry.

in the bag (orig. US)

1. implying certainty, termination.

(a) [20C+] secured, made certain.

(b) [20C+] of any situation, e.g. a trial or a sporting contest, the outcome has been made certain by the giving of bribes, doping of one or more contestants, horses etc.

(c) [1910s+] of a criminal, arrested, caught.

(d) [1980s+] committed.

2. [1910s+] (also in a bag) in trouble, facing difficulties.

3. [1920s+] (orig. US) in debt.

4. [1940s+] (orig. US, also in the wrapper, out of one’s bag) drunk; thus half in the bag, beginning to become drunk.

5. [1960s] (US campus) feeling ill.

pull something out of the bag (v.) (also pull something out of the hat)

[1920s+] to come up with something special or surprising, something held in reserve.

punch the bag (v.) [boxing imagery] [1900s–20s] (US)

to gossip, to chatter; to complain, to whinge.

slam the bag (v.)

[1980s] (Aus.) of an establishment, to close, to shut.

swing the bag (v.) [the bookmaker’s money bag]

[1960s+] (Aus.) of a bookmaker, to take bets at a racetrack.

take a bag (v.)

[1960s] (US campus) to experience an undesirable situation.

In exclamations

put your head in a bag!

[mid-19C+] be quiet! shut up!