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) [mid-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.


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!