Green’s Dictionary of Slang

do n.

[note 1910s milit. jargon do, an offensive]

1. (also doo) a success; esp. in phr. make a do of

[UK]S. Butler Hudibras Pt II canto 3 line 950: No sooner does he peep into the world but he has done his doe.
[UK] ‘’Arry at the Smoking Concert’ Punch 13 Nov. in P. Marks (2006) 66: Only something like arf wot I’m wuth, I jest manage to make it a do.
[Aus]‘Dads Wayback’ in Sun. Times (Sydney) 27 July 10/2: ‘[W]hen yous have got yer thousand-quid farm it wants er cove with er heap o’ experience [...] ter make er do of it’.
[US]G. Tate ‘King Sunny Adé’ Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 66: World Saxophone Quartet’s new doo Revue.

2. noise, confusion.

[UK]M. Stevenson Wits Paraphras’d 13: What plaguy Do they had t’unwhelp me? / And Mother Midnight cou’d not help me.
[UK]‘There’s Nothing Like a Spree at Night’ in Convivialist in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 13: There sich-a-do makes Judy Frith, and here some waterman / Is sprawling into attitudes.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 598: Do, as a noun, flourishes in America as well, as in England, and even enjoys a far more extended usefulness here. ‘There is a do for you,’ means, there is noise and confusion enough for you.

3. (UK Und.) a (street) robbery.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 33: A more daring hustle is, where a person being run against violently [...] while the accomplice [...] draws either his watch, money or [pocket] book [...] Those who give preference to this form of do, are of the secondary sort of thieves.

4. a fraud, a swindle; a (practical) joke.

[UK]W. Perry London Guide 196: When rank cheatery begins, tis called a do.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 247: The seller has nothing to do with it, provided he has received the bit, but laughs at the do.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 640: ‘It’s a conspiracy,’ said Ben Allen. ‘A regular plant,’ added Bob Sawyer. [...] ‘Nothing but a do,’ remarked Martin.
[UK]Comic Almanack June 318: Tom bets apace at Ascot race: / Ah, Tom, it’s all a do! / You’re backing yellow, you stupid fellow, / And look, the winner’s blue!
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 26 Apr. 3/4: [He] submitted ther ‘shiny’ to a small chemical process which immeditely disclosed ‘the do’ .
[UK]R.S. Surtees Ask Mamma 411: Sir Moses, having got into a wrangle with Jacky Phillips about the price of a pig [...] wrangling, and haggling, and declaring it was a ‘do’.
[US]H.L. Williams Ticket-of-Leave Man 26: ‘A regular case of bilk!’ ‘A perfec’ do!’.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Almanack n.p.: Scissors! don’t they goggle and look blue, / When you land them with a regular ‘do’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 June 3/2: The blood of all the Howards rose indignantly at the mere suggestion of a ‘do’.
[UK]Kipling ‘In Ambush’ in Complete Stalky & Co. (1987) 52: It’s — it’s a plain do, sir, if you ask me; an’ they’re gloatin’ over it in the dormitory.
[NZ]N.Z. Observer (Auckland) 5 Feb. 207/2: A young actress [...]perpetrated a nice little ‘do’ before leaving Auckland. Besides forgetting to settle a few small accounts with tradesmen, she cleared out, owing her landlady a fortnight’s rent.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 July 15/2: ‘Haves,’ ‘sells,’ ‘do’s’ – who knows any new ones? These are old.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 111/1: Do [...] In middle-class life ‘do’ represents a joke, as, ‘What a do!’.

5. a party, a celebration, a dinner etc, often reasonably formal.

[UK]J. Briggs Remains (1825) 243: It having been arranged by immemorial custom that such individuals should have their feast (or do, as it is called) .
[UK]Manchester Courier 24 Dec. 10/5: I’fecks we’ll have a famous do, / An’ ha’ lots of fun.
[UK]Cliffe & Moore [perf. Marie Lloyd] The Coster’s Wedding 🎵 When we sat down to breakfast, what a bloomin’ do we ’ad / Such lovely speeches, songs and dances, drinks and fights.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1977) 131: Would you care to come to a ‘do’ at the Rushworths’ Wednedsday week?
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier.
[UK]R. Westerby Wide Boys Never Work (1938) 182: When ther’s a ‘do’ on at the school.
[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 45: The big do was going on upstairs [...] The tables were laid for tea.
[UK]J. Braine Room at the Top (1959) 102: We’ll have a proper do.
[UK]Galton & Simpson ‘The Reunion Party’ Hancock’s Half-Hour [TV script] We’ll make a regular do of this, eh?
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 24: Oh no. One of them bring your own judy dos.
[UK]D. Nobbs Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976) 93: I wonder if you could come to a little do I’m giving tonight.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 184: You’re not really going to the Ponsonby do.
[UK]M. Newall ‘Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knyght’ in Indep. Weekend Rev. 26 Dec. 1: The do went onne for dayes and dayes.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 3 Feb. 11: He had a magnificant leaving-do.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 116: The night of the big do, Paramount prez Zukor sat on the dais.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 168: It must be a do, an occasion, a party of sorts.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] We also run Chloe’s Boob Cruises — very popular for a work do.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 94: Every debutante do and cutesy cotillion.

6. a confidence trickster.

[US]Manchester Spy (NH) 20 Sept. n.p.: Mrs Smith — He owes me over $48 [...] Mr Jones — What a horrid scamp! I thought he was a do.
[UK]J.S. Coyne Pippins and Pies 139: A boy [...] gave it as his opinion, that it was ‘all gammon,’ and that the cove was a ‘regular do’.

7. a cup of coffee.

[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 68: We called for a small do an’ two doorsteps each.

8. a period of suffering, usu. physical, e.g. I’ve had a rotten do today.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 111/1: Do (Peoples’) [...] to express suffering; e.g., ‘I’ve had a severe do this time – bronchitis, three weeks in bed.’.
[Can]R. Service ‘My Job’ in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man 175: I’ve been in many ’ot old ‘do’s’; I’ve scraped through safe some’ow.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 153: The road looked cheerless, the whole prospect forlorn. ‘A poor do,’ thought Mr. Oakroyd, waiting to say good-bye.

9. (Aus.) any criminal activity.

[Aus]W.S. Walker In the Blood 113: All you’ve got to do is to be sure o’ your John, an’ learn the time ’e comes round, spark ’im well away, and do yer little does in the blooming hinterval.

10. an attack, a gang fight; in weak use, an argument.

[UK]Somme-Times 31 July (2006) 117/1: By the time [...] I took my stand, he’d forgotten all about our little do.
[UK]F.D. Sharpe Sharpe of the Flying Squad 91: In the course of our inquiries we learned that there had been a real ‘do’ in the flat. It appears that a woman had gone to this flat with a man she had just met and that he had attacked her. Her ‘boy friend’ came on the scene and there was a proper battle.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 100: Had a rare do down here, I can tell you.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 67: He’s still angry about that do on Saturday night.

11. (also doo) excrement, usu. animal; also attrib. (and fig.).

‘The Fisherman’ in Lyra Ebriosa 21: Now the old woman rose for to do a little do / And the sea-crab grabbed her by the flue.
[UK]C. Gaines Stay Hungry 126: I’m gonna get on that bastard like baby doo on a wool blanket.
[US]Frank Zappa ‘Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow’ 🎵 He took a dog do snocone and stuffed it in my other eye.
[US]P. Conroy Great Santini (1977) 287: Now that was an example of stinkin’ defense [...] That was dog-doo defense.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 18 Sept. 76: Left me right up to my neck in the aforementioned Doo of Doggy.
[US]Mad mag. June 21: [...] emblazoning packages of plastic Doggie Doo with the declaration ‘Proudly Made in America’.
[UK]Times 28 Oct. 13/1: Dog Do Campaign.

12. (drugs) a shot or measure of a narcotic drug.

[US]C. Cooper Jr Farm (1968) 71: Saturday, I got high on mace, 4 packs for a do from an Oyea over in K joint.
[US]D. Goines Dopefiend (1991) 216: I’m getting boogy. I hope you saved me a do.

13. (US black/campus) a haircut.

[UK]B. Charles 28 Apr. diary in Garfield Our Hidden Lives (2004) 210: Lady Mendl, who was the wife of the British Ambassador in Paris [...] wants a different hair ‘do’ every day.
[UK]T. Taylor Baron’s Court All Change (2011) 51: [A] college-boy hair-do.
in OED Additions Series.
[US]J. Roe The Same Old Grind 92: ‘Hey man, dig my do! [...] Say you dig my hair’.
[US]A. Maupin More Tales of the City (1984) 205: The landlady’s hair was up in curlers. ‘Trying a new do?’ asked Mary Ann.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 263: This kid had been one of the showtimes [...] moon-boot Reeboks, three-bill bomber jacket bought to match Ty’s, and a do so sharp it needed biweekly tuning.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 167: Her light brown hair all bouncy and pert in a tidy, prim little do.
[Aus]L. Redhead Peepshow [ebook] She’d taken her hair out of pigtails and boofed it into an elaborate, Dynasty-style do that was too big for her small head.
[Scot]T. Black Gutted 63: Might even have had class underneath the sunbed tan and the home-do streaks.
[US]J. Stahl Happy Mutant Baby Pills 249: Some babies are just born with a big do.
[Aus]T. Spicer Good Girl Stripped Bare 100: [We] sport ’dos like Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 345: ‘Regard my natural barnet [Only] Gallic riah-genes could produce such a do’.

14. (US black, also doo) straightened hair; as v., to straighten.

[[US]G.S. Schuyler Black No More (1971) 60: If she could ‘do’ a few nappy heads she would be in the clear].
[US]Current Sl. V:2.
R. Charles Brother Ray 133: [T]hey didn’t like David’s hair. He had a conk, or a do.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 235: do Hair-do.
[US]G. Tate ‘Atomic Dog’ in Flyboy in the Buttermilk (1992) 33: Everybody walks around with big sunglasses on and their hair dooed up. It’s deep. Man, they’ve got Japanese Rastas over there with Japanese dreadlocks.

15. (US black) an Afro hairstyle.

[US]J. Sayles Union Dues (1978) 277: The standard Do, big and bad and kinking out from all angles of his head.

16. (US) a business, an organization.

[US]A. Rodriguez Spidertown (1994) 117: He better start givin’ his do some qt or he gonna find it sliced an’ diced.

In phrases

do one’s do (v.)

(US) to do what is necessary, to do what one must do.

[US]C. Woofter ‘Dialect Words and Phrases from West-Central West Virginia’ in AS II:8 352: He did his do before the harvest was gathered.
do the do (v.)

1. (US black/campus) to have sexual intercourse.

[US]H. Rhodes Chosen Few (1966) 81: One night we did the do on th’ couch in th’ livin’ room.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 146: First chance, Candy Dong, I’ll be back to do the do.
[US] P. Munro Sl. U.
[US]Source Nov. 83: No stress. Someone to get together with and ‘do the do’.

2. to pass time.

[US]R.C. Cruz Straight Outta Compton 24: One day [...] we was doing the do outside on the stoop.

3. (US campus) to do a necessary task.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov.
[US]R. Cea No Lights, No Sirens 175: He [...] waved his hand around the apartment. ‘Do the do, Con, take it all.’.
have a bit of a do (v.)

(Aus.) to suffer a bout of veneral disease.

[Aus](con. 1940s) T.A.G. Hungerford Sowers of the Wind 170: Some dill padre has a go at us [about V.D.], only he doesn’t quite know what to say, and one of the boys sings out, ‘You mean, when we’re having a bit of a do, sir?’ Cripes, I thought I’d die laughing.
make a do of (v.)

to succeed at, to ‘make a go’ of.

W. Jones Rowland Hill 118: A bookseller bade for him, promising that if he would turn writer for different magazines [...] they might make a do of it together.
[UK]Mayhew London Labour I 170/2: I never could rise money enough to get sufficient stock to make a do of it, and never shall, I expect.
Sat. Mag. 6 397: They can rely on her ability to make a do of it, the heavy odds against her notwithstanding.
Puritan 1-2 803/1: ’Ere’s this ’ere cantata, all our singers keen on it, and got it in ’em to make a do of it; but it’s all knocked on the ’ead ’cos we can’t git shot o’ Carrie Kiddle.
N.Z. Illus. Mag. V. 381: Your poor, rough, back section. It has been forfeited twice, and you’ll never make a do of it [DNZE].
[Aus]E.S. Sorenson Bella Bush in Life in the Aus. Backblocks 35: Whatever her station, Bella is an adept at ‘making a do of things.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 17/2: So, doubtless, notwithstanding the sneer of ‘Vigilans,’ Providence and Dr. Gilruth may yet make a ‘do’ of the Daly River district.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Uncle Jim’ Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 97: An’ so I reckon that it’s up to me / To make a bloomin’ do of it or bust.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 161: I think we could make a do of things.
[Aus]T. Wood Cobbers 28: Now that petrol was up again camels were making a do of it.
[NZ]D. Davin Gorse Blooms Pale 91: Another go at making a do of things with his wife [DNZE].
[UK]G. Norman in Norman (1921) 127: Dad had decided to go all-out and make a big ‘do’ of ‘Savage South Africa’ at Margate.