Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bent adj.

[all fig. uses of SE + pun on broke adj.1 ]

1. [mid-19C+] intoxicated by liquor or [1930s+] drugs.

2. [1910s+] criminal; corrupt; thus on the bend under bend n.1 ; thus bent copper, bent screw, corrupt police officer, prison-warder.

3. [1910s] spoiled, ruined.

4. [1930s+] illegal, stolen.

5. [1950s+] considered as sexually eccentric, esp. homosexual; as half-bent, bisexual.

6. [1960s] impoverished, penniless.

7. [1960s+] (orig. US) eccentric, acting oddly, behaving in a strange manner.

8. [1960s+] (US) angry, excited; usu. in phr. bent out of shape

9. [2000s] in weak form of sense 5, weak, emotional.

In compounds

bent shot (n.)

[2010s] a homosexual.

In phrases

bent as a butcher’s hook (adj.) (also bent as a bootlace)

[1950s–70s] extremely corrupt, highly criminal.

bent as a dog’s hind leg (adj.)

[1930s] highly corrupt.

bent as a nine-bob note (adj.) [1970s+]

1. (also bent as a forty-eight pence piece) of a person, dishonest or of an object, stolen.

2. homosexual.

bent as a two-bob watch (adj.)

1. [1980s] (Aus.) extremely corrupt.

2. [1980s] homosexual.

bent out of shape (adj.) [1960s+]

1. intoxicated by a drug, esp. cannabis or LSD, or extremely drunk.

2. very angry.

3. excited, emotional, concerned.

go bent (v.) [1950s+] (UK Und./prison)

1. to become corrupt.

2. to turn to criminality.

3. to let down, to desert.

4. of one’s girlfriend, to take up with someone else.

5. [1990s] (Aus.) to go wrong, to fail.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

have someone bent (v.)

[2000s] (US teen) to misinterpret, to ‘read’ incorrectly.

take the bent stick (v.)

[1910s–30s] of a woman who may no longer be easily marriageable, to abandon one’s hopes of a perfect partner, substituting instead an elderly but constant admirer.

In exclamations

get bent!

[1950s+] (US campus) a general excl. of dismissal or contempt.