Green’s Dictionary of Slang

scream n.

(orig. US)

1. an urgent message.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ I’m from Missouri 34: Here’s a scream from Bunch.
[UK]‘Seamark’ Down River 21: ‘Smuggling?’ queried the surgeon. ‘That’s the line, sir. Had a scream from Headquarters about it only this morning.’ [OED].
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 41: He’s had the scream, about the kid, sent his family round the gaff.

2. (US) speechifying, propaganda.

[US]Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 10 Mar. 53/4: ‘To-night’s the big rally [...] and he’s callin’ this the biggest scream of the campaign so far’.

3. someone considered excellent, attractive.

[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 247: He was the big scream of the piece.
[US]Tacoma Times (WA) 16 Mar. 4/4: Lord Ballyrot in Slangland [...] ‘Gee, Johnny’s a scream in his first long strides’.
[UK]A. Brazil Patriotic Schoolgirl 44: ‘Isn't she a scream?’ [...] ‘Rather! I call her topping’.
[UK]E. Glyn Flirt and Flapper 44: Flapper: You’d be a scream to teach, Great-Grandma.
[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 9: Little one you are a triple scream and one big yell. Yes you must have it much made, because you don’t rattle when you roll.
P. Cockburn Broken Boy 77: Your father was a scream, but he drank too much.

4. a success.

[US]New Ulm Rev. (MN) 3 Mar. 8/2: ‘We’ve got a team that is sure a scream from center field to sub’.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 297: This act is going to be a scream from start to finish.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 12: I confidently expect it [i.e. a jacket] to be one long scream from start to finish.

5. the act of informing on or betraying a criminal accomplice.

E. Wallace Melody of Death 113: ‘Look here, George, [...] is it a scream?’ ‘A scream?’ Mr. Wallis was puzzled innocence itself. ‘Will you turn King’s evidence?’ said the other shortly.

6. a fuss.

[UK]B. Hill Boss of Britain’s Underworld 177: Maybe the thieves thought the owner would not put up a scream. But he did. He screamed his head off.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1025/1: since ca. 1925.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 153: Morty [...] agreed to roll a Samsonite suitcase [...] out of grantley Adams Airport, if Sonny could get it on the plane without a scream-up.

7. a good time.

[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 208: The experiences of Sam Weller’s old man with the shyster-lawyer, who pretended to have a pull with the judges, and had no pull at all, except for petty graft, was a scream.
[UK]Indep. on Sun. Real Life 29 Aug. 1: Drag queens, rubber boys, clones, diesel dykes and lipstick lezzies all having a scream at the largest lesbian and gay event in Britain.

8. a complaint, esp. against criminal activities or to the police.

[UK]F. Norman in Sun. Graphic 20 July in Norman’s London (1969) 17: Mind you I used to do the same thing myself at one time, so I really should have no scream.

9. an alarm, a hue and cry.

[US]‘Goat’ Laven Rough Stuff 204: Next morning when the scream came that the place had been robbed, you can imagine how the copper felt.
[UK]J. Curtis There Ain’t No Justice 42: I take half a dozen after that, make meself some lovely money [...] but the scream was in. They was all after me for carve-ups.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 19: He knew how efficient the Surrey police cordons were once a scream was on.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 18: The house I had screwed belonged to a maharajah, and the scream was in for £40,000-worth of uncut rubies.
[UK]F. Norman Dead Butler Caper 108: Like I say, all we’ve got to do is wait ’til the scream goes up for this little lot. Then return them to a grateful insurance company.

10. an appeal against conviction or sentence.

[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

In phrases