Green’s Dictionary of Slang

crew n.

1. any form of gang or group.

[UK] ‘Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly’ in Ritson Robin Hood (1832) II 110: My noble master doth thee scorn / And all thy coward crew.
[UK]B. Googe Popish Kingdome III 32: And is not this a goodly crewe? they are perswaded still, What daye they heared or see a Masse, to haue no kinde of ill.
[UK]‘I.T.’ Grim The Collier of Croydon I i: A crew of Gallants came unto my House.
[UK]‘Philip Foulface’ Bacchus’ Bountie in Harleian Misc. II (1809) 302: The broth of bountifull Bacchus. Which copper-nosed crue, the knuckle-debunions Rome, so assaulted with a fresh canvazado the citie of Vinosa.
[UK]Wily Beguiled 34: Thy thrice vowed friend, / Is made a stale by this base cursed Crew / And damned den of vagrant runagates.
[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley IV i: The damn’d crew With glaues and clubs haue rapt her from these armes.
[UK]Rowlands Night Raven 4: A base rude Rascall of the Roguish crew, For misdeamenours that by him there grew, [...] Made himself merry with his Knauish part.
[UK]R. Brome Covent-Garden Weeded II i: Sfoot the Rogue Rooksbil and his crew, I fear’d as much.
[UK]Fletcher Night-Walker IV i: I have lodg’d A crew of the most ranke and desperate villains.
[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk II 307: Wherein the liars were to be crossed with a ruffian-like crew.
[UK]W. Killigrew Pandora Act IV: Summon all that merry Crew (who danc’d the other day) to Sup with me.
[UK]J. Lacy Old Troop Prologue: I was in hope, that I should see, My worthy Crew of th’ upper Gallerie.
Mennis & Smith et al. ‘The Mock’ Wit and Drollery 302: Oh the merry Tinkers Crue / Will, Moll, Doll, Kate and Sue.
[UK]‘The Jovial Lover’ in Ebsworth Merry Drollery Compleat (1875) 11: He cheated the divel, which was very evil / To him, and to all of his crew[,] boys.
[UK]Shortest-Way with Whores and Rogues 41: I shall next speak of the Old Bawd, and then I have done with the Pocky Crew.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy V 24: That crafty Crew makes me look Blew.
[UK] New Canting Dict. n.p.: He’s one of the Kin, let him pike; said of a Brother Rogue whom one of the Gang knows to be a Villain, tho’ not one of their Crew.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 187: Next he got into a Crew of Wool-Drawers, whose Trade is to snatch away Cloaks, Hats or Perukes.
[Ire]H. Fitzcotton (trans.) Homer’s Iliad 23: Command, at home, your vermin-crew: / I value neither them, nor you.
[UK]E. Chicken Collier’s Wedding 29: So now the drunken, senseless Crew, Break Pipes, spill Drink, piss, shit, and spew.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 10: If any dog in all this crew / Shall bite, or even snarl at you.
[Ire] ‘Squire Raynold’s Downfall’ Irish Songster 4: The cruel intention of that blood-thirsty Crew.
[Scot]Watty and Meg 4: Nasty, gude-for-naething being! / O ye snuffy druncken sow! / Bringin’ wife an’ weans to ruin, / Drinkin’ here wi’ sic a crew!
[US]Irving & Paulding Salmagundi (1860) 163: Out he sallied from his nest like a spider, flourished his formidable horse-whip, and dispersed the whole crew in the twinkling of a lamp.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Picturesque (1868) 62/1: The many-colour’d crew, / The motley group of fools and knaves.
[UK]W. Combe Doctor Syntax, Consolation (1868) 198/2: A peaceful Parson too, / The very butt for such a crew.
[UK] ‘Johnny Green’s Trip to See the Manchester Railway’ in R. Palmer Touch of the Times 34: For helter-skelter, sich a crew Wur cummin in fro Liverpoo’.
[Scot]‘Juggling Johnny’ in Blackwood’s Edin. Mag. 785: Survey the juggling crew, ‘From China to Peru’ / There’s none like you, my juggling Johnny.
[UK]Sinks of London Laid Open 81: As soon as this profligate crew were left to themselves, they began to recover their spirits.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 14 Feb. 3/3: The habits of this ‘incorrigible’ are of that tone and quality for taking the command of the vagrant ‘crew’.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 130/1: We [...] left the ‘crib’ to the nearly-drunken crew who made it their home.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 112: Harry Jessell [...] began knocking them down himself, and in fact very much interfering with the company, who were all of a kidney and strangers to Jessell and our crew.
[UK]R. Barnett Police Sergeant C 21 47: I thought I’d seen the last of it when I left Woolchester and the whole crew there.
[UK]J. Newman Scamping Tricks 95: We became a happy crew – a lot of brickies with a single thought.
[UK]Marvel 9 Aug. 1: You are a mighty brave crew, ain’t you?
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 Sept. 10/3: Last week I earned a fiver / By a crooked night club crew.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 83: A hell of a crew I’m mixed up with.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Hold ’Em, Yale!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 147: Sam the Gonoph’s crew generally comes from the lower East Side.
[UK]D. Footman Pig and Pepper (1990) 156: ‘God, what a crew!’ said Mr Scarfe looking round him.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 21: The second store, manned by the same crew, opened a year later.
[US](con. 1920s) ‘Harry Grey’ Hoods (1953) 52: On a matter relating to cigarette machines we met with Joe Adonis, Leo Bike, and some of their crew.
J.R. Ackerley We Think the World of You (1971) 91: How wicked! And he’d had the impertinence to call Megan ‘sly’. [...] What a crew!
[US]F. Elli Riot (1967) 45: Get your crew together and run these loudmouths back to the cellhouses.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 27: It’s a restricted section and this crew here carries too much heat.
[US]Pileggi & Scorsese Goodfellas [film script] 54: Billy was a part of the Gambino crew.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 190: I’ve told the guards [...] to keep a look out for any of Chopper’s crew.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 37: Mickey here will control the retailing operations with his crew.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 59: Griff, mun, Jesus . . . some fuckin crew round yer, mun, ey?
[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 48/2: crew n. 1 a group of friends in prison 2 a circle of criminals working together for a purpose on the inside 3 a circle of criminal associates all working together for purpose on the outside 4 a group of inmates from the same ethnic group. 5 the skinhead equivalent of a gang. 6 a prison work-party.
[US]D. Winslow Winter of Frankie Machine (2007) 69: You are not your own family dow here; you are just another L.A. crew.
[Aus]B. Matthews Intractable [ebook] [W]e all wished Tony and his [jailbreak] crew good luck.
[Scot]T. Black Gutted 53: He’s one of the young crew...from the scheme.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 55: The guy now works for Eddie Vento, is part of his crew.
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Coorparoo Blues [ebook] [T]his was a fairly rough crew, who were there by dint of their complete disregard for the law.
[US]D. Winslow The Force [ebook] Savino is a capo in the Cimino family with a crew based on the old Pleasant Avenue turf.
[UK]M. Herron Joe Country [ebook] [A]lways last out of the showers when bunking with a crew.
[US]S.A. Crosby Blacktop Wasteland 5: Beauregard heard his Daddy’s voice every time he drove the Duster. Sometimes he heard it when he was driving for crews.

2. a gang, usu. of football supporters, who engage in fights with rivals.

[US]W. Bernstein ‘The Cherubs Are Rumbling’ in Short Gang Delinquency and Delinquent Subcultures (1968) 27: ‘That’s a rough crew — Sands Street,’ Riccio said.
[US]W. Motley Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960) 207: They were Pachucos. It used to be an assorted crew — Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans [...] we all gathered together in one band.
[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 73: God, they were a crew when they got started.
[Can]J. Mandelkau Buttons 30: I [...] hung round with a crew up there.
[UK]M. Newall ‘Sir Gawayne & the Grene Knyght’ Indep. Rev. 26 Dec. 1: I thought you was supposed to be a harde crewe.

3. (orig. US drugs) a team of drug sellers.

[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 20: Got to be cool, stay clean. Make the move a few times a year—that’s it. After a while, I’ll have my own crew .
[US](con. 1982–6) T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 34: In his turn, Max supplies each crew member with the amount and kind of cocaine, crack or powder, needed.
[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 83: I was the first one of the regular crew to start working with this guy [...] Both of us used to go home with a knot [wad of bills] and save a coupla’ hundreds.
[US]J. Lethem Fortress of Solitude 422: You might strike deals with the crews who fought dumb wars for dominance.
[UK]G. Iles Turning Angel 234: The girl Cyrus was in bed with made the 911 call, and she’s not part of his crew.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 5: It’s just too fucking hot to pull up on a dealing crew.
[US]J. Fenton We Own This City 104: [T]he time was right to push forward with charges against a [heroin] dealer named Aaron Anderson and see if he might flip on the Shropshire crew.

4. (US) orig. used in US by young blacks to denote a teen gang, spec. of rap singers, break dancers or graffiti, the term has crossed the Atlantic and now, in UK use, both black and white means simply a gang.

Sugarhill Gang ‘Rapper’s Delight’ 🎵 Let me tell you somethin’, we’re a helluva crew.
[US]C. Stroud Close Pursuit (1988) 3: A street crew was playing a game of slam-dunk on Avenue D.
[WI]Buju Banton ‘Boom Bye Bye’ 🎵 All di New York crew dem no promote batty man.
[US]Mack 10 ‘Based on a True Story’ 🎵 Do anything for a hit or two, give a bitch a rock / She fuck the whole damn crew.
[UK]Guardian Guide 12-18 June 31: A chance to see a crew like the Jungle Brothers.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 18: Before I got tight with Hardjit’s crew, I tended to like smaller cars.
[SA]Sun. Times (S. Afr.) Mag. 27 Jan. 10: A couple of solos are coming up from the crew and by the end of the year we’ll release an album together.
[US]‘Grandmaster Flash’ Adventures 39: ‘Me and my boys at school got us a crew. Got so many fresh moves, nobody wants to battle us’.
[UK]G. Knight Hood Rat 114: Wolf could supply Pilgrim’s crew the one thing they needed to become more powerful.
Big Sean ‘Switch Up’ 🎵 All I care bout’s my crew, my family, and women.
[UK]Observer 13 Apr. 17/4: There’d be no point decking someone if [...] they might get five of their crew to retaliate.

In compounds

black crew (n.)

(N.Z. prison) a gang composed of Maori or Pacific Island prisoners.

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 19/2: black crew n. a group of M?ori or Pacific Island inmates.
hell crew (n.)

(N.Z. prison) .

[NZ]D. Looser Boobslang [U. Canterbury D.Phil. thesis] 86/1: hell crew n. a particularly close or reliable group of friends in prison.