Green’s Dictionary of Slang

boot n.2

[SE boot, the orig. ref. was to the leggings worn by recruits to the US Navy during training]

1. [1910s+] (US milit.) any new recruit in the US armed forces; also attrib.

2. [1950s+] (US/UK black) a fellow black (usu. derog.) [black boots].

3. [1950s+] (US) a derog. term for a black person; also attrib. [black boots].

4. [1950s+] a woman, the implication is an unattractive one; thus often as old boot.

5. [1950s+] (US campus) an automobile tyre.

6. [1970s+] (US/W.I.) a condom.

In compounds

boothead (n.) [sense 3 + -head sfx (2)]

(US) a derog. ref. to a black person.

boot lip (n.) [sense 3 + SE lip]

[20C+] (US) a black person.

In phrases

boot up (v.)

[1970s+] (US black) to put on a condom.

In exclamations

in your boot!

[1960s] (Aus.) an excl. of dismissal, rejection.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

boot boy (n.) [the heavy boots that make up part of their ‘uniform’]

[1970s+] a skinhead.

boot-catcher (n.)

[late 18C–early 19C] the servant whose task it is to help guests off with and to clean their boots on arrival at an inn.

boot-eater (n.)

[19C] a juror who would rather ‘eat their boots’ than find anyone guilty.

bootfaced (adj.) [naut. jargon have a sea-boot face, to look unhappy]

[1910s+] gloomy, miserable-looking.

boot hill (n.)

see separate entry.


see separate entries.

boot kisser (n.)

[1960s] a sycophant, a toady.


see separate entries.


see separate entries.

bootstrap (v.) [phr. pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps. Note computer jargon boot(strap), to start the machine]

[1950s+] (orig. US) to improve one’s lot in life by one’s own efforts; thus bootstrapper n., bootstrapping adj.

In phrases

are your boots laced?

[1930s–40] (US black) a general query as to the state of affairs; is everything in order? are you ready? do you understand?

boot and shoe (n.) (also boot and shoe fiend, boot-and-shoer, boots and shoes) [such an addict has pawned even his shoes in order to buy narcotics]

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) the lowest class of narcotics user.

boot in (v.) [SE boot, to kick]

[1920s] (US) to urge, to force.

boots (and all) (adv.)

[mid-19C;1940s+] (Aus./N.Z.) absolutely, completely, with no reservations.

die in one’s boots (v.) (also die with one’s boots on)

see under die v.

get one’s boots on (v.)

[1940s] (US black) to come up to date.

give it the boot (v.) [one pushes down on the accelerator with a boot or shoe]

[1990s+] to accelerate.

have one’s boots on (v.) (also …boots laced) [one is thus ready to confront the world]

[1930s–70s] (US black) to be wise, sophisticated, intelligent.

like old boots (adv.)

[mid-19C–1920s] a general intensifier, e.g. fight like old boots, to fight enthusiastically.

out of one’s boots (adv.) [one has been ‘blown’ or ‘knocked’ out of one’s boots]

[mid-19C–1900s] (US) comprehensively, convincingly, totally.

pull up one’s boot (v.) [the adoption of smart boots as a sign of affluence]

[late 19C] (costermonger) to prosper, to make money.

put the boot on (v.) (also …boots on) [one puts on one’s boots before leaving the house]

[1920s–40s] (Irish) to bring to a close.