Green’s Dictionary of Slang

smoke n.

1. in fig. senses.

(a) [mid-16C] suspicion.

(b) [mid-16C+] myth, illusion, fantasy, esp. when actively promoted as disinformation or lies; thus smoky adj., deceptive.

(c) [late 19C] (US) a fuss.

(d) [1900s] (US) a blur.

(e) [1970s] nonsense.

2. in lit. uses, pertaining to smoking tobacco or drugs.

(a) [17C+] (also smoking) anything smokeable, a cigar, a pipe, a cigarette, tobacco.

(b) [mid-19C+] the action of smoking a cigarette, cigar or pipe; thus do a smoke v.

(c) [late 19C] (Aus.) a party [SE smoker].

(d) [late 19C] (US) a portion or share taken from a can or pail of beer [the putting of one’s lips to the can and sucking down the beer resembles puffing on a pipe].

(e) [late 19C+] (drugs) opium.

(f) [mid-19C-1950s] the action of smoking opium.

(g) [1930s+] marijuana, esp. a marijuana cigarette.

(h) [1960s+] the action of smoking cannabis.

(i) [1990s+] crack cocaine.

3. in context of skin colour.

(a) [late 19C+] a derog. term for a black person, also attrib.; thus smokeville n., a community of black people.

(b) [1920s–40s] as used by a black person, thus not derog.

(c) [1930s] (US) a Mexican.

4. [20C+] any cheap, rotgut alcohol, esp. denatured alcohol shaken up with water and drunk by down-and-out alcoholic tramps [the liquid turns cloudy when shaken].

5. [1900s] (US) the ideal, the best.

6. [1970s] (US campus) $1 [so small a sum ‘goes up in smoke’].

7. [2000s] (US campus) an attractive female.

8. [2010s] (UK Black, also smokie) a gun.

Pertaining to smoking tobacco or drugs

In compounds

smoke factory (n.) (also smoke joint) [joint n. (3b)]

[1900s–20s] (US) an opium den.

smokehound (n.) [-hound sfx] [2000s] (US Und.)

1. a crack cocaine addict.

2. a marijuana smoker.

smokehouse (n.)

see separate entry.

smoke pad (n.) [pad n.2 (2)]

[1940s–50s] (drugs) anywhere that people can gather to smoke opium, later marijuana.

smoke shop (n.) (also smoke shack) [note 18C–19C SE smoke shop, a tobacconist’s where one could gather to talk and smoke]

[1930s+] (US drugs) a place or shop where marijuana is sold, esp. somewhat openly.

Smoketown (n.) (also Smokeville)

[1920s-40s] (US) Pittsburgh, PA, thus Smoketowner, a local inhabitant.

smoke wagon (n.)

[2000s] (US black) a large and smoky marijuana cigarette.

In phrases

blow smoke (v.) [1980s+]

1. (drugs) to inhale cocaine.

2. (US campus) to smoke marijuana.

get some smoke (v.)

to smoke marijuana.

watch my smoke (excl.)

rhetorical excl. calling for the hearer to be impressed by the speaker’s progress (lit. or fig.).

Pertaining to alcohol

In compounds

smoke-hound (n.) [-hound sfx]

[1940s+] (US) an alcoholic who drinks rotgut alcohol.

smoke joint (n.) [joint n. (3b)]

[1930s] (US) a bar that specializes in selling cheap, second-rate liquor.

Pertaining to deception

In phrases

blow smoke in someone’s ear (v.) (also blow smoke at)

[2000s] (US) to pass on information, genuine or otherwise.

blow smoke up someone’s ass (v.) (also blow smoke up someone) [ass n. (2)]

[1950s+] to confuse, to tell lies to.

in smoke (also into smoke) [the obscurity cast by a pall of smoke]

[20C+] (Aus.) in hiding or into hiding.

pass the bottle of smoke (v.)

[mid-19C] to accept conventional untruths, to tell white lies.

smoke-up (adj.) [the image of ‘pipe dreams’]

[late 19C] (US) fantastic, implausible.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

smoke-eater (n.) (US)

1. [late 19C–1930s] (also smoke-chewer) a firefighter.

2. [1920s] a heavy smoker.

smoke-hole (n.)

[early 18C] the mouth.

smokehouse (n.)

see separate entry.

smoke iron (n.)

[1930s] (US) a handgun.


see separate entries.

smoke screen (n.) [its masking of body odour]

[1940s] (US black) underarm deodorant.


see separate entries.

smoke-stick (n.)

1. [1900s] (US) a cigar.

2. [1900s–40s] a firearm.

smoke-up (n.)

[1960s] a break for smoking.

smoke wagon (n.) [1900s–60s]

1. (US Und.) a revolver, a pistol.

2. (US) an automobile, esp. a taxicab.

In phrases

like smoke (adv.)

[mid-19C–1900s] (Aus.) very energetically; very quickly; exceedingly.