Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wooden adj.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

wooden aspro (n.) [Aspro, a painkiller]

(N.Z. prison) a blow on the head with a truncheon; the truncheon itself.

[NZ]L. Leland Kiwi-Yankee Dict. 114: (a) wooden aspro: Prison argot for a clout on the head with a truncheon.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 232: wooden aspro A truncheon or the result of its contact with your head, employed by protesters drawing attention to police treatment of them during the marching seasons of the early 1980s.
wooden casement (n.) (also wooden cravat)

the pillory.

[UK]Poor Robin’s Intelligence 4–11 Apr. 2/1: We hear of none this bout that are to wear the Wooden Crevat [OED].
’The Salamanca Doctor’s Farewell’ ballad in Notes & Queries 2nd Ser. No. 6 9 Feb. (1856) 109/2: ’Tis a cursed Debasement, / To be pelted with Eggs thro’ a lewd wooden Casement!
[UK]‘Trial of Wm Hales’ in Cobbett’s State Trials 295: Serj. Whitaker. The pillory, my lord, is nothing. The gentleman hath endeavoured to get many thousand pounds of several gentlemen: now he is only to look through a wooden casement.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 1349/1: ca. 1670–1720.
wooden dessert (n.)


[US]Judge (NY) 91 July-Dec. 31: Wooden dessert - Toothpicks.
wooden doublet (n.)

1. a coffin.

[UK]F. Forrest Ways to Kill Care Dedication ii: Where to find a guardian for the bawling brat, in case papa [...] should suddenly tumble into his wooden doublet [OED].

2. the human flesh.

[UK]Mthly Rev. 31 Appendix 541: Our grosser flesh, a kind of Jack in the box, whose wooden doublet fits him so nicely that every body thinks it alive.
wooden habeas (n.) [SE wooden + pun on habeas corpus, lit. ‘thou shalt have the body’, a writ whereby an accused and jailed person must be brought before the court and the reason for their imprisonment justified]

a coffin; thus go out with a wooden habeas, to die in prison.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Wooden Habeas. A coffin. A man who dies in prison is said to go out with a wooden habeas. He went out with a wooden habeas; i.e. his coffin.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
woodenhead (n.)

(Aus.) a fool, thus wooden-headed, foolish, stupid.

Cumberland Mercury (NSW) 9 Feb. 4/3: East Sydney’s idol, Syd. Burdekin, is a woooden (headed) fetish [...] though wooden-headed he understands the value of a plum p [sic].
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Wind & Monkey (2013) [ebook] What have I got to lose with these two woodenheads.
wooden horse (n.) [note 18C milit. punishment (orig. devised for women in middle ages) in which the victim, naked and usu. with weights attachted to their legs, was forced to sit astride the sharp crossbeam of a triangular form of sawhorse]

the gallows.

[UK]R. Brome A Novella V i: I saw him ride the wooden horse, last day / With lesse then halfe this beard.
wooden kimono (n.) (also kimona, kimono, wooden kimona)

a coffin.

[US]Buffalo Commercial (NY) 13 Mar. 6/4: Firm in his intention to [...] order a wooden kimono lined with tin and ornamented with silver handles and wait for the merciless stroke of Death’s scythe.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 88: If I ever catch up to you there’ll be an order put in for a wooden kimona your size.
[US]E. O’Neill The Movie Man in Ten ‘Lost’ Plays (1995) 189: They’d carry him home in a white pine kimono.
[US]F. Hurst Humoresque 33: ‘“Wooden kimono” – Leon?’ ‘That’s the way the fellows at camp joke about coffins, ma.’.
[US]Eve. Sun (Hanover, PA) 3 Aug. 1/4: Latest [...] Burial Creations [...] Now comes the glass casket to take the place of the customary wooden ‘kimona’.
[US]Judge (NY) 91 July-Dec. 31: Wooden Kimono - Coffin.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 15/2: Wooden kimona – Case for cold storage.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 49: kimono, n. A coffin.
[US]L. Pound ‘Amer. Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 201: Wooden kimona.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 19: I expected the man to show up [...] with his tape measure to outfit me with a wooden kimono.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 254: wooden kimona A coffin.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 488: wooden kimono : Coffin. Most gangsters end in a wooden kimono before their time.
Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 2 June D1/5: It has been tagged as a crate, a bone-box, an oak overcoat, a six-foot bungalow, a shell. Chicago gangland mentioned it [...] as a wooden kimono.
Dly Trib. (Wisconsin Rapids, WI) 17 Jan. 4/5: More of the trees began to [...] sicken and die [...] Some were quickly turned into wooden kimonos, six-foot bungalows.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 4: Kimona A prison coffin, usually just a pine box.
wooden nickel (n.) (also wooden money) [a non-existent and undoubtedly worthless coin]

(orig. US) something worthless; thus phr. don’t take any wooden nickels, be watchful.

[US]Phillipsburg Herald (KS) 5 Feb. 4/3: Don’t take any wooden nickels or bad checks.
Morn. Register (IEugene, OR) 25 Jan. 1/6: She [a passer of bad cheques] waved her handkerchief to the local officers, saying ‘Don’t take any wooden nickels or cash any checks’.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 58: Don’t take any wooden money, Paulibus!
[US]M.C. McPhee ‘College Sl.’ in AS III:2 132: Not to ‘take any wooden nickels,’ in other words, to be alert.
[US](con. 1918) E.W. Springs Rise and Fall of Carol Banks 161: I won’t take any wooden nickels. Not Uncle Bruce. I don’t reach out unless I see a brass ring.
[US]I. Wolfert Tucker’s People (1944) 311: Don’t take any wooden nickels.
[US]Mad mag. Aug.–Sept. 27: Why the very name, John Smith, is as phoney as a wooden nickel.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 203: Took all the wooden nickels in circulation.
[US](con. 1916) G. Swarthout Tin Lizzie Troop (1978) 65: ‘Going to El Paso,’ he said. ‘Don’t take no wooden nickels,’ warned HarleyOffus.
wooden nutmeg (n.) [the use of such ‘nutmegs’ in confidence trickery; thus the negative image of such individuals] (US)

1. a native of Connecticut, thus land of wooden nutmegs, Connecticut.

[US]Providence Free Press 6 May 3/2: Masonic Republicans are hooted at, however, as so many wooden nutmegs [DA].
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) Sept. 15 n.p.: He may have cause to rue the day he lef the land of wooden nutmegs.
Satirist & Punch (Boston, MA) 1 Feb. 58/3: Extract of a code of Blue Laws [...] from the land of Hornflints and Wooden Nutmegs.
[US]Congressional Globe 1 Feb. 463: The Connecticut people are religious. It is a land of liberty and religion and steady habits. (A voice. And wooden nutmegs).
Amer. Citizen (Butler, PA) 26 Sept. 2/4: Nicknames [...] Connecticut, wooden nutmegs.
[US]North Amer. Rev. Nov. 433: Among the rank and file, both armies, it was very general to speak of the different States they came from by their slang names. Those from Maine were called Foxes; [...] Connecticut, Wooden Nutmegs.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 268/1: Wooden nutmegs (American). People of Connecticut. Given in consequence of these traders having been the first to discover this spice, which, it has been said, they once palmed off upon the unwary.

2. a confidence trickster.

[[US]Vermont Intelligencer (Bellows Falls, VT) 31 Mar. 3/4: A short time since, there passed through this place [i.e. Columbus, O.] a pedlar, having among other articles wooden nutmegs for sale! It is reported that there were some of them purchased [...] We have often heard of Yankee speculation, but conceive this to be about the climax] .
[US]T. Haliburton Clockmaker (1843) I 157: He called me a Yankee pedlar, a cheatin vagabond, a wooden nutmeg.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 620: Nutmegs, when made of wood, as were those immortalized by Sam Slick, have become so familiar to the public mind, that they have passed into a slang term for any cunning deception [...] in the press and in Congress wooden nutmegs have to answer for forged telegrams, political tricks, and falsified election-returns.

3. a trick.

[US]A.S. Fleischman Venetian Blonde (2006) 173: It was too early in the game to look for any wooden nutmegs. She had only begun to tip her hand.
wooden overcoat (n.) (also oaken greatcoat, oak overcoat, wooden coat, ...greatcoat, ...suit, ...topcoat, ...uniform)

a coffin, often used in fictional versions of organized crime; thus wooden overcoat man, an undertaker.

[UK]J.P. Hurstone Piccadilly Ambulator I 30: ‘This oaken greatcoat (pointing to the coffin) will shortly be better calculated for you than your present dress’.
Dly News (London) 1 Apr. 2/1: Liquor [...] shut up many a stout fellow afore his time in his wooden greatcoat.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 96: Wooden coat. A coffin.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 319/1: wooden coat, [...] cercueil.
Buffalo Courier (NY) 13 June 2/2: If he passes unscathed through the horrors of a battle and returns home sound, he will be [...] relproached for not having come home in a wooden overcoat.
[UK]Huddersfield Chron. 2 Dec. 9/1: [They] seemed to be surprised that I didn’t return in a wooden overcoat with my throat neatly laid open from ear to ear.
Lincoln Co. Herland (Troy, MO) 31 Aug. 2/5: The editor of the Savannah (Mo) New Era has kept a coffin or two [...] in the corner of his editorial scanctum [...] The ‘wooden coat’ argument has a good deal of merit in it.
[UK]Birmingham Dly Post 22 Sept. 6/4: ‘Wooden overcoat’ is a coffin in Mississippi.
Dly News (London) 12 Dec. 5/2: A wooden top-coat — the last garment worn by rich and poor alike.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple II 199: It is almost enough [...] to make a man shoot himself [...] Jack, my boy, I think you may order me a wooden suit.
[Aus]Illus. Sydney News 7 Jan. 24: The body that was found was not planted in the garden, but was dressed in a wooden overcoat and carried to Greenwood.
[Aus]Oakleigh Leader (Nth Brighton, Vic.) 3 Sept. 45/5: The last event which happens to all alike [...] is described as ‘wearing a wooden ovecoat’ and being ‘put to bed with a shovel’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 July 11/2: He may or may not have been less callous than the ordinary ghoul, but he was much more politic. ‘With much sympathy’ is a good shibboleth for the wooden-overcoat man.
[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:v 389: wooden-overcoat, n. Coffin.
[US]S.F. Call 22 Feb. 10: A tap on the beak, two slams on the beezer, and the big cop was Johnny in the wooden overcoat.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 10 Jan. 9/8: Persistence in that form of gluttony will fit them for their wooden overcoat.
Queanbeyan Age & Observer (NSW) 6 June 4/6: I didn’t surmise as you’d put the girl in her little wooden overcoat.
[UK](con. WWI) Fraser & Gibbons Soldier and Sailor Words 309: Wooden Overcoat, A: A coffin.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 23 May 19/5: Remember this, ye proud / Ye’ll wear a wooden overcoat / And no pockets in your shroud.
[Aus]Cairns Post (Qld) 23 May 5/6: I would like to disinherit the faithless coquette, only they would take me home in a wooden overcoat.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Wooden uniform, a coffin.
[US]L. Pound ‘Amer. Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 201: Wooden suit.
[UK]J. Worby Spiv’s Progress 77: Lo, Pete[...] Come for your wooden overcoat?
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 212: He’ll leave this place in a wooden overcoat.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Color of Murder’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. [Internet] Some day I won’t get here in time. Then you’ll be wearing a wooden overcoat.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 8: There ain’t no way out. Not unless you want to get fitted for a wooden overcoat.
[US]W. Garner Deep, Deep, Freeze 188: Any mistake on his part could win him the prize of the wooden suit [OED].
Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 2 June D1/5: It has been tagged as a crate, a bone-box, an oak overcoat, a six-foot bungalow, a shell. Chicago gangland mentioned it [...] as a wooden kimono.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 161: ‘Move an eyelash,’ I drawled, ‘and it’s a wooden overcoat for the pair of you.’.
[US] (ref. to WWII) L. Cleveland Dark Laughter 115: For most World War 2 soldiers the concept of death was masked by euphemisms like [...] got a wooden overcoat.
wooden ruff (n.) (also wooden shoes) [like the SE ruff it encircles the neck]

(UK Und.) a pillory or the stocks; thus wear the wooden ruff, to stand in the pillory.

[UK] ‘The Loyal Protestants’ Litany’ in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads (1878) II 660: From a Popish Midwife in a Sanctifyed Dress, / Adorn’d with a wooden Ruff for a Crest.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Wooden-ruff, c. a Pillory, the Stocks at the other end. He wore the Wooden-ruff, c. he stood in the Pillory.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Wooden ruff; the pillory.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 195: Wooden ruff — the pillory.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 254: wooden shoes [...] the stocks.
wooden shoes (n.)

1. the supporters of the Old Pretender, James Stuart (1688–1766) [the wearing of wooden sabots by the French].

[UK]London Standard 22 Nov. 5/5: The siege of Londonderry by the Stuart forces is remembered merely as an item of the great revolutionary struggle against ‘Popery, brass money and wooden shoes’.

2. the French, France; thus foreigners in general.

[UK](con. 1750s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor II 117/1: ‘No Jews! / No wooden shoes!!’ Some mob leader [...] had in this distich cleverly blended the prejudice against the Jews with the easily excited but vague fears of a French invasion.

3. (US Und.) a Dutchman.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
wooden spoon (n.) [the actual wooden spoon trad. awarded to that Cambridge undergraduate unfortunate enough to come bottom in the year’s mathematical tripos. Note the synon. wooden wedge, named after the philologist Hensleigh Wedgwood, who took last place in the Cambridge classical tripos of 1824]

1. (US campus) at Yale, a prize conferred at the end of the junior year for the ‘most popular man in class’.

[US]Songs of Yale (1870) Preface: Many men prefer the Wooden Spoon to any other college honor or prize, because it comes directly from their classmates.
[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 49: Wooden Spoon, the prize conferred at the end of junior year upon ‘the most popular man in the class.’.

2. a fool.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.

3. (orig. sporting) a metaphorical prize for the competitor or team who comes last in a sporting contest.

[Aus]Bug (Aus.) 27 Mar. [Internet] That should just about make the holders of this year’s wooden spoon dead set certs for immediate relegation to reserve grade at Roma.
wooden surtout (n.) [SE surtout, an overcoat]

a coffin.

[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Dead Alive (1783) 32: A wooden surtout lin’d with white satin.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 8: As the last scene of his eventful history, to exchange his upper Benjamin [...] for an article of more lasting description — a wooden surtout!
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service viii: Wooden Surtout, a coffin; its nails are termed the ‘buttons.’.
woodentop (n.) [the BBC-TV children’s series, launched in 1965; it featured a family of wooden dolls who lived on a farm]

a uniformed police officer.

[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 106: They got away? You mean to say they got clean away? [...] What the fuck were all those wooden tops doing? Playing with each other?
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘To Hull and Back’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I will make life very comfortable for you, no more aggro from wooden-tops in the market.
wooden tree (n.)

see triple tree n.

wooden ulster (n.) [SE ulster, a long, loose overcoat]

a coffin.

[UK]Sheffield Indep. 5 June 13/6: There is pneumonia in the air [...] So stick to your overcoats, or you may chance get a wooden ulster, buttoned with silver-headed nails.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 2 Mar. 11/3: Well, sir, this ’ere are the storey / Of that wooden-ulster box / Which, shed have contained a corpus, / But, instead, was full of rocks!

In phrases

wooden (out) (v.) [woodener n.1 (1)]

(Aus./N.Z.) to knock down, to knock out.

[UK]‘G.B. Lancaster’ Sons O’ Men 252: He’ll wooden more of you out if you scare him.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 1 Dec. 18/1: Get to ’im, Lad!... You’re on a blanky drink / If you can wooden ’im! Good on yer, Bert!
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Nocturne’ in Rose of Spadgers 51: Bashed ’im with bottles, woodened ’im with boots.
‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘The Shearer’s Colt’ in Song of the Pen (1983) 721: Some poor inoffensive Chinaman had come into the yard [...] and his wife had ‘woodened’ him without giving him a chance to explain.
[UK]M. Allingham Tiger in the Smoke (1978) 184: If you ’ad only woodened ’er, we’d have ’ad all the time in the world.
[NZ]G. Slatter Gun in My Hand 43: Ya bloody piker! A man oughta wooden ya out.
[Aus] Southerly XXXIV 145: If you can’t wooden ’em [i.e. kangaroos] at a ’undred yards with one I.C.I. bullet, you’re not tryin’! And he was so right.
[US](con. 1900s) A.B. Facey Fortunate Life 70: He had picked up a stick about four feet long and one and a half inches thick, and intended to wooden me out.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 124/2: wooden to hit [...] wooden out to punch somebody to the floor.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].