Green’s Dictionary of Slang

skin n.1

1. that which is made of SE skin.

(a) [mid-17C–1940s] a purse, a pocketbook, a wallet; thus queer skin, an empty wallet [the leather of which it is made].

(b) [1920s+] (US black) a drum; also attrib [abbr. SE drumskin].

(c) [1920s+] in pl., a set of drums.

(d) [1940s–60s] (US) a rasher of bacon.

(e) [1940s+] (US black) the hand as in a handshake or a palm-slapping greeting.

(f) [1950s–70s] a tyre.

(g) [1950s+] (US) a condom.

2. in senses of SE skin, something that wraps or contains.

(a) [mid-19C] (UK Und.) a watch case.

(b) [early 19C–1910s] (UK/US Und.) a garment, usu. a shirt.

(c) [1960s+] a cigarette paper, esp. those used for rolling cannabis joints; usu. in pl. [it provides a skin for the tobacco (and cannabis)].

(d) [1970s+] (US gay) in pl., very tight trousers.

3. by metonymy, in senses pertaining to a human being.

(a) [mid-19C; 20C+] (orig. naut.) a derog. generic for women; the vagina.

(b) [late 19C+] a person, e.g. in phr. a decent old skin.

(c) [1910s–20s] (US) oneself, one’s life.

(d) [1950s] (US Und.) a male homosexual.

(e) [1980s] as a term of address to an unknown person.

4. (US) abbr. frogskin n.1

(a) [late 19C+] one dollar.

(b) [1940s–70s] a currency note; money; often in pl.

5. [1910s–40s] (US/Aus.) a horse, a mule.

6. [1940s–50s] a painter.

7. [1970s+] abbr. of skinhead.

8. see skinful n. (2)

9. see skin shot under shot n.1

In derivatives

skinner (n.)

[1970s+] (drugs) a hand-rolled marijuana cigarette; the number varies as to the amount of rolling papersused.

In phrases

give (some) skin (v.) (also flip some skin, give finger-skin, slap skin, slip some skin) [the practice is of African origin; thus Temme botme-der, put skin and/or Mandingo i golo don m bolo, place your hand in my hand; Burley, Original Handbook of Harlem Jive (1944), suggests it originated in Chicago in 1944 at the time of the Joe Louis-Tony Galento fight]

[1930s+] (orig. US black) to perform the ritual palm slapping that forms a greeting between blacks or a black and a knowledgeable white; thus the greeting give/slip/flip me some skin.

have some skin in the game (v.)

[2010s] to have something to lose.

knock some skin (v.)

[1940s] (US) to shake hands with.

skin up (v.)

1. [1960s+] (drugs) to roll a cannabis-filled cigarette.

2. [1990s+] in fig. use, to involve oneself with.

3. [1990s+] (W.I.) to be on friendly terms [the proximity of human skin].

4. see also SE phrs. under skin v.1

slap skin(s) (v.) (orig. US black)

1. [1960s+] to exchange a greeting by slapping each other’s hands.

2. [1990s+] (also slap, slap on) to have sexual intercourse.

In exclamations

skin me!

see separate entry.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

skin-and-grief (n.) (also skin and bones and grief)

1. [mid-19C–1950s] a very thin person; thus used as insult, see cite 1867.

2. [mid-19C] in fig. use of sense 1.

skin-beater (n.)

[1930s–50s] a drummer.

skin boy (n.) [abbr. SE foreskin]

[1980s] (N.Z.) an uncircumcised male.

skincoat (n.)

[mid-16C] the vagina.

skin dive (v.)

[1980s+] (Aus. prison) to inject narcotics.

skin diver (n.) [1960s–70s]

1. a male homosexual [his supposed appetite for fellatio; Trimble extends use to practitioners of heterosexual oral intercourse].

2. a fellatrix.

skin flute (n.)

see separate entry.

skinhead (n.)

see separate entry.

skin-heist (n.)

[1950s] (US Und.) a rape.

skin hustling (n.)

[1930s] (US Und.) selling fake fur.

skin man (n.)

[1940s] (US Black) a drummer.

skin merchant (n.) [ironic use of SE]

[late 18C–19C] a military recruiting officer.

skin-out (n.)

[1990s+] (W.I.) sexual abandonment.

skin pop/popper

see separate entries.

skin queen (n.) [-queen sfx]

1. [1960s+] (US gay) a male homosexual who views his partners as no more than sex objects, a gay sexist.

2. [1990s+] one who prefers uncircumcised penises.

skin-rags (n.)

[1910s] (Aus.) a bathing costume.

skin-roll (n.) [the resemblance of the penis to a roll of skin; thus cognate with dork n., prick n. (3) etc.]

[1990s+] (UK juv.) a totally inadequate, inept person.

skin shake (n.)

[1960s] (US prison) a body search.


see separate entries.

skintop (n.)

[1990s+] (US) a bald head.

skin worker (n.) [worker n.1 (1)]

[20C+] (US Und.) a shoplifter, usu. of furs.

In phrases

fill one’s skin (v.)

[mid-19C] to get drunk.

get skin (v.)

[1930s–40s] (US) to have sexual intercourse.

get (some) skins (v.)

[1990s+] (US black) to have sexual intercourse.

hit (the) skins (v.)

[20C+] to have sexual intercourse [note Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin paitim bun, to have sex, lit. ‘hit bones’].

in a bad skin

[late 18C–1910s] bad-tempered, ‘out of sorts’.

in a good skin (also in a whole skin)

[mid-18C–1910s] good-humoured, cheerful.

in one’s skin

[early–mid-18C] a non-committal answer when asked where someone is.

in someone’s skin

[20C+] (W.I.) harassing, nagging.

no skin off one’s ass (also no skin off one’s backside, ...tail) [ass n. (2)/backside n./tail n. (1)]

[1930s+] (orig. US) no problem, no worries; of no importance.

no skin off one’s balls (also no skin off one’s dick, ...testicles) [balls n. (1)/dick n.1 (5)]

[1930s+] (orig. US) of no importance.

no skin off one’s nose (also no skin, no skin off someone(’s), no skin off one’s back, …ear, …elbow, ...hide, ...knuckles, ...shonk, …smeller, ...teeth, no hair off one’s brows) [shonk n. (2)/smeller n. (2)]

[20C+] a phr. implying one’s contemptuous lack of interest; ‘I don’t care’, ‘it doesn’t bother me’.

one’s skin is cracking [play on SE parched, dried out, thirsty]

[1950s–60s] (Aus./N.Z.) desperate for a drink of alcohol.

on my skin [the primary importance of one’s skin colour in prison]

[20C+] (US Und.) a phr. that implies absolute honesty.

on the skin

[1940s–50s] stealing furs.

shed one’s skin (v.)

[1950s] (Aus.) to become hysterical with rage.

shoot skin (v.) (also go in the skin) [SE skin]

[1930s+] (drugs) to inject narcotics into the skin rather than into a vein; thus skin-shooting n., injecting in this way; skin-shooter n., one who injects in this way.

skin catch fire

[20C+] (W.I.) a phr. meaning one is obsessed with someone at first sight and wants to possess them immediately.

In exclamations

skin off your nose!

[1900s–60s] (orig. naut.) a popular toast; often ext. as here’s (to) the skin off your nose!