Hard Boiled Slang Dictionary

Glossary of Slang Terms - Translate

Crime - Mystery & Detective Fiction

If you are ever stymied by a word or phrase in a hard-boiled mystery or want to know what does this mean ?then fear not !
Below there is a basic lexicon for translating the most common slang terms used in the genre
Additions or improvements are always welcome

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BADGER GAME .- blackmail practised on a man who is lured by a woman into a compromising situation and then threatened by her male accomplice
BANG-TAIL, PONY- racehorse
BEAN-SHOOTER, CANNON, GAT, HEAT, HEATER, ROD, RODNEY, ROSCOE - gun [usually pistol or revolver)
BEEF - to grumble
BERRIES - dollars
BIG HOUSE, CABOOSE, CAN, COOLER, HOOSEGOW, PEN, STIR - jail
BIG ONE, CHICAGO OVERCOAT - death
BIRD-guy (also YEGG)
BLIP OFF, BLOW DOWN, BOP, BUMP, BUMP OFF, CROAK, KNOCK OFF, POOP, POP, RUB OUT - to kill
BOOB-fool also MUG, RUBE, SAP)
BOOBY HATCH - psychiatric hospital or jail
BOOZE HOUND, JUICER, LUSH, SOUSE - alcoholic
BOP, SOCK- to punch or hit
BRACE - to grab
BRACELETS, CUFFS, NIPPERS - handcuffs
BREEZE, DANGLE, DRIFT, DUST, DUST OUT, FADE, 60 TO READ AND WRITE, SCOOT, TAKE A POWDER, TAKE THE AIR - to leave, make oneself scarce, disappear
BROAD, DAME, DOLL-woman
BULL, BUTTON, COP, COPPER, FLATTY, JOHN -policeman
BUM STEER - something worthless or misleading

BUNCO -fraud, confidence trick
BUNK, HOOEY-nonsense
BURG - town
BURN, PUMP, SQUIRT, THROW METAL OR LEAD, SNAP CAPS - to fire bullets
BUSTED FLUSH -literally, in poker an incomplete hand of cards of the same suit; more generally, a failure
BUZZER - police badge

C, CENTURY, YARD - a hundred dollars
CHIPPY - flirtatious or promiscuous woman
CHIV, CHIVE, SHIV, SHIVE- knife
CHOPPER  machine gun
CINCH  something easy or certain
CLAMP, NAB, ROCK OFF - to arrest, catch (also PINCH)
CLIP JOINT bar or club which charges high prices or cheats customers
CLUBHOUSE - police station
CON - convict, person with criminal record
COP THE SNEAK, TAKE IT ON THE LAM - to escape
CRAP GAME, CRAPS - game of dice
CRASH OUT - to break out, escape from jail
CROAKER - doctor

DARK MEAT, DINGE, JIG, SMOKE - black person
DICK, GUM-HEEL, GUMSHOE, HAWKSHAW, OP, PEEPER, SHAMUS, SLEUTH, SNOOPER - private detective
DINGUS-thing
DIP - pickpocket
DIVE - disreputable bar or club
DOPE - information
DOPE, HOP, JUNK - drugs, especially heroin
DOUGH, JACK - money
DRILL - to shoot
DROPPER, GUN, HATCHETMAN, TORPEDO, TRIGGERMAN - hired killer or gunman 
DRY-GULCH - to knock out
DUMMERER - beggar who poses as a deaf mute

FIN, FIVE SPOT - five dollars, five-dollar bill FINGER - to identify, inform on, or betray
FINK, PIGEON, STOOL-PIGEON, STOOLIE (or STOOLY) - informer [see also RAT)
FLIMFLAM -swindle
FLOP HOUSE - cheap hotel

GEE - guy
GLAUM, GLOM - to steal (also PINCH)
GONIF - thief
GOON, HOOD, HOODLUM, PUNK - criminal thug
GRAB AIR - to put one's hands up in surrender
GRAND, LARGE - a thousand dollars
GRIFTER - confidence trickster or fraudster
GUNSEL - young or kept homosexual
GYP - to cheat

HACK - taxi  
HASH HOUSE
- cheap restaurant
HEAP - car
HEIST - theft or hold-up
HIGHBINDER - corrupt politician or official
HOOCH, HOOTCH - whisky, especially illicit whisky sold during Prohibition

ICE - diamonds

JOINT - place, especially a bar or club

KICK OFF - to die
KNOCKOVER  raid or robbery
LAV - job or situation
LUG - bullet (also PILL), or ear

MARBLE - pearl
MEAT WAGON - ambulance
MICKEY FINN, MICKEY - drugged drink
MITT - hand
MOB - gang
MOLL - girlfriend
MOUTHPIECE, SHYSTER - lawyer
MUG - face, or fool (also BOOB, RUBE, SAP)

NEVADA GAS - cyanide
NEWSHAWK - newspaper reporter
NEWSIE - newspaper seller
NICK, TRIM - to con or defraud (see also SHAKE DOWN)
NIX - no, nothing NOGGIN, NOODLE - head

PACK, PACK IRON, WEAR IRON - to carry a gun
PASTE - to punch
PETERMAN - safebreaker (also YEGG]
PIKER - vagrant (also VAG], small-time gambler, or poor sport
PILL - bullet (also LUG), or cigarette
PINCH - to arrest, or to steal
PORTRAIT OF MADISON - five hundred dollars, five-hundred-dollar bill
PUG - boxer (from pugilist)

RAP - criminal charge, or information (RAP SHEET = criminal record)
RAT - to inform
RATS AND MICE - dice
RINGER - fake
RUBE - easy target, or fool (also BOOB, MUG, SAP)

SAP - blackjack, or fool (also BOOB, MUG, RUBE) SAWBUCK-ten dollars, ten-dollar bill
SHAKE DOWN - to extort or defraud, or to search thoroughly
SHINE - bootleg liquor (moonshine), or black person [see also DARK MEAT, etc.)
SHOOT THE WORKS - to risk everything on one throw, or to tell the whole truth
SNATCH - kidnapping
SOAK - to pawn [HOCK-SHOP = pawnbroker's shop)
SPEAKEASY, SPEAK - illicit bar
STIFF - corpse

TICKET - private investigator's licence
TWO BITS - twenty-five cents
TWO-TIME LOSER - twice-convicted criminal

VAG, WAG - down-and-out (from vagrant)

YAP - petty swindler
YEGGMAN - safebreaker
YOUSE - plural form of  you


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