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Dictionary of Contemporary Slang

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perve

332

perve2, perv vb Australian

to behave lasciviously. From the noun form.

pervy adj

perverted or lascivious

pesterous adj Caribbean irritating, troublesome

peter n

1. the penis. A personification and predictable euphemism dating from the 19th century (if not earlier) and mainly used by adults.

‘Absence makes the peter fonda.’

(Caption to nude photograph of Peter Fonda, Oz magazine, 1969)

2. a safe. In the jargon of the underworld peter originally meant a trunk or strongbox, later a safe. The word was being used with this sense as early as the 17th century, perhaps inspired by some sort of biblical pun, now lost.

peter-man n British

a safecracker. An underworld and police term in use for the last few decades or so. Peter is an old word for a safe or strongbox.

Pete Tong adj British

wrong. The rhyming slang expression, using the name of a star club DJ, has been in use since around 1998 and was used in the title of a 2004 film.

Oh God, it’s all gone Pete Tong!

petrified adj American

intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. The term has no connection with the colloquial sense of ‘terrified’ but is a pun on the more common stoned.

petrol-head n

a car enthusiast. The term is heard both in Britain and Australia and was given wider currency in Britain from the 1990s by its usage in motoring magazines and such television programmes as BBC TV’s Top Gear.

pew n British

a chair. A colloquialism usually heard in the verb form ‘take a pew’: sit down. This humorously elevated version of chair arose around the turn of the 20th century.

pezzie, pessy n British

an unsophisticated, gormless individual. A derivation of ‘peasant’ used by schoolchildren since the 1990s.

P.F.O. adj British

injured as a result of drunkenness. Jocular medical shorthand for ‘pissed, fell

over’, e.g. as recorded as a mock diagnosis in a patient’s notes.

Compare P.G.T.

P.G.T. adj British

assaulted while drunk. Jocular medical shorthand for ‘pissed, got thumped’, e.g. as recorded as a mock diagnosis in a patient’s notes.

phat adj

excellent, hip. The re-spelling of fat (itself alternatively derived from its use in the phrase fat-city or from the fat tyres favoured by low-riders, etc.) was an emblematic term first in hip hop and rap circles and then in other youth subcultures such as surfers, skateboarders and skaters, etc. (A magazine named Phat catering for rollerbladers and computergame fans was briefly published in Britain in 1994.) In this spelling the word, which some authorities claimed was actually based on ‘emphatically’, had no comparative or superlative forms to compare with ‘fattier’ or ‘fattiest’.

phat garms

phat-free adj British

unpleasant, uncool. The term was used by schoolchildren in 2004.

phreak vb

to hack into a telephone, telecommunications or computer system, in the patois of cyberpunks and net-heads. The term is a later back-formation from ‘phreaker’, the designation for the first hackers who interfered with the US telephone system for fun, in search of knowledge or for profit.

phudi, phudu n

female sex organs, in British Asian usage

piano adj British

faint, delicate, ‘under the weather’ or indisposed. This upper-class expression derives from the Italian musical term piano, which is an instruction to play or sing softly. The British speaker’s pronunciation, in imitation of the original Italian, is ‘pee-aah-no’.

‘Please don’t disturb her, she seems to be feeling a little piano today.’

(Recorded, hostess, Dorset, 1974)

pickled adj

drunk. A fairly inoffensive term, usually heard in the speech of the middle-aged or elderly.

‘I sat next to Pat Collins who is a very intelligent and delightful woman. I felt sorry

333

pig

that she had George Brown, completely pickled, on the other side of her.’

(Tony Benn’s Diaries, 14 October 1969)

picni, pickney n

a child. The term is Caribbean dialect, a more recent variant form of the often racist ‘picaninny’, itself from the Portuguese pequenino, meaning tiny.

piddle1 vb British

to urinate. A childish or humoroussounding word, this is nonetheless one of Britain’s oldest ‘non-respectable’ words in current use.

piddle2 n British

urine or an act of urination. Piddle is etymologically related to puddle and to piddling meaning insignificant or trifling. It has been used as the name of small rivers in county districts and seems to have had a colloquial meaning of ‘small water’ or ‘insignificant scrap’ before its narrowing to the modern sense during the 18th and 19th centuries.

‘Piddles were done out of the back window last night, standing on the bed.’ (Spike Milligan, Adolf Hitler; My Part in His Downfall, 1971)

piece1 n

1.American a gun. An underworld euphemism.

2.a graffiti artist’s oeuvre. A shortening of ‘piece of work’ or ‘masterpiece’ and forming part of the graffiti subculture lexicon of the 1980s.

‘Kids do it mainly for the clothes – jeans or trainers, or to buy cans of spray paint to do pieces (graffiti).’

(Teenage mugger, Observer, 22 May 1988)

3. British a girlfriend, female. An item of black street-talk used especially by males, recorded in 2003.

my piece

4. British the penis. In black street-talk.

piece2, piece of ass n American

a woman (or, less often, a man) considered as a sexual object. Piece has been employed in a similar sexual context, invariably referring unromantically to a woman, since the 15th century. The various phrases such as ‘piece of ass’, piece of tail, etc. are probably more recent, arising, like bit of fluff, in the 19th century.

piece of piss/pudding n British something easy to accomplish, presenting no problems, a pushover. Both terms are variants on the common colloquialism ‘a piece of cake’.

piece of tail n

an alternative form of piece of ass

pieces n pl British See do one’s nut/ block/crust/pieces/taters

pie-eater n

a fat and/or greedy person. The derisive terms, used by adolescents in particular, coincided with national concerns over obesity in the US and UK since 2002. Pie-wagon was a synonym heard in the US in 2004.

pie-hole n American

the mouth. A humorous usage heard among adolescents and featured in the US film, Sleepwalkers, 1992. Hum-hole and the earlier British cakehole are synonyms.

pie-wagon n American a pie-eater

Joe’s scored himself a real pie-wagon this time.

piff n British

nonsense. A 1980s shortening of the colloquial ‘piffle’, heard among adolescents.

a load of piff

piffy adj British

dubious, doubtful, suspect. A middleclass usage, often said disdainfully or superciliously. Its origin is obscure; it does not appear to be related to piffling in the sense of insignificant, but may be influenced by ‘iffy’ or ‘piffle’.

pig n

1. a policeman or woman. An offensive term that gained its greatest currency in the 1960s in the USA whence it was reimported into Britain. (It was used in the same sense in the late Victorian underworld.)

‘Today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon.’

(Anti-war protestors’ and demonstrators’ slogan of the 1960s)

2a. a girl. A usage from the argot of street gangs, beatniks, etc. since the 1950s. Surprisingly, in these contexts the word is not necessarily pejorative.

2b. American an ugly, repellent girl. A term current in the late 1980s in US colleges, where ‘Pig of the Year/Week’ con-

pigeon

334

tests took place and the unwitting winner was presented with a prize.

3.a sexist male, as characterised by feminists. A shortening of the catchphrase ‘male chauvinist pig’ (also rendered as

MCP).

4.a segment of an orange

These sub-senses evoke the familiar images of the pig as gluttonous and disgusting or round and chubby.

pigeon n American

a worthless female. In hip hop and rap parlance since the 1990s.

pigfucker n

a despicable, disgusting and/or unpleasant person. An all-purpose term of strong abuse, usually applied to males. This version of the insult is probably more prevalent in the USA; fuckpig is a British synonym.

pigging adj British

an intensifying adjective used as a milder substitute for fucking. Pigging has the merit of being able to be broadcast. It is used, often with vehemence, by both men and, particularly, women.

I told him to take his pigging ‘peace offering’ and get lost.

pig it vb British

to behave in a disgusting manner. The expression may apply to living in filthy surroundings, acting in a slovenly way or ‘slumming’.

pig Latin n

a synonym for backslang, or a means of coining slang terms by the rearranging of syllables. Ixnay is an example.

piglet n Australian

1.an unattractive teenage girl

2.See pig

pig off vb

to leave, go away. A euphemism for more offensive terms such as piss off, etc., usually heard in the form of an imperative. It is often used by women who wish to express themselves forcefully without obscenity.

‘I finally got fed up and told him to pig off.’

(Recorded, female teacher, London, 1989)

pig out vb

to eat excessively and/or messily, to behave in an outrageous or obsessive way. This racier version of the colloquial ‘pig (oneself)’, meaning to overindulge, probably originated in the USA and was

established in Britain during the later 1960s.

pig’s, pig’s ear n British

1. beer. A London rhyming-slang term that is still heard. (The dismissive exclamatory phrase ‘in a pig’s ear!’ is unconnected, being a euphemism for ‘in a pig’s arse!’).

I’ll have a pint of pig’s.

2. an alternative version of pig’s breakfast/arse

pig’s breakfast/arse/ear n British

a mess, an outrageous failure, a complete disaster. Most often heard in statements such as ‘you’ve made a right pig’s breakfast of that!’.

piker n American

a mean, tightfisted person; a welcher on a bet or a shirker. A now obsolescent word, related distantly to the British pikey, or from an abbreviation of ‘turnpike’, piker occurred in the writings of Raymond Chandler in the 1940s. It originally referred to the unreliability of vagrants or itinerants.

pikey, pikie n British

a gypsy or vagrant. The term properly denotes one of the travelling people who lives in a settlement, such as a member of a family of hop-pickers. The precise origins of these terms (and the American piker) are unclear because of the convergence of two similar senses of ‘pike’; the first is a toll road as in turnpike, the second is an archaic British verb meaning to depart or travel. In 2004 pikey was one of the terms used as a synonym for chav.

pikeys’ wedding n British

a brawl. The term was posted on the b3ta website in 2004.

pill n

1. British a ball. A schoolboy term of the

1950s.

‘If I pla there is dead silence becos i never hit the pill at all they are all air shots chiz.’

(Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle,

Back in the Jug Agane, 1959)

2.pills British the testicles; by extension from the above sense

3.British a foolish or stupid, annoying person. A shortening of pillock.

4.South African a joint. Recorded as an item of Sowetan slang in the Cape Sunday Times, 29 January 1995.

pill-head n

an amphetamine user or addict

335

pinkie

pilling adj

under the influence of an illicit drug or drugs, not necessarily in pill form

pillock n British

a foolish or stupid, annoying person. A vulgar but not taboo term of abuse which had existed in British slang usage since the 1950s (its exact date of origin is undetermined), coming into vogue in the mid-1970s. Various etymologies have been proposed for the word; ‘pillicock’ was a late medieval term for the penis, sometimes used as an expression of endearment or affectionate abuse; pillocks has also been explained as a rural term for rabbit droppings, or as a synonym for the testicles (pills) employing the diminutive or affectionate suffix ‘-ocks’ (as in the case of balls and bollocks).

pillow-biter n

a male homosexual, particularly a passive partner in sodomy. This expression probably originated in Australia, where it is common. It was introduced to the British public during the trial of Jeremy Thorpe (accused of plotting the murder of a male model, Norman Scott, in 1974) by the satirical magazine Private Eye.

pill-popper n

a user of amphetamines or tranquillisers

pimp, pimped (out) adj

exciting, fashionable, admirable. Vogue terms among hip hop aficionados and US teenagers since 2000, from black street culture’s elevation of the pimp as a style icon.

pimp (someone) (over) vb American to deceive, cheat someone

Man. I got pimped that time. He pimped us over good.

pimp-juice n American

1. masculine allure. An imaginary or intangible quality possessed by some males. The term has become popular since 2000. The female equivalent is milkshake.

Damn, that boy got pimp-juice.

2. semen

pimps n, adj British

(something) very easy, a pushover. A word used by young schoolchildren from the late 1980s, particularly when showing off or boasting. The word is usually used in an exclamation such as ‘that’s pimps!’ or ‘it’s pimps!’, meaning

‘there’s nothing to it’. There seems to be no relation between this term and the standard English word for a procurer or the archaic use of pimp to mean sneak or inform upon.

pimpsy, pipsy adj British

easily accomplished, no trouble. A variant of pimps used typically by middleclass schoolchildren.

pinch vb, n

(to make) an arrest. An underworld and police term on both sides of the Atlantic.

pinch a loaf, pinch one off vb American to defecate. The phrases are part of male toilet-talk.

pineapple n Australian See rough end of the pineapple, the

ping vb British

to shoot or wound by shooting. An item of underworld slang from the early 1990s, the word is echoic, imitating the sound of a small-calibre gunshot or a ricochet.

pinhead n

a.a fool, idiot

b.a person with a small head and a (proportionately) large body

pink1 adj

a code or facetious term for gay adopted from the heterosexual lexicon by the male homosexual community for ironic or semi-ironic self-reference. (The Nazis affixed pink triangles to homosexuals.) Lavender is a similar usage.

pink2 n American

the female genitals. This term, which arose in the language of pornographers, prostitutes, etc., was picked up in show-business jargon in such phrases as ‘surrender the pink’ (the title of a book by the actress Carrie Fisher) and the name Kissing the Pink adopted by an early 1990s rock band.

pinkie n

1.a white person. A term of mild racist abuse used by black speakers in London in the mid-1970s. A more accurate and less flattering version of whitey.

2.the little finger. An American term now generally understood in Britain and Australia.

3.British a fifty-pound note or the amount of £50, from the colour of the banknote

pinko

336

pinko1 n, adj American

(someone with) liberal or left-of-centre politics or ideas. The image is of a watered-down ‘red’ (someone with extreme left-wing beliefs).

pinko2 adj, n Australian

(intoxicated by) methylated spirits, which are often dyed pink

pink oboe n British the penis

pins n pl

legs. The word was first recorded in this sense in 1530 when pin was synonymous with (wooden) peg.

I’m a bit unsteady on my pins.

pint-man n British

a boorish male. The pejorative term is used by college students and others to denote an aggressive and/or unsophisticated male, whether or not that person is drinking beer at the time of speaking.

‘People should not take being bounced [menaced or aggressed] by pint-man.’

(Recorded, 17-year-old male, North London, 1999)

pipe n

1. American a gun. An item of street jargon used especially by adolescent criminals in the 1990s.

‘Teachers report that teenagers talk about “packing a barrel” or “chilling someone with a pipe”.’

(Sunday Times, 31 August 1992)

2.British a telephone, particularly a mobile telephone, in the jargon of truckdrivers and rescue services

3.American a very easy task, programme of study, etc. This usage is probably based on the earlier phrase ‘pipe course’, used on campuses to describe an undemanding study option. The relationship to the standard sense of the word is unclear.

pipe one’s eye vb

to weep. This phrase is now almost obsolete, except in self-consciously fanciful speech. Although ‘pipe your eye’ has been interpreted as cockney rhyming slang for cry, the expression had been recorded as early as the beginning of the 19th century (before either cockney rhyming slang or the use of the word cry to mean weep were widespread). Connections have been drawn with plaintive, tear-provoking pipe music or the more prosaic image of waterworks,

but the precise origins of the term remain uncertain.

piper n American

a crack smoker. A term of the late 1980s. piss n

1.urine or an act of urination. An echoic word with cognates in other European languages (pisser is the French verb) which has been in use since the Middle English period. Its level of respectability has varied; originally it was a generally acceptable term, by the 18th century a vulgarism, and by the mid-19th century virtually taboo. Since the 1960s it has been possible to use the word in public, although pee is preferred in polite company.

2.British alcoholic drink. In this sense the term usually occurs in the phrase on the piss.

3.weak beer

4.nonsense

5.See take the piss (out of someone)

piss about/around vb

a vulgar version of ‘mess about’

piss all over (someone) vb

to thoroughly defeat, humiliate or overwhelm. The image is taken from the literal behaviour of animals or humans ritually signalling victory.

piss and wind n See all piss and wind

piss-ant, pissant adj American

trifling, paltry, insignificant. Although a fairly strong indicator of contempt or dismissal, this word is not treated as a taboo item in the same way as other compounds containing piss. The word is originally a rustic noun (also rendered ‘pissmire’) meaning an ant. The piss element refers to formic acid.

piss-artist n British

an habitual or accomplished heavy drinker, a drunkard. A term used sometimes with contempt, sometimes with admiration.

pissed adj

1. British drunk. This usage came into the language at some unrecorded date early in the 20th century. It presumably originally referred to the incontinence of a helpless inebriate, or else to the equation of alcohol itself with urine. This sense of the word is rare in American English, but was encountered e.g. in the 1980s parlance of East Coast sophisticates.

337

piss-up

‘If you look at all the slang words for ‘drunk’, you’d think we were permanently pissed.’

(Recorded, London student, February 2002)

2.American upset, angry, pissed-off

When I told him to go he got really pissed. I was pissed at her for making me go through all that grief.

pissed-off adj

angry, irritated, disappointed, upset. Like the verb to piss (someone) off, this usage emerged at the time of World War II.

‘Well … people who bought from our competitors are probably pretty pissed off. The plastic should be worn through just about now!’

(Record bootlegger, Oz magazine, February 1970)

piss-elegant adj American

smart, refined or fashionable. This (fairly mild) vulgarism implies either that the elegance in question is excessive or pretentious or simply that the speaker is envious or disapproving.

pisser n

1. something annoying or disappointing. Originally an Americanism, the term spread to Britain in the mid-1970s.

‘Living in a world where nothing boring ever happens is a real pisser.’

(The Young Ones, BBC TV comedy, 1982)

2. a toilet pisshead n

1.British a habitual drunkard, piss-artist

2.American an unpleasant person, shithead

pissing-match, pissing contest n American

a competitive display, especially a futile one. The term, inspired by the common male pastime of competing to urinate farthest or highest, is used typically to describe displays of masculine aggression or rivalry.

‘Look sister, I don’t want to get into a pissing contest with you, just tell me where the command bunker is.’

(Screamers, US film, 1996)

piss in someone’s pool vb American

a vulgar alternative to rain on someone’s parade

piss in the wind vb

to do something futile, make a doomed attempt. A vulgar version of such colloquialisms as ‘whistle in the wind/dark’.

piss it vb British

to succeed effortlessly. A term probably deriving from piece of piss: a ridiculously easy task.

‘They told Sophie the entrance exam would be a bugger, but she absolutely pissed it.’

(Recorded, personal assistant, London, 1989)

piss off vb

to leave, go away. This vulgarism was in use throughout the 20th century, particularly in British speech. The word piss has no specific significance, but adds intensity and often overtones of exasperation, both where used descriptively and as an instruction.

‘You got a couple of options: piss off out of town, or take him out, mate.’

(Blackjack, Australian TV crime drama, 2004)

piss (someone) off vb

to irritate, anger, annoy or provoke someone. This phrase entered the English slang lexicon around the time of World War II and was probably more prevalent in American speech than British until the 1970s.

It really pisses me off the way she just assumes I’m going to pick up the pieces.

piss on someone’s chips/sandwiches vb British

more vulgar synonyms for the American phrase rain on someone’s parade. The latter version was used by the standup comedian Jo Brand in 1994.

piss-poor adj

dreadfully bad. Piss is used here as an intensifying addition. The phrase was earlier used to mean destitute. Since the late 1970s it is in fairly widespread use, particularly in journalistic circles where it denotes ‘of miserable quality’, pitiful.

piss pot n

a chamber-pot, potty

piss-take n British

an act of mockery, parody. A common back-formation from the phrase to take the piss (out of someone).

piss-up n British

a drinking bout, drunken celebration. A vulgarism generally used neutrally or with cheerful overtones rather than disapprovingly.

‘Bob Bee, for Hawkhead Productions, has secured the ultimate television com-

pissy

338

mission: to organise a piss-up in a brewery.’

(Independent on Sunday, 1 April 1990)

pissy adj

insignificant, trivial, inferior

pistol n American

an attractive, active or powerful person. Used of and by both sexes as a term of admiration, the word need not have sexual connotations, but in modern usage often does.

Isn’t she a pistol? pit n

1.a bed. A popular word in the armed services since before World War II, now in general use.

2.any dirty, sordid or unpleasant place. A more recent alternative to dump, a synonym for tip.

See also pits, the; throttle pit

pitcher n British

a market trader who sells his or her wares by way of an ostentatious performance.

Compare lurker; rorter

pits, the n

an unpleasant, disgusting and/or unbearable place, situation or person; the worst place, situation or state of affairs imaginable. This Americanism has become widely used throughout the English-speaking world. It is, in origin, said to be a shortening of armpits.

‘You are the pits of the world!’

(John McEnroe characterising an umpire, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship, 1981)

‘This review has nothing to do with the world of mountaineering and in a sport where there is a wealth of first-rate literature, this “offering” can only be regarded as the pits.’

(Reader’s letter, Sunday Times Books supplement, October 1989)

pit stop n

a.a pause in a drinking bout in order to visit the toilet

b.a pause in a journey or other activity for alcoholic refreshment

Both senses are humorous adaptations of the pit stops made by racing drivers in order to undergo refuelling, a change of tyres or running repairs.

Placido n British

a £10 note or the amount of ten pounds, a pun on ‘tenner’ using the name of the

tenor Placido Domingo. Synonyms are

Pavarotti, Ayrton (Senna). plank n

1.British a dull-witted person, someone who is as ‘thick as two short planks’. The term was used by the late Princess Diana, referring to herself.

2.a solid-bodied electric guitar. A musician’s term of the 1980s; playing such a guitar is known as spanking the plank.

plant n American

marihuana. The term was recorded in 2001.

plastic adj

(usually of a person) artificial, shallow, insincere. A hippy buzzword of the 1960s, borrowed from beatnik usage to castigate the conformist and materialist world of the straights as well as the legions of ‘weekend’ hippy imitators. The word submerged during the 1970s, but by 1990 was back in use in British playground slang.

plat n Australian

a stupid person. The word’s origin is uncertain (Eric Partridge derives it from the French plat: flat), but the resemblance to prat may not be fortuitous.

plate vb

to perform fellatio. A term from the 1960s, now dated, which was part of the jargon of rock-music groupies. Conflicting etymologies cite the rhyming slang ‘plate of ham’ for gam (a synonym for fellatio), or simply the image of licking a plate.

plate-face n Australian

someone of Oriental origin. A derogatory racist term referring to the supposedly wide, flat, round faces of the Mongoloid racial type.

plates (of meat) n pl British

the feet. A well-known example of cockney rhyming slang which is actually still used, although almost always in the shortened form, by working-class Londoners.

I’ve got to sit down – I’ve been on me plates all day.

platter n

a phonograph record. The term dates back to the era of 78 r.p.m. records; it does not seem to have been transferred to apply to CDs.

player, playa n

a person who has multiple and simultaneous sexual partners, ‘a smooth talker

339

plop

who cheats, is stylish’. This vogue term, heard among younger speakers since 2000, probably derives from the notion of ‘playing around’ or ‘playing the field’. It probably originated in black US speech.

play footsie vb

a.to indulge in amorous or flirtatious caresses with the feet, typically covertly under a table

b.to flirt with or toy with in a general sense; often in the context of business and commercial relationships

play gooseberry vb British

to be the unwanted third person present at a romantic assignation, as a chaperone, uninvited guest or unwitting intruder. The expression dates from the 19th century: in the language of parents and children ‘gooseberry’ then, as now, denoted a buffoon or figure of fun, possibly from the supposedly comic appearance of the fruit or its sour taste.

play hardball vb American

to behave in a tough, unrelenting or uncompromising way. A phrase used for instance among business people, politicians, sportsmen, etc. from the 1960s, and now heard outside the United States. A metaphor taken from baseball, where a hard ball is used by professionals and a soft one by juniors and amateurs.

play hooky vb American

to play truant. Hooky (or ‘hookey’) is related to the cockney hook it: ‘to take to one’s heels’, escape.

playing away n British

indulging in extra-marital or illicit sex. The use of the phrase was particularly apposite when referring to sports celebrities such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Sven Goran Eriksson in 2004.

‘Unlucky in love, Kylie was furious last night after lover Olivier Martinez was caught playing away with Hollywood babe Michelle Rodriguez.’

(Daily Star, 29 July 2004)

play the arse vb British

a.to behave foolishly

b.to behave in a truculent, arsey manner

play the whale vb Australian

to vomit. The image is of a whale spouting.

pleb n

a plebeian, member of the lower classes. A fashionable term in Britain in the early 1960s when class-conscious- ness preceded ‘consciousness-expand- ing’ among the educated young.

plod, the plod n British

the police force or a uniformed policeman. From ‘P.C. Plod’, a character from the popular children’s stories featuring Noddy, written by Enid Blyton in the 1950s. The term additionally evokes a slow-witted, literal and figurative plodder in a civilian context.

plonk n British

1.wine, especially cheap wine. The word usually refers to red wine, although it was originally a corruption of vin blanc coined by British soldiers in France during World War I.

2.a woman police officer. An item of derogatory police slang (from plonker) recorded by the Evening Standard magazine, February 1993.

plonker n British

1. the penis. A term probably influenced by ‘plonk (down)’ in the sense of place down heavily or present defiantly. The word has been in use since early in the 20th century. It was rarely heard during the 1960s and 1970s but was revived during the 1980s vogue for ‘schoolboy’ vulgarity.

‘If she’s game and wants your plonker wear a Jiffi so you can bonk her.’

(Promotion slogan for Jiffi condoms, 1988)

2. a dickhead. Inspired by the previous 3sense of the word and by the suggestion in ‘plonk’ of ponderous or clumsy movement, this usage became a vogue term of the late 1980s.

‘You end up shouting at the people who care about yer, not to the plonkers who treat you like dirt.’

(EastEnders, British TV soap opera, 1989)

3.a gaffe or blunder

4.a kiss, particularly a heavy smacker

plook, pluke n Scottish

a spot or pimple on the skin, zit. The etymology of the word is obscure.

plop(s) n British

excreta. A humorous nursery term sometimes used facetiously by adults.

ploughed

340

ploughed, plowed adj American

drunk. One of many terms evoking an image of laid low, crushed or destroyed.

Blitzed, smashed, legless, etc. are others on this theme.

p.l.u. n British

‘people like us’. An old upper-class code term of approbation and social discrimination, still used occasionally.

I’m afraid they’re not really quite p.l.u.

plum n British

a foolish person. Synonyms are the less common pear and peach. The widespread term was recorded in use amongst junior schoolchildren in the 1980s and among teenage North London schoolboys in the 1990s.

plums n pl

the testicles. One of many examples of fruit as a sexual metaphor.

plunker n American a condom

po n British

a chamber-pot, potty, toilet. Now a dated nursery word, po was used by adults until the 1960s. The word is an imitation of the French pronunciation of pot (de chambre).

pocket billiards/pool n

(of a man) manipulation of one’s genitals through the trouser pockets. The first phrase is British, the second the American version.

pod n American

marihuana. A dated term derived from the seedheads found in herbal cannabis.

podger n British

an act of sexual intercourse. The humorous vulgarism was used, e.g., in the British TV comedy Absolutely Fabulous in 1991. It is perhaps influenced by roger and the many sexually related terms beginning with p-, or could be a hitherto unrecorded term for an erection based on the colloquial ‘podgy’.

a swift podger

pods n pl British

the testicles. This use of the word has been popularised by Viz comic.

pog n British

a synonym for chav recorded in 2004

pogie, pogey, pogy n American

the female sex organs. The word is probably derived from the obsolete ‘pogie’ or ‘pogue’, which denoted a male homosexual, hence sexual activity in general.

point percy at the porcelain vb

to urinate. An expression invented by Barry Humphries which, via the comic strip The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie, has passed into common currency in Britain as well as Australia. Percy is one of many common personifications of the male member.

pointy-head n American

an intellectual or person of excessive refinement. The expression has been used in the USA since the late 1960s by the self-consciously philistine or genuinely uncultured in expressing contempt for political or social pundits, artists, academics, etc.

poke n

1.an act of sexual intercourse. Poke shares this sexual sense with bang, boff, knock, etc., which are all synonyms for strike.

2.a punch, blow. A specialised sense of the standard English word poke meaning to prod (having the same meaning as the Middle Dutch poken).

polack n

a Polish person. The slang term, often pejorative in American usage, is, minus the e, the word for Pole in the Polish language.

polari n

a variant form of parlyaree widely used, e.g. on the Internet, since the 1990s. Palari is an alternative form.

polisher n

a toady, ingratiating person, obsequious flatterer. A London working-class term also briefly in vogue in the media in the early 1980s. It is a truncated form of the (originally American) apple-polisher (from the image of a schoolchild presenting an apple to a teacher in order to curry favour).

Polish fire drill n American

a chaotic situation, bungled operation, mess. A supposedly jocular expression heard in adult speech since the 1970s. (Polish may, in US slang, play the part that Irish or Egyptian have traditionally played in British racist jokes.)

polluted adj American

drunk. A probably ephemeral campus and preppie term.

polone, poloni n British

a woman, female. A near-obsolete term of theatrical and showman’s slang, dating from the 19th century. The word is an

341

pony up

example of non-Italian parlyaree, ultimately derived from beluñi, a Spanish gypsy term for an (immoral) woman.

See also omipolone

Pom n Australian

a native of Britain, especially an Englishman. The word is a shortening of the earlier term Pommy.

Pomgolia n

an alternative form of Pongolia

Pommy, Pommie n, adj Australian

(a person who is) British. The standard, and usually derogatory, slang term for natives of or immigrants from the British Isles, Pommy is probably a corruption of ‘pomegranate’, chanted as a humorous semi-rhyme for ‘immigrant’. The epithet has been in use since the first decade of the 20th century. The noun is now probably more common in the form Pom.

pom-pom n Jamaican

the vagina. The word was used in the lyrics to ragga music.

ponce n British

1. a pimp, procurer. This sense of the word was first recorded in the late 19th century.

2a. an ostentatious, effeminate male

2b. a parasite, ‘sponger’, idler

Ponce derives either from the standard English ‘pounce’, or possibly from the French pensionnaire, in the sense of a non-paying guest. In its first and literal sense, ponce is virtually standard English (used by the police force among others). The following senses are terms of contempt directed at individuals thought to be showy, smugly idle or parasitic.

ponce (off someone) vb British

to take advantage (of someone), borrow or cadge (from someone). A widespread usage derived from the noun.

Can I ponce a fag off you?

ponce around/about vb British

to behave in a showy and/or irresponsible manner. A usage based on the noun, ponce.

ponced-up adj British

smartly dressed or overdressed. From the noun ponce (a pimp, idler or showoff).

pond scum, pond life n

a contemptible, worthless person or people. Originating in American usage in the 1980s, this more colourful rendering of the colloquial ‘low-life’

became widespread in all Englishspeaking areas in the 1990s.

Compare bottom-feeder

pong1 vb, n British

(to) stink. The word is of uncertain origin but may derive from a similar Romany (gypsy) verb.

pong2 n Australian

an Oriental. A racist epithet, either based on Pongo, or imitating the sound of Oriental speech.

Pongo n

1.a black man, a coloured person, a foreigner. A patronisingly derogatory mid- dle-class term used, e.g., in publicschool and army speech.

2.an English person. An Australian and New Zealand slang term derived from the previous sense of the word.

Pongolia, Pomgolia n Australian and New Zealand

the UK, Britain. Jocular terms based on Pom and Pongo and punning on Mongolia (evoking the notion of a distant and barbaric country).

ponies, the n pl British

horses, in the context of horseracing and betting

I lost it all on the ponies. pony1 n

1.British the sum of £25 or, more recently, £25,000, in the jargon of the racetrack, underworld, market traders, etc. In its traditional sense the word was probably adopted to reflect the small size of a £25 bet

2.American a promiscuous female. Equivalent to the male player, it is probably from the euphemism/song lyric ‘ride the pony’.

pony2 adj British

of poor quality, disappointing, worthless. In this sense the word is a shortening of the rhyme ‘pony and trap’: crap.

‘If we don’t take our time, it risks being utterly pony.’

(Recorded, theatre director, London, July 2003)

pony up vb American

to pay. A synonym for ‘pay up’ or ‘fork out’, the phrase was first recorded in the early 19th century and was said to derive from the earlier British use of the Latin form pone, meaning put (money down or forward).

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