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Dictionary of Contemporary Slang

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but controlled movement to the lavatory.

troub, troubs n British See trub

trouble (and strife) n British

a wife. A piece of cockney rhyming slang which is still in (mainly jocular, ironic or self-conscious) use; it is now generally shortened simply to ‘trouble’ by Londoners.

trough vb British

to eat. A humorous middleand upperclass verb evoking (but not necessarily involving) gluttony.

trounced adj British

drunk. One of many synonyms in use among students since 2000.

trouser1 vb British

to pocket something. A humorous alternative term from the 1980s.

‘Strobes then insisted on accompanying Chancellor to the prize-giving in Milan, and trousered the cheque himself.’

(Private Eye magazine, 17 March 1989)

trouser2 n British

a generic term for males as sex objects. A 1980s women’s version of ‘(a bit of) skirt’, satirising the ‘predatory’ male expression.

trouser bandit n British

a male homosexual. A humorous, though pejorative, euphemism, evoking the image of a predatory or promiscuous gay male. ‘Bum bandit’ and arse bandit are alternative versions.

trouser chuff n British

a fart. A mock-childish term used by adolescents in the 1980s and popularised in the best-selling Viz comic.

‘Johnny Fartpants’ “trouser chuffs” always get him into meddlesome scrapes – losing his pocket money or causing the San Francisco earthquake of 1906…’

(Time Out magazine, December 1988)

trouser snake n

1.the penis. A young person’s joky euphemism adopted by adults; the full version is one-eyed trouser snake.

2.a disreputable or reprehensible person. This sense of the expression was typically used in the 1980s by American girls as a term of disapproval applied to males, emphasising the treachery inspired by ‘snake’ rather than the sexual aspect of the image.

trout n See old trout

trouting n British See out trouting

trout-pout n British

the result of lip-enlargement injections. The term was given wide circulation by media comments on the TV actress Lesley Ash’s cosmetic enhancement in 2001.

trub n British

trouble. A shortening used typically in middle-class badinage.

We’ve been in a spot of trub recently. trucking n See keep on trucking

true-say, true-dat exclamation indications of agreement, acceptance, approval. From black speech used in e.g. street-gang code and its imitations.

‘True-say, but what can you do about it? Nothing!’

(Recorded, contributor to www.wass- up.com, November 2003)

trump vb British

to fart. The term, popular since the late 1990s, is based on the noun trumpet.

trumpet n British

1. a fart. A children’s word which enjoyed a vogue in the late 1980s.

‘Lucy did a trumpet.’

(Recorded, 10-year-old boy, Devon, 1986)

2. a telephone. A rare synonym of trombone, the blower, etc.

trunk1 n

1.American the backside. By analogy with the trunk (UK: boot) of a car. The term has been popular since 2000, sometimes in the phrase ‘junk in the trunk’, i.e. a ‘packed’ or very prominent posterior.

2.also trunker or trunky the penis. By analogy with either the trunk of a tree or an elephant’s trunk.

Man, I slammed my trunk into her. He gave her a trunky.

trunk2 vb

to have sex (with), penetrate. Derived from the noun form, the usage was recorded in 2004.

He claims he trunked her.

trust1 n British

money. The slang usage, possibly from trust-fund, has been in vogue since around 2000.

trust2 vb British to lend (money)

Trust me a Pavarotti, will you?



tsotsi n South African

1.the South African patois as spoken in Cape Town and Johannesburg, especially by black speakers. The language is a combination of English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Sotho.

2.a stylish black male, a young gangster

T.T.F.O. phrase British

an item of doctor’s slang, as written facetiously on a patient’s medical notes. The letters stand for ‘told to fuck off’.

tub n

1a. a boat

‘Can’t this tub go any faster?’ (Friday 13th part VI, US film, 1986)

1b. a car, truck, bus, etc.

2. a ‘tub of lard’; a fat person. A widespread colloquialism.

tube n

1.the Tube the London Underground railway system, from the tubular construction of the tunnels. This nickname dates from the turn of the 20th century.

2.the hollow formed by a breaking wave. A surfer’s term from which the term of approbation, tubular, is derived.

3.Australian a can of beer. (Tinnie is a slightly later synonym.)

‘Alex Buzo, who is minder of the Australian language among his other activities, records that it is 20 years since he last heard beers referred to as tubes.’

(Observer magazine, 13 December 1987)

4.the tube television, from the cathode ray tube

5.British a person. A vogue word among teenagers in the late 1980s; it was a synonym for dude, although it sometimes had the added sense of someone foolish or gormless.

tube it vb American

to fail an examination, test, task, etc. This common campus expression is based on the colloquialism ‘down the tubes’ in the sense of lost or ruined

tube steak n American

the penis. A euphemism heard in hip circles in the 1980s, from black street usage of the 1970s. It was originally a jocular term for a frankfurter sausage.

tubular adj

an all-purpose term of teenage approbation, deriving from riding the tube as being the highest form of surfing experience. Like many 1960s surfing terms this

expression (often intensified as ‘totally tubular’) was adopted by Valley Girls in the later 1970s and subsequently became a vogue usage in international English in the 1980s.

tuchis n American See tush

tuck, tucker n

food. The first version of the word is typical of British public-school vocabulary, the second Australian. Both date from the 19th century and probably derive from the verb to ‘tuck in(to)’, which originally implied the humorous notion of tucking food surreptitiously into oneself or behind one’s clothing.

tucked up adj British

1. imprisoned, incarcerated. A homely euphemism for a grim reality in the tradition of London working-class usages.

‘Adjusting back to normal society is not easy when you’ve been tucked up for a bit.’

(Recorded, ex-prisoner, London, 1986)

2. cheated, duped. A London workingclass usage paralleling the more widespread stitch (someone) up.

tuckered (out) adj

exhausted. This is originally an American term deriving from an archaic sense of the verb ‘tuck’, signifying rebuke or reproach. (In Old English tuck also had the sense of to ill-treat.) Now, as heard in such phrases as ‘plumb tuckered out’, the word has folksy overtones.

tuck-tuck n British

a ‘break’ at school, from the old schoolboy use of tuck to mean food

tuck (someone) up vb British

a.to defeat, capture

b.to confound, dupe

This all-purpose phrase is in London work- ing-class usage, particularly amongst criminals and the police. The image is that of putting a helpless child to bed.

tud, tut n British

rubbish. The word was used by clubbers and some teenagers in 2000. It may be a dialect term in origin but its etymology is unclear.

a load of old tud It’s no tud.

tude n American

(a bad) attitude; a surly, defiant or negative disposition. A short form of the type (i.e. the burbs, nabe, perp, tard) fashionable in adolescent circles in the late 1970s



and 1980s and, more recently, in (often facetious) journalese usage.

tug n British

1. an arrest or detention of a suspect (in the jargon of the underworld or police officers), a collar

’E won’t be expecting a tug at that time of night.

2. an act of manual sexual stimulation of a male, usually by a female. A less common synonym of hand-job in use particularly in Australian speech in the 1990s.

tukus n American See tush tumble n

1.an act of sexual intercourse. This fairly inoffensive expression is often elaborated to ‘tumble in the hay’.

2.British an attempt, try. In workingclass usage ‘give it a tumble’ is the equivalent of ‘give it a whirl’ (the Australian expression is ‘give it a burl’).

3.arrest, capture or detention. In criminal and police parlance in both Britain and the USA the word is used in these senses by analogy with a fall suffered by a racehorse or sports contender.

4.See take a dive/tumble/fall

tummy banana n

the penis. A nursery expression adopted, or perhaps invented for jocular use, by adults. The phrase was first heard in middle-class circles in the early 1970s.

tuna n American

1a. a girl or woman. Users of the term, who include teenagers and preppies, are often unaware of its origins in the senses which follow.

1b. sexual activity

1c. the female sex organs

The use of the seafood metaphor (popular in the USA long before it was readily available in Britain) as a euphemism for femininity or femaleness is inspired by the piscine quality of the female sexual odour.

2. marihuana. The reason for this usage is unclear; it may simply be a transference of the idea of tuna as a delicacy or staple food.

tuneage n American

music. A mock-pompous coinage using the -age suffix and recorded among college students in the mid-1990s.

tune in vb

to attune to one’s environment, achieve harmony with one’s peer group, the

counterculture and/or the cosmos. This hipster and beatnik term became part of the catchphrase slogan of the hippy movement; ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’. Unlike the other two verbs, tune in was not itself adopted into mainstream colloquial speech.

tuntun n American

the vagina. The word is used by hip hop aficionados and students. Its origins are obscure, but it may be a form of tuna 1. Toont is a variant form.

tup vb British

to have sex (with). The country persons’ term for the copulation of a ram with a ewe (from the Middle English word for ram, tupe) is, by extension, used vulgarly of humans.

turbo-crush n British

an infatuation. ‘Turbo-’ here is used as an intensifier in the same way as the contemporary and more common ‘mega-’. ‘To have a turbo-crush on someone’ was a vogue expression among younger British adolescents in the mid-1990s.

turd n

1.a piece of excrement. A descendant of the Anglo-Saxon word tord, the term was freely used until about the 17th century, by which time it was being avoided in polite speech and writing. It is still considered vulgar by many speakers, although, when referring e.g. to dog droppings, it is now sometimes used even in broadcasts.

2.an unpleasant and/or despicable person. In this sense the word has the same connotation of obnoxiousness as its literal and figurative synonym, shit.

turd burglar n British

a male homosexual. One of several jocular but hostile phrases of the 1980s (such as fudgepacker and brownie-hound), used by heterosexuals to suggest the faecal aspects of sodomy.

turf1 n

a street gang or street drug dealer’s territory

‘In fact he’s a lookout, a lookout for cops and strangers, for other dealers stealing “turf”.’

(Guardian, 5 September 1989)

turf2 vb British

to throw away, rid oneself of (something or someone). A slang form of the collo-



quial ‘turf out’, used by e.g. medical personnel.

If you don’t want it, just turf it.

He thought he was going to be there for ever but he got turfed after a couple of days.

turistas, the turistas, touristas n American

an attack of diarrhoea. Turista is Spanish (or Mexican) for tourist.

turkey-neck n American

the penis. From the supposed resemblance.

‘When your mother’s crying at the funeral, I’m gonna goose her with my turkey-neck.’

(Barfly, US film, 1987)

turn a trick vb

to service a (prostitute’s) client. The phrase, evoking a neat execution of a deception, stratagem or performance, has been in use since the early years of the 20th century.

See also trick1 1a

turned-on adj

1. aware, hip or liberated. A term of approbation of the 1960s, deriving from the notion of being ‘turned-on’ by a mood-altering drug. Switched-on was a British alternative form.

2a. sexually aroused. A slang phrase of the 1950s which has become a common colloquialism.

2b. stimulated, fascinated. A generalisation of the previous sense of the term.

turned out adj American

sodomised, sexually brutalised, forcibly converted to homosexual practices

US prisoners’ jargon recorded in the 2002 TV documentary Dark Secrets.

turn-off n

a depressing, deflating, disappointing or unexciting experience. The phrase was coined by analogy with its opposite, turnon.

‘It’s really nice that you want to be well groomed, but you get hair in the food. Hair in the food is a turn-off, Joan, sweetie.’

(The Serial, Cyra McFadden, 1976)

‘I find all that sort of thing [male bodybuilding] a complete turn-off.’

(Recorded, female social worker, London, 1987)

turn on vb

a. to take a drug. The term first referred to hard narcotics, but was later applied to

cannabis and LSD. It was originally based on the notion of stimulus at the throw of a switch.

b. to allow oneself to experience a heightened or more liberated reality. One of the three ‘commandments’ of the alternative society of the late 1960s; ‘turn on, tune in, drop out’.

‘Within a year the league [for Spiritual Discovery] will have a million members who will turn on with LSD every seven days.’

(Timothy Leary, Sunday Times colour supplement, 1 January 1967)

turn-on n

a. a drug, specifically a user’s drug of choice

What’s your turn-on?

b. anything arousing or exciting, a sexual stimulus. A back-formation from turnedon.

I love shoes – patent leather stilettos are a real turn-on.

turn (someone) over vb British

a.to cheat, rob

I never thought my best mate would turn me over.

b.to attack, beat up

c.to raid and/or search premises

All three sub-senses are in working-class use, particularly in London. The first two have been heard since the 1950s, the third from the mid-19th century.

turtle n

a.a passive sexual partner, especially one willing to offer oral or anal sex. The term is in use among prisoners, criminals, etc., and is often applied to male prisoners who offer sexual favours in return for tobacco, etc.

b.a woman regarded as a sex object

‘Lesley Morris, 23, said sailors called the WRENS sluts, slags, splits and turtles.’

(Daily Mirror, 4 February 1997)

turtles n pl

gloves. An item of rhyming slang (from ‘turtle doves’). This example of the jargon of cat burglars was recorded in FHM magazine in April 1996.

tush, tushie n American

the buttocks, backside. These are inoffensive terms used in the family and elsewhere. They derive from the Yiddish tochis, also written tokus, tukus or tuchis, which in turn derives from the Hebrew tokheth.



tut n British

a version of tud

tutti-frutti, tootie-fruitie n

an effeminate, frivolous or ridiculous male. This slang use of the name of the Italian ice cream dish (vanilla with pieces of glacé fruit) originated in the USA where fruit denotes a gay male. (Tutti frutti is Italian for ‘all fruits’.)

T.V. n

transvestism or a transvestite

twang vb British

(of a female) to masturbate. The term was used by UK students in 2000.

twang (the wire) vb

to masturbate. This word, used only of men, was originally an Australianism with rural overtones.

twanger n American the penis

twannie n British

a stupid, obnoxious person. The term is a combination of twat and pranny.

twat1, twot n British

1.the vagina. A word first recorded in the 17th century. The etymology is obscure but it probably derives from a rural dialect term.

2.a foolish or obnoxious person. The word has had this sense (firstly in London slang) since the late 19th century. Until the early to mid-1960s the word was in widespread use in this context, often amongst schoolchildren and some adults who were unaware of its provenance (and probably thought it an intensive form of twit).

‘What kind of creature bore you/was it some kind of bat?/they can’t find a good word for you/but I can/twat.’

(A love story in reverse, poem by John Cooper Clarke, 1978)

twat2 vb British to hit, beat up

‘The drummer went to help and he got twatted as well.’

(Fresh Pop, Channel 4 TV, 17 December 1996)

twatted adj British




Originally meaning ‘struck’ or ‘cuffed’, the term has been extended to cover other senses of ‘damaged’. Cunted is a more offensive version.

tweak vb American

1.to suffer physical symptoms of drug withdrawal. This 1980s term evokes the irritation and spasmodic nature of druginduced distress, as well as recalling words such as ‘twitch’ and ‘weak’.

2.to adjust or fine-tune. A piece of jargon applied to motor mechanics and computers, for instance.

tweaked adj American

eccentric, deranged. An adolescent vogue term of the 1990s.

twerp, twirp n

an insignificant, silly and/or obnoxious person. An invented word which appeared in the 1930s and gained widespread currency in the 1950s.

‘My stuff is outrageously conceived and devastatingly realised.

Oh do shut up you boring little twerp!’

(Biff cartoon, 1986)

twig1 vb British

to understand, ‘catch on’. A formerly raffish term which, since the late 1960s, has become a fairly common colloquialism. This usage has been recorded since the 18th century and derives either from ‘tweak’ in the sense of snatch or grasp or from a Gaelic verb meaning to comprehend.

twig2 n See drop off the twig

twig and berries n American

the male genitals. An expression used on campus in the USA since around 2000.

twillie, twilly n British

a foolish, clumsy or stupid person. An adolescent term in use since the early 1970s. It is a blend of ‘twit’ and ‘silly’.

a complete twillie

twimp n American

a foolish and/or insignificant individual. A high-school term of mild abuse from the late 1980s, blending ‘twit’, twerp and wimp.

twimpoid, twimpo n British

a silly, foolish person. These teenage and pre-teenage vogue terms of disapproval or insult from the 1990s are British versions of the American twimp.

twinkie, twinky, twink n American

1a. a male homosexual or effete, fey or eccentric man

1b. a cute, attractive person

Both senses of the words derive from the trademark snack food Twinkies, a sort of cupcake. The word has echoes of ‘twinkle-



toes’, ‘twinkling’ and ‘Tinkerbelle’. Twink is sometimes used as a (usually male) nickname in Britain for someone with sparkle or vim.

2. a $20 bill. An item of black street-talk which was included in so-called Ebonics, recognised as a legitimate language variety by school officials in Oakland, California, in late 1996.

twirl n British

a prison officer. An item of prisoners’ jargon recorded in the 1990s. ‘Twirl’ in the sense of a (skeleton) key is an archaic piece of underworld argot dating back to the 19th century.

twirp n

an alternative spelling of twerp

twist n American

a girl or attractive young woman. This term, used typically by underworld or working-class speakers, is a rare example of American rhyming slang, from ‘twist and twirl’: girl.

‘M-m-m – goodlooking twist!’

(Panic on the 5.22, US film, 1974)

twisted adj American

intoxicated by drink or drugs. An expression used on campus in the USA since around 2000.

twister n American

a person with supposedly perverted sexual taste or preferences

twitch n British See get a twitch on two and eight n British

a.a fit of agitation

‘What with coming home to find the place burgled, then all these bills arriving, I was in a right two and eight.’

(Recorded, middle-aged woman, London, 1988)

b.a dishevelled, disorganised or grotesque person

Look at ’er, she’s a right two and eight.

Both senses of the term are London work- ing-class rhyming slang for a state.

two-bit adj American

cheap, penny-pinching, worthless. This Americanism of the mid-19th century is now occasionally used even in countries where ‘two bits’ does not signify 25 cents (a ‘bit’ is one-eighth of a dollar).

twoccer, twocker n British

a joy-rider, car-thief. This term of criminal slang comes from the offence recorded on charge sheets as ‘taken without owner’s consent’, and refers to the culture of hotting which grew up in workingclass areas in the 1990s.

twonk n British

a foolish and/or unpleasant person. A term of abuse employed by adolescent males around 2000.

two-pot screamer n Australian

a person more than usually unable to cope with the effects of strong drink. A term of disapproval used by hearty males in particular.

‘Hi! My husband’s pissed again – he’s always been a two-pot screamer.’

(The Wonderful World of Barry McKenzie, Barry Humphries and Nicholas Garland, cartoon strip in Private Eye magazine, 1968)

two stops short of Dagenham adj British deranged, eccentric. A pun recorded in 2002, Dagenham in East London is ‘two stops short of Barking’ on the underground line.

I tell you, she’s two stops short of Dagenham, that one!

Compare Upton Park

twot n British

an alternative spelling of twat


U.B.I. n British

‘unexplained beer injury’. An item of jocular medical shorthand, as supposedly written on a patient’s notes.

See also N.F.N.

Uganda n See discuss Uganda

uggers adj British

ugly. A term popular with adolescents since the late 1990s using the longestablished familiarizing suffix -ers.

ugly pills, ugly stick n

an imagined source of repellent physical characteristics, manners or behaviour. The words usually form part of a sardonic speculation that the person in question has been ‘taking ugly pills’ or has been ‘hit with the ugly stick’. An alternative suggestion is that the person has ‘fallen out of the ugly tree’.

u-ie n

a U-turn. The expression is used by skateboarders as well as drivers, usually in the form ‘do a u-ie’ or ‘hang a u-ie’.

See also hang a louie; hang a ralph uncle1 n

1.British a pawnbroker. A use of the word which arose in the 18th century, referring (probably ironically) to the moneylender’s avuncular assistance. The term was still heard in London in the 1950s and may survive. From the 1980s it was heard in the British TV soap opera


2.American a cry of concession. To ‘say uncle’ or ‘cry uncle’ is to surrender or admit defeat, in playground games for instance. The reason for this choice of word is obscure.

3.American the law-enforcement establishment when seen as benevolent, protective or rewarding by crooks

All three main senses of the word derive from the notion of an uncle as a potential protector or provider of funds (in the third

case perhaps reinforced by ‘Uncle Sam’). There are many other examples of this, for instance in theatrical jargon where the word equates with ‘angel’.

uncle2, Uncle Dick adj British

sick. One of many rhyming-slang expressions using ‘uncle’ and a convenient rhyming Christian name.

‘You look a bit uncle to me.’

(Minder, British TV series, 1984)

Uncle Mac n British

heroin. London drug-users’ rhyming slang for smack. ‘Uncle Mac’ was a presenter of children’s radio programmes from the 1930s to the 1960s. This sinister borrowing dates from the late 1970s.

uncool adj

unacceptably or unfashionably intrusive, assertive, dull, reckless, conventional, etc. A generic negative complement to the all-purpose term of approbation, cool

‘Weekend hippies and the like who think “what a groovy joy-ride” and are very, very uncool.’

(International Times, April 1968) underarm adj British

a.underhand, dodgy

b.illegal, illicit

The use of underarm in these senses stems from the literal sense of passing or carrying something concealed under the arm, reinforced by the supposed offensive nature of the armpit. (‘Under the arm’ is an archaic expression, once used by vagrants and marginals and meaning bad or inferior.)

underchunders n pl Australian

male or female underpants. A humorous vulgarism which employs chunder (vomit) as a rhyme, rather than for sense (unless the original image was of a sickening item of clothing).

undercrackers n pl British male or female underpants



‘The problem with Carole Caplin…is not…that she may or may not have an inside track on the PM’s undercrackers.’

(Guardian, 9 March 2004)

underdaks n pl Australian

male underpants. The Australian equivalent of the north of England expression underkecks, from daks, the trade name of a popular brand of casual trousers.

underground n, adj, adv

(belonging to) the ‘alternative society’ or counterculture, as opposed to bourgeois society. A term from the 1960s adopted from the wartime usage when applied to clandestine resistance movements. (The term ‘underground railroad’ was earlier used for the system of sympathizers/safe houses by which escaped slaves were taken from the southern states to the North before emancipation.)

under heavy manners adj, adv

in a state of oppression. A phrase from the counterculture patois of Jamaica which became known in Britain and elsewhere due to its use by reggae musicians in the early 1970s.

underkecks n pl British

male underpants. An extension of the (mainly northern English) use of kecks to mean trousers.

underware n

personal files in a computing system. A piece of jargon in use among computer specialists in the mid-1990s.

undie-grundie n American

the grabbing and twisting of a victim’s underwear. A form of jocular attack used by school and college students in the US.

unforch adv British

unfortunately. Described in 2003 by a London student as ‘used by muppets who mean unfortunately’.

Compare obv

unglued adj

an alternative version of untied

unhip adj

unaware, culturally and/or socially out-of- touch, unfashionable. The opposite of hip. The word has rarely been heard since the early 1970s, except among the remnants of the ‘counterculture’.

unit n

a. the genitals. An unromantic 1970s and 1980s term used by the self-consciously

liberated or promiscuous to refer to the (usually male) sex organs.

b. a potential or actual sexual partner or conquest. A cold-blooded piece of sin- gles-bar jargon from the midto late 1970s, similar in usage and connotation to the more common item.

‘Would ya look at that li’l unit in hotpants, though!’

(R Crumb cartoon, Head Comix, 1970)

units n pl American

an abbreviated form of parental units unload vb

a.to defecate

b.to fart

A vulgarism which is heard all over the English-speaking world but which is particularly popular in Australia.

unmentionables n pl


b.the genitals

A mock-Victorian euphemism for taboo personal items. The expression was used fairly seriously in the early 1900s; since at least World War II the usage has invariably been facetious.

unplugged adj British

behaving naturally and unself-con- sciously rather than boisterously, particularly towards a partner or friend. This sense of the word, heard among adolescents in the later 1990s and usually referring to male behaviour, is inspired by the use of the term to describe rock and pop musicians performing informal and relaxed acoustic sets as opposed to more contrived electrified stage shows.

unravelled adj

an alternative version of untied unreal adj

a.unbelievably good, excellent

b.outrageous, excessive or unreasonable in behaviour

Both usages are from the jargon of teenagers, firstly (since the 1960s) in the USA and later elsewhere in the English-speak- ing world. The expression in fact originated in the beatnik era when unreal was an exclamation of hallucinated delight or admiration.

unt-cay n American

the vagina. An item of pig Latin based on cunt.

unthinkables n pl British


b.the genitals



‘She left her door open and I got a glimpse of her unthinkables.’

(Recorded, male university student, London, 1988)

A students’ facetious mock-Victorian euphemism coined in imitation of the earlier unmentionables.

untidy adj Australian

drunk. A humorous euphemism.

untied adj

in disarray, confused. Often occurring in the phrase come untied, the expression has recently been heard less often than its synonyms unglued and unravelled.

untogether adj

disorganised, confused, diffuse. This popular hippy-era term more often than not refers to the personality or mood of someone who is not in equilibrium emotionally, intellectually or psychically. It postdates its opposite, together. Untogether is now rarely heard, but survives in the sociolect of those reaching adolescence in the late 1960s.

up adj

1.American ‘dried’, having forgotten one’s lines. A theatrical term of uncertain origin.

2.exhilarated or intoxicated, high

up against the wall exclamation

a shout of rage, defiance or menace. This Americanism, chanted on anti-war or Black Power demonstrations in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and invariably followed by the epithet motherfucker, was intended to evoke the righteous rage of a revolutionary mob about to summarily execute their oppressors, and to parody the police instruction when ‘spreading’ a suspect or captive.

upchuck vb

to vomit. A humorous reversal of chuck up (itself based on ‘throw up’), this expression surfaced in the USA in the 1920s and, having spread to British and Australian speech, has enjoyed a limited currency ever since.

up each other/one another adj, adv Australian

engaged in mutual flattery, ‘in cahoots’. The image is that of mutual sodomy, colourfully suggesting an unhealthy or illegally close relationship (often in a political or business context).

Compare up oneself

upfront adj

bold, assertive, open, straightforward, trustworthy. The word is usually used approvingly of someone acting honestly or without guile.

uphill gardener n British

a male homosexual. The term is one of many pejorative synonyms (stabber, fudge-nudger, rear-gunner, etc.) denoting ‘active’ or ‘predatory’ homosexuality, heard since the 1990s.

(all) up in someone’s grill adj American See grill2 a

up on blocks adj, adv British menstruating. The expression, used typically by males since 2000, borrows the image of a car which is temporarily out of operation and immobilised in a garage. The reference is to a female who is unavailable for e.g. sex during her period.

up oneself adj Australian

self-satisfied, smug, high-handed. A vulgar version of ‘full of oneself’, evoking auto-sodomy. Now also heard in the UK.

‘They’re all up themselves, that lot.’

(Referring to members of a university department, teacher, Melbourne, 1988)

‘Anyone who thinks their signature is worth £175 is getting up himself.’

(Guardian, 2 March 2004)

Compare up each other/one another

uppers n pl

stimulant drugs such as amphetamines (i.e. pep pills, speed) and cocaine, as opposed to downers (barbiturates and sedatives)

He acts as if he’s on uppers.

uppie, uppy adj British

exhilarating, exciting, powerful. A term from the lexicon of rave and dancefloor culture in the northwest of England in the late 1990s.

uppy adj

aggressive, assertive. The term, often used in the phrase ‘getting uppy’, is heard throughout the English-speaking world but particularly in Lowlands Scottish speech.

up shit creek adj

in serious trouble. Shit creek was a 19th-century nickname (probably coined by British or American sailors) for any stagnant or dangerous backwater or river. The expression is often embellished to ‘up shit creek without a



paddle’, sometimes with the addition of ‘in a barbed wire canoe’. ‘Up the creek’ is a less offensive version.

up the duff adj British

pregnant. A working-class synonym of up the poke/pole/spout/stick, here employing the long-established British metaphor of pudding. Duff is an old-fashioned boiled or steamed pudding; the word is a dialect version of ‘dough’. It has an allpurpose sexual sense (encompassing gratification, the penis, semen or a woman and baby).

up the guts adj Australian and South African

pregnant. A vulgar version of up the duff.

up the poke/pole/spout/stick adj British pregnant. These expressions are in mainly working-class use. They are all vulgar, simultaneously evoking the male and female sex organs and the idea of a baby being lodged or jammed. They can describe either the act of conception, as in ‘he’s put her up the stick’, or the condition of being pregnant, as in ‘she’s up the stick again’.

uptight adj

1. tense, repressed, humourless, unrelaxed. A black slang term which is probably in origin a short form of ‘wound-up tight’ or ‘screwed-up tight’. The term was adopted into the hippy vocabulary to express the unliberated, repressed characteristics of straight society, particularly the authority figures thereof. Since the early 1970s uptight has passed into (mainly middle-class) colloquial usage, although by the late 1980s it had begun to sound rather dated.

‘The cops? Oh, just about as uptight and corrupt as in Britain.’

(Terry Reid interviewed in Oz magazine, February 1979)

2. American satisfactory, in good order. In black American street-talk the expression retains a second, rare and positive connotation, possibly deriving from ‘locked-up tight’, meaning fixed, settled,

under control or, alternatively and more probably, from a sexual sense of being ‘coupled’ or ‘snuggled-up tight’.

‘It’s uptight, everything is all right/Uptight, it’s out of sight.’

(Chorus lyric from ‘Uptight’ by Stevie Wonder, 1963)

Upton Park adj British

(slightly) crazy. The jocular expression is based on the fact that Upton Park underground station is ‘two stops short of Barking’.

Compare two stops short of Dagenham

up to one’s pots adj British

drunk. An expression in use among the gay theatrical community since the 1960s.

urban surfing n

riding on the outside of a moving car, bus, train, etc. A dangerous fad of the later 1980s among adolescents, first in the USA and later elsewhere

Uri (Geller) n British

(a drink of) Stella Artois lager, playing on the name of the famous illusionist. David (Mellor), Paul (Weller) and Nelson (Mandela) are synonyms, all popular with students since the late 1990s.

u.s. adj British

useless. Mainly used by middleand upper-class speakers, the term can apply to objects or people.

‘This female razor thing is absolutely u.s.’

(Recorded, female, Bath, 1986)

user adj

a habitual drug user, especially referring to a heroin addict

using adj

addicted to heroin or habituated to another hard drug. A euphemism employed by law enforcers and drug abusers.

Looks like she’s using again.

u.v.s n pl American

ultra-violet rays, sunshine. A preppie and Valley Girl usage found in phrases such as ‘catch/cop/grab/soak up some u.v.s’.

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