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Dictionary of Contemporary Slang, Third Edition; Tony Thorne (A & C Black, 2005)

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diddlo, didlo adj British

crazy, silly or unhinged, ‘daft’. An inoffensive Londoners’ word popularised by the ITV series Minder from the late 1970s.

‘Right bunch of diddlos, this lot!’

(Minder, British TV series, 1986)

diddly (squat) n American

nothing at all, or something very insignificant, petty or small. Diddly is a nursery term akin to tiddly. The word has been used by adults, alone or in conjunction with other nursery terms (squat, shit, ‘whoop’, ‘doo’, etc.) to express dismissive contempt. A variant form is doodly squat.

diddly-dum adj British

perfect, fine. A term used typically by students in the 1970s and 1980s, usually in phrases such as ‘everything’s (just) did- dly-dum’. The phrase resembled other mock-nursery inventions such as dinkydi and fair dinkum.

diddy1 n

1.British a fool. A lighthearted term of abuse, heard particularly in Scotland and the north of England.

2.British a didicoi

3.Irish the penis

diddy2 adj British

small, cute and appealing. A variant of diddly popularised by the Liverpool comedian, Ken Dodd.

didicoi, diddicoy, diddyguy, did n British a gypsy or a half-gypsy. The word derives from the Romany didakeis, meaning the offspring of a marriage between a full-blooded gypsy and an outsider. The word, which can be spelt in many ways, is often used in country districts to denote any type of gypsy or traveller.

‘There was this didicoi used to go down our snooker club – couldn’t sign his own name but he always had a roll of money on him.’

(Recorded, carpet fitter, London, 1989) diesel adj See smutty

diesel (dyke) n

a lesbian who behaves aggressively and/ or has a rough masculine appearance or heavy build. The word, which is pejorative and generally used by men, carries overtones of engineers, engines, trucks and other butch associations and perhaps also refers to the overalls, dungarees, etc. worn by some lesbians. The term originated in the USA but was heard

in Britain in the 1980s as a pejorative term and also as a simple descriptive phrase used by lesbians themselves.

dig vb

to understand, appreciate or enjoy. A word from the slang of American swing and jazz musicians which was adopted by the beat generation and thence by teenagers all over the English-speaking world. It is now almost always used ironically or facetiously (except in the question form, ‘you dig?’). The ultimate origin is perhaps a metaphorical or religious sense of dig (into), meaning ‘to apply oneself to (a task)’.

‘The Seventies were not a decade in which a young artist could kid himself his creative idealism could best be fulfilled grovelling in a muddy field digging Hendrix through a bad acid haze.’

(Platinum Logic, Tony Parsons, 1981)

digerati n pl

members of a suppose elite made up of the ‘digitally literate’. A cyber slang and journalistic term, based on the notion of the ‘literati’, heard since 2000.

Compare liggeratti

digger n Australian

an Australian. The word was used by gold prospectors in the latter half of the 19th century to address or describe one another. It was adopted by British, Canadian and American servicemen in the First World War. Aussie has largely replaced digger since the 1960s.

digits n pl

a phone number

Gimme your digits.

digs n pl British

excitement, thrills. A more recent synonym for kicks, used by adolescents during the later 1990s.

dike n

a variant spelling of dyke

dilbert n British

a foolish person. A teenage term of mild abuse from the late 1980s, it is probably a blend of dill and the (supposedly comical) Christian names ‘Gilbert’ or ‘Herbert’.

‘No I’m not – and definitely not with a dilbert like you.’

(Recorded, schoolgirl, London, 1989)

dildo n

1. an artificial penis. The word is approximately 200 years old and probably originates in diletto, Italian for (a) delight or



darling. Alternatively the term may simply be an invention.

2. a fool, an offensively stupid person. This sense of the word, popular among teenagers since the mid-1970s, may be an embellishment of dill as much as a derivative of dildo 1.

‘Oh, come on, he’s such a dildo!’

(Recorded, schoolboy, London, 1988)

dilemma n British

a fight. An item of black street-talk used especially by males, recorded in 2003. It often occurs in the form mad dilemma.

dill n

a fool, idiot, silly person. A word which has been recorded in Australia and the USA since at least the early 1950s, and in Britain since the mid-1970s when it was popular among schoolchildren. The word may be a shortening of ‘dill pickle’ (gherkins may also be the source of wally, used to describe a fool), or of ‘dilly’.

dillberries, dilberries n pl a variant of dingleberries

dimbo, dimmo n

an unintelligent or dull-witted person. These embellishments of ‘dim’ (also influenced by ‘dumb’, dumbo and bimbo) have been favourite words with British schoolchildren since the late 1970s.

‘He [Bruce Springsteen] is just dead popular with a lot of dimmos because of the unchallenging nature of what he does.’ (Alexei Sayle, Great Bus Journeys of the World, 1988)

dim bulb n American

a dimwit or dullard. The phrase evokes a low-wattage light bulb.

dime (someone) vb American

to inform on someone, betray to the police. A back-formation from dime dropper, used especially by prison inmates.

dime dropper n American

an informer. An underworld phrase derived from the ‘dime’ (ten cents) dropped into a payphone when calling the police.

dimlow, dinlow n British

a dim-witted, foolish person. A term of playground abuse of uncertain derivation.

dimmock n British

a dull-witted person. The use of the term, which is based on dim(mo) and terms such as lummock and pillock, predates the television fame of the busty female gardener Charlie Dimmock.

dimp n, vb British

a cigarette end which can be retrieved, typically from the street, and relit. The word, now part of the language of tramps, is also heard as a verb meaning to extinguish (for later smoking). The term seems to be an invention, possibly influenced by ‘crimp’ and ‘damp’.

dimstick n British

a stupid person. The word, used by younger teenagers in the 1990s, is a blend of dimbo and dip- or bam-stick.

din-dins n

dinner or another meal, food. A nursery word which, like many others (‘choochoo’, gee-gee, wee-wee, etc.), is used facetiously by teenagers and adults. The conversion of dinner into din-dins is by a familiar process known as reduplication.

ding1 adj British

execrable, inferior, unpleasant. The word was recorded in provincial English usage in 2004.

ding2 n

1.Australian an Italian person or person of Italian descent. The word, of obscure origin and usually pejorative, was also used in the 1940s and 1950s to refer to Greeks.

2.British a stupid person. In playground usage since the 1980s.

ding3 vb

1.to hit

2.to single out for a reprimand, rejection or for an onerous duty. This use of the word occurs in institutional life in both Britain and America, but its origin is obscure.

They dinged me. He was dinged.

3. to cancel a date (with someone). A variant form of dingo heard in 2005.

dingaling, ding-a-ling n

1.an eccentric, crazy or foolish person. A word which originated in the USA and was enthusiastically adopted by schoolchildren in Britain in the late 1960s.

2.the penis. This obscure nursery word was popularised by Chuck Berry’s hit song of 1972, ‘My Ding-a-Ling’.

dingbat n

1. an eccentric, crazy or foolish person. Originally this was an Australian word, probably derived from ‘dingbats’ as an adjective (an embellishment of the colloquial ‘bats’). The word is now popular in Britain and the USA.



‘In fact, editing and voice-over combine to ensure that the man never looks a real dingbat.’

(Independent, 23 December 1988)

2. Australian a Chinese person

3a. any unnamed or unnameable thing. This mainly American sense is influenced by the Dutch and German ding, meaning ‘thing’.

3b. a typographical symbol, a printers’ device. A specialised use of sense 1.

dingleberry n

1.a piece of dung or excrement clinging to hair or wool around the anus. This originally rural notion (applied to sheep and, by extension, to humans) has curiously given rise to a very large number of colourful terms throughout the Englishspeaking world. Others are dangleberries, dillberries, clinkers, winnets and wittens, bum tags, chuff-nuts, etc.

2.a crazy or eccentric person, a fool. Most commonly heard among American high-school and college students; it is inspired by the previous sense (although users may be unaware of the fact).

dingo1 n British

a stupid person. This schoolchildren’s word of the 1990s is an alteration of dimbo.

dingo2 vb British

to cancel (a date). The term was recorded among teenagers and university students in 2004.

dingo’s breakfast n Australian

a piss and a look around. A humorous coinage on the lines of Mexican breakfast or ‘pelican’s breakfast’.

dingus n

a thing, an obscure or unnamed object. Originally a South African and American version of ‘thingy’ or ‘thingummy’, it derives from the Dutch and German ding, meaning ‘thing’.

dink n

1.a silly person, fool or eccentric. The word has been used especially by children and young people in both Britain and America, although possibly coined separately in each.

2.a South-East Asian person. The racist term, probably an arbitrary alteration of chink, has been applied in Australia to people of Chinese origin and in the USA to Japanese and Vietnamese.

3.also dinky American one of a childless yuppie couple; an acronym for ‘double (or dual) income, no kids’, coined in New

York in 1986. Dink is an example of the American use of acronyms to describe social subgroups. This tendency, which produced WASP, JAP and, later, yuppies in the 1970s, became a vogue among New Yorkers in the mid-1980s. In spite of enthusiastic use by some journalists and imitation by their London counterparts, this term, like guppy, has achieved only limited currency.

‘Take Dink, for instance, which I always thought meant idiot. The other day I heard a girl refer to a yuppie couple as “dinks”.’

(Evening Standard, 22 January 1987)

4a. American the penis. A fairly rare teenage term.

4b. American nothing at all. In this sense the equivalent of dick.

dinkum adj Australian See fair dinkum dinky n

1.British a car, particularly a large, impressive car. Said self-deprecatingly or admiringly by nouveau-riche workingclass speakers and Sloane Rangers. Dinky Toys were a brand of miniature model cars popular among children in the 1950s and early 1960s.

2.a dink 3

‘I have had my year of being a dinky (double income, no kids) and I lost all my friends of any worth to it.’

(Richard Jobson, Sunday Times, 9 July 1989)

dinky-di adj

a.Australian the real thing (pronounced ‘dinkee-die’). Perhaps an embellishment of fair dinkum.

b.British perfect, fine (pronounced ‘din- kee-dee’; the spelling is arbitrary). A pseudo-nursery term like diddly-dum, probably invented by students.

Don’t worry, everything’s dinky-di.

dip n

1. a fool. This word, first heard in the 1970s, is either a back-formation from dippy or a short form of dipstick or dipshit.

‘All those people out there, they’re just complete dips.’

(Recorded, American teenager, London, 1988)

2.a pickpocket. A Victorian term, still in police and underworld use.

3.British an act of sex. The vulgarism usually refers to male sexual activity and was used, e.g., by the stand-up comedian Frank Skinner in stage monologues



in 1992. It is derived from the phrase dip one’s/the wick.

dip (out) vb American

to depart, leave. A vogue term from black street slang of the 1990s. The variant form ‘do the dip’ has also been recorded. A variety of euphemisms (like its contemporaries bail, book, jam and jet) for ‘run away’ are essential to the argot of gang members and their playground imitators.

dip one’s/the wick vb

(of a man) to have sex. A vulgar euphemism which is about a century old. ‘Wick’ is either a shortening of the rhyming slang Hampton Wick: prick, or a straightforward metaphor from candle wick. Originally British, the term is now used, albeit less commonly, in the USA and Australia.

dip out vb Australian to fail

dipping n

picking pockets. The term has been in use since the middle of the 19th century.

dippy adj

eccentric, silly or slightly deranged; daft. A British term now in use throughout the English-speaking world. It seems to be an invented word rather than a derivation.

dipshit n

a fool. This vulgarism is sometimes said to be a euphemism for a male homosexual or the male member (compare dungpuncher, etc.), but may simply be an elaboration of dip.

dipso n

an alcoholic or drunkard. A shortening of the term ‘dipsomaniac’ (from the Greek dipsa, meaning thirst).

dipstick n

a fool. The word is probably a euphemism for dipshit, but with less unpleasant overtones. It has been popularised by television series and films in both Britain and the USA since the early 1980s and is a favourite with teenagers.

dipsy n, adj American

1.(an) alcoholic or drunk. In this sense the word is based on ‘dipsomaniac’, as are dipso and ‘tipsy’.

2.(a person who is) foolish

dirtbag, dirtball n American

a despicable person. These terms of abuse, being strong but not obscene, are frequently heard in films and TV

programmes, such as the police series

Hill Street Blues.

‘All right dirtbags, I’ve had enough.’

(Psychopath in Beer, US film, 1985)

dirter n British

an all-purpose term of abuse popular among UK schoolchildren in 2003

dirty adj

1a. possessing or containing illicit drugs, a jargon term used by the police, customs officers and drug users

His suitcase came through dirty.

1b. British unsafe, illicit, hot. This general sense is employed typically by criminals and the police.

2.Australian annoyed, resentful. In this sense the word is often used in the phrase ‘to be dirty on (someone)’.

3.excellent. A vogue word in club culture since 2000 by analogy with bad, brutal, etc. Filthy is a synonym. ‘It refers to dance music considered so exciting it’s positively rude, as used by DJ Brandon Block’.

dirty old man n See D.O.M.

disco-biscuits n pl British

tablets of ecstasy. The nickname was in use from 1990 and provided the title for an anthology of drug-related writing published in London in 1997.

discombobulated adj

confused, discomfited or distracted. An invented pseudo-Latinate word, normally heard in the adjectival form. It dates from the 19th century when such portmanteau words were popular.

I’ve been feeling discombobulated since we got back.

discuss Uganda vb British

to have sex. A euphemism coined in the 1970s by the British satirical magazine Private Eye. It has become one of the magazine’s long-running jokes and is said to stem from a party at which a female journalist was alleged to have explained an upstairs sexual encounter by saying ‘We were discussing Uganda’. (Idi Amin’s regime was in the news at the time.) The term ‘Ugandan Affairs’ is also derived from this source.

dish1 n

1a. a very attractive woman. This appreciative term (though offensive to most modern women) is one of many that liken a woman to a tasty snack or meal. Unlike tart or crumpet, e.g., dish was introduced, or perhaps reintroduced (the metaphor



was not unknown in earlier times) into Britain from the USA in the 1930s.

1b. a very attractive man. Since the mid-

1960s the word has also been used of men by women and this usage may now be more common than the original.

‘And those photographs of Mustapha – he was so unattractive, and because you’d had him they said “what a dish”.’

(Kenneth Halliwell, quoted in Joe Orton’s diary, 2 May 1967)

2. American gossip. From the phrase dish the dirt.

‘Oh my, this is prime dish. I can’t wait to tell the girls.’

(Cheers, US TV comedy series, 1989)

dish2 vb

to defeat, destroy or ruin. The original sense of this British term of the 18th century was to swindle, deceive or make a fool of. The image behind the expression was probably that of ‘serving up’ something (or someone) that has been well and truly ‘processed’, exploited, etc.

dish the dirt vb American

to spread scandalous or malicious gossip. ‘Dish’ here is, of course, dish up in the sense of ‘serve’ to an eager audience.

dishy adj

very attractive, handsome or beautiful. The adjectival form of dish is currently more often used by women than men and is so common in Britain as to be a colloquialism rather than true slang.

diss vb

to scorn, snub, belittle. This vogue word of the late 1980s entered adolescent speech via the hip hop and rap subcultures originating in the USA. A typical ‘clipping’, like def, treach, etc., it is based on the verbs to dismiss, disapprove or disrespect [sic] (perhaps influenced by dish).

distress vb

to annoy (someone). A vogue use of the standard term, heard since 2000 and probably originating in black speech.

ditch vb British

to play truant, bunk off. The term has been used (intransitively) by schoolchildren since at least 2000. It may be a transferral of the older colloquial sense of ‘ditch’ meaning to abandon or dispose of. Mitch is a contemporary synonym.

ditsy, ditzy adj

silly, eccentric, twee or frivolous. An invented term, popular especially in the USA since the mid-1970s. The word, which is obviously influenced by ‘dizzy’, is generally applied to females.

ditz n

a silly, eccentric and/or frivolous person; someone who is ditzy. An Americanism picked up by some British speakers in the mid-1980s.

div n British

a person who is odd, stupid, weak or deviant in some way. This shortening of divvy has become popular among young people of all classes since the 1980s. Before that it was part of the lexicon of criminals, tramps, street-traders and workmen.

‘Him, he’s a bit of a div, isn’t he?’

(Recorded, student, London University, 1986)

dive n See take a dive/tumble/fall divebombing n British

1.attacking something with spray paints in order to cover it with graffiti. Since the late 1970s the term has been used by young graffiti artists or vandals.

2.picking up cigarette ends from the street (to relight and smoke). A term used by vagrants in the 1980s.

diving n American

picking pockets. An underworld term which is the equivalent of the British dipping.

divot n American

a toupée or hairpiece. The standard word, denoting a clod of earth and grass dug out by a golfing stroke, has become part of the adolescent lexicon of mockery (like its UK counterparts syrup (of figs), Irish, etc.) ‘Divot’ itself is an old Scottish word of unknown origin.

divvy adj British

odd, stupid, deviant, weak or pathetic. This term, of uncertain origin, has existed in the vocabulary of society’s ‘marginals’ since at least the late 1950s (it is unlikely to derive from deviant, but may be related to ‘daft’ or daffy, or even by a tortuous etymology from ‘divine’ in the sense of possessed). It has recently been revived as a vogue term by schoolchildren, although the short noun form div is more common. (Divvy itself has occasionally been recorded as a noun.)


do a number on

‘Who’s your friend with the glasses? ’E looks a bit divvy.’

(Recorded, street-gang member, London, 1967)

diz n American

a foolish, eccentric or disoriented individual. The term, in use among US teenagers in the 1990s, was probably a variant form of ditz or may be based upon ‘dizzy’.

dizzle n American

1.an unnamed or unnameable thing

Help me get rid of this dizzle.

2.the penis

She got a squint at his dizzle.

3.a friend

Yo, how’s it hangin’ my dizzle?

These usages, all recorded in 2003 and 2004, may involve words like deal, dong and dawg with the substitute syllables -iz- zle.

d.k. vb American

to snub someone or renege on something or to feign ignorance of someone or something. The letters (pronounced ‘dee-kay’) are an acronym of ‘don’t know’.

‘He d.k.’d me.’

(Wall Street, US film, 1988)

do1 vb

1. to have sex with. More a shorthand vulgarism than an evasive euphemism, the term was widely used in the USA from the late 1960s and since the 1990s has been popular among adolescents in Britain.

‘Debbie does Dallas’

(Title of 1970s US porno film)

‘Is she really doing that dreamboat in the sixth form?’

(Just Seventeen magazine, August 1996)

2. to kill. A term used by criminals and street-gang members and their fictional counterparts.

He didn’t say a goddam word, he just went and did her.

do2 n American

a hairstyle. This shortened form of hairdo originated in black slang. It is now also heard among younger British speakers.

do3, doo n

excrement. A nursery word used all over the English-speaking world, although in Britain the plural form dos is probably more common. The word in this sense is probably pre-World War II and derives from the Victorian notion of doing or performing one’s bodily functions dutifully.

do (drugs) vb

to take drugs. The term can apply to single instances or to habitual use. Originally an Americanism, it was adopted by British speakers in the hippy era.

‘Well the one [trip] that stopped me from doing acid forever was when I dropped seven tabs.’

(Zodiac Mindwarp, I-D magazine, November 1987)

D.O.A. adj

unconscious, inert. A facetious use of the American police and hospital jargon ‘dead on arrival’ to mean ‘dead to the world’, particularly after taking drugs or alcohol.

do a Bertie vb British

to turn Queen’s Evidence, to inform on one’s accomplices. A fairly rare piece of criminal jargon of uncertain origin. It is possibly from the Edwardian era, when turning King’s Evidence would have been joining ‘Bertie’s’ side, and seems to have existed before the days of Bertie Smalls, a 1970s criminal supergrass (a high-level informer).

do-able adj American

sexually attractive. This term, used to categorise a potential partner, was popular among female Californian highschool students in the 1990s and was featured in the 1994 US film Clueless.

‘There’s no getting round the style question. If you want to be “do-able”…you cannot afford to dress “random”.’ (Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine, 22 October 1995)

do a duck vb British

to escape, conceal oneself. A term that may originate from the colloquialism ‘ducking and diving’, or simply ‘ducking out of sight’. It was used by London criminals, including Johnny Bradbury, a member of the Richardson gang of 1960s notoriety.

do a job on (someone) vb

to deceive, thoroughly overwhelm, devastate someone. Originally an Americanism, this unspecific phrase is now in fairly widespread use in Britain and Australia.

do a number on (someone) vb

to cheat, frustrate, defeat, demoralise someone. Like the previous phrase, this expression, the precise meaning of which depends on its context, origi-

do a runner


nated in the USA and is now used elsewhere.

‘A talk that made it clear that Ari intended “to do a number on Bolker, he wanted to hurt the fellow, not do him in, but certainly to harm him in some way”.’

(Nigel Dempster, writing in the Sunday Times, 24 September 1989)

do a runner vb British

to escape, run away or disappear. A phrase from semi-criminal and subsequent working-class usage which has become a generally popular term since the early 1980s. It originally referred specifically to the practice of leaving a restaurant, bar, etc. without paying.

‘I decided to “do a runner”, i.e. to leg it out of the restaurant without paying the bill.’

(Great Bus Journeys of the World, Alexei Sayle, 1988)

dob, dob in, dob on vb Australian

to inform (on someone), tell tales. A schoolchildren’s term since the late 1970s which was previously, and still is, part of underworld terminology. ‘Dob’ was a British dialect word meaning something between drop and lob (it survives in the noun form in colloquial expressions such as ‘a dob of butter’). ‘Dob in’ has been introduced to British audiences via Australian soap operas of the 1980s.

‘I tell you what you do, dob her in to the governor.’

(Prisoner, Cell Block H, Australian TV series, 1982)

dock asthma n British

gasps of (usually feigned) surprise and disbelief by prisoners in the dock. A part of police and prison jargon since at least the 1950s.

docker n British

a partly smoked cigarette, put out for later relighting. This word, which is more common in the north of England than elsewhere, originates in ‘dock’, meaning to cut short, or the related archaic use of dock, meaning the ‘solid part of an animal’s tail’.

Doctor Feelgood n American

a doctor or other person who freely prescribes pleasurable drugs. The name has been used in several blues and soul songs since World War II, but probably pre-dates them as a black underworld term, where it had a more generalised meaning of someone who could provide

euphoria or comfort. It was later applied as a nickname, e.g. to Dr Max Jacobson, physician to President Kennedy, famous for his disbursement of amphetamines to New York high society.

doctors and nurses n

sexual activity or sex play. To ‘play (at) doctors and nurses’ is a humorous euphemism, sometimes used by adults, deriving from the children’s game which often involves sexual experimentation.

dodgy adj British

a.doubtful, suspect. A common term in British English and nowadays hardly slang. It arose in the later 19th century and derives from the sense of dodge as an artful or risky ruse. In the 1960s ‘dodgy!’ was the counterpart of ‘swinging!’ in the catchphrases of TV compère Norman Vaughan.

b.stolen, illegal. A narrower sense of dodgy 1a, common since the 1960s in such euphemisms as ‘dodgy gear/merchandise’.

doer n American

a perpetrator of a crime, suspected criminal. The term, a synonym of perp, is probably a shortening of ‘wrongdoer’ in police jargon.

dog1 n

1a. an ugly, unpleasant or unattractive woman or girl. This sense of the word was in common use in the USA from the 1950s. It was adopted by British speakers in the mid-1970s.

1b. American something unpleasant or worthless. Expressions in which ‘dog’ signifies distaste or contempt are almost all American in origin, presumably reflecting the cliché that the British are a nation of dog lovers. Nevertheless there are occasional instances of this sense in British English.

This car’s a dog!

1c. a company or share that performs badly on the stock exchange, a worthless piece of stock (these are also known as bow-wow stocks)

2.British a wig, toupée. The word usually implies a ragged, ill-fitting or generally unconvincing hairpiece. It has been in use among teenagers at least since the early 1970s.

3.a rogue, (likeable) reprobate. A 19thcentury usage, now a colloquialism usually surviving in the form ‘(you) old dog!’.

4.British a dog-end

5.See dogs



dog2 vb American

to abandon, reject, get rid of. The word in this sense has been used by teenagers and college students since the late 1980s.

‘Dog the dorm rules now!’

(A Different World, American TV series, 1987)

dog (and bone) n British

a telephone. An example of rhyming slang which is still used today. It is usually used of the appliance rather than the action.

Get on the dog to him and find out when he’s coming.

dog (it) vb British

to play truant. The term is heard particularly in the Scottish Lowlands and the north of England.

dog-and-boned adj British

stoned. A cannabis smoker’s term from the 1960s and early 1970s, now heard in the form doggo.

dog (someone) around vb American

a.to pester someone. An expression inspired by the same images as to ‘dog someone’s heels’.

b.to behave badly, cruelly, irresponsibly or unfaithfully, especially to one’s partner. This Americanism seems to have its origin in black street-talk of the late 1950s, perhaps inspired by the notion of an errant or ‘dirty dog’.

dog-ass adj American

worthless, inferior, bad. A vulgarism in use for instance among military personnel and college students since the 1950s.

dog-botherer n British

a humorous and meaningless term of abuse, inspired by God-botherer, but without the connotations of religious zeal, bestiality or indeed specific wrongdoing

dog-box n British

a mess, a confused situation. An item of middle-class family slang heard in the 1990s.

dog-end n British

a cigarette end. The word usually describes a stubbed-out butt, rather than a partly smoked cigarette put aside for later relighting (a dimp or docker). It has been in use since at least World War II.

dog-esse n American

an obnoxious and/or unattractive woman. A supposedly humorous synonym for bitch.

dogflop n American

a.excreta, usually but not necessarily from a dog

b.something worthless

The term is used facetiously or euphemistically.

(all) dogged-up adj

dressed smartly or extravagantly. The term is probably inspired by ‘decked out’ or ‘dolled up’, or by the expression dog’s dinner.

I don’t want to have to get all dogged-up just to go out to dinner.

dogger n British

a truant. The term is heard particularly in the Scottish Lowlands and the north of England, and derives from the earlier verb to dog (it).

doggett vb British

to scrounge. An arcane piece of London rhyming slang. Thomas Doggett, an actor, on the occasion of George I’s accession in 1715, endowed a prize for an annual race for Thames watermen between London Bridge and Chelsea. The prize for the race, which is still rowed, is a coat and badge, hence ‘Doggett’s Coat and Badge’: cadge. The word is also used as a noun to mean a scrounger.

‘He’s meeting me at the Hong Kong. He’s only trying to doggett a Chinese [meal].’

(Recorded, pensioner, Bristol, 1989) doggie-do/dos n

a.dog excrement

b.something worthless and/or repellent

Both meanings are used, generally facetiously, among adults, though the term originated as a nursery word.

doggie-fashion, doggy-fashion adv

(sexual intercourse) involving penetration from the rear

They like to do it doggy-fashion.

dogging n British

a (hetero)sexual practice whereby strangers meet at prearranged or well-known rendezvous such as car parks to have sex in situ. The term was popularised in 2003 when the footballer Stan Collymore admitted engaging in dogging. It derives from the notion that participants – or voyeurs who spy on them – pretend to be ‘walking the dog’.



doggo adj

1.American worthless, inferior, bad. A variation of dog-ass.

2.British intoxicated by marihuana. This unusual term derives from a now obsolete piece of rhyming slang dog-and- boned: stoned, perhaps reinforced by the immobility and furtiveness implied in the colloquial phrase to ‘lie doggo’.

dog it vb American

to perform badly, fail to do one’s best. A campus and high-school expression from the 1970s.

If you dog it again this time, you’re off the team.

dog out vb American to get (all) dogged-up


1. n pl

1a. the feet. Of obscure origin, this usage has persisted in British and American usage at least since World War II. It usually implies tired, sore feet.

‘Ooh, that feels better – my dogs are barking today!’

(Planes, Trains and Automobiles, US film, 1987)

1b. slippers, shoes or boots

1c. American trainers. An item of black street-talk that was included in so-called Ebonics, recognised as a legitimate language variety by school officials in Oakland, California, in late 1996.

2.n pl the dogs British greyhounds or greyhound racing

3.adj the dogs (something) excellent. A shortening of the dog’s bollocks.

dog’s bollocks, the n British

a superlative thing, situation, etc. This widespread vulgarism was given wider currency by its use in Viz comic from the early 1990s, and its first broadcast use in the TV comedy series Hale and Pace in 1997

dog’s breakfast n

a mess, a confused mixture. From the image of a mishmash of unappetising scraps. The expression (compare the roughly contemporaneous dog’s dinner) is commonly applied to a misconceived or botched plan or display. The phrase dates from the 1930s.

‘My God, he made a real dog’s breakfast of that presentation.’

(Recorded, publisher, London, 1986)

dog’s breath, dogsbreath n

a repellent, contemptible or unpleasant person. A term of abuse popular in the 1980s, probably because it is colourful without being obscene; another factor in its spread is its usage in TV shows, particularly by the cult character Mick Belker in the US TV police series Hill Street Blues. It originated in American teen usage in the late 1970s.

See also dog1 1b

dog’s dangly bits, the n, adj British

the best, exceptional. It is a version of the dog’s bollocks.

dog’s dinner n

a.an extravagant display, especially a vulgar, misguided or unsuccessful attempt at smartness. The expression, which dates from the late 1920s, usually forms part of a phrase such as ‘all done up like a dog’s dinner’.

b.a mess. In this negative sense dog’s breakfast is currently more fashionable.

do-hickey n American

a.an unspecified thing, thingummy

b.a spot, pimple or skin blemish. Hickey alone is a common teenage term for a spot or lovebite; the prefix is an embellishment.

c.the penis. A children’s term that is probably a specific application of dohickey a.

doink vb

1.to hit

2.to have sex. The term is a variant form of bonk and boink.

do it vb

to have sex. An evasive or coy euphemism used by children, those too embarrassed to be more explicit or, often, facetiously by adults.

do-it fluid n American

alcoholic liquor. An item of black streettalk which was included in so-called Ebonics, recognised as a legitimate language variety by school officials in Oakland, California, in late 1996.

dole-bludger n Australian

a person who claims unemployment pay which they are not entitled to, a ‘dole scrounger’. This common term is sometimes extended to encompass any idle or shiftless person.

‘Newspapers are always whingeing about the dole bludgers.’

(Girls’ Night Out, Kathy Lette, 1989)


done up

doley, dolie n Australian

someone who is on the dole (drawing unemployment pay)

doll n

a woman. A fairly dated Americanism adopted into British working-class usage in the 1950s and again in the 1970s, since which time it may also be used by women of men. The word has condescending or proprietorial overtones when used by teenagers.

doll city n American

a. a beautiful person (of either sex but implying idealised cuteness, femininity or passivity)

Wow, check the new boy out – doll city! b. a pleasant situation or attractive idea. The expression is often an exclamation of approval.

Paris in the fall – doll city!

Both instances of the phrase typically occur in adolescent speech.

dollface n American

an attractive or cute person. A term of affection used especially by women to men.

dolls n pl American

pills of amphetamine or barbiturate drugs. A term adopted by middle-class users of (often prescribed) drugs. The word was popularised (and probably invented) by the author Jacqueline Susann in her sensationalist novel The Valley of the Dolls in 1965. The inspiration for the term is presumably the fact that the pills and capsules are colourful and comforting.

dollsome adj American

attractive. The term typically refers to a male and was popularised by its use in the US TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997.

dolly adj British

excellent, attractive, cute. A vogue word of the mid-1960s, enshrined in the title of Adam Diment’s fashionable novel The Dolly Dolly Spy. The word passed from camp theatrical and homosexual use to general currency for a year or so. It survives in middle-class speech as an ironic or scathing synonym for ‘twee’.

dolly bird n British

an attractive girl. This expression, which would now appear hopelessly dated and offensive to many women, briefly epitomised the ideal gamine of the midto late 1960s. The word was

used only fleetingly by the fashionable young themselves before becoming a journalistic cliché.

dolly-mixtures n pl British

pictures. Often used by criminals and police officers to describe mugshots, crime-scene photographs, etc., the rhyming slang expression refers to sweets popular among children since the 1950s. As an example of the jargon of cat burglars, the phrase was cited in FHM magazine in April 1996.

D.O.M. n

a ‘dirty old man’. A middle-class and Sloane Ranger version of the colloquial expression, D.O.M. is applied, usually by females, to anyone male and lecherous regardless of age.

do me something! exclamation British

a phrase used by teenage gangs as a provocation or invitation to fight. A synonym is what to go? Both phrases are often followed by ‘then?!’ The term was recorded in use among North London schoolboys in 1993 and 1994.

don1 adj

excellent, fashionable, admirable. A vogue term of approbation which originated in American usage in the early 1990s and by 1995 had been adopted for fashionable speech by British and Australian adolescents. It may derive from ‘the Don’ in the sense of a powerful or exceptional individual.

don2, the Don n British

a.a pre-eminent, successful or admirable person

b.an excellent thing, the best

Both senses derive from the use of the word to refer to a criminal boss, originally from the title of a Spanish gentleman.

don3 vb British

to steal, defraud. In this sense the term was used by London schoolchildren in the early 1990s. Its derivation is uncertain. One user defined it as ‘a rip-off’ and claimed it as a deformation of con.

Donald Duck, Donald n

a fuck. A piece of rhyming slang, based on the cartoon character, that is heard in Australian and British English. It was popularised by the UK TV black comedy

The Estate Agents in 2002.

done up adj British

an alternative form of fitted up or stitched up

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