Glossary of prison slang


Ad-Seg Administrative segregation. When a prisoner is placed on Ad-seg he is being investigated and will go to the hole until the investigation is complete. See Segregation.

Beef Criminal charges. As, "I caught a burglary beef this time around." Can also be used to mean problem. "I have a beef with that guy."

Big yard Main recreation yard.

Bit Prison sentence, usually relatively short. "I got a three-year bit." Oppose jolt.

Bitch, bitched(v). To be sentenced as a "habitual offender."

Blocks Cellhouses.

Books Administratively controlled account ledger which lists each prisoner's account balance.

Bone Yard The visiting trailers, used for overnight visits of wives and/or families.

Bum Beef A false accusation. Also, a wrongful conviction.

Care Package Food or clothing sent from a friend.

Catch a ride To ask a friend with drugs to get you high. "Hey man, can I catch a ride?"

Cell soldier A person who talks tough when the cells are locked.

The Chain The bus transports that bring prisoners to prison. One is shackled and chained when transported. As, "I've been riding the chain," or "I just got in on the chain," or "Is there anyone we know on the chain?"

Check-in Someone who has submitted to pressure, intimidation, debts, etc., and no longer feels secure in population and "checks in" to a Protective Custody (PC) unit.

Chi-mo Child-molester, "chester," "baby-raper," "short-eyes," (as, "he has short-eyes," meaning he goes after young kids). The worst of the rapo class in the eyes of convicts.

Contract A written agreement between a prisoner and Administration which allows a prisoner to be released from a Detention Unit with probation-like stipulations.

Convict Guys who know the score, guys with a little something to them, guys with pride, guys that count in the scheme of things--guys that live up to the convict code, who aren't stool-pidgeons (informants), who are loyal to the code, whose word is good, who won't play false with other convicts. Oppose inmate.

Cross-roader A traveling thief, moves around a lot working on his hustles. Travels from town to town, city to city, working his "game" (his hustle).

C.U.S. Custody Unit Supervisor/Cellhouse supervisor. De-Seg Disciplinary Segregation. When a person is on De-seg he is in the "hole" for an infraction. Ding A disrespectful term for a mentally deranged prisoner.

Dry snitching To inform on someone indirectly by talking loud or performing suspicious actions when officers are in the area.

Dummy Up, Get on the dummy To shut up, to pipe down, to be quiet, especially about one's knowledge of a crime.

E.P.R.D. Earliest possible release date.

Fish A new arrival, a first-timer, a bumpkin, not wise to prison life.

Gate Money The paltry sum the state gives a prisoner upon his release, towards his starting a new life in the free world.

Gate Time At most joints they holler "gate time" meaning one can get in or out of their cell. See lock up Greener As, "he's a greener," or "He's green as grass."

A bumpkin, a lop, one who's untutored in thievery or scams, a dummy.

Hacks/Hogs/Pigs/Snouts/Screws/Cops/Bulls The guards, called "Correctional Officers" by themselves and inmates.

Heat Wave Being under constant suspicion, thereby bringing attention to those around you.

Hit it Go away, leave, get lost.

Hold your mud Not tell, even under pressure of punishment.

The Hole An isolation ("segregation") cell, used as punishment for the most paltry of offenses as well as serious offenses.

House Cell.

Hustle A professional criminal's avocation. Pickpocketing, burglary, and safe-cracking (now rare) are all hustles. Also refers to any scheme to obtain money or drugs while in prison.

I.K. Inmate Kitchen.

I.M.U. Intensive Management Unit, meaning ad seg or the hole. A euphemism that the prison regime uses to call the hole something that sounds nice. It's double speak guards and administrators use to make something primitive and ugly sound nice and professional.

Industry area As, "out in the industry area"--the area, usually in the back part of prisons, where you can find various maintenance shops such as laundry, electric, carpentry, and the small industries that go on in prisons.

Inmate Derogatory term for prisoners. Used by guards and administrators, or other inmates who are fish (first-timers and new arrivals who don't know the lingo yet)--or kiss-asses, "lops," fools, dingbats, and assorted other goofball inmates. Oppose convict.

In the car In on the "deal."

Iron Pile Weight, weightlifting equipment.

Jacket Prison file containing all information on a prisoner. "He's a child molester, it's in his jacket." Also reputation. Prisoners can put false jackets on other prisoners to discredit them.

Jolt A long sentence, as "I got a life jolt." Oppose bit.

Jumping-Out Turning to crime, as "I've been jumping out since I was a kid," or "I jumped out as soon as I got sprung on my last beef".

Keister To hide something in the anal cavity. To "Keister" (pronounced Keester) something, as in, "I've got the dope stashed in the keister" or "suitcase".

Kite A request for services within the joint, i.e. request for dental or medical services, request to see sundry prison personnel (guards or administrators). In a broad sense, any written correspondence.

Lag A convict, as in, "He's an old lag, been at it all his life."

Lame Stupid or naive.

Lay-in Appointment. "I have a lay-in to the barber shop."

Lifer Anyone with a life sentence or anyone doing "all day", meaning forever - a life jolt.

Live or Memorex Live-- To have. Memorex-- Don't have. Not really considered prison slang by old school convicts; it's used by guys trying to be cool or hip.

Lock-down When prisoners are confined to their cells.

Lock-up Free movement period for prisoners. See also gate time.

Lop See inmate.

Main Line Main population of the prison. Can also be used to refer to intravenous drug use.

Med-line Medication line, or pill-line.

Mule A person who smuggles drugs into the institution.

N.G. "No Good," as "He's N.G." (meaning he's a rat, or a bumbler, he talks too much). Old School Reference to the way prisons used to be, particularly more respect given to fellow prisoners, less informing, less horseplay. "he's an old school convict," meaning stand up or raised right.

On (e.g.) one Alert given by prisoners with respect to which tier a guard is on. You holler out, "cops on one" (tier one) or two, or whichever tier. Alerts the guys on that tier to be careful.

On the leg A prisoner who is always chatting with and befriending guards.

On your lips Very high on drugs or alcohol. Used by lops to sound hip.

Paper A small quantity of drugs packaged for selling.

P.C. Protective Custody. Also as in "He's a PC case", meaning weak or untrustworthy.

Pepsi Generation Newer, younger prisoners, who lack respect for Old School ways.

Plex Originated from "complex", as in "Don't 'plex' up on me." Used to connote extreme reactions that go overboard, and aren't warranted by the situation.

Point/Outfit Syringe.

Pruno Homemade wine.

Punk Derogatory term meaning homosexual or weak individual.

Rapo Anyone with a sex crime--generally looked down on by convicts.

Rat/Snitch/Stool Pidgeon n., informant. v., to inform.

Rounder A hustler, a thief, one who's been around the block. As "He's an old rounder who's cut a few corners in life."

Sallyport Security area where guards enter the institution.

Scam A well-planned scheme. As, "he's a scammer," or "He works some good scams." Meaning a thief's hustle, his game.

Scan call Monitored telephone call.

Score The loot from a crime, as "I got a good score out of that place."

Segregation A disciplinary unit, used for minor and major offenses, where prisoners are kept apart from the main population and denied most all privileges.

Send-out To send money off your books, for drugs, a wager, curio purchase, etc. or any joint transaction where you got to pay a guy for something.

Shake-down Search.

Shank Homemade knife.

Shit watch A person who is suspected of hiding drugs in his anus will be placed on a shit watch.

Short An prisoner who is close to his release date.

Slammed "He's slammed down," meaning locked in the hole or ad seg

Sprung Getting out of jail or prison, as "The attorney sprung me on it," or "I did a 3-spot (three year sentence) and got sprung on that beef."

Square John A "square," doesn't know the ropes, a sucker, as "he's as square as a shoebox," or "he's as square as a box of Wenatchee apples." Also a working stiff, a law-abiding citizen, as "He's a square john, works a shift in a sawmill."

State issue Anything provided by the state. Stash To hide something. Can also be used to refer to drugs.

Stand Point Watch for "the man" (guard).

Stick Marijuana cigarette. Also called a joint, thin one, hooter, reefer, etc.

Store Commissary. Where a prisoner may purchase food, health, or welfare items.

Street to street A form of payment for a drug deal where a prisoner's (outside) people send money to another prisoner's people.

Tag/Write-up Infraction of institution rules.

Tailor made Factory rolled cigarettes.

The bag/sack Dope.

Tom or George Meaning "no good," (Tom) or "okay" (George). This is used in conversation to indicate if something or someone is all right or not all right. Also used in sign language, stroking an imaginary beard is the "George" sign (named after King George, who wore a beard), meaning it's okay (to 'make a move', that no one is watching, that the coast is clear), or the "Tom" sign, meaning it or he is not any good, indicated by tweaking the nose or tugging at the ear lobe.

Turned out Generally means to be cajoled or forced into homosexual acts. But one could also turn out a guard - turn him to "pack" (pack drugs) for you. So, to "turn out" is to use someone for your own ends.

U.A. Urinalysis (Piss Test).

White money Currency within the institution.

Wolf ticket To speak aggressively to someone without intending to back it up with violence. "He's selling wolf tickets", meaning he's barking but not going to bite. Also used as street slang.

Workline When cells are opened so prisoners can report to work.

Yard-in Command given to return to your cell. Closing of the recreation yard.

Yard-out Recreation yard opens.

Rhyming Slang

English and Australian rhyming slang is still common in U.S. prisons. Along with other prison languages such as Agini, Cezarney, and Elephant, it is used to keep the uninitiated in the dark while conversing.

Barclay Hunt
Bees and Honey
Bonney Fair
Bottles and Stoppers
Coppers (guards or cops - any policemen).
Brace and Bits
Briney Marlin
Brothers and Sisters
Butcher's Hook
Take a Look.
Chalk Farms
Cheese and Kisses
The Mrs.
Chip and Chase (also Boatrace)
Darby Kelly
Dickey Dirt
A shirt.
Elephant's Trunk
Erie Canal
Ear. As, "he's on the Erie Canal," meaning he's listening in.
Fiddle and Flute
A suit.
Fields of Wheat
The street.
Fine and Dandy
Fleas and Ants
Gay and Frisky
God Forbid
A kid.
Goose and Duck
Hammer and Tack
Hampton Heath
Hank and Frank
A bank.
Hit and Miss
Piss (urine).
Ike and Mike
The spike, rig, outfit, or point, a hypodermic needle and syringe.
I Suppose
Jack & Jills
Jimmy Britt
Shit (feces).
Joe Goss
The boss.
Joe McGinn
Lady from Bristol
Lean and Lingers
Lean and Lurch
Lump o' Lead
Mary Blain
Mince Pies
Moan and Groan
Mop and pail
Yer legs.
North and South
Oh my Dear
Ones and Twos
Oscar Hocks
Plates of Meat
Push and Pull
A bull (guard or any other policeman).
Rosy Bump
Rumble and Jar
Shovel and Broom
Sky Rocket
Storm and Strife
The wife.
Swinging Door
This and That
A hat.
Twist & Twirl