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xmag.com : December 2001: Prison Slang

It's common knowledge that many Exotic staffers have had a less-than-amicable relationship with law enforcement. Neither would it come as a surprise if many Exotic readers turned out to be felons...or were well on their way to becoming felons. Therefore, as a public service, we are providing this handy glossary for our many friends and associates who pass through the System's revolving doors.


ALL SUCKED-UP--Two meanings: 1. Scrawny, as in, "I had no access to weightlifting equipment during my 71Ž2 months in county jail; thus, I was all sucked-up when I arrived in prison." 2. Mopey and offended, as in, "Todd acted all sucked-up when Darryl made sport of him in front of other inmates."

BEEF--A criminal charge. For instance, a "skin beef" is a sex crime, while a "bum beef" is a false charge.

BUST A GRAPE--Become violent.

CELL WARRIOR--Someone who loudly runs his neck while safely locked in his cell but is a coward once the cell door pops open.

DICK MITTENS--The condition of one's hands when one neglects to wash them after urinating.

FREAK--Specifically, a sex offender. More generally, anyone who's a little unusual and doesn't fit the convict mold. More than once while watching Seinfeld in the day room, I've heard cons comment, "That Kramer sure is a freak!"

FREAK BONE--A tendency toward kinkiness, usually described using a length of measurement, as in, "Perry may act like a solid, stand-up convict, but he's got a freak bone a mile long."

GETTIN' MY {BLANK} ON--Doing something. For instance, "Gettin' my smoke on" means "smoking," and "Gettin' my jack on" means "masturbating."

GRILLE--Collectively, one's teeth, as in, "I'll punch your grille out."

GRIP--Noun, meaning "a lot," as in, "Waheed was sentenced to a grip of time."

GRUNION--A tiny amount, as in, "Hector had only a grunion of tobacco--not even enough for a cigarette."

HEART CHECK!--I dare ya!

HE'S A SOLID PECKERWOOD--That white male is a fine, dependable fellow.

I ALREADY KNOW--A nod of assent roughly meaning "I hear you" and used with startling frequency among cons.

I GOT JIGS--I'll watch for guards while you commit that infraction.

INMATE/CONVICT--An inmate is helpful to guards and is genuinely thankful for this chance at rehabilitation; a convict has tattoos on his neck and chooses colorful names for himself such as "Snake" and "Jericho."

JACKET--A reputation for having a particular belief or being disposed toward a certain practice. A jacket is placed on you by others and may or may not be deserved, but once it's on you, it's hard to remove. For instance, a white male with a shaved head may have a "racist jacket," and an old man thought to be a child molester may be forced to wear a "chomo jacket."

JUICE CARD--Ability to influence events in prison, either with guards or inmates, as in, "I used my juice card to get moved to a cell in a quieter area."

KEISTER--Verb, meaning "To insert an item of contraband into one's rectum for smuggling purposes." Also known as "takin' it to the hoop" and "puttin' it in the safe."

KICK ROCKS, SCRUB!--Fuck off, loser! Synonyms for "scrub": "lop," "lame," and "truck."

MACKIN'--Talking tough.


NOW WHAT?--A taunt offered after a rhetorical comeback; it's a much more aggressive version of "the ball's now in your corner." For instance, one might say, "Oh, yeah? Well, you wuz so ugly as a kid, your parents had to tie a pork chop around your neck so the dog would play with you. Now what?"

ON MY SKIN--A secular version of "I swear to God," usually accompanied by tapping the fingers of one hand onto the wrist of another hand. It is a prisoner's oath.

PETER-GAZER--One who stares at peni in the shower ­ A.K.A. a pecker-checker or a shower shark.

PLEXIN'--Worrying, stressing out.


PRESSURIZE--Verb, meaning "to coerce."

PRUNO--Alcoholic beverage made from fermented chow-hall fruit, sugar, water, and yeast.

PUT SOME WATER ON IT!--The fact that you've failed to make a courtesy flush means that an unpleasant aroma is wafting from your cell to mine, so please rectify this situation.

RAPO/CHOMO--Rapist/child molester.

ROAD DOG--One's best friend in prison, as well as the one on whom you could most depend for backup in a fight.

ROLLIN'!--Fuck! Here comes a guard now!

RUNNIN' YOUR NECK--Bullshitting; mackin' without anything to back it up.

S.A.--Acronym for "Spanish-American" used by both S.A.s and non-S.A.s alike. Emphasis is on the "S"; it's pronounced exactly like "essay."

SANCHO--The man who fucks your wife or girlfriend while you're in prison.

SCREAMIN'--Adjective used to describe a particularly delicious chow-hall item, as in, "That barbecued chicken we had for lunch was screamin'."

SHIT--Verb which universally replaces the verb
"to fart," as in, "Who shit all over themselves?"

SNIPES--Soggy, unsmoked ends of hand-rolled

SOMEONE JUST DID A DRIVE-BY--Someone silently broke wind while walking past us, leaving us to experience the after-effects.

STARFISH--One's anus.

STRAIGHT YOKED--Muscular; antonym to meaning (1.) of "all sucked-up."

THAT'S A COLD SHOT--What he/they did to you was very cruel and uncaring.

THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' 'BOUT--A sort of emphatic statement somewhat equivalent to "Right on!" Black inmates often use it after a particularly spectacular slam-dunk on TV.

THE FELLAS--The in-crowd; the group of convicts whom you can trust.

THEM--Universal replacement for "they" and "those," as in, "Them are some cool-lookin' sneakers."


YOU GOT LOVE--Your sentence/judicial decision was light and favorable to you.

YOU PUT ME ON FRONT STREET--You unintentionally ratted me out.


Illustration by Jim Blanchard




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