The following is a list of prison talk / slang terms that have been frequently mentioned in books, interviews, documentaries, news articles, and reports by correctional officials. If you know of any prison talk or slang terms not in this list, feel free to contribute in the discussion are below.
Ace : Another word for “dollar”
Ad-Seg : Administrative segregation.
Baboot : Inhaling heroin through a makeshift tube. (UK)
Back Door : Slang for a corrections officer who smuggles in contraband substances in exchange for monetary payment
Back Door Parole : To die in prison. i.e. he got the back door parole
Bacons : Child molesters.
Bag Head : Heroin addict (UK).
Bang : A fight to the death, or shoot to kill.
Base-head : Refers to a cocaine addict
Beast : Sex offender
B.G. : “Baby gangster,” or someone who has never shot another person.
Big yard : Main recreation yard.
Bingo : Riot!
Bit : Prison sentence, usually relatively short. “I got a three-year bit.”
Bitch, bitched : 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.
Blob : Crips slang term for Blood members.
Boned out : Chickened out.
Booty Bandits :Incarcerated sexual predators who prey on weaker inmates, called “punks.”
Box Cars : Two consecutive life terms (30-year sentences) (or 25 year sentences before parole eligibility in Canada).
Breakdown : Shotgun.
Break it off : Hand over your money.
Bubba-Bus : prison slang for a trip to a employment agency or recruiting agency for ex-convicts
Bucket : Another term for the “county jail.”
Bug : Correctional staff member, such as a psychiatrist, who is deemed untrustworthy or unreliable. Inmates are cautious of “bugs” and will seldom ever mention other inmates to them.
Bug Juice : Term referring to depressant drugs, deleriants, or intoxicants.
Building Tenders : Inmates that were selected by guards to assist correctional staff. Tenders were meant to maintain order among the inmate population. Such people were also called “inmate guards.”
Bumpin’ titties : Fighting.
Bungee-Jumping : Hanging one’s self
Bush : Prison Talk for ambush someone.
Busted a cap : Shot at another person.
Buster : Fraudulent gang member
Cadillac : Inmate dorm bed or single bunk.
Cantones : Gang term for prisons
Carnal : Term meaning “Brother,” especially for Raza Unida
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?”
Catch cold : To get killed.
Cell soldier : A person who talks tough when the cells are locked.
The Chain : The bus transports that bring prisoners to prison.
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.
Charco : Texas Syndicate term for Corpus Christi, Texas.
Chingasos : Hispanic gang term for Fighting. Spanish for “Hard hits.”
Chiva : Prison or gang term for Heroin.
Chocolate Frog : Informant
Chomo (or Cho-Mo) : Child molester
Chota : Police officers, or prison guards
Chuco : Texas Syndicate term for El Paso, Texas.
Click up : Gang term referring to getting along well with a homeboy, not looking for trouble.
Crank : Crank is one of the many street words for methamphetamine. “Cranking up,” however, is a term sometimes used in prison to refer to the administration of a substance by hypodermic needle. The hypodermic needle itself is sometimes called a “spike.”
Croaker : A doctor or physician, someone who diagnoses illness.
Daddies : Incarcerated sexual predators who prey on weaker inmates, called “punks.”
Dancing on the blacktop : Getting stabbed.
Deuce : Prison slang for “two dollars.” Also the name of a mainly-youth Aboriginal prison gang, Deuce, operating in the Canadian Prairies.
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.
Diddler : Another term for child molester or pedophile.
Dissociation : Prison slang for “solitary confinement.”
Doing the Dutch : Prison term for committing suicide.
The Eagle Has Landed : Heroin has been successfully smuggled into prison.
E.P.R.D. : Earliest possible release date.
Fence : Prison slang that refers to someone who buys and sells stolen goods
Fish : A new arrival, a first-timer, a bumpkin, not wise to prison life.
Flip-Flopping : Engaging in homosexual acts with other prisoners
Gaming : Prison slang for trying to manipulate the system in one’s favour.
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 getin 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.
Ghost-Train : Prison slang referring to the act of repeatedly transferring a “problem-inmate” from facility-to-facility or unit-to-uint as a security precaution.
Grandma’s : Gang headquarters.
Green Light : Prison gang term for a contract killing, or “hit.”
Hacks/Hogs/Pigs/Snouts/Screws/Cops/Bulls : The guards, called “Correctional Officers” by themselves and inmates.
Half a Yard : Prison slang for “fifty dollars.”
Hamburger : Prison slang for a 10 year sentence. A “Hamburger with fries” refers to a 20-year sentence.
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.
Hooking Up : Prison term for developing a protective, sexual relationship with another inmate, providing some resistance to the threat of being victimized by continuing rapes with more inmates. These may appear as consenting homosexual relationships to staff, but the “inmate code” often prevents prisoners from telling the truth, or “crying wolf” about their “protectors.”
Horseman : Prison slang for a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Officer
Hound : Sex offender
I.K. : Inmate Kitchen.
I.M.U. : Intensive Management Unit, meaning ad seg or the hole.
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”.
Jed-Eye : Derogatory term for anyone who lives across the river Mersey (UK).
Jewellery : Slang term for an ankle bracelet or some other electronic monitoring device worn by an offender leaving prison on probation or parole.
Jockers : Incarcerated sexual predators who prey on weaker inmates, called “punks.”
Jointman : Prison slang for an inmate in prison who behaves like a guard
Jug-up : Prison slang for “meal-time.”
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
Killing your number : Prison slang for serving one’s time or getting out on parole.
Kite : Prison slang for a contraband letter.
Kit & Green : Heroin & Cannabis. (UK)
Leg-Rider : Slang for a person who sucks up to the police, as in, “humping the officer’s leg” in an attempt to get favors.
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.
Lock-down : When prisoners are confined to their cells.
Lock-up : Free movement period for prisoners. See also gate time.
Lop : See inmate.
Lick : Robbery. As in, “I did a lick”.
Lifeboat : A pardon or commutation of sentence.
Limbo Room : Prison slang for an area of the prison that is reserved for or encouraging of corporal punishment
Lugger : Prison slang referring to an inmate who smuggles in and possesses contraband and illicit substances.
Making Tortillas : Engaing in homosexual acts with other prisoners
Max Out : Maxing out refers to the practice of releasing or transferring inmates from jail (or from one facility to another) due to overcrowding problems and capacity issues.
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.
Midnight Express : Prison slang for an old-fashioned escape attempt
N.G. : ”No Good,” as “He’s N.G.” (meaning he’s a rat, or a bumbler, he talks too
Nonce : Someone who attacks children
Not a Scooby : Don’t have a clue. No idea. (UK)
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.
On the Road : Slang for being finally out of prison
Paper : A small quantity of drugs packaged for selling.
P.C. : Protective Custody. Also as in “He’s a PC case”, meaning weak or
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. Inmates subject to rape, usually white, younger, and more submissive than most inmates.
Peelers : Slang for police or cops (UK).
Peter : One’s prison cell (UK)
Pigeon Drop : A short-con game, where a mark is persuaded to give up a sum of money in order to get a larger sum of money, when in reality, the mark will never see the additional sum.
Pisello : Slang term for penis.
Potting : Prison slang for throwing or dumping a bucket of excrement on a correctional officer.
Prison Wolf : Prison slang for someone sexually-oriented to females on the outside, but becomes sexually-oriented to males on the inside.
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.”
Rat Jacket : Someone wearing a rat jacket is known as an informant.
Red Eye : Hard stare.
Ride with : Perform favors for a fellow convict, including sexual, in exchange for protection or commissary goods.
Righteous Weapons : Slang term for dangerous inmates.
Road Dogs : Inmates who do not declare any gang-affiliations but who buddy-up inside prison for protection.
Rock Spider : Child-molester
Self-report : A recently-admitted inmate who is allowed to show up at reception on his or her own.
Set-tripping : To switch from one gang to another
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.
Short-Eyes : Slang for a peodophile
Shower Shark : Refers to another inmate known to check out other inmates in the shower.
Soda : Cocaine
Slinging rock : Selling crack cocaine.
Snout : Slang for tobacco inside prison.
Space City : Texas Syndicate term for Houston, Texas.
Street Newspapers : Gang term for graffiti, a communication device for gang members.
Survival Rates : Statistical term referring to the proportion of ex-convicts who desist from committing a new crime following release from custody.
Sweet Kid : Prison slang referring to an inmate who allies with an older, more experienced inmate, possibly for protection or knowledge.
Taking a nap : Short jail sentence, usually for gang members.
Tecato : Term for Heroin addict
Tits-up : Prison slang for an inmate who has died.
Topped : Prison slang for “committed suicide.” Also known as “dumped” or “knocked off.” Someone who has committed suicide is said to have “topped off.”
Tree-Jumper : Prison slang for rapist
Veterano : Veteran gang member.
Viking : An inmate who has long since given up on bathing or showering.
Wolfpacks : Wolfpacks are recent parolees that have been recruited by prison gang members sometime during their incarceration. Once released, they carry out the orders from their imprisoned commanders, who usually instruct them on generating revenue or carrying out contract killings. They are trained in prison by higher-ranking gang members, in vocabulary, symbols, hand-signals, proper dress, as well as how to profit from criminal enterprise.