A Dictionary of the Most Common Jail and Prison Slangs
Published May 13, 2022
If it interests you to know more about how prisoners communicate and the most common terminology they use, we have created a prison slang dictionary to help you understand what they are saying.
Prison Slang Dictionary
Some prison slang has explicit themes and language. If you’re under 18y/o, ask permission from your parent or guardian before you begin reading this material.
AB — Aryan Brotherhood. A well-known white supremacist gang.
AGITATOR — Those who go out to start fights for sheer enjoyment.
ALL DAY — Life sentence.
ALL DAY AND A NIGHT — Life sentence with no parole.
BATS — Cigarettes.
BACK DOOR PAROLE — Dying in prison.
BB FILLER — Body Bag Filler; a very sick prisoner.
BEAN SLOT — The jail cell door food delivery slot.
BID — Prison sentence.
BINKY — A homemade syringe made out of an eyedropper, a guitar string, and a pen shaft.
BLUES — Prison outfit.
BO-BOS — Prison-issued sneakers.
BOOKS — 1. Stamps. In some facilities, books of stamps are utilized as cash. 2. An inmate’s trust account, state-held money for commissary purchases.
BOSS — Officers working as guards.
BRAKE FLUID — Psychiatric medications.
BROGANS — State-issued work boots.
BROWNIES — Kitchen workers who often wear brown outfits.
BULLET — A year of a prison sentence.
BUNDLE — A small package with drugs or tobacco.
BUNKIE — A cell roommate.
BUCK ROGERS TIME — A prison sentence with parole far in the future.
CADILLAC — Coffee with cream and sugar; an inmate’s bunk.
CADILLAC JOB — A coveted work assignment.
CAGE — A prison cell.
CALLING THE COPS — To attract the attention of prison guards.
CAR — A prison clique.
CATCH A RIDE — To get high from a friend’s drugs.
CATCHING THE CHAIN — An inmate in the process of leaving the jail.
CELLIE — A cellmate.
CELL WARRIOR — An inmate who only acts tough when locked in his cell.
CHALK — Moonshine.
CHATTED OUT — Those who lost their mind in prison.
CHIN CHECK — Punching someone in the jaw to see if he’ll fight back.
CHOKE SANDWICH — A peanut butter sandwich.
CHOMO — A Child Molester.
CHOW — A prison meal.
CHRONIC — Chronic Discipline Unit.
CLAVO — Dangerous contraband.
C/O — A correctional officer. A guard.
COWBOY — A correctional officer new on the job.
CROSSED OUT — An unfair removal.
CTQ — Confined to Quarters.
DANCE ON THE BLACKTOP — Getting stabbed.
DAP — A prison greeting.
DIAPER SNIPER — An accused of child molestation.
DING WING — A mental health ward.
DIME — A 10-year prison sentence.
DINNER AND A SHOW — When inmates fight while other inmates eat in the food hall.
DOBIE — A biscuit.
DOING THE DUTCH — Suicide.
DOTTED UP — An inmate having tattoos.
DROP A SLIP — Snitch on other inmates by reporting them in writing and then placing them in the same box as other requests for assistance.
DROPPED — When a guard has to forcibly tackle a prison to the ground to restrain them.
DRY SNITCHING — Ratting out another inmate by talking loudly about their bad behavior in front of prison staff.
DUCK — A correctional officer who is know to be gullible, easily bribed, and may help smuggle in contraband.
DUMP TRUCK — An overweight and lazy inmate.
EDUCATION — The place for prisoners can take college classes or GED, use a typewriter, make photocopies, go to the library, or check out books.
ERASERS — Pieces of processed chicken.
EYEBALL — When someone is staring at you or your things, they are said to be “eyeballing” you. Likely with nefarious intent.
FAIR ONE — A fair fight without any weapons.
FIEND — A person who’s addicted to something, whether it be drugs, sex, food, or another vice.
FISH — The term used for new prisoners.
FISHING LINE — Usually made from torn strings or sheets and used to pass contraband into other cells.
FISHING POLE — Made from rolled-up paper, with a piece of a paper clip at one end. It is used to collect items from the runs in front of their cells.
FLICK — A photograph or picture taken from a magazine.
FRESH MEAT — A delivery of new inmates into the prison.
FREQUENT FLIER — Someone who is regularly incarcerated.
FUNKY — An inmate who does not bathe and often smells.
GEN POP — General Population inmates.
GETTING BUZZED — Getting a prison tattoo.
GOING PSYCH — Severe mental illness.
GOT A BODY — To have killed someone.
GRAPES — Information or gossip.
GREEN LIGHT — Permission to kill a person or gang affiliate on sight.
GUMP — A homosexual inmate.
GUNNING — Masturbating in front of a correctional officer.
HEAT WAVE — The attention to a group of inmates, often for doing something wrong (fighting or contraband).
HIGH CLASS — Another term for Hepatitis C.
HOE CHECK — A communal beating given to prisoners to see if they will stand up for themselves.
HOLE, (THE) — Another term for solitary confinement.
HOOCH — A homemade, fermented alcoholic drink.
HOOP — To hide contraband in a bodily cavity.
HOT ONE — A term for a murder charge.
HOT WATER — A prison guard is nearby; a warning to stop inappropriate behavior.
HOUSE — A prison cell.
IN THE CUT — Hiding in a hidden area, away from surveillance cameras and the eyes of the guards.
IRON PILE — Weightlifting equipment.
JACK BOOK — Any magazine containing pictures of women. Doesn’t necessarily have to be pornography.
JAIL — A verb meaning to do time correctly and competently without getting in trouble.
J-CAT — An inmate with mental issues.
JIT OR JITTERBUG — A young, loud, disliked inmate who causes trouble with gossip.
JODY — A person who is sleeping with a prisoner’s wife/girlfriend outside of the prison.
JUICE CARD — An inmate’s influence on guards or other prisoners.
JUNE BUG — A weak prisoner considered to be a slave to other inmates.
KEISTER — To smuggle firearm or contraband inside one’s anus.
KICKSTAND — Another term for a life sentence.
KITE — A contraband note that was written on a small piece of paper that’s folded and passed to others through secretive means.
KITTY KITTY — Term used by male inmates for a female correctional officer.
KUNG FU JOES — Poorly constructed, state-issued prison shoes.
LAME DUCK — A weak inmate standing in the prison yard.
LA RAZA — Unaffiliated Mexican inmates in facilities that have lots of gang activity.
LOC — “Loss of Commissary.”
LOM — “Loss of Personal Mail.”
LOR — “Loss of Recreation.”
LOV — “Loss of Visits.”
LOCKDOWN — When some kind of disturbance causes prison staff to lock all inmates in their cells indefinitely until the situation calms down.
LOCK-IN-A-SOCK — A weapon made by putting a combination lock inside of a sock and swinging it. Also known as a Slock.
L-WOP — Life without the possibility of parole.
MALINGER — To walk slowly.
MANDO — Short for mandatory.
MEAT WAGON — A hospital ambulance that takes sick or dead inmates out of prison.
MOFONGO — In prison, it’s a meal that’s a mixture of chips, ramen, instant rice, mackerel, pre-wrapped “sausages,” and seasoning.
MOLLY WHOPPED — To beat someone up or get beat up in a fight.
MONKEY MOUTH — A prisoner who talks a lot but who isn’t very interesting.
MONSTER, THE — Another term for HIV/AIDS.
NETTED UP — An inmate who experiences a mental breakdown in prison.
NEW BOOTIES — Inmates in jail for the first time.
NEWJACKS — New, inexperienced correctional officers.
NICKLE — A 5-year prison sentence.
NINJA, THE — HIV/AIDS; occasionally used to describe STDs in general.
NINJA TURTLES — Prison guards wearing a riot gear.
O.G. — Acronym for “original gangster.”
ON PAPER — Parole or probation.
ON THE COUNT — A warning to prisoners to get in line for an official head count.
ON THE DOOR — Preparing to leave your prison cell.
PAPA — A prison snack made from crushed potato chips, cheese sauce, and hot water.
PC — Protective Custody.
PERMANENT POCKET — A term for a person’s anus.
PLAYING ON ASS — Gambling when you don’t have any money.
PORCELAIN TERMITE — A prisoner who breaks their toilet/sink in the cell when they get angry.
PORCH — Small standing area outside of a person’s cell door.
PRISON POCKET — Another term for a person’s anus.
PRISON SAFE — The safest place in your cell to keep drugs, shanks, and other contraband during cell inspections and transfers.
PRISON WOLF — A straight prisoner who engages in sex with men while in prison.
PROGRAMMER — An inmate who spends most of their time attending classes and trying to grow as a person.
PRUNO — A homemade alcohol left to rot under a cot for three days made from fruit, bread, and anything with sugar.
PUMPKINS — Gang members who were initiated by beaten that their heads swelled like pumpkins. A new inmate.
QUIET TIME — When the guards turn off the lights in the cells and common areas.
RATCHET — A common term for a nurse.
REC — Short for recreation; the one hour per day when prisoners can leave their cells.
RIDE LEG — To suck up to prison staff to get favors.
ROBOCOP — Guard who writes up every infraction, even minor ones.
ROLL CALL — 1. A gang meeting. 2. A new shift for prison staff.
ROAD DOG — Prisoners who walk the track together during recreation periods; can also mean a close friend.
ROAD KILL — Cigarette butts brought back to the facility and rerolled with toilet paper.
ROLL UP YOUR WINDOW — Asking a prison to stop eavesdropping on another prison’s conversation.
SANCHO — The man, your wife/girlfriend, is with outside of the prison.
SHAKEDOWN — When prison staff rips apart inmates’ cells looking for contraband.
SHANK — Homemade prison knife.
SHIV — Another term for a homemade prison knife.
SHOT CALLER — A shot caller is a high-ranking prisoner. Often the leader of a gang.
SKID-BID — A short prison sentence when the prisoner is in and out of jail so quickly that they leave skid marks.
SKIPPIES — Thin, state-issued shoes for prisoners. Essentially white Keds without laces.
SLEEP ON STEEL — Having your sheets and blankets taken away, usually due to suicide risk.
SLOCK — Another term for a lock-in-a-sock.
SLOP — Prison food consisting of a loose casserole, regularly tomato-based. Considered very insulting to prison kitchen supervisors.
SLUG — Someone who rarely leaves their prison cell.
SIX-FIVE — A verbal warning that a guard is approaching.
SPIDER MONKEY — An inmate doing a hard time.
STAINLESS-STEEL RIDE — Another term for lethal injection.
STINGER — A rigged heating element created out of metal, made to boil water.
STORE — Commissary.
STRAPPED — When someone is carrying a weapon.
STRESS BOX — Another term for a pay phone.
SUCKER DUCKER — Someone who goes out of their way to stay away from people who cause trouble.
TAKE FLIGHT — To attack a person using just your fists.
THREE KNEE DEEP — To stab someone so that they’re injured but not killed, often as some form of warning.
TICKET — A disciplinary report.
TICKETRON OR TICKETMASTER — A guard who is known to write many tickets or disciplinary reports.
TIME TO FEED THE WARDEN — Wanting to go to the bathroom.
TOOCHIE OR TUCHIE — Synthetic marijuana.
TUCK — To place contraband in one’s vaginal or anal cavities to smuggle it into prison.
TURTLE SUIT — A padded gown held together by Velcro used for suicide prevention.
TVP — Texturized Vegetable Protein.
UA — A drug test.
VAMPIRE — People who draw blood during a fight.
VIC — An abbreviated term for an inmate being victimized by another inmate.
VIKING — An inmate who is lazy and unwilling to keep their living space or themselves clean.
WOLF TICKETS — False promises.
WHAM WHAMS — Sweet treats like cookies and candy.
YARD — The yard is a nickname for a fenced-in area for outdoor recreation.
ZOO ZOOS — Another term for sweet treats like cookies and candy.
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About The Author
Krizzia Paolyn is an SEO Specialist with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Before launching a career in SEO, she started as a content writer for various digital magazines and renowned publications. It has always been her passion to share her voice, and at the same time, to encourage other people to speak up.