A Dictionary of the Most Common Jail and Prison Slangs - GlobalTel (2024)

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Prison Slang Dictionary A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z FAQs

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.

Chom*o — 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.


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 hom*osexual 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 p*rnography.

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 vagin*l 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.

A Dictionary of the Most Common Jail and Prison Slangs - GlobalTel (2024)


What is 12 12 in prison slang? ›

12/12 When an offender serves their full sentence term in the institution and is let out on their maximum date. Therefore, they have no supervision requirements upon their release except Lifetime Supervision.

What are some slang words for prison? ›

Synonyms of 'prison' in American English
  • jail.
  • clink (slang)
  • confinement.
  • cooler (slang)
  • dungeon.
  • jug (slang)
  • lockup.
  • nick (British, slang)

What is a daddy in prison? ›

A dominant sexual partner in prison is called "daddy" while their submissive partner is called "kid" or “girl”. The dominant partner has their mate take on the feminine role in order to feel more masculine and powerful.

What does "j cat" mean in jail? ›

J-CAT: A crazy or foolish person. The “J” refers to the mentally ill classification when California used letters to label incarcerated people. Usage example: “That J-Cat is peeing in the garbage can.”

What is a dog in prison slang? ›

Translates to "dogs," means "inmates who obey the boss"

What is a 23 in jail? ›

“23 and 1.” This is the usual model prisons use to isolate individuals who are being punished with solitary confinement. The concept of 23 and 1 refers to hours — 23 alone and 1 hour outside to exercise, sit, or, in very few cases, interact with others (Calloway).

What is a C block in jail? ›

Short for Cell block in prisons.

What is a buck 50 in prison? ›

Buck fifty - A cut on the face that requires an inmate to get at least 150 stitches. Cell block - A group of cells that make up a section of the prison.

What is a 180 yard in prison? ›

each comprised of eight housing blocks and a recreation yard." The housing blocks "are partitioned into three separate, self-contained sections forming a 180 degree half circle." The "180" design is considered the "most secure prison design" because it "gives control-booth officers a straight-on look at prisoners." In ...

What is a cupcake prison? ›

FPC Alderson is a minimum-security federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia that houses female inmates. It is also known as Alderson Federal Prison Camp and Camp Cupcake. It became known as Camp Cupcake after Martha Stewart's incarceration at the facility.

What is a Jody in prison? ›

JODY: A man sleeping with a prisoner's wife/girlfriend outside of the prison.

What is a kitty in prison terms? ›

slang. A prison, a guardhouse.

What is a whip it in jail? ›

One popular use for pills is "whippit" — a potent, taffy-like concoction made from melted candy and coffee. In one episode, a group of inmates celebrate a female participant's birthday by spiking whippit with Effexor, Depakote, and Remeron, prescription drugs used for treating depression and bipolar disorder.

What does "fly a kite" mean in jail? ›

A kite is a clandestine note usually written on a small piece of paper in very small print and used by an inmate to communicate with another person either inside or outside of the jail.

What does diaper sniper mean? ›

diaper sniper (plural diaper snipers) (slang) A child molester.

What is a screw in prison? ›

For those unfamiliar with prison lingo or the intricacies of correctional facilities, terms like “screws” might sound out of place. However, within the walls of many prisons, this colloquial term is widely recognized as a reference to prison guards or officers.

What is pooch in prison? ›

Through the ADI's standards and accreditation process, TLCAD began an innovative program, Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope (POOCH), which teaches incarcerated individuals to train service dogs by using humane, evidence-based, positive reinforcement training techniques based on behavioral science.

What is a chom*o in jail? ›

Chom*o may refer to: Prison slang for "child molester" The name of several mountains in the Himalayas, including Chom*o Lhari, Chom*o Yummo, and Chom*o Lonzo.

What does 12 mean in hood slang? ›

In slang and street vernacular, "12" is often used to refer to the police.

Why do inmates call officers 12? ›

The reason for shouting it may be that the correctional officer enters a living area at the “12 O'clock” position, or that 12 is just one of the many “Early Warning Codes” used.

What does a 12 mean in slang? ›

Why Are The Police Called “12”? Police are called 12 as a slang term. According to sources, 12 comes from the police radio code “10-12,” which means that visitors are present in the area where police are going. It's similar to a warning to police that they might have company when they arrive on the scene.

What does say 12 mean? ›

Overtime, the gangsters caught on to what 10–12 meant. So they started using it they same way we do, when we respond to dispatch that we are nearby a crime suspect. They say “12" to signify or warn other gang members, or crime suspects, that police are present.

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