Unspeakable Crimes Secret Prisoner Code Words You Have To Know If You Don't Want To Be A Dead Fish  

Mariel Loveland
1.2k votes 355 voters 521.8k views 13 items

List Rules Convicts, ex-convicts, and guards only: vote up the slang terms that are actually used in prisons.

"That brake fluid has been making my celly hella cranky. Wouldn't be surprised if he went dancing on the blacktop." Say what? The secret language of prisoners isn't really common knowledge for those who haven't been thrown in the slammer. If you're a fish (someone newly incarcerated), you better learn quickly so as to avoid a major dispute.

Cryptolects and prison code words have evolved through ages. In the 1500s, secret prisoner languages were referred to as "thieves' cant" or "peddlers' French," but codes aren't just for prisoners: there's evidence everyone from Parisian sex workers to dope peddlers to hobos have crafted their own communication methods in part to hide the nature of their business. 

What do prison slang words mean? Here's a handy guide in case you ever find yourself facing the long arm of the law.

Diaper Sniper is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Secret Prisoner Code Words You Have To Know If You Don't Want To Be A Dead Fish
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1 189 VOTES

Diaper Sniper

Meaning: This slang phrase is even more grotesque than it sounds. In prison life, a diaper sniper is a child molester. According to Margot Bach, who spoke to ABC on behalf of the California Department of Corrections, taking out a diaper sniper "would gain [the killer] a lot more respect among the other inmates."

Use It In A Sentence: "That diaper sniper is going to be dancing on the blacktop."

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Is this real lingo from behind bars?
Celly is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Secret Prisoner Code Words You Have To Know If You Don't Want To Be A Dead Fish
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2 147 VOTES

Celly

Meaning: If you were a teen girl in the early '00s, there's a pretty good chance you used some incarnation of this phrase on your AOL Instant Messenger away message, probably to the effect of "Away at the mall with Katie. Hit me on my celly!" It was the golden age of RAZR phones and cheeky nicknames. Today, the phrase means something a whole lot different for prison inmates. According to those in the know, "celly" - or "cellie" - is slang for cellmate. 

Use It In A Sentence: "My celly is my best friend; take it up with me if you have issues with him."

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Is this real lingo from behind bars?
Fish is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Secret Prisoner Code Words You Have To Know If You Don't Want To Be A Dead Fish
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3 119 VOTES

Fish

Meaning: There are plenty of fish in the sea, especially in areas with rising crime rates. "Fish" refers to a brand new prisoner. A fish doesn't yet understand how to avoid stepping on his fellow convicts' toes, but they better learn quickly.

Use It In A Sentence: "Saw a few fish fly in on the bus this morning."

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Stainless Steel Ride is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Secret Prisoner Code Words You Have To Know If You Don't Want To Be A Dead Fish
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4 108 VOTES

Stainless Steel Ride

Meaning: If you're in one of the states that allow the death penalty, you may have heard about taking a stainless steel ride. According to The Atlantic, "a stainless steel ride" is a euphemism for lethal injection. The type of injections vary state to state based on availability. Usually prisoners will receive between one and three different injections.

Use It In A Sentence: "Honey took a stainless steel ride. RIP."

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Is this real lingo from behind bars?