A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 21, 2014
Dead Meat (to be a loser or in serious trouble)

Someone is “dead meat” if that person is a sure loser (in a sports match against a very formidable opponent, for example) or if that person is in very serious trouble (of losing a job or even of losing one’s own life, for example). The expression “dead meat” began to be popularized in modern slang from the early 1970s. “You could easily be dead meat by now” was cited in 1971. “ Georgia Tech and St. Bonaventure are dead meat in tonight’s first round” was cited in 1974.


Merriam-Webster Dictionary
dead meat noun
: a person or thing that is certain to fail, suffer, or be punished
First Known Use of DEAD MEAT
1849

Google Books
This Mrs. Kingi
By Frances Cleary
Auckland: Collins
1971
Pg. 88:
“You could easily be dead meat by now.”

27 December 1974, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “The Referee” by BIll Millsaps, pg. B-6, col. 1:
Castleman D. Chesley Productions has, in effect, decreed that both Georgia Tech and St. Bonaventure are dead meat in tonight’s first round of the Maryland Invitational Tournament in College Park.

Google Books
Passing Through the Flame
By Norman Spinrad
New York, NY: Berkley Pub. Corp.: Distributed by Putnam
1975
Pg. 100:
“Let me tell you, Beck, any of their men, and I mean any, that get in range are going to be dead meat. Anyone the organization has in Mexico when I get back is a dead man.”

11 August 1981, Morning Advocate (Bzton Rouge, LA), “Shoot,” pg. 6-A, col. 2:
“You are dead meat, pigs! You are going to die.”

Google Books
The QE2 Is Missing
By Harry Harrison
New York, NY: Tor
1982
Pg. 324:
“Captain David Rapley will be dead meat in ten seconds if you don’t do as you have been told.”

15 July 1983, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Parrish brings the magic back” by Randy Galloway, pg. 1B, col. 1:
He’s supposed to be dead meat through June, then slowly coming to life, building toward and August and September peak.

18 September 1983, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Critic predicts season’s winner, losers,” pg. 1C, col. 4:
ABC’s new Just Our Luck is dead meat opposite NBC’s The A Team.

29 October 1983, (Portland, OR), “Behind the Mike” by Peter Farrell, pg. D8, col. 3:
Hie two young sons, at least, believe their father is “dead meat” if they don’t help him escape from the Arizona State Prison.

Google Books
C.A.D.S.
By John Sievert
New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corporation
1985
Pg. 193:
“Be tough, baby, the soft will all be dead meat when the proverbial shit hits the fan.”

16 August 1985, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Spend a Buck forced to pass up Travers for lack of Lasix” by Bob Roberts, pg. 7-C, cols. 4-5:
‘Spend a Buck is dead meat unless he wins a stake in New York,” said one Gotham turf writer.

Urban Dictionary
Dead Meat
A Person who’s getting killed
Your Dead Meat!
by Rob October 25, 2003

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, July 21, 2014 • Permalink