• noun a cigarette. An ironic witticism from the days before the anti-smoking lobby, when shortness of breath was still a possible subject for levity. (It is probably unconnected with the more recent British cliché ‘gasping for a fag’.) The word was at its most popular in the 1950s in the language of spivs, cads, etc., but is not yet obsolete.
  • noun a devotee of self-asphyxiation as a sexual stimulus. The term, from the lexicon of prostitution, received publicity at the time of the death in 1994 of the Tory MP Stephen Milligan while indulging in this practice (known in slang as scarfing).