Green’s Dictionary of Slang

ben n.2


1. (orig. theatrical) a benefit, i.e. ‘a theatrical performance the receipts from which are given to a particular actor, the playwright, or some other person connected with the theatre’ (OED).

implied in stand ben
[UK]Paul Pry 5 Mar. 8/1: Then on the stage, the folks loud shall shout, / Hurrah for old Tom M—D, a fresh ben, and the gout.
[UK]Dickens ‘Slang’ in Household Words 24 Sept. 77/1: A benefit is a ‘ben.’.
[US] ‘Scene in a London Flash-Panny’ Matsell Vocabulum 99: But I’m flush of the balsam now, for I dance balum-rancum for the bens.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Story of a Lancashire Thief 12: A broken-down barn-stormer who used to lodge near me [...] he’d talk by the hour of bens, and surfs, and saddles, and daddies, and everything about a theatre.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Dead-Sea Fruit I 294: I have played clown for my ben [...] but though I drew an enormous house, I felt the injury to my self-respect was poorly paid for by a clear half.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Mar. 3/1: This is an age of Benefits, Sir, and Testimonals [...] The latest ‘ben’ I have read of was taken by my friend Bill of the Surrey [Music Hall].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 Apr. 9/3: It was on Monday night Hanlan’s benefit came off [...] Warner, of the Hiscocks’ crowd […] brought the ‘ben.’ to an end.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 July 7/2: Herbert Flemming’s Melbourne ‘ben.’ was a big success.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 14 Oct. 2/6: The so-called ‘ben,’ to aid the unfortunate pros, [...] has suddenly resolved itself into something quite different.
[UK]Sporting Times 25 Feb. 5/2: The fish were known as the lives of men, / And a brimful trawl was the fishermen’s ‘ben.’.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.

2. benefit.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Odd or Even?’ Sporting Times 26 Sept. 1/3: We all remembered then / That Ike’s old ’un is a cabby, and ’twas got up for our ‘ben’; ’E’d arranged for ’im to keep on drivin’ round the ’ouses when / We were gamblin’.

In phrases