Green’s Dictionary of Slang

big one n.

also big ’un

1. as quality or quantity.

(a) [early 19C+] an important person.

(b) [1900s–10s] (orig. US) a tall story, an exaggerated tale.

(c) [1920s+] anything important.

2. as monetary denominations and amounts.

(a) [mid-19C+] £20, £100, £1000.

(b) [mid-19C+] (US) $100, $1000.

(c) [1900s–50s] (US Und.) a major and extremely lucrative coup.

(d) [1960s+] (US) $1 million.

(e) [1970s] (Aus.) A$1000.

(f) [1970s+] a large – unspecified – amount of money.

(g) [1970s+] (US) one dollar.

3. [1920s–60s] (US prison) a year in jail.

4. [1920s+] the penis, esp. a large penis.

5. [1920s+] in pl., large female breasts.

6. [1960s+] (Aus./US prison/Und., also the big one) a long sentence; a life sentence.

7. as the big one.

(a) [1930s+] (US) death.

(b) [1950s+] a major operation.

(c) [1950s+] (US) World War I or World War II.

(d) [1960s] nuclear war.

(e) [1970s] (US) a heart attack.

(f) [1970s] (US) cancer.

(g) [2000s] a very large bomb.

In phrases

bite the big one (v.) [1970s+] (US)

1. to be distasteful, unpleasant, second-rate.

2. to die, to suffer harm.

buy the big one (v.)

[1980s] (US) to die.

eat the big one (v.)

[2000s] (US) to die.

get the big one (v.)

[1920s] (US) to die.

give it the big one (v.) [1990s+]

1. to act in a verbally aggressive manner.

2. to celebrate, to act in an excessive manner.

In exclamations

eat the big one! [var. on eat me! excl.]

[1980s+] (US) to hell with you!