meal ticket n.
1. (orig. US) anyone good for the price of a meal.
|Tramping with Tramps 388: ‘Meal-ticket.’ This is a tramp term for a person who is ‘good’ for a meal.|
|Skidoo! 58: The mosquitos still look upon me as their meal ticket.|
|Humoresque 48: You’d shove over the Goddess of Liberty if you thought she had her foot on a meal ticket.‘Oats for the Woman’ in|
|Gay-cat 102: She sure must be a good meal ticket all right [...] Setdowns, I s’pose.|
|AS IV:5 342: Meal ticket — One who carries the wherewithal of another’s eats.‘Vocab. of Bums’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
2. (orig. US) anyone who provides money or a livelihood for someone else, who thus needs to make less effort; also the object which earns one’s income.
|‘There Ain’t No Use to Keep On Hanging Around’ [lyrics] I’ve been your meal tecket [sic] long enough – Money home you never bring.|
|Forty Modern Fables 66: All the Tin-Horn Sports and Shoe-String Gamblers speak of him as their Meal Ticket.|
|Coll. Short Stories (1941) 122: Jerome Harris [...] saw in Midge a better meal ticket than his popular-priced musical show had been.‘Champion’|
|Main Stem 71: The haughty dowagers and their ambulatory meal tickets retired to their cabins.|
|Red Wind (1946) 240: Your mother just wished you on to him like any cheap broad who sees herself out of a swell meal ticket.‘Guns At Cyrano’s’|
|Bound for Glory (1969) 29: I don’t give a damn how drippin’ I git, boys, but I gotta keep my meal ticket [guitar] dry!|
|Beat Generation 2: It’s only her wanting her old man to get back to work. He’s her meal ticket.|
|Howard Street 84: She was a damned good meal ticket and a status symbol with high prestige for him.|
|Lovomaniacs (1973) 42: Their mamas coach them — trade it for a lifetime meal ticket.|
|Blow Your House Down 95: I had to go round the flat [...] and break the sad news to Dave that his meal-ticket was out of action.|
|Kowloon Tong 122: As they hunted for a passport, or a meal ticket, or a way out, they were all reaching hands and twitching fingers.|
|Mad mag. Apr. 12: Darling meal tickets. I am your dear, sweet fourth cousin.|
|Star Island (2011) 7: If you don’t hold that yuck bucket for my sick child, [...] your meal ticke, you’re fired.|
3. (orig. US) employment, wages, whatever provides the price of a (fig.) meal.
|More Fables in Sl. (1960) 176: Any One who [...] used to stake him to a Meal Ticket now and then.|
|Ade’s Fables 114: When it came to a show-down between Dough and Art he didn’t propose to tear up his Meal Ticket.‘The New Fable of the Uplifter’ in|
|Story Omnibus (1966) 90: Those [i.e. blackmail pictures] [...] are Hador’s meal-tickets — the photos he was either collecting on or planning to collect on.‘The Scorched Face’|
|Don’t Get Me Wrong (1956) 23: I am very very sad, Señor, because I have lost what you call my meal ticket.|
|Phenomena in Crime 85: The combination was his daily ‘meal ticket’ [...] in the South Amercan port.|
|Men from the Boys (1967) 52: Seriously, Marty, we can make a go of it, live well [...] this hotel will be our meal ticket.|
|Fixx 101: We’re not [...] giving a load of clapped-out ancient retainers a meal ticket for life.|
|Rivethead (1992) 119: With my meal ticket hangin’ in the balance, I was quick to respond, ‘Hell, yes, I will go!’.|
|Guardian Mag. 13 May 28: Comedy gradually emerged as Hope’s meal ticket.|
4. (US) the bill for a meal.
|‘Chimmie Fadden’ 12 Nov. [synd. col.] I caught sight of de check [...] I could pay a mont’s rent and board out of dat meal ticket.|
5. (US) a personal preference.
|Playback 42: The right [fist] wasn’t his meal ticket.|
6. (US gay) as senses 1–3 above, in homosexual contexts.
|Gay Sl. Dict. [Internet] a meal ticket: 1. [70s] a john that is picked by a nonprofessional male prostitute when the money gets low. 2. older man who shows affection for his younger male lover with gifts. 3. the guy that pays a prostitute. 4. older man who supports a younger lover or friend.|
|Gayle 82/1: meal ticket n. older man who supports a younger lover or friend.|
7. an opportunity.
|Picture Palace 189: And it dawned on me that the whole purpose of the dinner [...] was a meal ticket to mock, to sit in judgement upon people whom money made into clowns.|