Green’s Dictionary of Slang

spout n.2

[SE spout, a lift formerly in use in pawnbrokers’ shops, up which pawned articles were taken for storage; note Egan, Life in London (1821): ‘It was a long narrow spout, which reached from the top of the house of the Money-Lender down to his counter, and through which articles of property when redeemed, were conveyed, in order to facilitate business’]

1. [19C] a pawnbroker’s shop.

2. [early 19C] as ext. of sense 1, a police cell, a prison; used in up the spout

In phrases

up the spout

1. [early 19C–1920s] hospitalized, imprisoned.

2. [early 19C+] (also up the gargoyle) in the pawnshop.

3. [early 19C+] (also up a spout) having problems, ‘in a bad way’.

4. [mid-19C] in fig. use of sense 2, put on one side, discarded.

5. [mid-19C-1910s] impoverished; bankrupt.

6. [mid-19C+] (also up a spout) gone to waste, ruined.

7. [late 19C+] dead.

8. [1940s+] (also up the shoot) pregnant.

9. [1960s] wrong, incorrect.

up the spout and Charley-Wag [charley wag n.]

[late 19C] a general phr. used of something that has gone to waste, been squandered or lost.