Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shilling n.

[a shilling (5p) had 12 pence; 20 shillings comprised one pound sterling; var. on not all there adj.]

used in phrs. listed below referring to one considered a simpleton, a fool.

In phrases

full shilling (adj.)

1. (Aus./N.Z.) sensible, intelligent, aware, trustworthy, ‘all there’; esp. in negative phr. not (quite) the full shilling etc, not very intelligent, slightly eccentric, odd (cf. full quid, the under full adj.).

[Ire](con. 1930s–50s) E. Mac Thomáis Janey Mack, Me Shirt is Black 35: We must been all losing our marbles. We really weren’t the full shilling looking for a duck’s arse for the back of our necks.
[Ire]L. Redmond Emerald Square 178: Even had he been the full shilling, I suspected work was a four letter word in his vocabulary.
[UK](con. 1930s) M. Verdon Shawlies, Echo Boys, the Marsh and the Lanes 55: My father shook his head and said, ‘Stay away from that woman. She’s not the full shilling’.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 112: Not quite the full shilling.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 71: Pete was not the full shilling.
[UK]Guardian 11 Mar. [Internet] The policeman, it turns out, isn’t quite the full shilling, just a sitting stand-in in a uniform.

2. (Irish) the proper, complete thing.

[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 99: Now that we’d started on the full shilling I agreed with her that we might as well go to bed and do it in comfort.
ha’penny short of a shilling (also penny short..., three kopecks short of a rouble, three pence short...)

unintelligent, eccentric; shilling is implied in cit. 1996.

[Aus]Register (Adelaide) 3 May 5/9: The defendant’s father said, ‘My son is three pence short of a shilling in his faculties’.
N. Territory Times 10 June 4/2: He trades on the prevalent belief that he is, as the saying goes, ‘a few pence short in the shilling’.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Ashes to Ashes’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] I know a lot of people are born an ’apenny short of a shilling.
[UK]A. Sayle Train to Hell 11: ‘Three kopecks short of a rouble,’ I thought.
[Ire](con. 1920s) L. Redmond Emerald Square 177: Where I came from it would have been said that he was ‘a ha’penny short of a shilling’.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 47: You got to be a penny short. 14 Nov. [Internet] Thankfully the British conspiracy brigade is [...] inhabited mainly by people who are clearly three pence short of the proverbial shilling.
ninepence short of a shilling

stupid, foolish.

[UK]Viz Oct./Nov. 13: Sid man, yorraboot ninepence short of a shillin’!
no more than ninepence in the shilling (also no more than elevenpence in the shilling, tenpence halfpenny in the shilling)

foolish, stupid, lacking intelligence.

[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 229: Brack and his housekeeper seemed much of a piece, and neither of them more than eleven pence in the shilling.
[UK]W. Holtby South Riding (1988) 8: ‘Mental?’ ‘Tenpence halfpenny in the shilling.’.
only eighteen shillings [‘in the pound’ is assumed]

stupid, foolish.

[NZ]G. Slatter Pagan Game (1969) 153: Every small town has its characters: Stainless Steel who had seen the light [...] Joey who was only eighteen shillings.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

shilling shocker (n.) (also shilling dreadful, shocker)

a short sensational novel, published at a shilling (5p).

[UK]Bristol Mercury 16 Nov. 6/3: Mr R.L. Stevenson is writing another ‘shilling dreadful’ in which supernatural machinery will be employed.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 9 Aug. 4/2: Even in the realm of the shilling shocker these manners and morals are passing away.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 25 Sept. 4/1: ‘A Phantom Lover’ and ‘Whose Hands’ are both shilling dreadfuls.
[UK]J.K. Jerome Three Men in a Boat 43: But, as the shilling shockers say, we anticipate.
[UK]Portsmouth Eve. News (Devon) 23 Jan. 3/4: Lord Wolseley counselled his hearers to shun the ‘shilling dreadful’.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 240: A meddling member of the bar, who should have been writing shilling shockers.
[UK]Bath Chron. (Somerset) 11 Apr. 7/3: He covertly lit his candle [...] in order to read a yellow-covered shocker.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail (Yorks.) 11 July 2/7: The penny dreadful;, the shilling shocker, and the comic cuts illustrated.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 9 Mar. 1/1: A spicy novel could be written about his recent after-church amours [and] the saintly shilling-shocker would be appositely entitled ‘Venus in the Vestry’.
[UK]Bath Chron. (Somerset) 15 Sept. 4/4: The sensual ‘passion story,’ the morbidly sensational ‘shocker’ and the ridiculous romance.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 31 Jan. 11/1: The police-cum-reporter sensationalism [...] probably had its origin in some shilling shocker.
[UK]G. De S. Wentworth-James Man Market 151: All shilling ‘shockers’ are composed of certain ingredients, and doubtless one of the most popular is the hero or heroine who [...] leaves a note saying that he or she has committed suicide – which of course, he or she hasn’t done.
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 580: I have a grudge against you for mixing up the Coolin with a shilling shocker. You’ve spoiled their sanctity.
[UK]John O’London’s Weekly 7 Jan. 463/1: Probably Edgar Wallace’s best ‘shocker’ – and I use the term in no derogatory sense – was ‘The Four Just Men’.
[UK]J. Buchan Three Hostages in Buchan (1930) 857: These shockers are too easy, Dick. You could invent better ones for yourself.
[UK]Western Dly Press 23 Feb. 8/3: ‘The Bookworm’ attempted to act the plot of a ‘shilling shocker’.
[UK]Eve. Teleg. (Angus, Scot.) 18 Oct. 7/1: The sort of thing one reads about in a shilling shocker.
(ref. to late 19C) C. Watson Snobbery with Violence (1979) 109: This special language of the shilling shocker [...] was doubtless evolved in the first place as a means of getting attention by frightening people.

In phrases

shilling in (and the winner shouts) (n.) [var. on bob in under bob n.3 ]

(Aus./N.Z.) a bar-room dice gambling game in which everyone puts one shilling (5p) in a kitty and the winner pays for the round (and poss. makes a small profit).

[NZ]Eve. Post (Wellington) 7 Jan. 17: A man had paid his shilling in a game of ‘shilling in and the winner shouts’ [AND].
Victorian Law Reports 749: A game called or known as ‘a shilling in and the winner shouts’.
[UK]E.E. Morris Austral Eng. 456/1: Tamabroora [...] More generally known as ‘A shilling in and the winner shouts’.
Advocate (Burnie) 29 May 4/1: They were having ‘a shilling in and the winner shouts’ when he arrived .
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 14 Apr. 1/1: His X and Co. slipped out unobserved by the thirsty smoodgers [and] these ‘influential ratepayers’ were therefore compelled to descend to a ‘shilling in’.
[Aus] (ref. to late 19C) Bulletin 20/2: Some Western Queensland slang of my day: … a shilling-in was ‘tambaroora’.