Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tick n.4

[the sound and thus its minimal duration]

1. a watch.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 178: Tick, Bit, [...] Cant words for watch, purse, and money.
[UK]Bacchanalian Mag. 17: Filch dives for every tick and clout.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘Rowling Joey & Moll Blabbermums’ in Corinthian in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 43: [as 1789].

2. (also tick-tack) a second; thus half a tick, two ticks.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 174: A tick-tack ? derived from the ticking of a watch; ’tis the shortest space of time ? ‘done in a tick-tack.’.
[UK]Burnley Exp. 13 July 2/9: Blimey — ’old on ’arf a tick — there’s a blanketty brassband a comin’ and there ain’t nobody ’oldin’ my ’orse!
[UK]J.D. Brayshaw Slum Silhouettes 229: I wos stripped to my buff in abaht two ticks.
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 8: You’ll be all right in a tick.
[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] Who are you getting at, eh? 🎵 And so in a tick-tack, I aswered him back.
[UK]Gem 23 Sept. 9: Hold on a tick while I get the light!
[UK]W. Muir Observations of Orderly 181: ‘Knew you in two ticks,’ grunted Bert.
[UK]A. Christie Secret Adversary (1955) 63: ‘ll fix the whole thing up in two ticks’.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Busman’s Honeymoon (1974) 192: I’ll be along in two ticks.
[Aus]X Herbert Capricornia (1939) 370: Then he turned to the policeman and shouted, ‘Eh Barney — Barney McCrook — just a tick.’.
[UK]J. MacLaren-Ross ‘A Bit of a Smash in Madras’ in Memoirs of the Forties (1984) 278: He’ll be here in a tick.
D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 19 July 13: I wait for about six ticks.
[Aus]‘Five o’clock in the Morning’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 34: They rang up the ambulance mighty slick, / They said they’d be round in half a tick.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act I: Sit down a tick.
[UK]A. Burgess Inside Mr Enderby in Complete Enderby (2002) 73: Coming [...] half a tick.
[Aus]A. Buzo Rooted Ii iii: Yes, hop in the B, you’re there in a tick.
[UK](con. 1940s) O. Manning Danger Tree 201: Only take a tick to get permission.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 35: I want to heave up / be back in a tick.
[Aus](con. 1964-65) B. Thorpe Sex and Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll 57: She wanted to know if I could pop over to Surf City for a tick.
[UK]Beano 18 Sept. n.p.: Back in a tick.
[UK]J. Cameron Hell on Hoe Street 79: I’ll be down in two ticks.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 36: I been looking for you [...] Got a tick?
[Aus]C. Hammer Scrublands [ebook] ‘Wait a tick, I’ll get you some milk’.

3. (US black) used to indicate time, usu. with the number doubled as means of confusing outsiders, e.g. tick twenty, ten o’clock.

[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 260: tick (n.): minute, moment. Ex., ‘I’ll dig you in a few ticks.’ Also, ticks are doubled in accounting time, just as money is doubled in giving ‘line.’ Ex., ‘I finaled to the pad this early bright at tick twenty’ (I got to bed this morning at ten o’clock).
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 219: Hey Jim, your main saw on the hitch just trailed down the cruncher about tick twenty.

4. (US) a small degree or amount, usu. an increase.

Road and Track 21: Down a tick more, to 180.
Rev. Futures Markets VII 135: The price changes either up a tick or down a tick.
V. Sperandeo Trader Vic 200: For the next few hours, the price is basically unchanged: first up a tick, then down a tick.
N. & B. Apostolou Keys to Investing 104: The minimum trading price change (called a tick) for the contract is $0.10. Therefore, if the S&P futures contract goes up a tick [etc.] .

5. see tick-tock n. (1)

In phrases

on the tick of

on the dot of, at the precise moment of.

[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 204: Right on the tick of eleven, Bob comes in to see me.
to a tick (adv.) (also to the tick)

precisely, exactly; in cit. 1900 the implication is of speed as well as precision.

[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple I 166: Telling the time to a tick.
[UK]J. Greenwood Tag, Rag & Co. 221: They lay it on pretty well as regular as clockwork; and you can tell to a tick when the next stinger is coming.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 174: Now at my diggings in Jermyn Street dinner’s always served at half-past seven to the tick.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Dec. 14/3: Used to smoke it, eat pellets of it, and make a sort of opium-tea as well; yet after a bit he got as fat and jolly as a sandboy. Always ran ‘up to the bit,’ got through his work to the tick, and after his sleep always came up smiling and fresh.
[Ire]L. Doyle Dear Ducks 79: At half-past eight to a tick.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 26: Dan Haxby was a stickler for punctuality and everything going with a dash, to the tick, exactly.