Green’s Dictionary of Slang

iron n.

[later use is US; cits. at 1533/1719 are double entendre]

1. the penis.

[UK]J. Heywood Play of Weather in Farmer Dramatic Writings (1905) 118: For with pecking and pecking I have so wrought, / That I have pecked a good pecking-iron to nought.
[UK] ‘Song’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy II 199: Red-hot grew his Iron as both did desire [...] Six times did his Iron by vigorous heating, / Grow soft in the Forge in a Minute or so.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 195: Six times did his Iron by vigorous heating, / Grow soft in the Forge in a Minute or so.
[UK]Randiana 31: I could not help congratulating myself on the stubborn bar of iron which my unfortunately dismantled trousers could scarcely keep from popping out.
[US] ‘Betty Boop in “Flesh”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 29: There goes the old iron right up her blushing snatch.
[US]‘Mae West in “The Hip Flipper”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 99: You’ve just sunk the old boy right up to the nuts [and] the iron just shrivels away.
[SA]J. Matthews The Park and Other Stories (1983) 23: When I lay a goose, she know she be lay good an’ proper [...] I carry a number nine iron [...] I dig deep. Heavy steel, dat’s me.

2. as a metal coin.

(a) money.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 92: Pause before you sell that sheet anchor of hope, of ours, for old iron.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 315/2: iron, se prend aussi pour argent.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 190: Bring the ready iron, my lad [...] It saves a lot o’ talkin’.
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 5: I’d tip you over that there wall an’ give you a swim wi’ the sewer rats if it wasn’t for the iron you’re goin’ to give me.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘The Blokes Outside’ Sporting Times 6 Aug. 1/4: ’Tis they who find the iron to keep me and all my mates / In these grand hotels in clover, for the cost goes on the rates.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 7 June 9/6: Slang of Money [...] It has been called ‘the actual, the blunt, hard, dirt, evil, flimsy, gilt, iron, John Davis, lurries, moss, oil of angels, pieces, rowdy, spondulicks, tin, wad’ .
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 153: An’ ’is mouthpiece makes ’im for the iron and lays ’im flat.
[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Iron: Silver coin.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 108/2: Iron. 1. (Carnival) Money.

(b) (US) $1 in cash.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 49: Once upon a time there was a deck scrubber named Tom Sharkey who had a drag on Uncle Sam’s roll for about nine irons a month.

3. as a metallic object.

(a) (US) bullets or shells.

[US]T. Hampson diary 12 Mar. [Internet] There was still a lot of dirty iron flying about and considerable rifle fire from the Germans.
[US](con. 1914–18) L. Nason Three Lights from a Match 237: If any iron comes our way [...] you get fifteen seconds to say your prayers in.

(b) a sword.

[UK]Navy at Home II 111: ‘Aye, aye, boy,’ answered his antagonist, lugging out his cold iron [...] ‘Other people can handle a sword as well as a parlez vous son of a b—h!’.

(c) (US, also fire-iron, piece of iron) a gun.

[UK]D. Boucicault London Assurance in London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies (2001) Act V: Take up the irons every now and then, string for the first shot and blaze away at one another.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 2 Feb. 3/1: He brough his trusty ‘bit of old iron’ out of the house and [...] threatened [...] to make a hole in one or other of their spicy waistcoats.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 23 Nov. 6/5: Mr Cooper fortunately had a revolver [...] Seeing the ‘iron,’ the highwayman ran to the rear.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly II 93: Huggins was a trifle handier with his irons. In fact Huggins had shot enough men to make a small graveyard of his own.
[UK]Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday 8 May 7/2: [title] And he never draw’d iron on boy or man / As didn’t provoke him much.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 283: Give in! Put down your irons.
[US]F. Dumont Dumont’s Joke Book 121: I – stands for ‘Iron’ that we shoot with our might.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 37/1: Martin’ll make his iron bark a bit, ter keep the game up, but he won’t mean nothin’.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 27: Your true gangster is never one to meet the iron face to face.
[US]Bruner & Francis ‘A Short Word-List From Wyoming’ in DN III:7 550: fire-iron(s), gun.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 182: So I pulled the iron and knocked off a couple of his toes.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 78: When I opened my poke, to stow the long green, the lawyer noticed I had a gun in it. [...] ‘You, and that iron, don’t go out of this office till you sign this release.’.
[Ire]‘Flann O’Brien’ At Swim-Two-Birds 78: Be damned but wasn’t it Red Kiersay himself, the so-and-so, standing there with an iron in each hand.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 23: The town’s full of old iron.
[US]W.D. Overholser Fabulous Gunman 90: I don’t cotton to being called a liar, but if I call you one you’ll pull your iron.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 24: I’m keeping your gun [...] I’m taking any iron that Carol has when she shows.
[UK]P. Carstairs Concrete Kimono 48: ‘You’ve noticed I’m toting a Betsy.’ ‘Betsy?’ ‘Equalizer, rod, gat, iron.’.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 48: He must have picked up a couple more pieces of iron outside.
[US]C. Keane Hunter 175: He saw the cop from the bushes with the .38 in his hand. ‘You can shed the iron, Mr. Policeman,’ Winston told him. ‘I am not considered dangerous.’.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 249: iron (n) Firearm. British, in the sense of a pistol, from about 1835.
[US]R. Campbell In La-La Land We Trust (1999) 143: We’re hard on Private Johnny Hams what come aroun’ totin’ iron.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 240: He thought the Duke went for his iron first.
[Aus]P. Temple Bad Debts (2012) [ebook] We’ve got to show these boys the iron [...] Can’t out-run them.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 30: One of the Stricker and Ramsay boys [...] tilted the table and came out with his iron.
[UK]M. Pryce Last Tango in Aberystwyth 124: ‘A rod, an iron, a gat . . .’ ‘You mean a gun?’.
[US]Simon & Pelecanos ‘Late Editions’ Wire ser. 5 ep. 9 [TV script] Them guns are mine [...] even though I ain’t touched that iron.
[US]G. Pelecanos (con. 1972) What It Was 186: You can’t bring that iron in here.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Lugging a green sports bag heavy with iron.
67 ‘Trapping’s Alive’ [lyrics] Trapping put shoes on my feet, trapping put corn in the iron.

(d) (US Und.) a drill bit.

[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 83: These drills are somethin’ fierce. Give me another iron!

(e) (US prison) handcuffs.

[US]‘Ellery Queen’ Roman Hat Mystery 162: The more I hear about Field the more I dislike putting the irons on the fellow who did away with him.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 76: You might as well get that iron off him [...] He ain’t going to do no successful running from here.
[US]S.L. Hills Tragic Magic 101: Yo man, take this shit off me, I’m a free man; take all this iron off me.

(f) (US) a discontinued model of motor car, a run-down, dilapidated automobile.

[US]Hammett Glass Key 524: ‘Got an iron I can have? One that’ll carry me over country roads tonight?‘ Tommy said: ‘[. . . .] Well, I got a Buick that I don’t care what happens to’.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Feature Snatch!’ Dan Turner - Hollywood Detective Feb. [Internet] This is a rented iron from one of the Hollywood U-drive agencies,”.
[US]E. Gilbert Vice Trap 17: That iron couldn’t go down a hill in high.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 410: He could see Cadillacs, Lincolns [...] a million dollars’ worth of ice-cream and candy-colored iron.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 222: The ’57 is smoking and clunking [...] and Bones says, ‘Gonna miss this piece of iron.’.

(g) a housebreaker’s implement, a crowbar.

[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 251: The bishop, cane, iron, or stick. All mean a jemmy.

(h) (US) a motorcycle.

H.S. Thompson Hells Angels 60: The state was alive with bikes, nearly all of them powerful American-made irons from Harley-Davidson and Indian.
[US]Reynolds & McClure Freewheelin Frank 96: They saw me standing near my bike [...] ‘Dig, I’ve got some trouble with my iron. I just pulled down here off the boulevard.’.
[US]Zap Comix 6 n.p.: Only time I work on ma’ iron is onna Sunday.
[SA]C. Hope Ducktails in Gray Theatre Two (1981) 46: The Brammie boys over from Joeys on their irons, and Abba’s ous, all the biggest brekers in Pretoria.

(i) (US) weights, as used in bodybuilding exercises.

[US]M. Braly False Starts 157: It’s a rare con who doesn’t at least think of hitting the iron.
[US]A. Vachss Hard Candy (1990) 161: There was another guy in the joint [...] A gorilla. Iron-freak.

(j) a knife.

[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 30: If five of us need iron for one dude . . . we better go ask Stoneface to lock us up for protection.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 106: To cease the clash of skull and iron in our streets.

4. in fig. use, courage.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 44: Courage; fearless; staunch.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 108: Willie hasn’t the iron to be crooked.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 27: He hadn’t the iron to extinct himself by bullet or Big Shot.

5. (W.I., Jam.) a thug, a gangster.

[UK]M. Thelwell Harder They Come 153: Arright [...] dat seem to be de iron in de place tonight.

In compounds

iron boy (n.)

(US) $1.

[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Lonesome Camp’ in Ade’s Fables 266: I have three million Iron Boys and most of it is Turkey.
[US]Cayton’s Wkly (Seattle, WA) 21 June 2/1: Fees have advanced a dollar each, which [...] means Grant is in the fight [...] with blood in his eyes and ‘iron boys’ in his hand.
[US](con. 1918) L. Nason Chevrons 183: Well, I earned a dollar yesterday an’ I’ll earn another one today. I’ll remark they’ll be the toughest two iron boys I ever made in my life.
iron dollar (n.) (also iron buck)

(US) $1 in cash.

[US]Cheyenne Transporter (Darlington, Indian Terr.) 10 Feb. 7/3: R.M. Allen [...] left a ‘cast iron dollar’ for a year’s subscription.
[US]Mohave County Miner (AZ) 12 Aug. 3/2: Fred Pomeroy is the mourning the loss of a big iron dollar.
[US]Ade True Bills 5: Mrs. Gillespie had tapped the Bank for seven large, Iron Dollars.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 168: Bill Murphy pulled down seventy-five round iron dollars.
[US]Pullman Herald (WA) 2 Jan. 1/6: He had received full value for the big iron dollars.
[US]Pirate Piece Apr. 4: Two and one half iron bucks [HDAS].
iron freak (n.) [-freak sfx]

(US) a weight-lifting enthusiast.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 244: A single iron freak was making dead lifts of what looked close to a thousand pounds.
ironhead (n.)

(US prison) one who works out with body-building weights.

[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 225: John Henry was a wimp next to these two ironheads.
iron louie (n.)

(US) $1.

[US]Ade Artie (1963) 50: I just fed eight big iron louies into that game last night.
iron man (n.)

1. (US) $1; usu. in pl.

[[US]Sun (NY) 18 Oct. 11/2: I piped Joe Yeager betting four thousand bessemer men].
[US]Eve. Statesman (Walla Walla, WA) 5 Mar. 3/2: Three iron men are three dollars.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 45: A feller who shells out his six iron men every week.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Three Kings and a Pair’ in Gullible’s Travels 54: If you don’t enjoy the one down to the Auditorium, they’s no use o me payin’ five iron men to have you bored to death.
[US]M.E. Smith Adventures of a Boomer Op. 36: Said Chief wires [...] the one hundred iron men due yours truly for services rendered.
[US](con. 1900s–10s) Dos Passos 42nd Parallel in USA (1966) 145: I got a hundred iron men in my pocket.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 125: Hundred dollars [...] Iron men. Fish. Bucks to the number of one hundred.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 229: Did you read about the reward? Ten thousand iron men.
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 145: ‘How much do you want?’ ‘One hundred iron men.’.
[UK](con. late 19C) J.T. Edson Gentle Giant 24: I’ve got twenty lil ole iron men.

2. (US) $1000.

[US]P. Crump Burn, Killer, Burn! 66: That loss cost us [...] eight grand, eight big iron men all shot to hell and gone...

3. (orig. Aus.) £1 note.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 601/2: sense-adapted ca. 1944 ex US iron man, a dollar.
old iron (n.)

(UK und.) a housebreaker’s crowbar.

[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 7: Old iron: Jemmy, housebreaker’s implement.
iron-whip (v.)

(US Und.) to pistol-whip.

[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 108: I had leaped on him, pistol drawn. I iron-whipped him with all the pent-up hate and fury of a warped childhood.

In phrases

eat iron (v.)

(US prison) to spend time in a cell.

[US]Chicago Trib. 26 Sept. 3/1: He explained that ‘make him eat iron’ means to lock up a prisoner.
fire-iron (n.)

see sense 3b above.

iron out (v.)

of money, to spend freely.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 159: Guys like Kinky don’t open savings accounts [...] they iron it [i.e money] out as quick as possible.
lay some iron (v.)

(US Black) tap-dancing.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 12 Nov. 11/11: A solid killer diller with an uncanny knack for laying down fine irons.
piece of iron (n.)

see sense 3b above.

pump iron (v.) (also bump iron, drive..., throw...)

(orig. US) to work out with weights, to practise bodybuilding.

[US]B. Seale Seize the Time 33: He’d been to the joint, and had been throwin’ iron up there.
[US]N.Y. Post 19 Oct. 7: When Lisa Lyon, 26, met muscleman-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger two years ago [...] she began to pump iron.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 68: Les, Junk and I would go down to the weight room and pump a bit of iron.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 224: Let’s bump some iron. Maybe I’ll calm down some. [...] Only two other cons were mad enough to be driving iron on the weight pile.
[UK]J. Cameron Vinnie Got Blown Away 74: Then there’s the gym get noticed. All regular sessions and any extras there’s me pumping iron.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 191: You know what the biggest thing in prison is? Pumping iron.
K. LePage Some Day Never Comes 119: I was at the gym a few months ago, and right next to me was a huge muscleman pumping iron.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 317: He was benching 175. I wondered how much I could do [...] It had been a while since I pumped iron.