Green’s Dictionary of Slang

floater n.1

1. of inanimate objects.

(a) [mid-19C–1910s] a suet dumpling.

(b) [late 19C] the (flaccid) penis.

(c) [late 19C+] (orig. US) a dead body found floating in water.

(d) [1910s+] (Aus./N.Z., also pie floater) a meat pie floating in pea soup.

(e) [1940s+] (Aus./N.Z., also butterfly) in two-up, a coin that fails to spin.

(f) [1980s] (US Und.) a stolen gun which is used in various crimes by different criminals.

(g) [1980s+] a large piece of excrement that cannot be flushed away; also in fig. use.

(h) [1990s+] (N.Z.) a fried scone.

2. in fig. uses, of humans.

(a) [mid-19C+] (Aus./US) a wanderer; a person of no fixed occupation, living on their wits.

(b) [late 19C+] (US) a migratory worker.

(c) [1930s+] (UK prison) an old magazine, book or newspaper that is smuggled irregularly from cell to cell.

(d) [1940s+] (gay) a homosexual prostitute who works only in towns where he is unknown and in which he does not live.

(e) [1970s] a prisoner on a short-term sentence.