Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shingle short, a adj.

also a couple of shingles short, one shingle short, several shingles short
[var. on not all there adj.]

1. (Aus.) eccentric, crazy; also as n., an eccentric.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 Aug. 1/1: Many simple and ignorant people were led by the incongruities that so peculiarly distinguished John’s appeals to the support of his fellow-colonists [...] to believe that he was ‘not all there;’ but (following the same style of phraseology) he was ‘not one shingle short’ - his brilliant addresses were invariably wound up with the significant hint, ‘All for the nimble ninepence’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Sept. 2/4: One Master Patrick Neill, a young gentleman evidently minus a shingle.
[UK]Empire (Sydney) 23 Apr. 4/1: A Shingle Short — Mary Ann Pusey was brought up for striking a lady [...] without any assignable reason.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes III 17: Let no man having, in common phrase, ‘a shingle short’ try this country. He will pass his days in Tarban Creek Asylum!
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Aug. 3/3: Considering that Cowan must have lost a shingle, Mackenzie arrested him.
[NZ]Colonist (Nelson, NZ) 15 Oct. 2/6: He should very soon begin to think that those who advanced him money were, in vulgar parlance ‘a shingle short’ .
[Aus]W.M. Howell Diggings and the Bush 32: She must be ‘a shingle short,’ what did she mean?
[NZ]Taranaki Herald (NZ) 16 Sept. 2/4: People in court thought the woman was a relative of the magistrate, or perhaps thet she was ‘a shingle short,’ but no one interfered.
[NZ]Southland Times 2/8: [Law report] Julius Seehof, hotelkeeper, deposed that he had know accused for some time. For several weeks the only food he had eaten was cooked potatoes. Thought be was a ‘shingle short’.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Colonial Reformer I 147: The overseer rode off, puzzled as to whether the new hand was laughing at him or was ‘a single short’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Fate of the Fat Man’s Son’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 280: The Fat Man’s Son was an Anarchist, a couple of shingles short.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Dec. 24/4: ‘Rough-rider’ on ‘Sydney shingle-shorts’: / Sydney is more cursed with these than any other city I know of.
[Aus]C, Poole ‘Wattle Flat’ in Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 80: When I’m wanting information [...] of any sort— / Of course, I’ll take it from a man that’s got a shingle short!
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 22 Feb. 2/5: An unfortunate creature [...] whose mental condition might be described as a shingle short.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 31 Dec. 13/3: He reckoned that the whole outfit was several shingles short, and he wasn’t convinced until he was shown the newspapers. […].
[Aus]Gippsland Times (Vic.) 2 Nov. 5/2: A tabbie wot wud pull yew on / Wud wanter be well potty, / Or else she’d be wot they call gone, / A shingle short, or dotty.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 1 Nov. 1/2: M Kropecsy, the Parisian hair expert, says: ‘The shingle will be longer.’ Goodo! Some of our flappers are a shingle short.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 85: Mum and Billy Rocca both say Lord Freddie may be a shingle short.
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Gus Tomlins’ in Me And Gus (1977) 106: He was a shingle short, in some ways.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 11 Feb. 2/3: I don’t believe any one of the residents think that I did, unless they are a shingle short.
[Aus]P. White Solid Mandala (1976) 146: Waldo had to have a quiet laugh. As if he were the one a shingle short!
[Aus]G.W. Turner Eng. Lang. in Aus. and N.Z. 109: A simpleton is a shingle short in New Zealand.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 98: If you suspect their grip on reality is tenuous, they’re not the full quid, they’re a shingle short, or they’ve got kangaroos in their top paddock.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 101/1: shingle short a mentally deficient.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

2. in fig. use, deficient, lacking in (but not mentally deficient).

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Sept. 11/1: The Law of Victoria has just discovered that it is a shingle short, in a manner of speaking, in a question concerning motor-cars.