Green’s Dictionary of Slang

uncle n.

1. (also mine uncle, mine uncle’s, my uncle, my uncle’s, uncle Monty Pete [i.e. ‘mount of piety', fr. Fr. mont de piété, a pawnbroker] ], Uncle Sam, uncle Tom) a pawnbroker [the avuncular help he gives ‘relatives’ in temporary financial distress].

[UK]W. Toldervy Hist. of the Two Orphans IV 113: The next week carried the new cloaths, which they bought at Bath, to their uncle’s (if Humphry’s expression may be used).
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Mine uncle’s, a pawnbroker’s shop.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 105: She must pay a visit to her uncle [My Uncle is a very convenient and accommodating sort of friend, who lives at the sign of the Three Balls, indicative of his willingness to lend money upon good security, for the payment of enormous interest].
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 185: ‘None of your stuff, Old One,’ replied inquisitive Fan – ‘I have an Uncle!’ ‘Yes, you have – a Pawnbroker, I supposes,’ answered the Sage.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 568: Spout — dear relation — uncle Tom — couldn’t help it — must eat, you know.
[UK]‘Alfred Crowquill’ Seymour’s Humourous Sketches (1866) 1: My cousin which is shopman to my ‘Uncle’ at the corner, have lent me a couple of guns that has been ‘popp’d’.
Courier (Hobart, Tas.) 3 June 4/3: She had most probably stated that she had left the shawl at her uncle's, (a slang term for pawnbrokers' shops,).
[UK]Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1995) 5: Do not be angry, I have parted with it — to my uncle.
‘Ned Buntline’ Mysteries & Miseries of NY 30: ‘I [...] ’elped a swell to carry his gold thimble: borried two cloaks for my uncle from ‘the Astor;’ and picked up a dummy for a green ‘un’.
[US]Broadway Belle (N.Y.) 15 Oct. 3/2: All the watches under my control have long since been consigned to the custody of my Uncle Simpson [i.e. Simpson’s, a well-known NYC pawnbroker].
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Apr. 2/7: He obtained a loan from ‘mine uncle’ on Mr B’s vestment.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 10: Here pawnbrokers will not flourish, and ‘dolly-shops’ are found to prevail instead, where even the pledges which have been refused by the ‘cruel uncle’ are not rejected.
[UK]J. Greenwood Unsentimental Journeys 13: ‘Mine uncle’ of Squalors’ Market [...] is a totally different character from that generally represented. The pawnbroker elsewhere found is a highly respectable person.
[US]C.G. Leland ‘Breitsmann in Germany’ in Hans Breitmann in Europe 264: Derefore le vent to dat goot relation who may pe foundt at den or fifdeen per cent. all de worlt ofer, — ‘mine Onkel,’ – und poot his tress-goat oop de shpout for den florins.
[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: His ‘gripsack,’ which he had to ‘shove up at his uncle’s for peck’.
[NZ]N.Z. Observer (Auckland) 22 Jan. 183/3: I hear the demand on ‘my uncle’s’ selection of black clothes [...] has been quite unprecedented.
[UK]Sporting Times 6 Sept. 1/4: Look at Green! That massive watch chain has gone, and I don’t see any of those thundering good rings he used to wear. Case of uncle, I suppose.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 22 Aug. 7/1: In such cases of hard-up, I had a resource in a gold pencil-case, found in Westminster Hall some time before. It was generally with ‘my uncle’ for one purpose or another, for money is much wanted in the days of our youth.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 8 Jan. 1/2: The Jerker had been ordered champagne and oysters by the doctor, but being out of funds, and nothing remaining to appease ‘Uncle,’ he did the next best thing possible by taking on ginger-beer and whelks.
[UK]Marvel 15 Nov. 13: When I get on the spree, everything I can lay hands on goes to ‘uncles’!
[UK][perf. Vesta Tilley] Minding it for Uncle [lyrics] I’m minding it for Uncle, minding it for Uncle / He’s often minded things for me.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 23 Jan. 1/6: Then I’m orf before a ’arf hour, / Down to uncle Monty Pete / There I gets another quidsy [Ibid.] So I goes and pops me ticker / In a shop called Monty Pete.
[Aus]‘P. Luftig’ ‘Where are my Dollars Gone’ in Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 77: My watch, I know, reposes / Safe at my Uncle’s, tightly held in pawn.
[NZ]Eve. Post (Wellington) 30 Apr. 7/5: He walked into Bill Derham’s Victotria Hotel and took a suit of clothes [...] and these again went to ‘Uncle’s’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Aug. 9/2: Oh, pleasant Uncle, overseas, / Whose three balls glitter in the fog, / Observe and note it, if you please, / We do not go the solid hog – / But wherefore should we sigh and fret / That thou art kind, and we in debt?
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 278: In the pawnshop, Uncle Sam seemed thoroughly versed in the value of the medals.
[US]O.O. McIntyre Day By Day in New York 17 Feb. [synd. col.] The ‘uncles’ are angry over an ordinance which gives the police the right to call on any pawnbroker for a list of the loans made on a given day.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 8 Mar. [synd. col.] It is a moneyed man’s game, and for that reason golf enthusiasts very seldom have to pay a visit to Uncle.
[US]T. Wolfe Look Homeward, Angel (1930) 505: Eugene picked the tools up, and took them back to the imperturbable Uncle, who repurchased them for only a few dollars less than the sum they had paid him in the morning.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. 8 July 5/3: Bein’ in a quandary there was nothin’ left but another visit to Uncle’s whare [sic] I left me corker corkscrew coat an’ vest for a few bob.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 122: He hands over the fiver, goes to see ‘uncle,’ who informs him that the pawn-ticket is [...] phoney.
[UK]P. Hamilton West Pier (1986) 238: Haven’t you heard the expression ‘my uncle’ – meaning a pawnbroker?
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xliii 11/2: uncles: A pawnbroker’s place of business.
[UK] (ref. to 1920s) R. Barnes Coronation Cups and Jam Jars 12: Gran was left with seven children to bring up, and the only answer to her problems was Uncle’s in Cambridge Heath Road.
[Ire](con. c.1920) P. Crosbie Your Dinner’s Poured Out! 44: Sure wasn’t ‘Uncle’ there with the three brass balls?
[Ire](con. 1930s) K.C. Kearns Dublin Tenement Life 31: For countless thousands of tenement families their local pawnbroker, referred to as ‘me uncle’, was indispensable to survival. [Ibid.] 63: When you’d be going to the pawn and you’d meet someone, you’d say, ‘I’m going to me uncle’s.’ See, the pawn was always christened your ‘uncle’ by everybody.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 16: Everythin wha his dad hand on to him includin, for a laugh, the pawnbrokers tag of Uncle.

2. (also mine uncle’s) a privy.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Mine uncle’s [...] a necessary house.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

3. (US, also unkey, unky) a form of address to a black male whose name one does not know or ignores.

[WI]J.B. Moreton West India Customs and Manners 159: Their compliments of respect and friendship, when speaking of or to each other, is Uncle, Aunty, Granny, Tatta, Momma, Sista, Boda.
[US] ‘Buddy Quow’ in Lalla & D’Costa Lang. in Exile (1990) 111: When Uncle Quaco say, / De pickney he was coming now, / I no go morrow stay.
[US]S.P. Holbrook Sketches 111: In many families, however, the children are taught to address the older servant as uncle or auntee, and this is sometimes more than a form of speech [DA].
[US]‘Major Jones’ Sketches of Travel 147: You musn’t call the nigger waiters, boy, nor uncle, nor buck.
[US]H.B. Stowe [title] Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
[US]W.H. Russell My Diary I 144: We passed through the market where the stalls are kept by fat negresses and old ‘unkeys’ [DA].
[US]W.R. Floyd Handy Andy in Darkey Drama 5 60: All right, ole unky, I’ll do jest eberyt’ing you sot afore me.
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 152: Even the familiar appellations of Uncle and Aunt, by which for many generations every colored man and woman was called, were not peculiar to America, as Pegge’s Supplement to Grose distinctly states that the two words are ‘in Cornwall applied to all elderly persons.’.
[US]E. Custer Tenting on the Plains (rev. edn 1895) 133: Well, uncle, how far is it ten miles down the road from here?
[UK]C. Chesnutt ‘ Conjurer’s Revenge’ in Conjure Woman (1899) 104: ‘Have a seat, Julius,’ I said [...] ‘No, thanky, boss, I’ll des set here on de top step.’ ‘Oh, no, Uncle Julius,’ exclaimed Annie, ‘take this chair.’.
[UK]C. Chesnutt Colonel’s Dream 23: ‘Howdy do, uncle,’ said the colonel.
[US]L.W. Payne Jr ‘Word-List From East Alabama’ in DN III:v 385: uncle, n. An elderly man, especially an elderly negro man. Also applied by children to any grown negro whose given name is not known. ‘Uncle, will you show me the way home?’ A negro is never addressed as Mr. by a white person.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 13 May [synd. col.] He told of an aged negro man, who went to the polls one day to register. ‘What’s your name, Uncle?’ the clerk asked.
[US]E.C.L. Adams Congaree Sketches 11: An’ one day dere was a ole Uncle July say he curious, an’ he watch dat chile.
[US]K. Lumpkin Making of a Southerner 155: If I knew their names I at once forgot them, contenting myself with ‘Sally’ or ‘Jim,’ or if they were old, perhaps ‘Uncle’ or ‘Auntie.’.
[US]C. Himes Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 31: Now uncle, you take this cotton to the precinct station and turn it in.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 7: He surprised an old black uncle [...] rummaging in the garbage.
[WI]A. Clarke Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack 6: One of the ‘uncles’ in that vicious circle of men with a pair of scissors and a broken glass bottle for a razor.
Mail & Guardian Online (SA) 10 Nov. [Internet] The first branch meeting [...] was led by Uncle as Natoo Babenia was know. Uncle was for real. Top man.

4. (Aus.) a money-lender.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 31 July 4/7: She (enthusiastically): ‘Did see the “Message from Mars”?’ He (gloomily fingering a sharp letter from a money lender): ‘No, but I've got one from “Uncle’s”’.

5. as your uncle, oneself.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘At the Opera’ in Benno and Some of the Push 87: ‘Straight griffin,’ he told Miss Gwynne, ‘there ain’t no one can tell yer uncle ’ow t’ spend his stuff.’.

6. a general term of address to a man; there need be neither prior acquaintance nor any form of relationship.

[US]C.M. Kirkland Forest Life I 117: Look here, uncle! I want you to take notice of one thing, I didn’t engage to wait upon ye. I ain’t nobody’s nigger, mind that!
[US]J.W. Carr ‘Words from Northwest Arkansas’ in DN III:i 99: uncle, n. Used with given name to elderly men, whether white or black, as a token of affectionate esteem. ‘Uncle Stephen, I’m glad to see you.’.
[US]Van Loan ‘By a Hair’ in Old Man Curry 85: ‘How they coming, uncle?’ asked Henry.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Dead Man’s Guilt’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective May [Internet] I [...] waved a twenty beneath his trumpet. ‘Folding money, uncle.’.
[Aus]T.A.G. Hungerford Riverslake 35: Hey, Uncle!
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 121: Jam it, uncle.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 38: ‘What’s about, uncle? Anything?’ ‘Nothing I heard about, Mr Sneed. One or two punting around, looking. Nothing to interest you yet.’.
[UK]P. Barker Union Street 5: I hope you’ll be all right with ... with Uncle Arthur.

7. (US, also auntie) a receiver of stolen goods.

[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 421: Uncle. Receiver of stolen goods.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 246: Then I take the stuff round to Auntie’s. Then we share out what Auntie pays up.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 231/1: Uncle. 1. A buyer of stolen goods.

8. (US gay/prison) an older homosexual male with a taste for young men or boys.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 231/1: Uncle. 3. An active pederast or male oral copulator interested in young boys.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.

In phrases

cry uncle (v.) (also holler..., say..., yell...) [poss. from a joke first printed 20/06/1891 in Wkly Irish Times (Dublin), then UK press: the punchline devolves upon the training of a parrot to cry ‘uncle’; given what seems an Irish origin, there may be a link to American Speech LI (1976): ‘“[U]ncle” in this expression is surely a folk etymology, and the Irish original of the word is anacol (anacal, anacul) “act of protecting; deliverance; mercy, quarter, safety”, a verbal noun from the Old Irish verb aingid “protects”’]

(US) to beg someone to stop an action, to surrender; also fig.

Chicago Herald-Examiner 1 Oct. 11: Sic him Jenny Jinx – make him say ‘Uncle.’.
[US]A. Baer Two and Three 24 Jan. [synd. col.] The old champagne cork, which used to say pop, will soon be saying uncle.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Johns Hopkins Jargon’ in AS VII:5 335: to ‘say uncle’ — to give in; to surrender.
[US]P.G. Brewster ‘Folk “Sayings” From Indiana’ in AS XIV:4 267: ‘He hollered “calf-rope,”’ or ‘He hollered “uncle,”’ are publishments of his defeat.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 11 Nov. [synd. col.] There’s something very beautiful about those bragging squareheads biting the dust. They yell uncle so sincerely.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 52: There sat a nephew capable of facing the toughest aunt and making her say Uncle.
[US]Chicago Daily News 7 Oct. 1/1: When his foe cries ‘uncle’ and the occupation begins, the warrior gets flabby in mind and body [DA].
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 95: There were a very few ‘mechanics’ who could make an ordinary safe holler uncle.
[UK](con. 1943) A. Myrer Big War 43: They can’t stand this sort of pounding. They’ll holler uncle in no time.
[US]H. Ellison ‘May We Also Speak’ in Gentleman Junkie (1961) 34: He whanged on each [riff] till it said ‘Uncle!’.
[US]N. Thornburg Cutter and Bone (2001) 184: Then, forcing her arm up behind her back, he told her to say uncle or he would break her ulna.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 23: ‘Uncle!’ Joe had shouted, reaching for the flophouse ceiling. [Ibid.] 152: The ironic glimmer in the cap’s shadow when Joe cried uncle.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 224: We had a couple more go’s at it and then she had me crying uncle.