Green’s Dictionary of Slang

shirt n.

(Aus.) that portion of a glass of beer that lies beneath the foamy collar n. (1b)

Mt. Alexander Mail (Vic.) 28 Nov. 2/5: Beer drinkers are asking themselves whether the long sleever or humble ‘arf a pint with ‘more shirt and less collar on it, please Miss!’ are to go up in price now that a number of brewers have made a move.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 23 Feb. 4/4: Hey, miss, watcher givin’ a man... got a step ladder? What for! Why to climb down into this beer... all collar and no shirt...
[Aus]Cessnock Eagle (NSW) 21 Feb. 4/3: The barmaid served him a beer, but instead of drinking it the abo. ruefully surveyed the two inches of froth that adorned the top of the glass. ‘Why don’t you drink your beer, Jacky - look at the lovely collar it has!’ said the barmaid. ‘Yes, miss, plenty of plurry collar, but very little shirt!’.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 9 Mar. 4/2: Fill ‘em up, me dear, a little more shirt and a little less collar’ - a subtle intimation that he would prefer more beer and less froth, a quip that never failed to raise a laugh.
World’s News (Sydney) 8 Sept. 16/1: ‘Mine’s a beer, Madge, and don’t gimme more collar than shirt’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

shirt-fly (n.) [they are ‘always up the gaffer’s arse’]

a toady.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 98 Oct. 25: shirt-fly n. A fart-sucker; a brown-noser; a penfold. A ‘yes man’. One who is always up the gaffer’s arse.
shirtlifter (n.) [i.e. the lifting of the shirt-tail before sodomy]

a male homosexual.

[UK]C. Lee diary 13 Jan. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 18: I said to Dad I thought they were really nice. Blinking shirtlifters, he said.
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. (2nd edn) 216: Shirt lifter, a sodomite.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 122: Leo sounds like a flamin’ shirt-lifter to me.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 19: Australia is swarming with raving shirt-lifters and pillow-biters.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 129: Italian. Pape. These cunts are all shirt-lifters.
[Aus]P. Temple Black Tide (2012) [ebook] His collection of lawyers and accountants and pyramid salesmen and shirt-lifting priests.
[UK]M. Manning Get Your Cock Out 77: Georgey Porgey’s throbbing libido [...] commanding the famous shirtlifter to surreptitiously wank himself off into a policeman’s pocket.
[UK]Fabian & Byrne Out of Time (ms.) 51: Our readers don’t want to know about the antics of nib-scratching shirt-lifters.
[US]D.D. Brazill ‘Lady and the Gimp’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] You used to collect them American comics with drawings of muscle men in them. We had you down as a shirt-lifter.
[UK]Guardian 29 July 32/2: It is a mistake to to class words such as ‘bender,’ ‘fag,’ ‘poofter’and ‘shirtlifter’ as euphemisms. In the 1950s and 60s they were usually vicious terms of abuse.
[UK]R. Milward Man-Eating Typewriter 482: ‘He has a fondness for salty shirt-liftering sea-queens, does he?’.
shirtlifterish (adj.) (also shirtlifting)

pertaining to homosexuality.

[Scot]I. Rankin Strip Jack 52: MPs can hardly afford not to be married. People start to suspect a shirt-lifting tendancy.
[UK]M. Manning Get Your Cock Out 65: Strutt didn’t know exactly what it all meant but it appeared suspiciously shirtlifterish.
posting at 6 June 🌐 I bet DaveD is an effeminate little shirt lifterish type that rides around on a girls Bike.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 335: Right, well then, we’ll have you in the kitchen, working with Chef, the Cream-Shirt-lifting arse bandito pouts in petty triumph.
shirt potato (n.) (also sweater potato)

(Aus.) the female breasts.

[Aus]S. Maloney Something Fishy (2006) 87: Narrow hips [...] very little in the shirt-potato department.
Urban Dict. 🌐 sweater potato The inner fillings of a sweater worn by a beautiful woman. Most commonly referred to as boobs, this version typically refers to those of a more mature woman.
shirt rat (n.) (also shirt hound, ...rabbit, ...squirrel)

(US) a body louse, a bedbug.

Scranton Republican (PA) 15 Dec. 18/3: ‘Shirt rats and bed bugs are the latest alien enemies found in the sleeping quarters.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 12 May 12/1: ‘I didn’t want to make a flop in the Mission cause I done it wunst [...] an’ got all full uh shirt rabbits’.
R.W. Kauffman Our Navy at Work 5: They were covered with what our boys call shirt-squirrels.
[US]Stars and Stripes 22 Mar. 8: Yes, the louse! The humble, inoffending shirt-hound, the cootie.
[US]G.H. Mullin Adventures of a Scholar Tramp 125: The bunk-car stunk. Oh, boy! And shirt-rabbits in the blankets.
[US]Indiana Gaz. (PA) 2 Nov. 35/2: Persons refer to the seam wolves as shirt-rabbits and lining squirrels.
shirt-stretcher (n.)

a woman with large breasts.

P. Voltaire Blue Undercover Episode 8–12 at 🌐 Instead of cantaloupes, she now had volleyballs on her chest. Her new size did made her a true shirt-stretcher like her three friends, and the rest of the station started to take notice.
shirt-tail (adj.) [one’s shirt-tail is (fig.) hanging out]

(US) impoverished, deprived, mean.

W. Faulkner Sound and Fury (1954) 256: My people owned slaves here when you all were running little shirt tail country stores.
(con. 1880–1930) M. Sandoz Old Jules 198: His shirt-tail patch of pop corn and cabbage.
[US]R.F. Adams Western Words (1968) 142: Shirttail outfit—A small ranch which employs only one or two men.
[US] in DARE questionnaire.
[US]S. King Christine 115: She was what we then called shirt-tail southern.
shirt-tail relation (n.) (also shirt-tail, shirt-tail cousin, ...kin, ...relative)

(Aus./US) a distant relation, a family friend.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Aug. 14/3: They were dirty, also; but that was a secondary consideration. They started fighting, and one turbaned shirt-tail nearly slew another. [...] The Law then stepped in, and Gunga and his compatriots were fired home to Delhi’s coral strand.
Ruppenthal Coll. n.p.: Shirt tail relation. . . derisive... distant relatives [DARE].
[US]Sheboygan Press (WI) 26 Sept. 18/3: ‘We are invited to a cocktail party which is being given for some sort of shirt-tail relation o’ hers’.
[US]AS XVI 24: Shirt-tail kin. A remote relationship.
[US]WELS Supplement n.p.: Shirt-tail relative. . . A not-close relative with whom one does not keep touch particularly (though one is conscious of the relation). Sometimes with the implication that these are not the relatives of whom one is proudest.
[US]Vedette Messenger (Valparaiso, IN) 26 July 2/7: He thinks it was one of Leffler’s shirt-tail relations from the swamps.
[US]Statesman-Jrnl (Salem, OR) 20 July 4/1: Shirt-tail relations, kissing cousins, aunts and uncles [...] all get together at the family reunions.
VT Hist. XXVII 156: Shirt tail cousin [...] Distant cousin, not highly esteemed. Occasional.
[US]Times Record (Troy, NY) 29 Oct. 8/2: If Filipinos aren’t our kissin’ cousins, at leasr we now have shirt-tail relations with them.
[US]in DARE Questionnaire Z7 ‘Nicknames and affectionate words for any other relatives’ n.p.: Shirttail relation—same as buttonhole cousin; [...] Shirt-tail relations—if far removed.
[US]C. Loken Come Monday Morning 30: The Olsen girl was some kinda shirttail relation ’a Cathy’s.
[US]in DARE File n.p.: A . . . woman . . . told of a letter that came years ago from an English lawyer about a possible inheritance. . . . She said she didn’t follow it up because . . . she would be spending a lot of money and then having ‘every shirt-tail relation back here’ wanting part of whatever she got.
[US]N. Stephenson Cryptonomicon 605: So, to these guys, you are a shirttail relative they glimpsed once or twice when they were tiny little boys.
[US]The Oldman ‘Surprise on the Farm’ 🌐 A first sexual encounter with shirttail cousins.
W.M. Ross All Passion Denied 27: ‘Jake Neuberger at the Monroe Press is a shirt-tail relation to your Sigenthaler family. Isn't that right, Detective?’ ‘Yeah, he's a second or third cousin on my mother's side’.

In phrases

another clean shirt ought to see you out (also one more clean shirt is all you’ll need)

you look very ill; i.e. you look as if you’ll soon be dead.

[US]L. Pound ‘Amer. Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 202: One more clean shirt is all you’ll need.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 21/2: another clean shirt ought (or ought to) see ya (or you) out. You look as if you might die at any time N.Z. c.p. since ca. 1930.
clean shirt (n.)

(UK prison) a beating administered by warders to a new prisoner on admission.

[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 110: A clean shirt was the beating they sometimes gave a prisoner beginning his punishment. They told him to strip and when he had his clothes half-off, they would accuse him of resisting the search, baton him on the kidneys, and on the thighs.
clean-shirt day (n.) [the one day of the week on which even the poorest wore a clean shirt]


[Scot](con. 1737) Boswell Life of Johnson (1992) 59: On clean-shirt-day he went abroad, and paid visits.
[UK]‘Poll Tomkinson’ in Convivialist in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 14: And never a kipple could come it like they, / They mix’d it up on a clean shirt day.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 9: Clean shirt day, Sunday.
[UK]Manchester Times 7 May 2/4: Sabbath is pudding-day and clean-shirt day.
[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 7 Sept. 16/1: Sunday [...] ‘clean shirt day,’ as it is irreverently called.
fill one’s shirt (v.) [a full, bulging stomach fills one’s shirt]

(US) to eat heartily.

[US]DN V 239: Fill one’s shirt [...] To eat heartily. ‘We had a big supper, and maybe I didn’t fill my shirt!’.
get one’s shirt out (v.) (also get someone’s shirt out, have one’s shirt out)

1. to become angry or to make another angry [the disarrangement of one’s clothes that may follow a fit of arm-brandishing fury].

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 91: When one person makes another in an ill humour he is said to have ‘got his shirt out.’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. [as cit. 1859].
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 142: To get one’s shirt out is to get angry.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 281: Jesus, I had to laugh at the little jewy getting his shirt out. He drink me my teas. He eat me my sugars. Because he no pay me my moneys?
[Aus]T. Ronan Moleskin Midas 38: What’ve I done to make youse all get your shirts out?
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 17: To have his shirt out To lose his temper.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 227: When one person makes another in an ill humour he is said to have ‘got his shirt out.’.
[UK]Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1864].

2. to cause someone to lose all their money (through gambling) [? precursor of lose one’s shirt ].

[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
get one’s shirt-tails cracking (v.)

(N.Z.) to hurry up.

[UK]N. Armfelt Catching Up 223: I think I’d better get my shirt-tails crackin’: we’re due to have tea and the boss’ll be after me if I show up late.
keep one’s shirt on (v.) (also keep one's shirt in)

(US) to maintain emotional control.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 5 Aug. 2/1: [W]e should advise you to ‘keep your shirt on’ when wo see you ralso your choler.
News-Courant (Cottonwood Falls, KS) 12 Sept. 2/1: ‘Keep on yo’r shirt, pard,’ sez Jack’.
[UK]T. Harris Escape from the Legion 53: ‘Call the warder!’ ‘All right. Keep your shirt on. I’ll call your warder’ .
[US]H. Whittington ‘Night of Crisis’ in Best of Manhunt (2019) [ebook] ‘You’ve got to keep your shirt on. You want to get her killed, you fool around with this thing’.
lose one’s shirt (v.)

1. to lose a good deal of money, usu. through gambling or other speculation.

[[UK]N. Ward ‘A Walk to Islington’ in Writings (1704) 69: He’s sometimes as Gay as a Stallion at Court, / perhaps the next day has lost all but his Shirt].
[US]R. Lardner ‘Harmony’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 185: Did you tell ’em we had a pleasant trip, and Lenke lost his shirt in the poker game.
[UK]Wodehouse Right Ho, Jeeves 2: Aunt Dahlia lost her shirt at baccarat.
[UK]B. Bennett ‘The Lights of London’ in Billy Bennett’s Fourth Souvenir Budget 23: Crowds are coming back from Epsom, / Broke, as from the train they roll. / One man there has lost his shirt, / His girl’s lost her camisole.
[US]D. Dodge Bullets For The Bridegroom (1953) 26: He knew he would lose his shirt sooner or later if he bucked the house percentage.
[US]H. Ellison ‘May We Also Speak’ in Gentleman Junkie (1961) 30: Spence did not care if Gogroth lost his shirt [...] it might do the fat bastard some good to taste poverty.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 25: ‘First race in half an hour.’ Hood said, ‘Don’t lose your shirt.’.
[UK]Jagger & Richards ‘Rock and a Hard Place’ 🎵 Who are caught in the crossfire with nothing to lose but their shirts.
D. Newman Then God Created Woman 219: Eventually, the station went broke and EV lost his shirt in the deal.
J.L. Person A Complete Guide to Technical Trading Tactics 2: My stock broker told me not to trade commodities, that I would lose my shirt.
[Ire]L. McInerney Glorious Heresies 95: Gambling was David’s vice [...] losing shirt after shirt in landscapes of flashing lights and vivid green.

2. (Aus./UK) to lose one’s temper.

[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 19 May 4/8: I ain’t a bloke to easy lose mt shirt / [...] / But when a pea appropriates your skirt, / I ask yer, square-an’-all, now— Wot’s the use?
[UK]M. Marples Public School Slang 3: ANGRY [...] shirty, to lose one’s shirt, or get one’s shirt out.

3. (US campus) to laugh uncontrollably.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
put one’s shirt on (v.) (also have one’s shirt on, put it all on, put one’s socks on)

(gambling) to bet heavily.

[[Aus]Bell’s Life in Victoria (Melbourne) 8 Aug. 2/6: ‘I will put the put on, and no mistake [...],’ said Ned. ‘Back him for your shirt,' advised his friend].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 11 Apr. 17/2: Farnan having made his appearance in Sydney, Larry Foley has made a hard attempt to get on a match for some money, but Farnan’s friends are apparently hanging back to ‘put it all on’ when he meets John L. in America.
[UK]Sporting Times 22 Mar. 1/1: I know a brave mare whose a flyer, / Hark! all ye who money require; / Quick, put on your shirt, / On this absolute cert / And plump for the gallant Sweetbriar. [Ibid.] 1/2: You’ll feel very funny, / If you haven’t your money / And shirt upon Evergreen .
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Nov. 16: Punter: ‘Bai Jove! I intend putting my shirt on your mount sonny.’.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘The Babel Stakes’ Sporting Times 26 May 1/4: ’Twas a snip that you might put your shirt on, but nobody wears ’em now.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 22 Oct. 4/7: Go and put your only shirt on / Something in the Cup.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 16 July 14/3: A bush pig is perhaps the quickest animal afoot for a sudden dash, and you could put your socks on him against the winner of the next Melbourne Cup.
[UK]A. Lunn Harrovians 101: I pray thee lend Prety Polly the speed of a whirwind that she may win in a canter, for, O Lord, I have put my shirt on her.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Bulldog Drummond 62: Never bet except on a certainty [...] and then put your shirt on!
[Aus]L. Lower Here’s Luck 🌐 When Mustard Plaster won the Carrington Stakes, in 1902, and I had my metaphorical shirt on Onkus, a retired cart-horse that couldn’t beat a carpet.
[UK]J.B. Booth Sporting Times 82: We’ve all got our shirts on Persimmon, sir!
[UK]G. Fairlie Bulldog Drummond Stands Fast 57: I put my shirt on a bitch at the White City [...] name of Shamrock Polly.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 97: Rex kidded Silver along with some sound greyhound tips, followed by a string of losers on which he was told to put his shirt.
shirts and sheets man (n.)

(Aus. und,) a shoplifter specialising in department stores.

[Aus]A. Shand King of Thieves [ebook] Arthur was ‘a shirts and sheets man’ in Sydney, cutting a swathe through the department stores.
take one’s shirt off (v.)

to lose one’s temper.

[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 262: Don’t take your shirt off, Patsey [...] I know the roan’s as good as ever was foaled.

In exclamations

do as my shirt does! [pun on kiss my arse! excl.]

a euph. but derisive excl. of abuse, rejection.

Mennis & Smith ‘A Song’ Wit and Drollery 200: Shall I toile gratis in their durt? / First they shall do as doth my shurt [sic].
[UK] ‘Ballad of Old Proverbs’ in Playford Pills to Purge Melancholy II 113: But if she prove her self a Flurt, Then she may do as does my shirt.
hold on to your shirt!

calm down!

[US](con. 1949) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 123: Hold on to your shirt, Costa. The ribs are workin’.
keep your shirt on! (also keep your jumper on!)

calm down! don’t lose (emotional) control!

Spirit of Times 4 Nov. 447/3: I say, you durned ash cats, just keep yer shirts on, will ye?
[UK]Bucks Chron. 23 Jan. 2/7: He said the last speaker had been sent there to insult him by a crew. (cries of ‘No, no,’ and ‘Keep your shirt in’).
[UK]Leamington Spa Courier 21 Nov. 7/3: ‘It was not very pleasant to have to shout to such an orderly lot’ [...] (A voice: ‘Keep your shirt in’ [sic]).
[UK]Dumfries & Galloway Standard : Mr Grierson: I think I have got my ears; and if I am wrong the Provost will correct me. —Mr Thomson O, Mr Grierson, keep your shirt on.
[UK]Manchester Courier 24 May 10/4: Keep your shirt on, Captain.
[UK]Sheffield Eve. Teleg. (Yorks.) 25 Jan. 4/1: She put the telephone to her ear, and was startled by hearing the remark [...] ‘Well, you might as well keep your shirt on’.
Labour Leader (London) 10 Nov. 6/4: The doctor shook himself loose. ‘Keep your shirt on, Hudson [...] There wasn’t anything in the pills that will hurt the kid’.
[UK]Sheffield Wkly Teleg. 6 June 4/2: ‘Keep your shirt on, sonny,’ said the sallow man.
[Aus]Morn. Post (Geraldton, WA) 11 May 2/7: We should say to the loathsome, knock-kneed piebald jackdaw that infests the editorial dugout of theWeekly Herald—Keep your shirt on!
[US]‘O. Henry’ letter in Rolling Stones (1913) 281: My Dear Col. Griffith: Keep your shirt on.
[Aus]Albury Banner (NSW) 31 Aug. 25/3: ‘Unless you are more courteous I’ll not tend to you at all!’ ‘Now, keep your shirt on, little girl; don’t get starchy!’.
[US]J. London Smoke Bellew (1926) 192: ‘Hold on,’ Harding roared. ‘Keep your shirts on. That man belongs to me.’.
[UK]Aberdeen Eve. Exp. 15 Sept. 2/6: Mr Milne—l have a correction make. The Chairman —You will get your turn. Go on, Mr Lunan. Milne—Keep your shirt on. The Chairman —I cannot have that.
[Aus]Advocate (Melbourne) 6 Sept. 36/3: ‘Keep your shirt on, boss [...] The only difference between you and me is that you're makin’ your second million, while I’m still workin' on my first’.
[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 86: ‘Keep your shirt on!’ growls the Kid.
[UK]Shields Dly News 13 July 4/3: Occasionally one could also hear remarks from the listening crowd; ‘Down in front! Take your hat off! Keep your shirt on! Attaboy, Lindy!’.
[US]R. Fisher Walls Of Jericho 282: Keep your jumper on – I’m the next guy.
[US]E.S. Gardner ‘Honest Money’ in Penzler Pulp Fiction (2006) 36: Keep your shirt on, keep your shirt on.
[UK]Gloucester Jrnl 21 Mar. 20/1: You took the job. and if you can't do it, well in Gawd's name get out it. and let a tetter man have a try! See? Keep your shirt on. Elegant, keep your shirt on. It's orl right.
[US]A. Kober Parm Me 140: ‘Jennie, I will have to ask you to curb your impatience and to keep your shirt on,’ said president Fine.
[Aus]D. Niland Big Smoke 38: Keep your shirt on, Jack. I’m not bloody deaf, though I might be dumb.
[Aus](con. 1944) L. Glassop Rats in New Guinea 181: She’s jake, mate. Keep yer shirt on.
[UK]P. Theroux Family Arsenal 65: Keep your shirt on sister.
[Ire](con. 1930s–50s) E. Mac Thomáis Janey Mack, Me Shirt is Black 59: ‘Keep yer shirt on, I’m coming,’ me mother would cry out.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 65/2: keep your shirt on advice not to lose your temper or be so impatient, from habit of removing shirt before fighting, eg ‘Okay, keep your shirt on, I didn’t mean it.’.
[Ire]F. Mac Anna Ship Inspector 79: It’s only a record [...] Keep your shirt on.
[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.
[Aus]G. Disher Heat [ebook] Wyatt prodded her with his gun barrel. ‘Okay, okay, keep your shirt on’.