Green’s Dictionary of Slang

cert n.

[abbr. SE certainty]

1. a definite winner, usu. in a sporting context.

[UK]Man of the World 29 June n.p.: Love-in-Idleness is bound to take the Rous Memorial, and I hear Pioneer is a cert. for the St. James’s [F&H].
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 3 Feb. 3/6: One youth [...] offered to ‘lay her on’ to a ‘good thing’ for a double. It was a ‘cert’, he said.
[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] He knows a Good Thing When He Sees It [lyrics] And he’d planked down his all on the cert.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 159: The ‘cert’ and the circular arriving together was surely an augury of good fortune to come.
[UK]Sporting Times 3 Mar. 3/2: Why has London gone so mad over what was an absolute cert. from the word ‘go’ in the long run?
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 27 Apr. 2/2: He forget to put it on himself, and thus make a cert of earning the two quid.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘Mar’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 68: Love is a gamble, an’ there ain’t no certs.
[UK]Wodehouse Carry on, Jeeves 35: ‘It’s a cert!’ I said. ‘An absolute cinch!’ said Corky.
[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 277: Would Gwenda like a hundred to one ‘cert’ for the three-thirty?
[Aus]I.L. Idriess Horrie The Wog-Dog 225: ‘He’s a cert!’ grinned Gordie. ‘He’ll make history in Australia yet.’.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 215: It’s a cinch. It’s a cert. You haven’t got a look-in.
[Aus]W. Dick Bunch of Ratbags 42: I’ve got two certs – one in the fifth and one in the last.
[Aus]W. Ammon et al. Working Lives 89: Two certs in one day’s not bad picking.
[UK]Dandy Book n.p.: ‘I’m a cert, mother’.

2. a certainty.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘As Good As New’ Sporting Times 21 Jan. 1/4: ‘If he worked for the same boss as we do, his nibs / Would get nothing to ape the smart set with.’ ‘That’s a cert.’.
H. Champion ‘Never Let Your Braces Dangle’ [lyrics] I wriggled out of my pants for a cert.
[Aus]C.H. Thorp Handful of Ausseys 114: Wot, is concription a cert, then, for Aussie?
[Aus]E.G. Murphy ‘Gimme the Ground’ in Dryblower’s Verses 12: An’ I don’t think I’m makin’ an error / When I tell ’em its safety’s a cert.
[UK]Tamworth Herald 2 Apr. 6/1: [advert] It isn’t a Gamble — it’s a Cert That you will be Pleased with your Easter Suit.
[UK]G. Gibson Enemy Coast Ahead (1955) 39: After running up the unenviable score of 2 certs., 4 probables and many damaged, he was finally posted elsewhere.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 91: Not a word more or it’ll be porridge and cocoa for a cert.
[UK]H.E. Bates When the Green Woods Laugh (1985) 253: It was a damn cert.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell Plays Solomon (1976) 11: One cert, you can’t keep her in cottonwool all her life.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 53: If she takes off her shoes as soon as she comes into the office, it’s a cert she’ll take off more than that after hours.
[UK]I. Welsh Glue 53: He’s no gaun wi ma faither or naebody else’s faither, that’s a cert.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 250: I already know for a nailed-on cert I’m going to do this.

3. attrib. use of sense 2.

[UK]J. Maclaren-Ross Of Love And Hunger 140: There’s a cert sale there, if I go about it right.

In phrases

dead cert (n.) (also dead certainty) [SE dead, complete, utter]

(orig. racing) an absolute certainty, esp. in race-course betting.

[UK]Aytoun Dreepdaily Burghs 4: Everybody is realising; the banks won’t discount; and when your bills become due, they will be, to a dead certainty, protested [F&H].
[UK]G. & W. Grossmith Diary of Nobody in Punch 2 Mar. 97/1: It is not speculation – it’s a dead cert.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 7 Jan. 3/3: Train a wife in the way she should go— and she’ll go the opposite way for a dead cert.
[UK]A. Binstead Gal’s Gossip 172: ‘O Irené, Irené, I cannot live without you!’ ‘You cannot live with me, that’s a dead cert,’ the heartless creature wrote back.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 17 Oct. 1/3: Remember, the tip-slinger who has a ‘dead cert’ is quite truthful — he has. It’s always a dead cert for the fly-flat to fall in.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 12 Nov. 4/7: [title] The Dead Cert.
[UK]Sporting Times 2 May 1/5: The rubber at the baths has just told me that the Bobolink is a stone dead cert. for that two-year-old race at Alexandra Park.
[UK]Boys’ Best 20 Oct. 42: That’s a dead cert.
[UK]C. Sommers Temporary Crusaders 15 May [Internet] I watched [the horse] the whole way round, and thereby lost not only my money, but a good view of an exciting finish between the first and second, some hundreds of yards in front of my choice. So much for dead certs.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 123: Lenehan came out of the inner office with Sport’s tissues. – Who wants a dead cert for the Gold cup? he asked.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 154: Well, we can’t stand around here spare. We’ll get knocked off for a dead cert if we do.
[UK]S. Jackson An Indiscreet Guide to Soho 109: ’Frisco is following a dead cert at the White City.
[UK]F. Norman Bang To Rights 192: He’s a dead cert for fourteen P.D. when he’s old enough.
[UK]D. Francis [bk title] Dead Cert.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 76: Davo has a dead cert for the trots.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 74: If you see a Kraut breaking into a cake shop after midnight, he’d have to be a dead cert alky.
[UK]J. Healy Streets Above Us (1991) 123: Dodgy walking around like that [...] two or three days’ stubble on your face, dead cert for a tug.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 29 Feb. 8: The Gucci show is such a dead cert for inclusion in the next day’s newspapers.
[UK]Times 23 Apr. [Internet] [headline] Dead cert.
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 6: A ‘good thing’ might also have been referred to as a ‘sure thing,’ or a ‘certain cop,’ or a ‘sure cop,’ or a ‘dead bird’ or a ‘dead cert’.