Green’s Dictionary of Slang

timber n.

1. (US) a thrashing.

[US]Horry & Weems Life of General F. Marion (1816) 197: Clark and his advance wheeled about [...] giving their horses ‘the timber.’.

2. (Anglo-Irish) a wooden leg.

[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 245: As the child was not born with a wooden leg, the Justice thought it couldn’t be mine. I quieted his doubts, by assuring him that it was got before my timber had been fitted on.

3. a birch broom.

[UK]Morn. Advertiser 5 Dec. 1/3: A Custom-house cutter hails a market-boat. [...] ‘What’s your lading?’ ‘Fruit and timber.’ Anglice, birchen brooms and potatoes.

4. a match; also attrib.; also as small timber.

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[US]N.Y. Herald 3 May 1/2: ‘A widow, that kept a sort of timber shop up town.’ ‘A timber shop, Cowan?’ ‘Yes, she sold matches and brooms.’.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[UK](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 81: I asked him for a match. ‘Don’t kerry heavy timber,’ he replied while producing a stolen lighter.

5. the stocks.

[UK] ‘Christopher Snub’ in New Monthly Mag. (Sept.–Dec.) 184: The squire laughed, and then he gives me over to the beadle, who claps me here in the timber.

6. a clubbing at the hands of the toughs of a town unfriendly to tramps; also attrib.

[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 100: Apart from the ‘timber’ custom, which, I understand, is now practised in other communities also, these two States are good begging districts. [Ibid.] 389: ‘Timber,’ was the favorite word to describe the clubbing given to tramps in certain ‘horstile’ towns.

7. (US black) a toothpick.

[US]Cab Calloway New Hepsters Dict. in Calloway (1976) 260: timber (n.): toothpick.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

8. (US Und.) a police nightstick.

[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

9. (drugs) stems and stalks found in a batch of marijuana.

[US]cited in Spears Sl. and Jargon of Drugs and Drink (1986).

10. see tall timber n. (1)

In compounds

timber-doodle (n.)

(US) any form of spirituous liquor.

[UK]Dickens Amer. Notes (1985) 54: There, too, the stranger is initiated into the mysteries of [...] Sherry-cobbler, Timber Doodle, and other rare drinks.
[UK]Ainsworth’s Mag. IV 243: Give me another timber-doodle.
Willis’s Current Notes Oct. 80/1: American Drinks [...] Red Rover, Rough and Ready, Sherry Cobbler, Sangarees, Tammany Tickler, Thunder and Lightning, Timber Doodle, Tip and Tie, Uncle Sam, Yankee Doodle.
[UK]Punch 17 May 201/2: Any description of beverage possessing the properties of American ‘timberdoodle’ [DA].
timber-merchant (n.) [merchant n.]

a match-seller.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry III i: Instead of clasping in my arms my pretty timber merchant [...] I found myself hugging that duchess of the dust hole – Dingy Bet.
Characters in Profile n.p.: This ‘timber merchant,’ is well known as a quiet inoffensive man, who seeks a livelihood by retailing his useful commodity [...] ‘Come buy my fine matches, come buy them of me’.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]Hull Dly Mail 3 Aug. 1/8: ‘Timber merchant’ was a match seller’s description of his occupation when he was admitted to Hammersmith Institution.
[UK]F. Jennings Tramping with Tramps 211: Timber Merchant – match-seller.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 154: These are the match-sellers, facetiously called timber-merchants, selling matches by the half box.

In phrases

half-timbered (adj.)


[UK]Manchester Courier 10 Nov. 9/2: Do ye think I would grapple with such a half-timbered, herring-backed land-lubber such as you?

SE in slang uses

In compounds

timber-head (n.) [+ -head sfx (1)]

a fool.

[US](con. 1843) Melville White-Jacket (1990) 240: Ay, you timberhead, you, I’m Don Pedro II, and by good rights you ought to be a maintop-man here, with your fist in a tarbucket!
timber stairs (n.) [its wooden construction; logic would suggest the treadmill or ‘everlasting staircase’, but this was not invented until the early 19C]

the pillory.

in D. Herd Songs (1776) II. 181: Up stairs, down stairs, Timber stairs fears me.

see separate entries.

In exclamations