Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bone box n.

1. the mouth.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bone box, the mouth. Shut your bone box; shut your mouth.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[Ire]‘A Real Paddy’ Real Life in Ireland 19: ‘How could I be after missing him when he laid so fair?’ ‘Fair in your bone-box! you foul galoosh!’.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 190: Jack jerked his drumsticks against Ned’s ‘bonebox,’ with a force that must have loosened every tooth.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]J.D. McCabe Secrets of the Great City 359: The Detectives’ Manual gives a glossary of this language, from which we take the following specimens [...] Bone box. – The mouth.
[US]Trumble Sl. Dict. (1890).
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 11: Bone Box, the mouth.
[US]Minneapolis Jrnl (MN) 24 Jan. 19/3: Bone-box —the mouth.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks.
[Aus]Aus. Women’s Wkly 5 Mar. 40/4: They thought the Marshal Prince von Blucher a rum touch if ever there was one, opening his bone-box to splutter out his Achs, and his Mein Gotts, and his Fery Goots!

2. (US) a coffin.

[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 10/2: The Parson is on the highfly in a fantail banger and a milky mill toy. He got the cant of togs from a shickster whose husband’s in a bone-box. [translation] The ‘Parson’ is begging as a poor gentleman in a long broadcloth coat and a while shirt. He talked the change of clothes from a lady whose husband is buried.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 21 Dec. 11/2: Old Stiffun, the undertaker [...] had a nice, second-hand, silver-mounted, satin-lined bone-box.
Gt Southern Herald (Katanning, WA) 19 May 3/1: He did not know whether they referred to the person who ordered the bone box or the corpse itself, so in great agitation he hurriedly interviewed the undertaker.
[US]L. Pound ‘American Euphemisms for Dying’ in AS XI:3 201: Bone box.
[US]J. Mitchell McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (2001) 73: He is opposed to the use of coffins (he calls them ‘boxes’ or ‘bone boxes’).
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
Pensacola News Jrnl (FL) 2 June D1/5: It has been tagged as a crate, a bone-box, an oak overcoat, a six-foot bungalow, a shell. Chicago gangland mentioned it [...] as a wooden kimono.

3. the head.

[Aus]Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld) 3 Apr. 22/3: The cell, and connecting canal to hold the protoplasm, corresponds to the ‘dome of thought’, the bone box, as it has been called, to hold the brain and the rib-woven tube of the spinal cord.
[Aus]Sun (Kalgoorlie) 16 Oct. 7/3: Prof. Tucker was consulted, and after the stupendous grey matter in his bone-box had been brought to bear on the question, it was decided to lay out the boodle on a scholarship for poets. Rats!
[US]S. Longstreet Decade 310: Where are you, Ivar Kreuger, match king of the world? A world panic brought you in. A world panic and futile strategy took you out. A shot into the brain in a Paris hotel room – and, poof, out you go like one of your matches. Scratch yourself on the bone box and good-bye, pal.
[Aus]Western Mail (Perth) 17 May 15/2: Then the fight began. [...] He never throws a candle away, determined to keep his ivory polishers on the alert; and when he could not set them to work on the bone-box he blew at the bellows and left his mark a little higher up.

4. (Aus.) a rickety rattling vehicle.

[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 24 Oct. 6/4: [T]axpayers are of necessity compelled to travel by rattle-waggon, bone-box, or brakevan, on business or pleasure, wholly destitute of seating accommodation.

5. (Aus.) a dice box.

[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 25 July 12/4: If you see Fatty Mack anywhere, you can tell him from me that I haven’t dropped acrost a bloke in all me travels that could rattle the bone-box like him.

6. (US) an ambulance.

[US]L. Dills CB Slanguage.
Liberman & Rhodes CB (2nd edn) 131: Bone box – Ambulance.

7. (US prison) a hearse.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 104: Bone Box A hearse.

In phrases

button one’s bonebox (v.)

(US) to be quiet.

[UK]Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 9 Nov. 216: beauregard. Then I’ll stow my wid, / Button my bone-box and do as floyd did.