Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tack n.1

[SE tack, solidity or tackle, food]

1. (UK Und.) in pl., money, either notes or coins.

[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.

2. (orig. naut.) food, ship’s biscuit.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 28 Apr. 2/7: I’m not a cook but I believe that bone soup is first-rate tack.
[US](con. 1875) F.T. Bullen Cruise of the ‘Cachalot’ 188: I’ve et some dam queer tack in my time.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 24 Aug. 750: Ham and Eggs and Tea and Coffee [...] and other good tack.
[UK]Sporting Times 13 May 2/5: Your predecessor used to bring his own tack in a poverty-stricken black tin box — looked horrible and doubtless tasted so.
[US]Bemidji Dly Pioneer (MN) 30 Mar. 2/2: Scouse or lobscouse, a parosn’s face sea pie, junk, tack, slush and duff —there’ a meal ye can’t beat [...] Tack and slush is the sailor’s bread and butter.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 159: Coffee and cake – beastly common tack.
[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 84: Some sort of salesman of some kind of biscuits or some such tack.

3. drink.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 17 June 3/1: Sneaking away from the bar with five bottles of the ‘real tack’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 25 July 7/1: Before going in, however, Mr. Backblocks (such was the supporter’s name) suggested that a ‘nip’ would settle the champagne down and cut the cobwebs out of their throats. ‘All right, […] there’s some “grand tack” up stairs.’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Oct. 14/1: You can get it in Sydney; but there it is so messed up with water and coloring and flavoring matter that 80 per cent. of the bite is out of it. Here we get the ‘rale white tack,’ straight from the still – the proper stuff to run amok on!
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 65: It ain’t the tack to do graft on.
Betty Boop ‘The Hold up Rag’ in Bum Bandit [cartoon lyrics] Bring me a barrel of whiskey, / A barrel of good old Three Star, / A handful of tacks for a chaser, / And a light for this lousy cigar.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld) 1 Mar. 10/4: Cripes, it was corker tack.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 71: A dose he was after makin up in a glass, desperate-lookin red tack.
[Ire]B. Behan Scarperer (1966) 109: As for the other tack, Barsac and Chablis [...] worse still.
[UK]P. Terson Night to Make the Angels Weep (1967) I x: saxon: Wine, you mean? dig: Yeah, any old tack.
[Ire]T. Murphy Thief of a Christmas in Plays: 2 (1993) Act II: Aisy on the tack, Séamus.

4. money [separate development to sense 1].

[UK]K. Howard Small Time Crooks 43: Some swell dames with plenty of tack would like to keep a husky like Micky Donovan.

In phrases

break the tack (v.)

to drink after a period of abstinence.

[UK]F. Slee diary 3 Oct. [Internet] Many lifelong teetotallers broke the tack and mucked in down the Canteen or Mess.
go on the tack (v.)

to abstain from alcohol [? SE tackle].

[UK]F. Slee diary 19 Nov. [Internet] Went on the tack for an indefinite period.
soft tack (n.)

1. (orig. naut.) bread as opposed to biscuits or hard tack.

[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 38: Bring us plenty of murphies, and eggs, and soft tack.
[UK]Marryat Peter Simple (1911) 219: The gun-room steward then came back with a basket of soft tack, i.e. loaves of bread.
[US]E.T. Perkins Na Motu 80: Indulge me with ‘soft tack.’.
[US]E.K. Wightman letter 1–2 June in Longacre From Antietam to Fort Fisher (1985) 186: Bring me four loaves of ‘soft tack.’.
[US]W.H. Thomes Slaver’s Adventures 206: The alligators [...] snaps ’em up like a piece of soft tack.
[US]G. Davis Recoll. Sea-Wanderer 213: We laid in a stack of cheese and 'soft tack,' and some whisky.
[US](con. 1860s) W. Goss Recollections of a Private 8: We were marched to barracks, dignified by the name of ‘Soldiers’ Retreat,’ where a half loaf of ‘soft-tack,’ as we had already begun to call wheat bread, was issued with a piece of ‘salt junk.’.
[US]A.J. Boyd Shellback 267: Perhaps you’d like soft tack and roast turkey?

2. (Aus.) a soft drink, as opposed to hard liquor.

[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 4 Jan. 2/4: A certain gentleman vho derives an income from the soft tack business has lately taken unto himself a young bride.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 13 Dec. 17/2: ‘I never thort ter see yer as bad as this; but, give it a name, we has plenty soft tack fer them as likes it.’ I feel mean an’ narked like, but I keeps the brake down agin liquor an’ takes limejooce corjal, an’ arskes M’Taggart to ‘name ’is poison.’.
[Aus]J. Furphy Rigby’s Romance (1921) Ch. vii: [Internet] Come and have a drink of soft tack before I go.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 5 Aug. 47/2: Afterwards, when Bill suggests beer, I says I’ve chucked it, an’ I goes out an’ gets soft tack.