Green’s Dictionary of Slang

full hand n.


1. (Aus. Und.) a five-year prison sentence.

[Aus]S.J. Baker in Sun. Herald (Sydney) 8 June 9/3: Slang words for sentences of various lengths include: ‘deuce,’ two months; ‘drag,’ three months; ‘sprat,’ six months; ‘the clock,’ twelve months; ‘spin’ or ‘full hand,’ five years; ‘brick,’ ten years; ‘the lot,’ life imprisonment.

2. (Aus. Und) a life sentence.

[Aus]K. Tennant Joyful Condemned 38: A life sentence, a full hand, is fifteen years — with remissions.

3. (also full house, nap hand) a simultaneous dose of both syphilis and gonorrhoea; but note cite 1958.

[US] ‘Argot of the Sea’ in AS XV:4 Dec. 450/2: full house. A sailor contracting several diseases at the same time complains of a full house.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 75/2: Full house. Simultaneous infection with gonorrhea and syphilis, often accompanied by body lice or crabs.
[UK]C. Lee diary 13 Nov. in Eight Bells & Top Masts (2001) 179: Half of them have got a full house anyway [...] gonorrhoea, diarrhoea and pyorrhoea .
[US]L.F. Cooley Run For Home (1959) 170: He knew that a ‘full house’ meant coincidental cases of gonorrhea and syphilis.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 184: Full house To have both syphilis and gonorrhoea.
[UK](con. WW2) T. Jones Heart of Oak [ebook] I’d had a knee trembler with a bird outside the Heffelent and got a nap hand ... and I went adrift ‘cos I didn’t want to be in the rattle for the next bleeding ten years.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

4. an infestation of both head lice and body lice.

[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 184: Full house [...] To have more than one form of body infestation with parasites, e.g., both head and body lice.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

5. (US milit.) a combination of any varieties of disease.

[US] ‘Imaginary Diseases’ in AS XXII:4 Apr. 305/1: full house. This generally means, in connection with these fictitious diseases, a combination of any number of them, usually the Crud and the Lergy. Soldiers at a port of embarkation have been told in detail about the foregoing ailments and then told: ‘If you get a full house, you might just as well stay over there.’.

In phrases

play a full hand (v.)

see under play v.