Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tube n.1

[SE tube]

1. the penis.

[UK]Nunnery Amusements 17: Within her mouth his nimble tongue he plays, / And to his tube her soft white hands conveys.
[UK]Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies 91: When the vivid tube is rendered inanimate, she never fails to animate it again with new life and vigor.
[UK]‘Llandisilio Hotel’ in Hilaria 129: Lest the tube which pass’d Abraham’s seed, / Should enter his mother’s receiver.
[UK]‘A Twopenny-Worth Of Shag’ in Secret Songster 30: And when the damsel saw his pipe, its looks she much admired; / Says she, oh, what a lively tube, to see it, my heart burns sir, / So pry’thee, sailor, give me shag, and I will give returns, sir.
[UK]‘Lais Lovecock’ Bagnio Misc. 19: Thickprick, whose thermometer was already feverheat, and the quicksilver was likely very soon to boil over his manly tube.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 715: I wonder what kind is that book he brought me Sweets of Sin by a gentleman of fashion some other Mr de Kock I suppose the people gave him that nickname going about with his tube from one woman to another.
[US]Frank Zappa ‘The Mothers of Invention Anti-Smut Loyalty Oath’ 🎵 My tube, dingus, wee-wee and/or penis.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 153: Virtually all the terms for penis [...] bone, tube, and joint, characterize the penis in its hard state.
[US]G. Indiana Rent Boy 72: He [...] starts sucking the old tube, slathers my balls.
D. Shaw ‘Dead Beard’ at 🌐 Yes, that gal is really riding on the tube up her kyhber pass and the mae west is still to come.

2. a shotgun.

[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter II 292: [H]e was deadly with the tubes, only a year before [...] he had blown off two fingers by the bursting of a gun.

3. a telephone [the telephone’s short-range predecessor, the SE speaking tube].

[UK]C.H. Chambers in Booth Eng. Plays of 19C (1973) III 401: (Rings off, and hangs up tube.) That is another mistake — that telephone [...] But my wife thought it would save me a lot of correspondence .
[US]Esquire Nov. 70: Tube, can be television, but usually telephone. Example: Buzz me on the tube. Call me up [OED].

4. (Aus.) in pl., a pair of trousers.

[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 4 Dec. 11/3: [A]ttached to his colonial-woven tubes [were] splashes of mortar.

5. the London Underground, orig. the twopenny tube under twopenny adj.; also attrib.

[US]Alaska Citizen 13 May 3/2: A map of all the London ‘tubes’ looks like a ground plan of the small intestine.
[UK]G. De S. Wentworth-James Purple Passion 20: A red district railway and a brown ‘tube’ ditto took me from Maysbury Park to the heart of Mayfair.
[Aus]M. Garahan Stiffs 34: A train attendant on a Tube railway.
[UK]W.S. Maugham Bread-Winner Act II: That tube, with all those people hurrying to catch their train.
[UK]R. Llewellyn None But the Lonely Heart 120: Then [he] went and fell down the tube stairs and broke his neck.
[UK]K. Williams Diaries 24 Jan. 86: There are two kinds of men on tubes. Those who blow their noses and then examine the results in a handkerchief, and those who simply blow their noses without exhibiting any such curiosity.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 18: Tubes stink like an outback dunnee.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 65: He [...] slipped quickly down into the Tottenham Court Road tube.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 1: Got the tube out of Tooting Bec up Euston.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 172: I got out the tube and went and bought a new jacket in Bond Street.

6. (US) the light rail system (1908-62) running from New York City under the Hudson River to places in northern New Jersey and nicknamed the ‘Hudson Tubes’; it was replaced in 1962 by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH).

[[US]N.Y. Times 30 Oct. 16/3: [headline] Only 800 Feet of Excavating to Do in One Hudson River Tube].
[US]Wash. Herald (DC) 5 Jan. 5/7: [headline] first train under river Initial trip Through Hudson Tube Proves Successful.
[US]N.Y. Trib. 3 Jan. 8/6: The surplus population of Manhattan [...] will come to this section now that the Hudson tubes are completed.
[US]V. Chapman letter 15 Apr. Letters from France 103: The echo and the shells travelling overhead sounded like a train moving away swiftly in the Hudson tube.
[US]R. Lardner ‘The Maysville Minstrel’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 8: It takes you to Jersey City / Where you can take a ferry or tube for New York City.
D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam Star-News 28 Feb, 16: Let’s slip and slide through the tubes to ‘Cathedral Down Under’ and peek over the River into Brooklyn.
[US](con. c.1930) G. Sothern Georgia 290: I got my costumes from the closet and caught the tube at Hudson Street and went over there to rehearsals.

7. (US) the New York Subway [note: cite 1935 may refer to sense 5].

[US]E. Anderson Hungry Men 61: We better be gettin’ on down to the Tubes. It’s gettin’ close to midnight.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

8. a cigarette.

[[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 27: Paul here reappeared with the pipe; and the dame, having filled the tube, leaned forward, and lighted the Virginian weed from the blower of Mr. Dunnaker].
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 11 Dec. 7/3: A cigarette is [...] a ‘tube’.
P. Larkin Jill 16: Christopher, extending his silver cigarette[-case], said with an uneasy smile: ‘Tube for anyone?’ .
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 601: He reached quickly in his shirt pocket and pulled a single tube out of the pack.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 92: ‘Have a soothin’ choob.’ He offered the policeman a packet of Gauloise cigarettes.

9. (UK prison) a prison officer who makes a habit of listening for information from prison informers.

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

10. (orig. US) a television set.

[US]Esquire Nov. 70: Tube, can be television, but usually telephone. Example: Buzz me on the tube. Call me up [OED].
[US]K. Brasselle Cannibals 284: You’ll fall asleep in the chair [...] then get up and watch television till there’s only a dot left in the tube.
[US]C. McFadden Serial 22: Meditation mats were lousy for Monday-night football on the tube.
[UK]Star 8 Sept. 30: While the rest of the world rushes madly about, endlessly pursuing excitement and the meaning of life, couch potatoes are at peace in front of their tubes.
[UK]Guardian Guide 19–25 June 10: Perhaps we don’t believe ourselves any more until we’ve seen our own faces grinning back from inside the tube.
[US]C. Cook Robbers (2001) 174: Some comedian on the tube now telling lightbulb jokes.
[US]J. Díaz This Is How You Lose Her 96: Smoking all my weed [...] watching the tube, sleeping.
[US](con. 1991-94) W. Boyle City of Margins 19: Pags and Sottile are watching the tube.

11. (orig. US) television, as a medium, the industry [abbr. cathode ray tube, a basic component of the TV].

[US]Baker et al. CUSS.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Apr. 112: In future I might be obliged to turn for material to the tube.
[US]S. King Christine 486: Let’s go in the living room and watch some tube.
[Aus]R.G. Barratt ‘Derryn the Dunnart’ in What Do You Reckon (1997) [ebook] The music’s good. The tube’s okay. There’s plenty to eat.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 21: He might as well watch a little tube.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mud Crab Boogie (2013) [ebook] ‘Kick back and grab some tube with us’.
[US]T. Dorsey Riptide Ultra-Glide 180: They watched some tube, local news.

12. (US prison) a Benzedrine inhaler, esp. used recreationally.

[US]J. Blake letter 25 Jan. in Joint (1972) 200: He told me he had arranged for a tube (locally, a toob). Which was a Benzedrine inhaler that we would eat to inflame us during the night.

13. (US campus) a very promiscuous young woman.

[US]Current Sl. III:4.

14. (US campus) an easy course [? surfing imagery].

[US]Baker et al. CUSS.

15. (orig. Aus.) a bottle or can of beer; also attrib.

[Aus]B. Humphries A Nice Night’s Entertainment (1981) 77: We had a keg in the boot and [a] few dozen tubes between us so there was much chundering en route.
[UK]Galton & Simpson ‘Cuckoo in the Nest’ Steptoe and Son [TV script] Let’s break open a few tubes of Foster’s.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 7: A lot of people drink canned beer these days: we’re becoming a race of tube suckers.
[Aus]B. Humphries Traveller’s Tool 110: The old image of a yobbo in a dirty singlet, a chilled tube in his hand and corks hanging off his hat.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 141: [U]nless he upped his weekly home-tippling to more than the three dozen tubes he got from Uncle Ern each Saturday evening.

In phrases

go down the tubes (v.) (also …the tube)

(orig. US) to fail badly, to collapse completely.

[US]H.S. Thompson letter 9 Feb. in Proud Highway (1997) 557: I’m still certain that something terrible is going to happen and this Hell’s Angels book will go down the tube somehow.
[UK]P. Theroux Picture Palace 12: They want to [...] move in, flush your achievement down the tube or gobble you up.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 158: A deal goes down the tubes, I’m pissed off as hell.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 281: Two marriages doon the tubes in seven years.
[US]J. Franzen Corrections 342: She married her college boyfriend and had two baby girls, while Billy was going down the tubes.
[UK]K. Richards Life 54: I lost total interest in school after choir went down the tube.
[Aus]G. Disher Kill Shot [ebook] Dirk, short of cash after his business went down the tubes, sold his half share.
[Aus]G. Disher Consolation 115: ‘If the business was going down the tubes, I’d try something on a grander scale’.
line one’s tubes (v.)

(Aus.) to eat.

[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 78: It was time he lined his tubes again.
tube (it) (v.)

1. to travel on the London Underground.

[UK]C. Hamilton William – An Englishman (1999) 193: Next morning he tubed to the other end of London.
[UK]A. Christie Secret Adversary (1955) 28: ‘That’s Gloucester Road way. Plenty of time to get there if we Tube’.
[UK]G. Malkani Londonstani (2007) 151: I’d tubed it up here with a return ticket.

2. (also tube out) to watch television.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 54: tube it ‘watch TV.’.
[US]W.D. Myers Mouse Rap 19: Mom lit up the magic tube and put it on Channel 5. [...] [...] Mom and me are there tubing, and a knock comes on the door [ibid.] 78: We tubed out a little more and then I said I had to go.