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]‘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.
[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’ [lyrics] 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 [Internet] Yes, that gal is really riding on the tube up her kyhber pass and the mae west is still to come.

2. 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].

3. (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.

4. 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.

5. (US) the New York Subway.

[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.
[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.

6. 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.

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

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

8. (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.

9. (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.
[US](con. 1970s) G. Pelecanos King Suckerman (1998) 21: He might as well watch a little tube.
[US]T. Dorsey Riptide Ultra-Glide 180: They watched some tube, local news.

10. (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.

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

[US]Current Sl. III:4.

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

[US]Baker et al. CUSS.

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

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.

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.
[UK]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.
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. to watch television.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 54: tube it ‘watch TV.’.