Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tool n.1

1. as a lit. or fig. bodily organ (primarily the penis) [sense 1c from sense 1a on model of prick n. (3)].

(a) the penis.

[UK]S. Gardiner De Vera Obedientia A7: These hungrye whore hunters [i.e. Catholic priests] spare neyther pye wenche nor beggar by the waye but w‘ their fyerie sowderynge tooles they seale them to the surgeons hands.
[UK] ‘The New Exchange’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) V 4: Here’s childrens bables, and mens tooles, / To play with for delight, / And here’s round heads when they turn every way / At length will stand upright.
Shakespeare Henry VIII V iv: Is this Moorfields to muster in? or have we some strange Indian with the great tool come to court, the women so besiege us?
L. Carlell Fool would be a Favourite 7: ‘Every trades man will preserve his tools.’ ‘Or else his wife will Chide him when he comes home.’.
[UK]H. Nevile The Ladies’ Parliament n.p.: Stamford she is for the game, / She saies her husband is to blame, / For her part she loves a foole, / If he hath a good toole .
[UK] ‘Room for a Jovial Tinker’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1893) VII:1 75: ‘Set up thy tools, Tinker,’ quoth she, ‘and see there be none lost, / And mend my Kettle handsomely, what ere it doth me cost.’.
[UK]Marvell ‘Last Instructions to a Painter’ in Aitken Poems and Satires II (1892) 20: Hast thou marked how antique masters limn [...] Sketching in shady smoke prodigious tools?
[UK] Rochester ‘A Dream’ in Works (1999) 285: I had a Tool before me, which I put / Up to the quick, and strait the Oyster shut.
[UK] ‘Man in the Moon’ British Museum Additional Mss 34362.49v: It was his sacred function To thrust a great T— In his Lordshipps Arse And give him the Extreame Unction.
[UK]A. Radcliffe ‘Call to the Guard’ in Dryden Miscellaneous Poems (1716) 103: With trusty Pike and Gun, and the other rusty Tool.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) II Bk IV 235: Several coated quails, and laced mutton, waggishly singing: [...] ‘tools without their hafts are useless lumber.’.
[UK] ‘A Lusty Young Smith’ in Farmer Merry Songs and Ballads (1897) I 175: Her Husband she said could scarce raise up his Hammer, / His strength and his Tools were worn out long ago.
[UK]J. Spinke Quackery Unmask’d 14: A worn-out Tool, ... not bigger than one’s Finger.
[UK]Robertson of Struan ‘Dialogue btwn Captain Low & his Friend Dick’ Poems (1752) 257: But who will stickle for the Tool?
[UK]Hist. of Jack Horner 17: She laid one hand upon his tool.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 188: And with his tool the goddess enter’d.
[UK]Nunnery Amusements 15: A tender virgin spare; / To drive thus strong, your cruel tool forbear.
[Ire] ‘What a Beau Your Granny was’ Luke Caffrey’s Gost 3: This little quain, with love inflam’d / After we had a chearful glass; / She laugh’d to see a tool so tame, / Saying, what a Beau your Granny was.
[UK] Burns ‘Will Ye Na, Can Ye Na, Let Me Be’ Merry Muses of Caledonia (1965) 136: ‘And noble tools,’ quo’ she, ‘by my faith!’ And ay she waggit it wantonlie.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Tools. The private parts of a man.
[UK]Bugger’s Alphabet in Bold (1979) 43: U is the usher of a young maiden’s school [...] And V is the virgin who played with his tool.
[UK] ‘Wry-Mouth Bob & His Jolly Red Nob’ Cuckold’s Nest 45: So wry-mouth Bob, for doing a job / For the fair sex, was well known. / How their leather he beat, with a tool so sweet, / And they relished his large lap-stone.
[UK] ‘The Ladies’ Tool!’ Nobby Songster 12: But now that I have learnt a move or two, / I’m quite the ladies’ tool.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 25 Feb. 2/1: If therry wanted to Roger us nobly, why not [...] bring us into Court where we could have the benefit of Law [...] but no, he sends his tool to the lower court, where it is handled with much dexterity.
[UK]Pearl 1 July 5: Her face was crimson to the roots of her hair, as her hand grasped my tool.
[UK]Sins of the Cities of the Plain 15: I pointed the splendid tool outwards [...] and frigged him.
[UK]C. Pearl in Blatchford Memoirs (1983) 25: He had placed the head of his tool into the hole between her legs.
[US]Bawdy N.Y. State MS. n.p.: While his tool was playing with a nine inch sweep / Backward and forward as fast as a sheep.
[US] in P. Smith Letter from My Father (1978) 46: I undid my pants and showed her my tool.
[UK] ‘Rangy Lil’ in Bold (1979) 191: He laid his tool on Murphy’s bar / And I swear it stretched from thar-to-thar.
[US]‘J.M. Hall’ Anecdota Americana 2nd Ser. 84: The judge has the man take down his pants, and is shown a truly enormous penis. ‘Why, that’s the biggest tool I ever saw,’ he says.
[UK]N. Mitchison Among You Taking Notes 4 Mar. 190: The 1st class ladies waiting room at Dumfries largely pencilled with semi-obscene drawings and rhymes, with much use of the words fuck and tool.
[US]M. Richler Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1964) 80: A girl couldn’t, anyway, she didn’t have a tool.
[UK]K. Amis letter 2 Oct. in Leader (2000) 652: Well, the bacon’s no part of a porker: / It’s smoked foreskin of mule, / While the liver’s goat’s tool, / And the kidneys? The balls of old Lorca.
[SA]J. Matthews The Park and Other Stories (1983) 21: Yer gotta sister at Motta Siena’ s yard? Motta Siena doan worry colour of de tool wat screw her girls. Long yer gotta money, yer get on toppa her girls.
[UK]S. Berkoff Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 13: I didn’t just hold prefects’ tools.
[US]R. Campbell Sweet La-La Land (1999) 157: ‘Why’d she laugh at him?’ ‘Because he had a small tool.’.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 121: Dildos called ‘Big Tool.’.

(b) a stupid, useless, socially inept person .

[UK]R. Fletcher (trans.) Martiall his Epigrams III No. 63 27: What sayst? is this thy pretty man? this tool? He then that’s pretty’s but a fribling fool.
Crack upon Crack 1: That Dissembling Tool who Nick-names himself Trueman, though indeed the meerest Crack-fart in the World.
S. Garth Dispensary iii 31: Fools were promoted to the Council-Board, Tools to the Bench, and Bullies to the Sword .
[UK]Vindication of H. Sacheverell title page: Intended chiefly to expose the Iniquity of the Faction in general, without taking any considerable Notice of their poor mad Tool B----t in particular.
[UK]Bailey (trans.) Erasmus’ Colloquies 159: This worthy Tool of mine, that is so sparing toward his Wife, lavishly squanders away the Portion I brought along with me.
Letter from a Friend in Jamaica 9: This gained the poor Tool intirely, and he was ready from that time to receive any Impression Mr. F-- would give him.
[UK]Sheridan Duenna II iv: Oh, the easy blockhead! what a tool I have made of him!
[UK]C. Morris ‘Billy’s Too Young to Drive Us’ Collection of Songs (1788) 15: Tho’ at speech he’s a bit of a dab, / In the state he’s a bit of a tool, Sir!
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Tool. The instrument of any person or faction, a cat’s paw.
[US]T.G. Fessenden Democracy Unveiled 143: A sorry sort of tool, / Who can’t write English if he dies, / Will, doubtless, turn out wondrous wise!
[UK]W. Scott Rob Roy (1883) 138: ‘There he goes for a troublesome mischief-making tool,’ said Miss Vernon, as she gave a glance after him.
[UK]R. Whiteing Mr Sprouts, His Opinions 136: They was poor tools at applause.
[US]B. Harte Two Men of Sandy Bar 22: Tricked, fooled, like a child! and through means of this treacherous, drunken tool.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 28 May 651: [He] stated that he took the house in good faith, and had been made a tool of if the property did not belong to Benje.
[US]J.A. Shidler ‘More Stanford Expressions’ in AS VII:6 437: A ‘tool’ is a boy who is not desirable.
[US]Harvard Crimson 18 Oct. [Internet] The articles vary from a serious appraisal of the Ivy League education to a less high-minded account of the social life of Harvard ‘wonkies’ and their Princeton and Yale counterparts, ‘ayools’ [sic: presumed mis-scan] and ‘weenies.’.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 211: Tool A person without much social or academic ability. Any undesirable person.
[US]Ramis, Kenney & Miller Animal House [film script] What a tool.
[US]J. Doyle College Sl. Dict. [Internet] tool [Purdue] someone who is used and abused [...] [SUNY – S.B.] someone you pick up, use, and put back when you’re done.
[US]M. Myers et al. Wayne’s World II [film script] I solemnly promise not to be a tool!
[Ire]P. Howard PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids 232: All you really need to know about him is that he’s a tool.
[US]Mad mag. Nov. 20: This is a tool shed. perfect place for a tool like you.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] ‘Rod Thurlow,’ I lied. ‘That tool’.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 379: Ah think he’s a complete fuckin tool.
[Aus] A. Prentice ‘The Break’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] What a tool. [...] If Matt hadn’t already hit someone tonight, he might have done something really dumb and clobbered the tall smartarse.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014.
[UK]V. McDermid Out of Bounds (2017) 321: ‘He was a tool, take it from me’.

(c) the vagina.

[UK]Crafty Barber of Debtford in Williams Dict. Sexual Lang. II 1402: He accounts it all but merriment to catch his Wife by th’ Tool.
[UK]A great & famous scoldling-match 6: At last he met with Joan i’th Dark / Who took him for a Wealthy Spark, But having tried each others Tools, / They parted Moneyless, and Fools.

2. in senses of that which is used [SE tool, an instrument of manual operation, ult. ON tol, to prepare or make].

(a) an unskilful workman; usu. as dull tool, poor tool.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Slug, a drone, or dull Tool.
Byron Bride of Abydos canto II line 301: Such still to guilt just Alla sends Slaves – tools – accomplices – no friends!
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Sl. Dict.

(b) a whip.

[UK]Morn. Advertiser (London) 5 Dec. 1/3: [A]n empty coach, the mad woman; the whip, a tool .
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

(c) (UK Und.) a small boy who is put through a window that is too small for the adult members of that gang to enter and who then opens the door to admit them.

[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

(d) (UK/US Und.) that member of the pickpocket team who does the actual stealing; the wire n.2

[UK]Ragged School Mag. Dec. 294: I was sometimes the ‘tool,’ and sometimes the ‘stall’ or ‘nark’. Our profession was ‘moll tulers (or ladies’ pickpockets) .
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 62/1: The rest of the ‘stalls’ [were] there waiting for the appearance of the ‘wire’ [...] they were getting uneasy at the absence of their ‘tool’ and began drinking, smoking and reading the morning papers.
[US]A. Pinkerton Thirty Years a Detective 38: The man who does the actual stealing is called the ‘tool’ [...] The ‘tool’ usually carries a coat upon his arm for the purpose of covering his hand; with his concealed hand he will work under the man’s [victim] coat.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 77: He was a better ‘tool’ than ‘stall.’.
[US]Dly Press (Newport News, VA) 19 Apr. 12/3: If the [...] ‘rock’ can’t be removed from the fingers, the man [...] who is always known as ‘the instrument’ or ‘the tool’ will quit.
[UK]W. Sickert New Age 19 Mar. 631: All these he would carry with him so that he, the ‘worker,’ or the ‘tool,’ might have his mind and his hands freed for the masterstroke.
Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/1: Crook Chatter [...] ‘There’s plenty of “sucker pokes” if they’re “flockin” for a good “tool”’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 42: One of these men, the most skilled, is called a ‘wire’ or ‘tool,’ and it is he who actually ‘lifts’ the ‘poke’ of the victim.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 189: Tool.– A pickpocket, especially the one who does the actual work of lifting the valuables, assisted by his ‘stall.’ The word is sometimes applied to the accomplice who takes the loot from the wire so that in case of a search that individual will be able to claim ignorance of any crime.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 45: The third operation is to put the duke (hand) down and extract the poke (pocketbook). The person who does this is known as the hook, wire, tool, or instrument.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 160: He started as a pickpocket and had quite a reputation as a ‘tool.’.
[US]C. Rawson Headless Lady (1987) 46: The gun who does the actual picking of the pocket is called a wire, a tool, or hook.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 325: Tool, A pickpocket, usually the thief who removes the victim’s wallet or jewelry.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 821: tool – A pickpocket.

(e) (also toolie) a weapon, usu. a gun, knife or razor.

[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 168: See how he flashes his sticks! — those are the tools to rake a three-decker.
[UK]T.H. Gladstone Englishman in Kansas 43: Yes, sir, this yere tool of mine [handling a pistol] it isn’t the first time it has seen a Blue-Belly.
[US]E.L. Wheeler Deadwood Dick in Beadle’s Half Dime Library I:1 83/2: Better that you should take the matter into your own hands and face the music, than to employ tools.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 255: I’m as good a man as you are with this little tool.
‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Squatter’s Dream 157: He possessed himself of the ‘sixteen-shooter’, and handed the Snider to the Doctor. [...] We’ll be a match for all the blessed traps between here and Sydney with these here tools.
[US]A. Bontemps God Sends Sun. 33: Tom had de consumption, but dat ain’t never stopped him from carrying his tool [...] Tom sho would shoot.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Pearls Are a Nuisance’ Spanish Blood (1946) 129: I don’t need no tools to handle that bunch.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: There used to be tools / Flashing around.
[US]G. Cuomo Among Thieves 172: You have any tools on you?
[US]N. De Mille Smack Man (1991) 19: His puppy was the long-barrel .45, also called a yeng, a gong, or a tool.
[US]in J. Breslin World According to Breslin (1985) 62: ‘You need a tool to protect you’.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 106: [It] does excite old johnny law to exercise his tool on us.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 20: The tool must’ve appeared like from nowhere right under his nostril.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 186: I’m panicking and sniffing the chamber of the tool.
[UK]Times Rev. 30 Apr. 23/1: If your friend wants to start trouble, I have got my tool [knife] on me and I will use it to open him up.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 124: ‘Do we have tools here, Sonny?’ [...] ‘In the attic, bruv’.
67 ‘Trapping’s Alive’ [lyrics] Home visits with the tools dem / And show a man about home improvement.
Jeezy ‘Let Em Know’ [lyrics] This for my niggas in the trenches with the four way / Still sleepin’ with the toolie by the doorway.

(f) a burglar’s implement, spec. a jemmy.

[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 411: In pursuance of this plan he was to return to his lodgings in Bloomsbury to pick up his ‘tools.’.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 87: They operate all over these parts. They got the fences, the tools, the cons.
[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 205: Tool A jemmy.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

(g) (US campus, also power tool) a very hard worker.

[US]Baker et al. CUSS 211: Tool A person who studies a great deal.
[US]W. Safire What’s The Good Word? 78: Students [...] have taken to calling more serious students a variety of new terms [...] ‘tool’ (or ‘power tool’ if especially bookish) at Bowdoin.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 5: tool [...] Also power tool, someone who acts extremely nerdy.

(h) (US drugs) a hypodermic syringe.

[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 3: Mr Blue himself [...] pocketing two bills from each, though it’s two more if you need a fresh tool.

In compounds

nloke tool (n.)

(US und.) a p[ickpocket who only targets men.

Buffalo Courier (NY) 8 Sept. 67/3: Pickpockets that work upon men only are called ‘bloke-tools’.
toolbox (n.)

1. the vagina.

[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 132: Vagina […] toolbox.

2. (also toolshed) a group of idiots, or just a very extreme idiot.

Online Sl. Dict. [Internet] toolbox n 1. someone who is an extreme ‘tool’. Note: etymology suggests that they are not just one ‘tool’, but rather an entire set. (‘That guy is such a toolbox.’) 2. a group of ‘tools’. (‘Yeah, like I would go to their toolbox party.’).
[US]Eble Campus Sl. 6 Apr. n.p.: tool – very unhip male; toolshed – someone with unfavorable characteristics: Danny, quit following us, you toolshed.
toolhead (n.) [-head sfx]

(US campus) a fool, an idiot.

[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 68: tool-head n Person regarded as stupid or simple-minded.
toolman (n.) [sense 2e/2f + SE man]

1. a lock-picker; one who deals with alarms etc.

[UK]K. Bonfiglioli After You with the Pistol (1991) 332: Every [...] professional team of thieves has a [...] ‘toolman’ who knows how to neutralize burglar-alarm systems and to open locks.

2. (US) a safe-breaker.

[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 148: We need an expert toolman.

3. a gun-carrying robber.

[UK]Sun. Times News Rev. 12 Mar. 1: I was with the tool-men and blaggers (gun-carriers and armed robbers).
tool merchant (n.) [merchant n.]

(UK Und.) one who carries and uses a knife.

[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith A Few Kind Words and a Loaded Gun 75: I was getting a reputation as a ‘tool-merchant’, which was no bad thing when every second kid on the manor was secreting a blade somewhere on his person.

In phrases

have broken tools in one’s garage (v.)

(US) to be foolish or crazy.

[US]T. Alibrandi Custody 289: ‘Sure. Call the pig and narc on myself. You must have broken tools in your garage,’ she sneered.
lawful tool (n.)

(UK Und.) a tool used for committing a burglary.

[UK]R.T. Hopkins Banker Tells All 137: The tools we use in a burglary we call lawful tools; we call them unlawful when they are too long or when they make a noise.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

not the sharpest tool in the shed

unintelligent, stupid.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 98 Oct. 26: spannern. Not the sharpest tool in the shed. A right fuckwit.
[US]J. MacArthur ‘Jack Rabbit Slim’s Cellar’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Hank said that [...] you ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 144: I know you’ve never been a Good Cop. But you’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed either.
[Aus]N. Cummins Adventures of the Honey Badger [ebook] Dopey Bastard [...] He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed but he makes up the numbers.