Green’s Dictionary of Slang

-spot sfx

[the number of pips on a playing-card was described in this way]

1. (orig. US) a term of imprisonment, usu. one year; thus usu. preceded by the number of years.

[US]‘Sleepy’ Burke Prison Gates Ajar 8: I was again settled for a ‘four-spot,’ (four months).
[US]J. London Road 84: He had never been in the particular penitentiary to which we were going, but he had done ‘one- . . . two-,’ and ‘five-spots’ in various other penitentiaries (a ‘spot’ is a year), and he was filled with wisdom.
[US]A. Berkman Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist (1926) 131: He’s got a twenty-one spot.
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life out of Prison 236: It beat that twenty-five spot I did back in Sing Sing all holler.
[US]R. Chandler ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ in Red Wind (1946) 132: He did a three-spot for manslaughter.
[US]D. Pearce Cool Hand Luke (1967) 86: Doing a three-spot for stealing a cow.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 62: He was just an old junkie, he said, doing a three-spot for trying to make a buck.

2. a dollar, a pound, as a denomination of a note; in combs. below; note also spot n.2

[US]F. St. Clair Six Days in the Metropolis 15: He takes the loss of a fifty spot very coolly.
[US]Ballou’s Mag. Nov. 398/1: He pulled out a fifty spot, the largest bill he had, and offered to bet that on the game [DA].

In phrases

five-spot (n.)

1. (also V-spot) a $5 or £5 note.

[US]W. Norr Stories of Chinatown 63: Strike me blind, but it’s a five-spot.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 15: Me with nothing but a five-spot in my jeans.
[US]R. Lardner You Know Me Al (1984) 39: I only got about ten left including the five spot I won in the poker game.
[US]Black Mask Aug. III 19: I [...] shot each of the colored boys a five-spot.
[US]Wood & Goddard Dict. Amer. Sl. 58: V or V spot. A five dollar bill.
[US]J. Weidman What’s In It For Me? 261: I’ll slip you another five spot.
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 47: If there were a five-spot left over I’d probably go to the dance hall.
[US]Kerouac On The Road (1972) 236: I saw him wish a well-to-do man Merry Christmas so volubly a five-spot in change for twenty was never missed.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 81: They walks off two tens and a five-spot richer, / Well I got the whore pimpin’ for me.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 38: I took a five spot out of my wallet and laid it on the bar.
[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 88: He had given Anthony a five-spot for sweeping the place out.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 11: I plucked a five-spot from my wallet and waved it like a flag of surrender.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 142: He pills a five spot oot ay his poakit.

2. (US) a five-year prison sentence.

[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 97: I got a five spot up in Connecticut.
[UK]D. Lowrie My Life out of Prison 298: They’ll probably let him off with a five-spot if he pleads guilty.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 418: A term in prison – five spot means five years.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 54: Section Thirty-two. Accessory after the fact. A felony. It rates up to a five spot in Quentin.
[US]B. Jackson Thief’s Primer 135: I’ll take a five-spot and go on down.

3. (US) a five-dollar gold piece.

[US]Van Loan ‘Won Off the Diamond’ in Lucky Seventh (2004) 278: ‘I’ll write the date of the five-dollar gold piece on a piece of paper [...] and the man it’s found on – ’ [...] ‘Some one might happen to have a five-spot of the same date.’.

4. (N.Z.) NZ$500.

[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 144: A convicted heroin dealer and I’m sprung with nearly five spot in cash and a hypodermic syringe.
one-spot (n.)

1. (US) a $1 bill.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 81: I was slowly stripping bills from that little bundle of one-spots.
[US]Sun (NY) 9 Sept. 3/2: [I] dig up three one spots to nudge through the main gate.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 39: He peeled off a one-spot.

2. (US Und., also one-spot sleep) a one-year prison sentence.

[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 179: SPOT.–A term in prison, more definitely as ‘a one spot,’ one year, etc.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 168: one spot [...] one spot sleep A one year sentence.

3. (Aus. drugs) A$100 worth of heroin.

[Aus]L. Davies Candy 90: He looked at me and raised his eyebrows in a question. ‘A one-spot,’ I murmured.
ten-spot (n.)

1. (US) a $10 bill or £10 note.

[US]Durivage & Burnham Stray Subjects (1848) 165: It was worth a ten-spot to see the cuss weep.
[US]Harper’s Mag. Sept. 568/2: I’ll take that ten spot, if you please [DA].
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 137: Two days’ meals and a ten-spot in sight.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 170: I’d passed him a ten-spot, and he’d bowed and scraped.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard God’s Man 73: I showed him a ten-spot.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 288: He must have been robbed before, by some Bolshevik, for I only pulled a couple of dirty ten-spots out of him.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 128: [He] elbowed aside the shyster and tossed the fawning clerk a ten-spot as he strode out.
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 5: He learned that a boy [...] could bring an occasional ten-spot home.
[US]M. Spillane One Lonely Night 69: The waiter [...] took away a ten-spot for his trouble.
[US]A. James America’s Homosexual Underground 71: Now here’s a ten spot, just to show you I’m on the level.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 22: Two dollars, sometimes three [...] But once there had been an amazing ten spot.
[US]S. King Christine 33: ‘Here,’ he said, holding out a ten-spot.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 63: A tenspot was his toll, more than twice the going rate.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 121: The double ten-spot feels good in ma poakit.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 30: Sub us a ten-spot then, mun.
[US]C. Hiaasen Skinny Dip 153: If Tool had been carrying even a ten spot [etc.].
[US]E. Beetner ‘Zed’s Dead, Baby’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] Not that it would take much more than a ten-spot to shut up some of the citizens I’d been talking to.

2. (US campus, also ten-strike) a perfect recitation [f. sense 1, but also the idea of ten out of ten].

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 66: ten-spot, n. A perfect recitation. [...] ten-strike, n. A perfect recitation.

3. (US prison) a ten-year prison sentence.

[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 19 Oct. 5/1: A ten-spot in the bandhouse from the beak when the worst should have been a jacket (an order to leave town).
[US]C.B. Chrysler White Slavery 70: Can you imagine some poor ignorant ‘stiff’ going out and ‘prowling’ some house, takin’ a chance on gettin’ his ‘roof blowed off,’ or gettin’ ‘slowed’ and ‘slammed’ in the stir for a ‘ten spot’.
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 154: I gets away wit’ the work for a while an’ then Kelly and Kiernan jobs me an’ I go down for a ten-spot, outta which I done six honest years in the big house.
[US]M. Harris ‘Facing the Mob’ in Gangland Stories Feb. [Internet] Smooth, before going to Ossining for a ten spot jolt, [etc.].
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]T. Runyon In For Life 165: A fish [...] who was kicking a ten-spot for burglary.
[US]B. Jackson Get Your Ass in the Water (1974) 141: Now New York give my girl a ten-spot and the matron led her by her hand, / just thinkin’ of ten long years in prison just for breakin’ the laws of man.
[US]B. Gifford Night People 159: This swindle landed Wes a ten spot at the Atchafalaya Correctional Facility.
twenty-spot (n.)

a £20 note or $20 bill.

[US]Durivage & Burnham Stray Subjects (1848) 135: I moved towards the money, but he prevented my raising it, by covering it with a twenty-spot.
‘Asmodeus’ Sharps and Flats; or, The Perils of City Life 47/2: Dick, I’ll give the fifty, and you a twenty spot, if you will put it down to me.
[UK]Observer Rev. 3 Oct. 5: I bet a 20-spot.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 359: You wanna loan me a twenty spot, aqua boy?
two-spot (n.)

1. (US) a $2 bill.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 246: A two-spot’ll be enough.
[US]‘O. Henry’ Roads of Destiny 305: We get the heelers out with crackly two-spots, and coal-tickets.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Three Without, Doubled’ in Gullible’s Travels 235: I noticed some o’ the other men was slippin’ her their ante; so I parted with a two-spot.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 25 Sept. [synd. col.] It is told of one producer who wanted to rid his cast of a comedian, and paid him in two-spots.
[US]M. Prenner ‘Sl. Terms for Money’ in AS IV:5 358: A two-dollar bill is a two-spot.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

2. any low-value playing card.

[US]Narragansett Historical Register III 213: We were shown a play-card, the two-spot of clubs [DA].
[US]A.C. Gunter Don Balasco vii: Señor Balasco builds up in his vivid imagination a palace of cards that will some day fall down and crush him as fatally as if each two-spot were a great marble column [DA].
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Private Agitator’ in Ade’s Fables 12: Anybody with less than a Million is a Two-Spot in a soiled Deck.
[US]C. Sandburg ‘Crapshooters’ in Smoke and Steel 34: We are all bones the High Thrower rolled: some are two spots, some double sixes.
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Stew-Bum’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 137: Just driftin’ on the sea of life, a two-spot in the deck.

3. thus in fig. use, an insignificant person.

[US]Ade Artie 50: You’re nothin’ but a two-spot.
[US]W.J. Kountz Billy Baxter’s Letters 18: I cried so hard that the bartender had to ask me to stop three different times. I made Niobe look like a two spot.
[US]Sun (NY) 10 May 8/2: Another type of two-spot is the goop who is always shouldering around tell everybody he gave the house thunder for doing this or that.
[US]O. Strange Sudden 171: Yu won’t be no more’n a two-spot when it comes to a show-down.

4. (US prison/Und., also two-spotter) a two-year sentence.

[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 184: Well, they convicted me at last and I got a two-spot.
[US]R. Whitfield Green Ice (1988) 13: She’s only the gal I did the two-spot for.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 19: Deuce A two-year prison sentence. (Archaic: two spaces, twospotter).

5. (Aus. Und.) A$200.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 Apr. 44: When I got buckled they asked for two spot for the no-bake, but I put ’em on the arse bit for being big askers.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 19: I said OK, they could have it for twelve hundred. I was still scoring for a grand so it seemed like an easy two-spot.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Mystery Bay Blues 21: Pulverising me might be good [...] but it’s not getting you your two-spot back.

6. (Aus. drugs) A$200 worth of heroin.

[Aus]L. Davies Candy 55: I got a two-spot off Ellie May.

SE in slang uses

In phrases

nine-spot (n.) [card imagery: the relative low ranking of nine, compared to the court cards]

(US) a nonentity.

[US]H. Blossom Checkers 107: He never in his life ran across two pretty girls that trotted together. If one of ’em was a queen, her partner was safe to be about a nine-spot.
[UK]Sporting Times 25 Feb. 1/4: He was a nine-spot, now he’s a two.