1. in senses of speech.
(a) boastful, high-flown.
|‘Placebo’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 161: Nay. stope the horse then! / And yee play the tall men.|
|Romeo and Juliet II iv: The pox of such antick, lisping, affecting fantasticoes, these new tuners of accents! [...] By Jesu, a very good blade! a very tall man.|
|Works (1705) 33: Others [...] whose parts stand not so much towards tall words and lofty notions, but consist in..besprinkling all their sermons with plenty of Greek and Latin .Contempt of Clergy in|
|, ,||Sl. Dict. 253: Tall extensive, exaggerated [...] ‘tall talk that,’ i.e., conversation too boastful or high-flown to be true.|
(b) intense, melodramatic.
|Civil War Letters 17 Aug. 60: You may be sure the yankees get some tall cussing from the farmers.in|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 81/1: The tempest of wind and rain that blew in the door prevented him from lighting his match, and with a very tall oath he groped his way to the door.|
|Adventures in Apache Country 156: One can readily imagine that he did some tall swearing on this occasion.|
(c) extravagant, untrue; esp. in phr. tall story
|implied in tall talk|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
|N.Y. Times 26 Jan. n.p.: A tall yarn about the Jews wanting to buy the Vatican copy of the Hebrew Bible [DA].|
|Truth (Sydney) 2 Sept. 2/5: Nobody but an Adelaide newspaper man could swallow such a tall yarn as that.|
|Powers That Prey 205–6: I ain’t done such tall lyin’ in a tenner as I did to that copper; but he never got on to me.|
|Aussie (France) XII Mar. 3/2: They were telling tall yarns about big debits that men of their acquaintance had charged against them.|
|F.O.B. Detroit 102: Blame it all — I don’t like to tell such tall lies.|
|(con. 1920s) South of Heaven (1994) 170: Maybe there’d be some tall wondering about it.|
2. of dress or appearance, flashy; also as adv.
|Story of a Lancashire Thief 10: I made myself thoroughly decent. [,...] I took care not to dress too tall.|
3. in senses of quantity, measure.
(a) (UK Und.) well-supplied.
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 7/1: Knowing ‘Joe’ to be ‘pretty tall on the muscle,’ none were over anxious to speak first.|
(b) (UK Und.) many, numerous.
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 64/1: ‘Tall’ periodicals and pipes, snuff-boxes and smutty cigar-cases, etc., etc., were ordered.|
(c) (orig. US) large, esp. in quantity, e.g. of money; also in phr. tall order under order n.
|in DA].Van Buren 253: Our brethren in Oneida are all ‘with one accord united’ —l ook out for a tall majority in O [|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 21/2: We had a fine chance of making something ‘tall’ in this affair.|
|Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 357: Mrs N had got on a tarnation tall hop – a reg’lar Old Tar River breakdown.|
|Dead Bird (Sydney) 27 July 3/3: The fees to counsel in the Chetwynd-Durham case are pretty tall.|
|Sporting Times 20 Oct. 1/4: It brought her in just forty pounds a year; / Not enough for all her ‘exes,’ which at times were rather tall.‘One of the Lucky Ones’|
|Ade’s Fables 9: Those were the days of tall Hustling: If he saw an Opening six inches wide, he held it with his Foot until he could insert his Elbow, and then he braced his Shoulder.‘The New Fable of the Private Agitator’ in|
|Ulysses 323: – Yes, says J. J., and every male that’s born they think it may be their Messiah. And every jew is in a tall state of excitement, I believe, till he knows if he’s a father or a mother.|
|Gingertown 121: ‘George,’ said Nation, ‘ I am worried a tall lot about some’n.’.|
|‘On Broadway 5 Aug. [synd. col.] After several good breaks, and a new contract at tall wages, she began paying back the coin.|
|‘On Broadway’ 4 Aug. [synd. col.] Your Wall Street odds of a week ago [...] attracted no tall money takers.|
|Diet of Treacle (2008) 153: The money is very tall and the customers come to you.|
|Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].|
|Homeboy 288: I’ll [...] scare up some fresh hustles, not such a tall proposition in the Maintenance Yard.|
|‘No Tomorrow’ [lyrics] My money very very tall / And it’s getting taller.|
(d) serious, substantial; usu. in comb. with a v., such as tall drinking or tall weeping.
|Bertie 76: Wal, I consider that pretty tall farmin’.|
|Knickerbocker (N.Y.) xlii (July) 58: We hear the beginning of some tall swearing behind me.|
|Recollections 37: If I indulged at all, I would be very apt to do some very tall drinking.|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Dec. 24/1: I’m told there was some very tall betting last night; and there’s a dangerous-looking outsider, with only 6st. 7lb. up, that may cut in just when he can hurt most.|
|Potash and Perlmutter 41: You’re doing some pretty tall hustling for a sick man.|
|Me – Gangster 156: I laid in the berth and did some tall thinking for myself.|
|Spicy Detective Sept. [Internet] I can see the slug didn’t come from this gun. [...] But you’ve got some tall explaining to do.‘Falling Star’ in|
|Thief’s Primer 37: If you want a best reputation when you come to this penitentiary [...] is if you’ve done time in Alcatraz. That there is the tall one, the medal of honor.|
|Cujo (1982) 95: You’ve got some pretty tall explaining to do.|
4. (orig. US) excellent in quality; thus tallest, the best.
|N.-Y. Trib. n.p.: A pretty tall excitement came off at Coney Island on Saturday [B].|
|Englishman in Kansas 120: Tall times these, gentlemen.|
|Miss Gilbert’s Career (1870) 262: I like it first-rate. It’s a tall thing – it’s a trump.|
|Hans Breitmann About Town 32: Dey vere pesser ash goot und almosdt nice / A tarnal tall concern.‘Breitmann in Politics’ in|
|Bulletin (Sydney) 21 May. 9/3: One of the tallest presents made at the recent royal wedding in Berlin, was that of a complete table service made of solid silver, and weighing just one ton.|
|[perf. Jennie Hill] Thereby Hangs a Tale [lyrics] Hullo! what-cher Ginger! don't I do it tall? / Bone side of a haddick, nicked it off a stall.|
|Artie (1963) 77: I’d jump in, grow some side-whiskers and put up as tall a con game as that old stiff.|
|Confessions of a Detective 22: I owned in my muggy foggy East Side fashion certain tall ideals.|
|Underground Dict. (1972).|
|Indep. on Sun. Culture 19 Mar. 14: Everybody [...] who considers the acme of their existence to be eating tall tucker in slick schmutter.|
5. in senses of intoxication [play on high adj.1 (1)].
(a) (orig. UK Und.) drunk [20C+ use of is US black].
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 7/2: Joe Elms staid below later than any of those who slept in the same room did, and of course felt pretty tall by the time he reached the sleeping room.|
|Coll. Stories (1990) 230: Guess Ahm lil tall at dat.‘The Way of Flesh’ in|
|Red Gardenias 108: ‘I’m high, wide and handsome,’ she said. ‘I’m tall.’ ‘Tall?’ ‘High. Tight. Crocked. Drunk. [...] Champagne always makes me tall.’.|
(b) (US drugs) intoxicated by marijuana.
|Really the Blues 218: Knock me some of that righteous bush [...] so we can get tall and have a ball.|
|Drugs from A to Z (1970) 239: tall [...] In a drug-induced state of euphoria; high.|
(US black) a large amount of money, substantial wealth.
|‘Use Ta Sell’ [lyrics] on Game [album] You slip 10, but don’t let that small money / Be the reason you never see tall money.|
an extravagant, boastful story, a lie.
|Dollar Newspaper 27 May 4/6: This is a ‘tall story,’ it is true; but we have no special reasons [...] for calling in question its credibility [DA].|
|Pioneers of the Klondyke 165: There was a very ‘tall’ story going about last spring. I give it for what it is worth, but will not vouch for its accuracy.|
|John Brown’s Body (1928) 72: Lincoln, six feet one in his stocking feet, [...] Whose wit was a coonskin sack of dry, tall tales.|
|(con. WWI) Wings on My Feet 17: I can tell tall tales an’ joree jaw.|
|(con. early 1930s) Harlem Glory (1990) 17: Harlem was hectic with [...] tall tales of its kings and queens.|
|Durant Daily Democrat 4 July 21/1: The writer was accused last week of telling a tall story about the fly fisherman catching catfish with a fly-rod [DA].|
|National Hist. June 267/1: Looking at the magnificent spectacle, we had to admit that the men who told the tallest tales had been most nearly correct in their descriptions [DA].|
|Down in the Holler 299: wind-jammer: n. A teller of tall tales, a windy-spinner, a blanket-stretcher.|
|Dream of Peter Mann Act I: Spin him a yarn, a tall story.|
|Gone Fishin’ 189: I listened to the harsh voice of the Old Man, telling tall tales to Joe and Dennis.|
|(con. 1930s) Men of the Milford Road 80: That’s a tall one, Jack.|
|Indep. on Sun. 17 Oct. 23: Many of them are telling some pretty tall tales.|
|Layer Cake 50: It’s him who’s the mad one, tellin tall stories.|
(orig. US) boasting, bragging, the telling of far-fetched stories and anecdotes; thus talk tall v.
|Knickerbocker (N.Y.) XIX 221: One of the striking peculiarities of our people is the disposition to talk tall [DA].|
|Sam Slick in England II 161: But don’t put a drag-chain on to me, when I am doin’ tall talkin’.|
|My Diary in America II 311: They [...] smack their lips over the ‘tall talk.’ [Ibid.] 329: These poor men [...] found consolation in patriotism – in the old windy verbiage, in the old ‘tall talk.’.|
|Musa Pedestris (1896) 174: You judes that clobber for the stramm, / You ponces good at talking tall.‘Villon’s Good-Night’ in Farmer|
|Bushranger’s Sweetheart 180: These literary cadets [...] sauntered in, with their tall talk and consequential airs.|
|Fables in Sl. (1902) 70: They had paid their Money for Tall Talk and were prepared to solve any and all Styles of Delivery.|
|Sporting Times 25 Feb. 1/2: In all of our elections it starts tall talk, lies, and scolding.|
|Sporting Times 1 Oct. 1/3: All his boasts of wealth should prove to be tall talk and ‘swank.’.‘Great Expectations’|
|Ulysses 314: As much as his bloody life is worth to go down and address his tall talk to the assembled multitude in Shanagolden where he daren’t show his nose with the Molly Maguires looking for him to let daylight through him for grabbing the hold of an evicted tenant.|
|Amer. Lang. (4th edn) 568: This ‘tall talk,’ despite the horror of the delicate, was a great success in the East, and its salient practitioners – for example, David Crockett – were popular heroes.|
|Tall Tale America 40: You rile a man with your tall talk.|
|Whoreson [context 1950s] 133: Some black-ass nigger had done some tall talking to the police.|
|Tracks (Aus.) Nov. 21: Blokes turning each other on with tall talk about screwing women in a really derogatory way [Moore 1993].|
a braggart, a boaster.
|Oregon State Journal 25 May 4/1: But the tallest talker and the one that had more cheek than any of us was a certain Jonah Squires [DA].|
|‘’Arry at a Political Pic-Nic’ in Punch 11 Oct. 180/1: ‘To show his true love for the People!’ sezs one vote-of-thanking tall-talker.|
SE in slang uses
1. (also tallen) a large wine glass.
|‘The Courtier’s Health’ in Roxburghe Ballads (1885) V:1 90: Fill Pottles and gallons, and bring the Hogshead in, / We’ll begin with a Tallen — a brimmer to the king.|
|Rabelais V xliii 195: Cups, Goblets, and Talboys of Gold, Silver, and Cristal.(trans.)|
2. a 3-litre (2-quart) pot filled with wine.
|Madam Fickle II i: bella: Where shall we meet at night? maul: At Lambs with the Fidles and a Talboy.|
|Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Tall-boy, a Pottle or two Quart-pot full of Wine.|
|New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, , ,||Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].|
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
3. (US) a tall glass or can of beer.
|Feast of Snakes 25: You can git me a tallboy and a glass of that shine.|
|Homeboy 302: Cooling his brow by rolling a cold tallboy of beer across it.|
|Google Groups:alt.sex.spanking.moderated 21 Aug. [Internet] I stood up and began to sing lustily, fuelled by not only seven tall boys of Labatts Blue, but also two shots of rye whiskey, a rum and coke, three fingers of clear alcohol someone had made in the garage.|
|N.Y. Rev. of Books 14 Feb. 33/1: At the end of my adventures I was drinking a case of 16-ounce tallboys a night.|
|Jax Beer Guy 18 Jan. [Internet] Other servlets are ‘tinny’ (375 mL aluminum can), the 750 mL bottle known variously as ‘Long Necks’, ‘Tall boys’ or ‘King Browns’ .|
|Twitter 9 Jan. [Internet] [G]rab a can, bottle, stubby, longie, squealer, tinny, pounder, picnic, tall boy etc. ;).|
see high cotton n.
see under order n.
see big paper under paper n.
see tall timber n.
(Aus./N.Z.) a conspicuously high earner or other VIP; thus tall poppy syndrome, the desire of the less successful to bring an outstanding individual back ‘down to earth’.
|G. Swinburne 84: The opponents of the Bill claimed that retrenchment should begin at the top. There should be a bottom limit; the tall poppies might be cut, but the lowest ranks should be exempt.|
|Listener 13 Nov. 660/1: They booed this great man, and he had to take it. It was part of the thing — no tall poppies. You’ve got to do well, but there’s supposed not to be any sense of excellence making any difference to human equality.|
|Sydney Morning Herald 8 Apr. 6: Labor is obsessed with the ‘tall poppies’, and seems determined to pull them down .|
|Dinkum Aussie Dict. 51: Tall poppy: Any Australian who reads more than the sporting results and knows how to use snail tongs. Someone who aspires to intellectual excellence and cannot tell the difference between one make of car and another. The species is much hated in Australia and is always being cut down to size.|
|Sharp End 47: To some extent Woodham has been a victim of the tall poppy syndrome, having his fair share of admirers as well as plenty of detractors among the prison officers he has commanded.|
|Warnambool Standard (Aus.)12 Nov. [Internet] [headline] District tall poppies receive honors. The life of former Koroit and Warrnambool student Sir John Eccles will be recognised tonight at the first Warrnambool Eccles Tall Poppy awards presentation.|
|Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. 207: tall poppy Outstanding person who has aroused the envy of lesser achievers. The phrase was popularised in 1931 by New South Wales premier J.T Lang to describe those on government salaries above 10 pounds a week. The tall poppy syndrome is used of a high-flier attacked by those below a conspicuously high earner or other VIP.|
|Guardian 17 June 16/2: Before she fell victim of tall poppy syndrome [...] Wilson was a star on the rise.|
see separate entry.
see tall timber n.
a pint of coffee.
|Sporting Times 18 Apr. 3/5: ‘Tall ’un’ Pint o’ coffee.|
|Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.|