Green’s Dictionary of Slang

collar n.

[plays on SE collar]

1. visual resemblance.

(a) the hangman’s noose.

[UK]Hickscorner Civ: By cryst I recke not a feder Euen now I was dubbed a knyght Where at Tybourne of the collar And of the stewes I am made controller Of all the houses of lechery.
[UK]Dick of Devonshire in Bullen II (1883) IV ii: Collers, halters, and hangmen are to me bracelets and friendly companions.
[UK]E. Gayton Wil Bagnals Ghost 32: Hab, nab the fool did simply choose / Two such (as brought him to the nooze) [...] Had he but been my follower, / He’d slipt his neck out of the Collar.

(b) the foam on a glass of beer.

[Aus]Dly News (Perth) 3 Aug. 2/8: Beer-drinkers in Munich are congratulating themselves because of a new law. It imposes upon saloon-keepers a fine of £25, with two weeks’ imprisonment, if they serve a patron with a glass of beer which has too deep a collar - that is, too much froth.
[US]Omaha Daily Bee (NE) 14 Aug. 15/1: It limits the beer collar to five eighths of an inch.
Sun (Kalgoorlie) 8 Mar. 9/4: Wearing collars these dog days of summer is quite enough over the odds, but to be compelled to drink them is even worse. Just fancy after encountering one of Boulder’s hot dusty days, and calling for a pint, to have it served out to you with a high collar nicely frilled and frothed!
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 22 Mar. [synd. col.] Beer with high collars sells for 20 cents a glass.
[Aus]Eve. News (Sydney) 23 Feb. 4/4: Hey, miss, watcher givin’ a man... got a step ladder? What for! Why to climb down into this beer... all collar and no shirt.
[Aus]H. Drake-Brockman Blister Act I: ’Struth, it’s hot. I want a long ’un. Not too much collar on it, either.
[Aus]Cessnock Eagle (NSW) 21 Feb. 4/3: The barmaid served him a beer, but instead of drinking it the abo. ruefully surveyed the two inches of froth that adorned the top of the glass. ‘Why don’t you drink your beer, Jacky - look at the lovely collar it has!’ said the barmaid. ‘Yes, miss, plenty of plurry collar, but very little shirt!’ .
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 9 Mar. 4/2: ‘Fill ‘em up, me dear, a little more shirt and a little less collar’ - a subtle intimation that he would prefer more beer and less froth, a quip that never failed to raise a laugh.
[Aus]Cusack & James Come in Spinner (1960) 331: Lofty commented adversely upon the collar that foamed over the top.
World’s News (Sydney) 8 Sept. 16/1: ‘Mine’s a beer, Madge, and don’t gimme more collar than shirt’.
[UK](con. 1930s) D. Behan Teems of Times and Happy Returns 159: ‘Ever see a head on stout the likes of that eh?’ [...] ‘A lovely collar,’ said Peader.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Yarns of Billy Borker 68: At least we haven’t watered that pumpkin and put a collar on it like you do with your beer.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

(c) (drugs) in a makeshift syringe, the strip of paper wrapped around a dropper to ensure a tight fit with the needle.

[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 21: He showed me how to make a collar out of paper to fit the needle to an eyedropper.
[US] ‘Sl. of Watts’ in Current Sl. III:2.
[US]E. Grogan Ringolevio 39: He made sure that the collar, a long thin strip of wet paper, fit the needle tight to the end of the eyedropper.

2. legitimate work; i.e. that in which one wears a SE collar (the original image may have referred to working horses).

[UK]Paul Pry 11 Dec. n.p.: He keeps them at the ‘collar’ till a most unreasonable hour; and I ask you, Mr. Paul, whether it is not a cruel thing, to work a willing horse to death?
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Oct. n.p.: [...] Back again to collar, Funds run low, reduced to half a dollar [F&H].
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 26 July 28/2: I have been in a store also for several years and have good references, but I spent £30 roaming all over M.L. seeking ‘collar.’ I know of hundreds of unemployed.
[US]T.A. Dorgan Daffydils 16 Dec. [synd. cartoon strip] If a girl has a collar steady for for two years, is she entitled to a tie too.
[NZ]‘Anzac’ On the Anzac Trail 37: So we got into the collar straight away [...] and put in overtime imbibing engineering knowledge.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 51: At least you were more or less your own boss mini-cabbing. ‘I s’pose that won’t seem too much like collar.’.
[UK]New Musical Express 7 Mar. n.p.: The first Mrs. Sovereign who ever did a day’s collar in her life [KH].

3. (US) from collar v.

(a) in fig. use of sense 3b, any kind of restraint, e.g. marriage.

[UK] ‘’Arriet on Labour’ in Punch 26 Aug. 89/1: Thinks I if this is married life, ’Arriet’s not game for collar.

(b) an arrest; thus give the collar, get the collar v.

[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 7 Sept. n.p.: He would squeal like a pig if the ‘collar’ was put on him.
[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 378: He went to get this plunder [...] and at the moment he claimed and took the cask into his possession, both Jackson and ‘Schultz’ were ‘given the collar’ by U.S. Detectives.
[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: A member of the thrown-out ‘brigade’ [...] entreats the newcomer not to ‘give it away,’ which causes that party to inquire if they take him for a ‘gillie,’ a ‘guy’ or a ‘flat,’ and if they are not afraid they will ’get the collar’?
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 24 Nov. 6/2: ‘I’ve a good mind to give you the collar anyhow [...] I’ll chuck you into the cooler’.
[US]S. Bailey Ups and Downs of a Crook’s Life 40: He [...] had ‘got the collar’ in a down-town bank. He was railroaded up to Sing Sing.
[US]H.F. Wood ‘Justice in a Quandary’ in Good Humor 178: Patsy sent me round to see as if you wouldn’t give him the collar.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘Red Mike’ Sandburrs 60: A cop is wit’ him. Oh, yes! he gets d’ collar.
[US]J. McCree ‘Types’ Variety Stage Eng. Plays [Internet] To avoid a yanking collar I have divied with the sleuth.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 28: It ain’t a collar.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Hottest Guy in the World’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 365: Brannigan is not acting like a copper making a collar.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 11 Nov. [synd. col.] Theorists argue Leopold and Leob would have got away with the killing of Bobby Franks had not Leopold’s spectacles been found near the body. Smart cops insist, however [...] finding the ‘cheaters’ merely hastened the collar.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 17: No other cops tip their mitts until they’ve made their collars, but Halley and Kefauver telegraphed their punches.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 17: I know how it is, your first collar always seems the greatest crime.
[US]R. Dougherty Commissioner 24: It would be, in the language of the cops, a ‘good collar’.
[US]N. De Mille Smack Man (1991) 99: We have a lot of shit to tie up before we make a collar.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 65: The arresting officer had been too eager for a ‘collar’.
[US](con. 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 10: And if your snitch fund’s still green, I’ll get you some fucking-A collars.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Wind & Monkey (2013) [ebook] So they decided to swoop, arrest Les and squeeze the information out of him [...] And get themselves a nice big collar at the same time.
[US]T. Dorsey Hurricane Punch 44: You’ll need my street sense if you want to nail this collar.
[UK]T. Black Gutted 82: Fitz had taken all the collars, whilst some of his colleagues had taken their jotters.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 30: We make every possible collar we can. We terrorize customers, hassle the dealing crews.
[UK]K. Sampson Killing Pool 9: Fuck sake, girl, a collar is a collar is a collar.
[US]‘Harry Brandt’ Whites 5: The 2-9 Gang Unit [...] were already harvesting collars, plasti-cuffing belly-down bangers like bundling wheat.

(c) a police officer.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 22 Jan. 3: Jes de same I t’ink de collars could jam him for somethin’ else.
S.F. Chron. 6 June 11/5: A collar pinches me.
[US]St Paul Globe (MN) 3 June n.p.: A collar glued him before he could blow an’ the beak handed him a ten-spot.
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 259: He busted the collar’s smeller. He broke the officer’s nose.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 401: Collar. A policeman.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

(d) the person who has been arrested.

[UK]Observer Mag. 14 May 51: Obstreperous collars have been known to ‘fall while being escorted to the lavatory’.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 65: He turned and looked at the prisoner, then snarled at the two cops. ‘You bring a collar into this house chewin’ gum?’.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 38: They’re good collars.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 91: Ronnie is an Op 8 regular collar.

In compounds

collar day (n.) [play on SE collar day, on which the monarch and senior members of the royal court wore collars of linked S’s]

the day of execution.

[UK]Kentish Gaz. 11 June 1/3: He has frequently observed, the collar-days at court have happened at the same time as the collar-days at Tyburn.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions .
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.

In phrases

get one’s collar felt (v.) (also have one’s collar felt)

(UK Und./police) to be arrested.

[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 249: How did he get his collar felt?
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 24: The slag, who start grassing [...] soon as they get their collar felt.
[UK]T. Parker Frying-Pan 151: It’d be stupid to get my collar felt again in my mid-fifties, wouldn’t it?
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘Watching the Girls go by’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Lucky not to get yer collar felt!
C. Hill Coming Out Fighting 153: He hadn’t had his collar felt and was beginning to believe that maybe he wouldn’t after all.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 354: You’ll do serious time if ya get yer collar felt for that [i.e. heroin smuggling].
in collar


[UK]Scot. Journal 39/1: A workman on tramp will, if he is tolerably well known in the trade, and if he have, when in collar, shown a disposition to assist those who were out, often be kept among his former shopmates [F&H].
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 85/2: Collar (London). In work. Said of a horse when he gets into swing, or perhaps when be begins to get wet with work. Applied to human beings when in work, and therefore making money. ‘Joe’s in collar.’.
out of collar

1. unemployed.

Bon-Ton Gaz. 7 Mar. 57/1: I saw some half a score of Bonnets out of collar mournfully chanting ‘The light of other days has faded’ .
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 45: A decent allowance made to Seedy Swells, Tea Kettle Purgers, Head Robbers, and Flunkeys out of Collar.
[US]Letters by an Odd Boy 160: I make the acquaintance of what I should call an unemployed journeyman tailor; but he is a ‘steel-bar driver out of collar’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 11 Mar. 8/1: I was stiff and out of collar [...] so I says to myself, ‘I’ll go to the Stockton mine’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 23 July 34/1: Writer knows a man who is never in any billet more than three months, but he is no sooner out of the collar than he slips into it again, and meantime, he is collecting a lot of valuable experience.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 10 Jan. 11/5: The girls mistook the other for a frisky potentate from the backblocks, but in reality he was a musician out of collar.
[NZ]J.A. Lee Shiner Slattery 25: But for the coves that’s out of collar, mates, there’s hunger in the air.

2. (Aus.) disinherited.

[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 3 July 1/6: Till the old man takes a wife, & / Then is chances they seemed gone, / [...] / Out of collar, all forlorn.
put the collar on (v.) (also put a collar on)

(US) to arrest.

[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 99: Kennock was the man who sprung the trap and ‘put the collar’ upon Dow.
[US]C. Coe Me – Gangster 26: You can’t put the collar on me!
[US]C. Coe Hooch! 125: They [...] put the collar on the boys.
[US]Lannoy & Masterson ‘Teen-age Hophead Jargon’ AS XXVII:1 29: PUT A COLLAR ON HIM, phr. To arrest a drug peddler.
[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 131: They’d be satisfied with putting the collar on the two other guys.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

collar and elbow (adj.) (also collar and shoulder) [orig. hobo jargon collar and shoulder style, a meal where the food is placed on the table and everyone, sitting shoulder to shoulder, grabs what he or she can from the platters. The idea of struggling for one’s share may link the phr. to collar and elbow, a style of wrestling practised in Devon and Cornwall]

(US) family style, informal, esp. of a restaurant or café.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 58: The Comique was an old-time collar-and-elbow variety show.
[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 650: Collar and shoulder style — where everything is placed on the table and one helps himself.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 53: Collar and Shoulder Style. – The system adopted at many boarding-houses and construction camps, where the food is placed on the table in front of the boarders, not served to them individually, and where each man serves himself by a fast dive at the platter.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 28: collar and elbow joint. A restaurant in which all patrons sit close together at one long table.
[US]F.H. Hubbard Railroad Avenue 338: Collar and Elbow Joint – Boardinghouse. (There isn’t too much room at the dinner table).
collar and hames (n.)

(US prison) a collar and tie.

[US]H. Simon ‘Prison Dict.’ in AS VIII:3 (1933) 25/2: Collar & Hames. Collar and tie —i n reference to the swell clothes one wore or is going to wear on the outside.
collar and tie (n.) [her adoption of men’s clothing]

a masculine lesbian; also attrib.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 8: collar-and-tie (n.): The female homosexual who wears mannish clothes.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta VI:1+2 (Summer/Winter) 133: Here are some obsolete or nearly obsolete terms which careless lexicographers continue to list as current […] collar and tie.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 42: Collar and tie brigade – lesbians.
collar work (n.) [the image of a horse pulling against its collar, usu. in context of hauling a stage-coach]

hard, strenuous work.

[American Farmer (Baltimore, MD) 17 Oct. 241/1: It [i.e. pulling a stage-wagon] is all collar work; nothing is gained from the momentum of the dragged mass, which, the instant the pull ceases, stands still].
[UK]Sl. Dict. 125: collar work is any very hard work, from the expression among drivers. Any uphill journey is said to be all ‘collar work’ for the horses.
[UK]Daily Tel. 3 July 2/1: The bald patches on their shoulders testified to their intimate acquaintance with collar work and tugging on stoney roads with heavy loads behind them [F&H].
[UK]Liverpool Daily Post 26 Oct. 5/9: [headline] Austria Doing the Collar-Work. Sacrified for Germans.
[UK]Yorks. Eve. Post 25 Mar. 11/2: Nowm, as old farm horses themselves would say, it is all ‘collar work’ — harness collars, cart saddles [...] that are a weight to lift about, and stuff stuff to work a needle on.

In phrases

fill one’s collar (v.)

(US) to perform adequately, to come up to expectations.

[US]E.N. Westcott David Harum 195: I seen right off that you was goin’ to fill your collar, fur’s the work was concerned.
get in the collar (v.)

(US) to start working, to work hard.

H.M. Lewis ‘Peter Robidoux’s Everything Store’ at [Internet] With me there was no choice in the matter. Either join the gang or get in the collar and work. I chose the collar and have been pulling ever since. I washed dishes and did all kinds of work until I had saved enough money to go on.
keep up to the collar (v.)

1. to stay hard at work, or to make someone else stay hard at work.

[UK]‘Paul Pry’ Oddities of London Life II 271: Two omnibuses were observed racing one against the other, and the drivers lashing their unfortunate cattle to keep them up to the collar.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 393: Hardy kept him pretty up to the collar, and he passed [...] and was fairly placed at the college examinations.

2. to be overwhelmed by one’s work.

[UK]J. Manchon Le Slang.
put to the pin of one’s collar (v.) [saddlery imagery]

(Irish) to put in very great difficulties, to be stretched to the limit.

[Ire]C.J. Kickham Knocknagow 543: An’ begob he put Mat to the pin uv his collar the same day.
Waterford Standard 16 Apr. 3/1: [H]e was put to the pin of his collar in order to find room for the people coming in.
Londonderry Sentinel 30 Aug. 50/4: M’Hugh was put the pin of his collar to preserve the peace.
[UK]Derry Jrnl 24 Mar. 8/2: [I]t would put the most imaginative optimist to the pin of his collar to prove what advantage would have accrued.
[Ire]Catholic Standard (Dublin) 27 Jan. 2/3: Even Job, renowned for his patience, would have been put to the pin of his collar to keep under control.
[Ire]Waterford Standard 30 Aug. 4/5: Carrick-on-Suir, who was seriously fancied from the start, was [...] put to the pin of his collar to win.
[UK]D. Behan Teems of Times and Happy Returns 39: Kathleen gave birth to another boy, on the twenty-first January 1925, and Brendan would have been put to the pin of his nineteenth month collar to withstand the charm of a new baby.
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats are Grey 66: He makes bloody few mistakes as far as needling for drink is concerned, even the Scroggy-man would be put to the pin of his collar to best him.
[Ire]RTÉ TV The Week in Politics 12 Oct. n.p.: Fianna Fáil has 69 TDs, and even at that we are put to the pin of our collar to attend all these committee meetings [BS].