Green’s Dictionary of Slang

lagging n.

[lag v.2 ]

1. (UK Und.) a sentence of transportation; thus lagging matter, any crime punishable by transportation.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 249: lagging matter any species of crime for which a person is liable on conviction to be transported.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 389: ‘What do you mean by lagging and a lifer?’ [...] They represented that combination of words, ‘Transportation for life’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Mar. 3/1: What’s the odds, it’s all square now—’twas all in our lagging.
[Aus]J.F. Mortlock Experiences of a Convict (1965) 155: Transportation for an offence not disgraceful would eventually prove an actual blessing. Indeed I am not certain that every individual in the two English Houses of Parliament would be the worse for a seven year’s ‘lagging’.

2. (Aus./UK Und.) any prison sentence.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Aug. 2/4: Daly had confessed his crimes, adding that he expected a lagging.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 68/2: No getting away! — a sure ‘lagging’ stared me in the face, and apparently my career as a ‘gun’ ended!
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 48: The prisoner [...] told me he had done a ‘lagging’ before, and knew what it all was.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 143: An educated man who had ‘done a lagging’ in C— convict prison.
[UK]Manchester Eve. News 4 Aug. 5/4: Now, what are you going to do for the future? This is your second lagging.
[UK]J. Caminada Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life II 186: For fetching a lagging / There’s no place like Woking.
[Aus]West Gippsland Gaz. (Warragul, Vic.) 28 Feb. 6/3: On my left hand was an Irishman doing his fourth lagging for burglary.
[UK]E. Wallace Squeaker (1950) 23: It was a rotten lagging.
[UK]G. Ingram Cockney Cavalcade 49: He hadn’t been caught [...] since he’d come out of doing that ‘lagging’ for a big job in the West End.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 88: The [...] ‘dope czar’ was a very scared man during his lagging at Parkhurst.
[Aus]Sun (Sydney) 10 Nov. 2/2: ‘Plead guilty to the other six. Clean ’em all up for the one laggin’’.
[Aus]S.J. Baker in Sun. Herald (Sydney) 8 June 9/5: Other English incorporations [in Australian slang] include: [...] ‘lagging,’ a term of imprisonment.
[UK]J. Phelan Tramp at Anchor 118: All the men in the shop were experienced convicts, some with three laggings behind them.
[UK]J. Gosling Ghost Squad 26: Thieves’ argot, spoken properly, is a foreign language which needs to be learned [...] Each prison sentence has its own word [...] ‘lagging’ for penal servitude (from the fact that years ago convicts sentenced to penal servitude were put in leg irons).
[NZ]F. Sargeson Hangover 87: He’s had a bellyful of laggings.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 77: Seems only like yesterday he got weighed off at the Old Bailey with a lagging.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 28: If you’re convicted on this charge [...] you’re in for a long lagging.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Laggin’. A sentence.
[Aus]M.B. ‘Chopper’ Read Chopper 4 56: It’s great title for a lagging in jail with no release date, isn’t it? Governor’s Pleasure.

3. a sentence of more than three years’ imprisonment.

[Aus]J.P. Townsend Rambles in New South Wales 8: An unpleasant-looking ‘expiree convict’ – otherwise (also colonially) ‘one who has served his lagging.’.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act I: And how about the lagging! If I’m nailed it’s a lifer.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 32: Some, of course, counting one or more ‘laggings,’ or acquaintances with penal servitude, in addition [to shorter sentences].
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 182: It was ’im as put me away for my laggin’!
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 75: Thomas Davies [...] who served his first sentence, a ‘lagging’, fifty years ago.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 19: Joe has five ‘laggings’ behind him.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 44: They can’t give you a lagging.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 5: I had just finished my lagging (corrective training) and I was free as air again.
[Aus]Adamson & Hanford Zimmer’s Essay 65: What’s your lagging?
[UK](con. 1900–30) A. Harding in Samuel East End Und. 282: Lagging – A sentence of three years and over.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 65: Ronnie had done [...] a lagging [three years] for possession of a firearm with intent.

In compounds

lagging dues (n.)

1. transportation; e.g. lagging dues will be concerned, this person is liable to be transported.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 249: lagging-dues speaking of a person likely to be transported, they say lagging dues will be concerned.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1812].

2. a sentence of penal servitude.

[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 161: As like as not it’s laggin’ dues, after ’is other convictions.

In phrases

cadger’s lagging (n.)

(UK und.) a sentence of seven days’ hard labour.

[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks n.p.: Cadgers lagging: Seven days hard labour.