Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chokey n.

also chauki, chockey, chokee, chokie, choky, chookie
[Hind. chauki, a four-sided building or a shed, esp. a customs house or police station and thus a lock-up]

1. a prison; a lock-up also in fig. use (see cit. 1912).

[UK]M. Scott Cruise of the Midge I 107: Lord, but it’s chokey!
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 Jan. 3/5: Jacques was confined in one of the chokies.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch 20 Nov. 3/3: ‘Proposals for a New Slang Dictionary’ [...] QUOD,—Noun. Chokey, limbo .
[Aus]‘A. Pendragon’ Queen of the South 78: He continued, with a ferocious sarcasm [...] ‘I’m to take you out of the scrub, and get put in chokey for my pains; p’raps sent to kingdom-cum, with a bracelet round my neck, through the lies of you, and sich as you. O Bob, poor creetur, how werry green you’ve grown!
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 26 Dec. 2/5: ‘Rose is in chokey.’ That means, in their dreadful slang language, in prison.
[UK]G.A. Sala A Trip to Barbary 252: I fancied that the seven hundred beggars clapped up in gaol had been simultaneously released [...] But the mendicants are still in ‘chokee’.
[UK]London Misc. 3 Mar. 58/1: I’ve jist crept out o’ chokey. This is the twenty-ninth time I’ve been took that way, and I’m jist gone twenty [F&H].
[US]G.E. Clark Seven Years of a Sailor’s Life 162: Has Bill got out of chockey yet?
[US]F.H. Sheppard Love Afloat 180: Smiley . — ‘So he’s in the brig.’ Ap Jones. — ‘Yes ; He languishes in choky.’.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a Jury’ in Punch 15 Apr. 177/1: I doubt if a week’s regular chokee could be a hunpleasanter fate.
[UK]Dundee Courier 12 Feb. 7/6: Then the screw came, and threatened to run me into chokey.
[Ind]Yule & Burnell Hobson-Jobson (1996) 205: choky, s. H. chauki, which in all its senses is probably connected with Skt. chatur, ‘four’; whence chatushka, ‘of four,’ ‘four-sided,’ etc. a. (Perhaps first a shed resting on four posts); a station of police; a lock-up.
[UK]’Sailors’ Lingo’ in Hants. Teleg. 21 Feb. 11/3: Prison is always known as ‘chokey’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 21 Jan. 6/7: Yet Jim, as ’onest cove as breathes, in chokey gets a year.
[UK]A. Hope Dolly Dialogues 37: He gloried in his crime [...] and if they liked to send him to chokee they could.
[UK]Marvel 15 May 15: Try a plank bed in chokey for a few months, and see if you won’t reckon anything comfortable after that.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘Joseph’s Dreams and Reuben’s Brethren’ in Roderick (1967–9) II 107: But mostly sent the idiots up / To ‘chokey’ for a ‘stretch’.
[UK] press cutting in J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 74/1: Been run in? Been locked up? Been in chokey? What! — what do you take me for?
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Oct. 10/3: The sodgers (bad cess to ’em) come around, / And alas! some traitorous pikes are found / In Daniel’s smithy; so off he goes / To ‘choky’ as one of old Hingland’s foes.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 6 Apr. 6/1: List was found to have had twelve previous experiences of chokey.
[UK]Wodehouse Damsel in Distress (1961) 101: The daughter of the house falls in love with you; the son of the house languishes in chokey because he has a row with you in Piccadilly.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 23 Nov. 17/1: A magistrate and an M.L.C. threatened with a spell in chokee.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 405: Land him in chokeechokee if the harman beck copped the game.
[UK]Aberdeen Jrnl 1 Nov. 10/4: A grim book called ‘Chokey’ written by an ex-convict.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 10: Ya, mister, how did you like chokey?
[UK]E. Hill Territory 382: I’ve been in the chokey, see … for killin’ a nigger!
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[SA]Casey ‘Kid’ Motsisi ‘Confessions of an Illicit Boozer’ Casey and Co. (1978) 65: I was able to raise the needed five pounds spot fine lest Stan spend the weekend in the chookie.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 54: The trooper got six months hard chokey.
[SA]B. Simon ‘Score Me the Ages’ Born in the RSA (1997) 157: I’d go to choekie with my boet. I’d follow my boet to the ends of the earth.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[Ire]P. McCabe Emerald Germs of Ireland 364: It’s no good locking a specimen like him away in chokey.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 344: At least in the chokey the three square meals ur provided, ken?
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 132: Ah’m no wantin back in the chokie, Jonty, at ma age.

2. (UK Und., also chokey-hole) the punishment cells.

[UK]Southern Star (London) 12 Apr. 4/5: Need I speak of the confinement of seamen in the ‘chokey’, which is [...] a dungeon, three feet in height, four feet in length, and two feet in breadth.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 144/1: I’d as sooin bee i’ ‘chokey’ on bread an’ water az sitr ’ere aul daiy.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 131: Both were marched off to ‘chokee,’ and I have no doubt got punished.
[UK]Newcastle Courant 2 Sept. 6/5: Sam has a horror of sturabins ever since the screws put him in chokey for taking a bit of snout offered him by another gloak when he thought no one was looking.
[UK]Answers 30 Mar. 280/ 2: I am reminded that I have not yet described that horrible institution known as the dark cell – chokey, we convicts called it.
[US]Overland Monthly (CA) May 491: He’d be dragged off to chokee and get a hundred next morning.
[UK]E. Jervis 25 Years in Six Prisons 182: He was doing chokee for his attempt.
[UK]‘Red Collar Man’ ‘Chokey’ 77: A lag called Jiimmie was sent to chokey for attacking the cook.
[UK]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 35: I ain’t next flowery to Ginger no more. This is the chokey. [Ibid.] 37: I’m in a chokey flowery.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 141: He had to spend thirty-three days in chokey – solitary confinement.
[UK]J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 132: It [i.e. the army] must be easier than bread-and-water in the chokey-hole.
[UK]H. Livings Nil Carborundum (1963) Act III: It’s been known for a screw to go in the chokeys and give a few screams all by himself, just to tone up the holy terror in the lads’ bellies.
[NZ]G. Newbold Big Huey 137: Poor old Chris was sloughed up down the chokey doing his No 1.
[UK]J. Campbell Gate Fever 16: A bad screw is a dog and time spent in segregation – the block – where the worst dogs often are, is chokey.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 28: While in the chokey at Wandsworth, Bob collapsed.

3. imprisonment.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 213/1: from ca. 1880.

4. the prison punishment diet of bread and water; thus chokey merchant, one who is suffering such a punishment.

[UK]Daily News 24 Sept. 3/1: Wright ... would get two or three days’ choky (i.e., bread and water) [F&H].
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 15: I one day missed my labour ‘chum’ [...] and learned that he had ‘nosed’ another prisoner, that is, struck him a blow on that organ, and was undergoing three days’ ‘chokey’ (bread and water).
[UK]Hartlepool Mail 26 May 6/6: The lag gets seven days’ chokey (that’s bread and water) for being disrespectful.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 23: I got three days’ chokey.
[Ire](con. 1940s) B. Behan Borstal Boy 63: They sat apart from each other, and apart from the other chokey merchants.
[UK]F. Norman in Encounter n.d. in Norman’s London 62: I was doing three days chokey (bread and water), which I got for passing a stiff (note) to some schmock (prick) who owed me a quarter of an ounce of snout (tobacco).
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: ’Ere sit down, Red. Did yer do much chokey?
[UK]E. Bond Saved Scene x: I got chokey for the clobberin’. Bread and water.
[UK]G.F. Newman A Prisoner’s Tale 31: Jack Lynn [...] felt he was no worse off for being on chokey.

5. (UK black) physical violence, ‘punishment’.

[UK]‘Q’ Deadmeat 46: Ah ready fi drapes im up an put chokey pun im.