Green’s Dictionary of Slang

time n.

1. [mid-19C+] a prison sentence; thus do time, to serve a sentence, below.

2. [late 19C; 1970s] (US, also times) a good time, a drinking spree [backform. f. SE phr. a good time was had by all].

3. [20C+] (Irish/US) credit.

In phrases

build time (v.)

[1960s] (US prison/Und.) to serve a jail sentence.

copper time (n.) [copper n. (6) ]

[1940s+] (US Und.) time off for good behaviour in prison.

dance to the time of shaking the sheets (without music) (v.)

see under dance v.

do one’s own time (v.)

[20C+] (US prison/Und.) to serve a prison sentence without becoming involved in any of the prison gangs, illicit business etc.

do time (v.)

1. [19C+] to serve a prison sentence.

2. [20C+] in ext. use, irrespective of the institution.

In compounds

time-jumper (n.)

[1940s] (US Black) the human heart.

easy time (n.)

[20C+] (US Und.) an uneventful time in prison.

full time (n.)

[1940s] (US Und./prison) a life sentence.

good time (n.)

see separate entry.

hard time (n.)

see separate entry.

have oneself a time (v.)

[1930s+] to enjoy onself, to go out on a spree.

if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime

[1960s+] (orig. US Und.) don’t take an action if you cannot deal with the concomitant responsibilities.

light time (n.)

[1940s–50s] (US Und.) a short prison sentence.

make a time (v.)

1. [late 19C–1900s] (US) to make a fuss [? SE difficult/hard time].

2. [1910s] to enjoy oneself, to celebrate.

make time with (v.) (US)

1. [1930s+] to make advances, to court, to flirt.

2. [1950s] to associate with.

pull time (v.)

1. [1940s+] (US prison) to be sentenced to or to serve a term of imprisonment.

2. [1980s] (US) to spend time in a place.

sleeping time (n.) [sense 1; var. on sleep n. (1); one could sleep it away]

[1920s–60s] (US Und.) a short prison sentence.

time drunk (adj.)

[1970s] (US prison/Und.) intellectually depleted after a long jail sentence.

wino time (n.) [wino n. (2); habitual drunkards generally receive short sentences, i.e. days rather than years in prison]

[1940s+] (US Und.) a short sentence.

In exclamations

do your own time!

[1970s] imper., mind your own business!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

time bandit (n.) [-bandit sfx (1); ult. Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film Time Bandits]

[1990s+] a thief who specializes in snatching expensive watches.

In phrases

by the new time (adv.) [Irish the new time, popular name for daylight saving time]

[1910s+] very quickly.

give her the time (v.) [euph.]

[1950s] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

give someone a hot time (v.) (also make it hot for someone)

[mid-19C+] to make someone unhappy, to punish, to reprimand; to cause problems for.

I’ve got the time if you’ve got the money [the supposed conversation between a streetwalker and her client who has asked, as a way of initiating their relationship, ‘Do you have the time?’]

[1910s+] a joc. phr. delivered to one who asks ‘Have you got the time?’.

know the time of day (v.) (also know what day it is, know what’s o’clock)

[early 19C+] to be well aware of what is going on.

know what time (of day) it is (v.) (also know the right time, know what o’clock it is, know what’s o’clock, see what o’clock it is)

[early 19C+] to be aware, to know what is going on; often in neg.

more time

[1950s+] (W.I. Rasta) see you later.

on time (also on T)

1. [1940s+] (US black) at the emotionally or psychologically apposite moment (rather than the chronologically prompt one); of good quality; thus get on time, to have fun.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

put one’s time in (v.)

[late 19C+] to spend time, to occupy one’s time.

show (someone) what time it is (v.) (also tell someone...)

[1980s+] (orig. US black) to explain, to ‘put someone in the picture’, to ‘teach someone a lesson’.

time of day (n.) (also time o’ day)

1. [late 17C; early 19C+] the current situation, what is going on; thus put one up to the time of day, to explain the situation to one.

2. [19C] a trick, a ruse, the practice of theft.

3. [mid-19C] the correct or pertinent thing or situation.

what in time? (also why in time?)

[mid-19C–1920s] (US) a question, often deriving from one’s incomprehension or surprise, ‘what on earth’, ‘what in the world’ etc.