Green’s Dictionary of Slang

time n.

1. a prison sentence; thus do time, to serve a sentence, below.

[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 184: He excused himself to the company by stating that his ‘time’ was only out an hour before.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 6 Dec. 3/3: It appeared on that occasion that, having ‘served her time,’ she came to Sydney to obtain her ‘certificate of freedom’.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes I 291: The employment of prisoners, or men who have ‘served their time.’.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: I served my time. I came out an altered man.
[Aus]S. James Vagabond Papers (3rd Ser.) 136: I mean to be on the square when I get out [...] I’ve put in enough time in my life.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Lost Souls’ Hotel’ in Roderick (1972) 154: Some poor old devil who [...] went wrong, and served his time for embezzlement.
[UK]M. Williams Round London 96: I was doing time.
[UK]Illus. Police News 31 Dec. 11/3: I didn’t ‘clear’ directly after the ‘screen’ (I did not leave directly after the hue-and-cry), and was near the Old Bailey when ‘the kid’ (Kirby), got his ‘time’.
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life in Hamilton Men of the Und. 260: You’re out here to serve your time.
[UK]D. Ahearn How to Commit a Murder 29: Those cry-baby bandits that squealed on the cops – they all wound up in the can with plenty of time.
[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 16: They [...] boasted of their time in jail. Hard time and easy, wall time and farm time, fed time and state, city time, county time, short time and good time, soft time and jawbone time, big house, little house and middle house time, industrial time and meritorious time — ‘that’s for working your ass off.’.
[US]C. Brown Manchild in the Promised Land (1969) 152: Up at Warwick the cats had never really served any time before.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 12: They gave Dicky all that time because they knew he was driving a Cadillac.
[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 48: A young man who [...] had served time for assaulting another teenager.
[US]Too $hort ‘Cusswords’ [lyrics] To all the homeboys doin time in the pen / Gonna rock this beat for you once again.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 84: And what did it [i.e. true love] get her? State time.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 66: These comics could get you sent down for decades, serious time.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 35: Many [prophets] were criminals [...] Abraham did time; Joseph did time; Jeremiah did time.

2. (US, also times) a good time, a drinking spree [backform. f. SE phr. a good time was had by all].

[US]F. Francis Jr Saddle and Mocassin 144: We’d been having ‘a time,’ and my keg was pretty full, too.
[US]F. Norris Vandover and the Brute (1914) 47: What do you say that we all go to every joint in town, and wind up at the Turkish baths? We’ll have a regular time.
[US]R. Bissell A Gross of Pyjamas (1954) 10: This ain’t much of a place after Chicago [...] I bet you had the times over there.

3. (Irish/US) credit.

[Ire]W.H. Maxwell Rambling Recollections of a Soldier of Fortune 204: I sould it upon time*, and gave him until little Lady-day. (*Time, in Connaught, means credit).
[UK]Sporting Times 6 May 1/1: A prominent backer not many years ago, who frequently had to ask for ‘time’ and eventually died owing a large sum to the Ring.
[US](con. 1985–90) P. Bourjois In Search of Respect 191: Whatever I want, I can get it on time [monthly credit payments].

In phrases

build time (v.)

(US prison/Und.) to serve a jail sentence.

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 25: I toleem I couldn’t build no kidnap time less’n they promised me I could live forever.
copper time (n.) [copper n. (6) ]

(US Und.) time off for good behaviour in prison.

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 25: Copper Time In many prisons there is a form of copper time which is time off for good behavior.
dance to the time of shaking the sheets (without music) (v.)

see under dance v.

do one’s own time (v.)

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

[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 25: Do Your Own Time Mind your own business and do not get involved in all the ‘cons’ or ‘games’ that are constantly being played.
[US]E. Bunker Mr Blue 161: I did, however, think about his admonishment to do my own time. [...] It meant what it said: mind your own business, worry about your own crime, your own time, your own punishment.
[US]J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 173: Do your own time . . . or someone will make you do theirs. — old head saying.
do time (v.)

1. to serve a prison sentence.

[UK]Times Dec. n.p.: Both... fled to New York to save doing time on the treadmill [F&H].
[UK] in Sl. Dict. 323: Time, to do to work out a sentence of imprisonment.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 186: The offender is released, not when he has ‘done’ so much time, but when he has proved himself fit for liberty.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 5: Like a lot of the Government men [...] he saved some money as soon as he had done his time.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 121: You have been lagged, sent to the stir, and done time.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 247: I ain’t done such a hell of a lot o’ time compared with some blokes.
[Aus]W.A. Sun. Times (Perth) 15 Sept. 1/1: Having ‘done time’ is now a first class recommendation for applicants after a Government billet [...] a job in an important department provides a notorious pickpocket with an excuse for being at large.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 114: The man [...] on his left subsequently did ‘time’ for running a house of ill-name.
[UK]Marvel 12 Nov. 13: ’e’s a wrong ‘un. Done time, ’e ’as.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 6 May 21/2: ‘If your father doesn’t work, what does he do?’ ‘Time mostly, mum. He got six months ag’in yesterday’.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘His Unconquerable Soul’ in Roderick (1972) 811: He was said to have ‘done time’.
[UK]A. Conan Doyle His Last Bow in Baring-Gould (1968) II 797: Well, so was Jack James an American citizen, but he’s doin’ time in Portland all the same.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) II x: She was credited with being a sworn enemy of the police, and [...] with having done ‘time’ herself.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 92: You start doing time the minute the handcuffs are on your wrists.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Caesar (1932) 13: I ain’t doing no time for fifty bucks.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Goldfish’ in Red Wind (1946) 184: ‘Listen,’ he said, still softly. ‘I did my time.’.
[US]W.R. Burnett Asphalt Jungle in Four Novels (1984) 134: I did my time [...] I didn’t get a minute off.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 228: All I done was a little stealin’ [...] Now I done my time for that.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 37: If a man’s going to do time, he might as well start doing it.
[US]H. Selby Jr Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 16: I did time with them guys.
[US]D. Goines Street Players 159: What good is a bitch to me doing time?
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 66: Her husband was away doing time.
[UK]V. Headley Yardie 77: Only a fool would do time over a woman.
[Aus]D. McDonald Luck in the Greater West (2008) 107: Me and dad have fuckin’ done time, and you’re fuckin’ cops.

2. in ext. use, irrespective of the institution.

[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 159: All those who had Done Time at a certain endowed Institution for shaping and polishing Highbrows had to close in once a Year for a Banquet.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Janeites’ in Debits and Credits (1926) 158: The dairyman’s son ’ad done time on Jordan with camels.
[US]S. Ornitz Haunch Paunch and Jowl 257: I’m doin’ time with a hang-over myself ... but it’s a beaut.
[US]N.Y. Herald Trib. 28 Feb. 46/3: ‘Doing time’ is used for staying after school and the ‘chain gang’ refers to walking to class in groups.
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 26: This bloke’s a flamin’ ratbag! He ought to be doing time in a giggle factory!!

In compounds

time-jumper (n.)

(US Black) the human heart.

[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 27 Apr. 7/6: You should realise that the raisers have larceny in their time-jumpers from the start.
good time (n.)

see separate entry.

hard time (n.)

see separate entry.

have oneself a time (v.)

to enjoy onself, to go out on a spree.

[US]D. Lamson We Who Are About to Die 185: We landed there with three hundred dollars apiece [...] So we had ourselves a time for a couple of days.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 208: Could a guy with reasonable dough have himself a time there?
[US]J. Archibald ‘Alibi Bye’ in Popular Detective June [Internet] Willie Klump, all dressed up in a new blue serge suit, had himself a time.
[US](con. 1910s) J. Thompson Heed the Thunder (1994) 144: Havin’ yourself a time there, skipper?
[Aus](con. 1944) L. Glassop Rats in New Guinea 34: Their buddy was obviously having himself a time.
[US]C. Loken Come Monday Morning 19: I figgered you was out havin’ yourself a time.
[US]S. Longstreet Straw Boss (1979) 256: Mike took a roll of bills out of a pocket. ‘Here, have yourself a time. You earned it.’.
if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime

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

[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 11: They told me if I couldn’t do the time, I shouldn’t mess with crime.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 107: Graffitti carved into the paint (‘If you can’t do time, don’t fuck with crime.’).
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 43: If you can’t take the time, don’t do the crime.
[US]R. Price Clockers 114: If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.
[US](con. 1998–2000) J. Lerner You Got Nothing Coming 154: Be a fucking man! You did the crime, now do the time!
light time (n.)

(US Und.) a short prison sentence.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 125/2: Light time. 1. A brief prison sentence.
make a time (v.)

1. (US) to make a fuss [? SE difficult/hard time].

[US]Boston Journal 31 July 2/5: She doesn’t weep at the parting or make any time over it [DA].
[US]North Amer. Rev. Feb. 228: No other troops made such a time about water as the Americans [DA].

2. to enjoy oneself, to celebrate.

[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 42: The night’s young. Let’s make a time of it – Pabst’s Cafe first, and then some.
make time with (v.) (US)

1. to make advances, to court, to flirt.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Mules and Men (1995) 109: Brer’ Rabbit saw he wasn’t makin’ no time wid Miss Saphronie.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 23 Jan. [synd. col.] He’s one of those cab-Casanova — makes more time than a driver does.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Rock 26: It don’t look like you made any time with her.
[UK]G. Lambert Inside Daisy Clover (1966) 183: Alex Conrad’s swacked, but makes time with some bouncy starlet.
[US]E. Bullins ‘Dandy’ in King Black Short Story Anthol. (1972) 82: Are ya makin’ much time with mah little sister?
[US](con. 1969) N.L. Russell Suicide Charlie 46: He was toking on a cigar-sized joint and making time with the boom-boom girls.
[US]J. Ridley Conversation with the Mann 84: She wasn’t getting what she deserved from a guy who wanted to make time with her.
[US]T. Dorsey Atomic Lobster 132: Serge [...] making time with another library science grad.

2. to associate with.

[US]W. Brown Teen-Age Mafia 15: She was surprised that Connie could even make time with a bunch of punks like the Dags.
pull time (v.)

1. (US prison) to be sentenced to or to serve a term of imprisonment.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 166/2: Pull time. To serve a prison sentence.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 43: I’ve talked to men who have pulled time all over the country.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

2. (US) to spend time in a place.

[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 23: Everybody’s pulled time at Harriette, you understand.
sleeping time (n.) [sense 1; var. on sleep n. (1); one could sleep it away]

(US Und.) a short prison sentence.

[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 14/1: Sleeping Time – One year in jail.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 60/2: Do sleeping time. (P) To serve a very short sentence.
[US]P. Thomas Down These Mean Streets (1970) 246: ‘Don’t this time bother you?’ ‘Man,’ I said, grandstanding, ‘sleeping time, just sleeping time. On my head.’.
time drunk (adj.)

(US prison/Und.) intellectually depleted after a long jail sentence.

[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 141: At first I thought he was dull — ‘time-drunk’ — but soon I realized it was the quiet stoicism of eighteen years behind bars.

In exclamations

do your own time!

imper., mind your own business!

[US]C. Shafer ‘Catheads [...] and Cho-Cho Sticks’ in Abernethy Bounty of Texas (1990) 203: ‘Do your own time!’ v. – ‘Mind your own business!’.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

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

a thief who specializes in snatching expensive watches.

[UK]Indep. 23 July 4: The so-called ‘time bandits’ tend to work more in the summer when people are wearing short-sleeved clothes.

In phrases

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

very quickly.

[Ire]Share Slanguage.
give her the time (v.) [euph.]

of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

[US]J.D. Salinger Catcher in the Rye (1958) 47: ‘What’d you do?’ I said. ‘Give her the time in Ed Bandky’s goddam car?’.
give someone a hot time (v.) (also make it hot for someone)

to make someone unhappy, to punish, to reprimand; to cause problems for.

[UK]Chillicothe (MO) Constitution 26 June 2/2: They threaten to give the government a hot time ejecting them.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 443: I’ll make it hot for you. I’ll make you dance jack Latten for that.
[Aus](con. 1830s–60s) ‘Miles Franklin’ All That Swagger 118: If I catch him meddling with my beasts, I’ll make it hot for him.
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?’]

a joc. phr. delivered to one who asks ‘Have you got the time?’.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 538: [...] since at least as early as 1920s.
know the time of day (v.) (also know what day it is, know what’s o’clock)

to be well aware of what is going on.

[UK]‘Nocturnal Sports’ in Universal Songster II 180/1: No use sending nabs arter me [...] the vatch knows what’s o’ clock.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 54: The cove knows the time o’day, the lush (wine), meat, and salad.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 127: Time o’ day, quite right, the thing.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 8 Dec. 3/1: A non wide-awake personage named John Murphy who was evidently not well up to ‘the time o’ day’ in Sydney, .
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Grog-an’-Grumble Steeplechase’ in Roderick (1967–9) I 216: But he said he had the knowledge to come in when it was raining, / And irrelevantly mentioned that he knew the time of day.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Blues and Bluestockings’ in Punch 21 Mar. 135/2: Does she think that a ’Varsity Don is a similar species of fowl, / As big and as bleared in the goggles, as blind to the true time o’ day?
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 51: Some drunk who was so stewed he didn’t know what day it was.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 61: They were a couple of smart lads who knew the time of day.
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)

to be aware, to know what is going on; often in neg.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 19: He who knows ‘which way the Bull ran’ [...] may be considered as ‘one who knows what o’clock it is.’.
[UK]Dickens ‘A Passage in the Life of Mr. Watkins Tottle’ in Slater Dickens’ Journalism I (1994) 429: Our governor’s wide awake, he is, I’ll never say nothin’ agin him, nor no man; but he knows what’s o’clock, he does, uncommon.
[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 321: The man that was driving the Bathurst herd was a regular muff (booby), and never dropped down what o'clock it was (did not detect the scheme).
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis I 94: I’m not clever, p’raps; but I am rather downy; and partial friends say I know what’s o’clock tolerably well.
[UK]‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 153: But soon in his eye nothing green would remain, / He knows what’s o’clock when he comes out again.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 70: ‘To know what o’clock it is,’ to be wide awake, sharp and experienced.
[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 135: You a green hand! You tell that to fellers as don’t know what’s o’clock.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 139: An earnestness [...] calculated to impress the two young ladies that though young they are lads of mettle and knowing cards, [...] possessing a knowledge of the time of day to a fraction of a tick.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 207: As for old Mullockson, he used to take a drive to Sawpit Gully or ten-Mile as soon as ever he saw what o’clock it was.
[US]Indiana Eve. Gazette 20 Mar. 9/2: A well-informed individual is said to ‘know the right time.’.
[US]D. Runyon ‘It Comes Up Mud’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 545: Mr. Paul D. Veere knows what time it is when it comes to riding.
[US]W.R. Burnett Little Men, Big World 154: You damn idiot — when Leon was here she didn’t know the time of day. Now she runs the joint.
[US]Boogie Down Prods ‘South Bronx’ [lyrics] Due the the fact that no one else out there knew what time it was, we have to tell you a little story.
[US]N. McCall Makes Me Wanna Holler (1995) 239: They didn’t know who they were or what time it was.
[US]P. Beatty Tuff 40: After I read this, you’ll know what time it is.
[US]J. Stahl Pain Killers 37: The worst kind of civilian - the kind who thought he knew what time it was.
Fabulous ‘Sicker Than Yo Average’ [lyrics] You know what time it is, girl, you can see my Rolly.
more time

(W.I. Rasta) see you later.

‘Patois Dict.’ www.dancehallareaz.com [Internet].
on time (also on T)

1. (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.

[US]M.H. Boulware Jive and Sl. n.p.: Getting on time ... Having fun.
[US]H.E. Roberts Third Ear n.p.: on time adj. quite appropriate.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 46: On Time Something of exceptional quality is said to be on time.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 8: on time – good: ‘That CD I bought last week is on time.’.

2. attrib. use of sense 1.

[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 115: She can’t afford an on-time guy like me.
put one’s time in (v.)

to spend time, to occupy one’s time.

[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 34: This is the first really big thing I’ve had a chance at – putting my own time in on it.
show (someone) what time it is (v.) (also tell someone...)

(orig. US black) to explain, to ‘put someone in the picture’, to ‘teach someone a lesson’.

[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 52: tell him what time it is A request to someone to corroborate, for a third party, what one has said.
[US]N. George ‘Women of Color’ in Buppies, B-Boys, Baps and Bohos (1994) 143: My mom and sis told me what time it was vis-à-vis white girls.
[UK]J. Mowry Way Past Cool 20: Ain’t gonna catch me cryin when the Crew come down an show you what time it is!
[US]‘The Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 65: I’m glad you set your alarm clock and woke up Kid. Now I’m gonna tell you what time it is.
time of day (n.) (also time o’ day)

1. the current situation, what is going on; thus put one up to the time of day, to explain the situation to one.

Poole Dialogue between a Popish Priest, and an English Protestant (1839) 113: No, Friend, it is not that time of Day; you cannot now deceive us with such foolish excuses.
[UK] ‘World Turn’d Upside Down’ in Holloway & Black I (1975) 283: For we don’t lend our money to fools, / No, no, that’s not the time of day.
[UK]Bell’s Wkly Messenger 11 Dec. 398/1: He got lagged and scragged — that’s time of day with the best ’uns — a rope for their cravat, and cotton in their ears.
[UK]‘Bon Gaultier’ ‘My Mother’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 131: Who took me from my infant play [...] And put me up to the time of day?
[UK]Thackeray Pendennis I 93: Partial friends say I know what’s o’clock tolerably well. Can I tell you the time of day in any way?
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 237: TIME O’DAY [...] the latest aspect of affairs [...] to put a person up to the time o’ day, let him know what is o’ clock.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1860].

2. a trick, a ruse, the practice of theft.

[UK] ‘Pickpocket’s Chaunt’ (trans. of ‘En roulant de vergne en vergne’ in Vidocq 1829) IV 259: As from ken to ken I was going, [...] Who should I meet but a jolly blowen, Who was fly to the time o’ day.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 178: The knucks in quod [fn: Thieves in prison] did my schoolmen play, And put me up to the time of day; Until at last there was none so knowing.
[Ire] ‘Nix My Dolly’ Dublin Comic Songster 3: The huncks [sic] in quod did my schoolmen play, / And put me up to the time o’ day.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.

3. the correct or pertinent thing or situation.

[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 528: Lend him a hand, Mr Vinkle, Sir. Steady, Sir, steady; that’s the time o’ day.
what in time? (also why in time?)

(US) a question, often deriving from one’s incomprehension or surprise, ‘what on earth’, ‘what in the world’ etc.

[US]R.W. Griswold Correspondence (1898) 250: Why in Time don’t you come our way and see the boys?
[US]N. Brooks Boys of Fairport 201: What’n time are you fellers up to? [DA].
[US]H.L. Wilson Merton of Movies 5: Merton Gill, what in the sacred name of Time are you meanin’ to do with that dummy?