Green’s Dictionary of Slang

anchor n.

[lit. or fig. resemblances]

1. (orig. US) a pick-axe.

[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: hawkshaw: Here’s the old anchor, boys, and long may we live to swing it. all: The pick forever. Hip, hip, hurrah!
[US]N. Klein ‘Hobo Lingo’ in AS I:12 650: Anchor — tamping pick.
[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 198: Anchor – A pick. Companion tool of the shovel or banjo.
Labor’s Special Lang. n.p.: Metal miners [...] call a pick an anchor [W&F].
[US](con. 1920s–40s) in J.L. Kornbluh Rebel Voices.

2. (US Und.) a reprieve; a temporary suspension of a sentence.

[US]‘The Lang. of Crooks’ in Wash. Post 20 June 4/2: [paraphrasing J. Sullivan] An anchor is a stay of execution.
[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 891: ‘Anchor’ is a stay of execution of sentence.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 396: A swell mouthpiece copped me an anchor.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.

3. in pl., brakes; thus drop the anchors/slam on the anchors v., to put on the brakes.

[UK]Daily Herald (London) 5 Aug. 8/4: List of busmen’s slang phrases . . . Anchors (Brakes) .
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Color of Murder’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective Dec. 🌐 I swerved my wheel, slapped on my emergency anchors, missed the yellow-haired wren by a whisker.
[UK]B. Naughton ‘Late Night on Watling Street’ in Late Night on Watling Street (1969) 4: It [...] stopped with a loud brake squeal [...] ‘A good job his anchors are all right,’ said Taff.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 64: Tonker slammed on the anchors, went into a beautiful slide.
[US]Current Sl. I:2 1/1: Anchors n. Automobile brakes.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 10 June 4: Guy slams on the power-assisted anchors and shouts ‘Tosser!’.
[Aus]S. Maloney Something Fishy (2006) 122: I stomped on the anchors [...] and the Magna went into a skid.
[Scot]T. Black Gutted 49: The bus driver was forced to hit the anchors.
[Aus]D. Whish-Wilson Shore Leave 87: Cassidy’s Commodore [...] speared into the small carpark and slammed on the anchors.

4. (US Und.) a stickpin; thus anchor and prop, a stickpin with a safety catch that anchors it to the tie.

[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 11: anchor A stickpin. anchor on prop A stick pin having a safety catch.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 18/2: Anchor and prop. A tiepin and safety clasp designed to thwart pickpockets. ‘We put the nippers (cutters) on the mark’s (victim’s) anchor and prop, and he didn’t even know he was beat (robbed).’ [Note: While an aid pokes an opened newspaper in the face of the victim, the actual thief cuts the tie off above the point where the tiepin is fastened.].

5. (US black) one’s home, one’s address.

[US]L. Durst Jives of Dr. Hepcat (1989) 5: Jackson, you may puff on down cross states, hit the high spots from Chi to sugar hill, do a statue act on 18th and Vine or tamp the stroll on Lenox Avenue. Wherever your anchor you just ain’t nowhere until you get a house party invite.

6. (Aus. juv.) a younger relation or other small child who ‘cramps one’s style’ and social life.

OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. 🌐 anchor(s) n. brothers, sisters or any other small kids that keep you from getting out with your mates.

In phrases

put the anchors on (v.)

to slow down intercourse so as to delay one’s orgasm.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 18: [...] since ca. 1950.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

In phrases

bring oneself to an anchor (v.) [naut. imagery]

to sit down.

[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Verdant Green (1893) 212: ‘Hullo, Pet!... bring yourself to an anchor, my man.’ The Pet accordingly anchored himself by dropping on to the edge of a chair.
drag one’s anchor (v.)

(US) lit. or fig., to go slowly, to idle, to dawdle.

[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 12 Mar. 3: ‘I see Newlywed at the Country Club quite often since his baby came. I thought he was formly anchored to a home life.’ ‘He was but at the first squall he began to drag his anchor’.
[UK]H.J. Clinebell Understanding and Counseling the Alcoholic 23: Such an alcoholic is ‘dragging his anchor’ [...] He is less adequate as a father and husband, as well as less efficient in his work.
drop anchor in bum bay (v.)

to have anal intercourse; thus anchor man n., the subject of the sex.

[US]J. Kirkwood There Must Be a Pony! 243: Come on, chicken, we’ll have us a gang bang. You can be anchor man!
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 32: To drop anchor in Bum Bay – to have anal intercourse.
swallow the anchor (v.) [orig. naut. jargon]

1. (UK Und.) to change course, to stop doing something; to accept reluctantly.

[UK]London Dly News 5 Sept. 4/2: Her loblolly boy slipped ashore, perhaps with intent to ‘swallow the anchor’ or desert.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era.
[UK]Yorks. Eve. Post 14 Dec. 5/2: A man charged at the Thames Police Court: I suppose I must swallow the anchor. Magistrate: What! A Policeman explained that he meant he would have to put up with it.
[UK]Yorks. Post 20 Sept. 7/3: His health failed and in 1924 he had to ‘swallow the anchor’ — in other words, retire.
[US]D. Mackenzie Hell’s Kitchen 307: I settled down to go straight when I got out of prison four months ago. As the Underworld puts it, I decided to ‘swallow the anchor’ or to ‘take the seconds’.
[UK]Thieves Slang ms list from District Police Training Centre, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwicks 11: Swallow the anchor: Give up crime and go straight.
[US]O. Ferguson ‘Vocabulary for Lakes, [etc.]’ AS XIX:2 109: To swallow the anchor started out as technical cant, legitimate; in its slang use it means to give up the ships and go ashore for good.
[US](con. 1940s) M. Dibner Admiral (1968) 308: Maybe they’ll catch up with us in some Navy veteran’s retirement home years from now, when we’ve swallowed the anchor.
[UK]S. Hugill Sailortown 4: Although Sailors [...] did desert in foreign ports [...] they very rarely ‘swallowed the anchor’.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 12: To swallow the anchor – to give up crime, to retire.

2. to give oneself up to the police.

[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.