Green’s Dictionary of Slang

office n.

1. the place one works; see cit. c.1698 [this use has been sustained into 20C+, found outside the SE business context in a wide range of occupations, from pimping to commercial flying, in all of which the speaker terms their place of work, whether the street or an aircraft cockpit, the office].

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: His Office, any Man’s ordinary Haunt, or Plying-place, be it Tavern, Ale-house, Gaming-house.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 34: A plan which he declared would not have succeeded if those whose goods were brought to his ‘office’ or ‘warehouse,’ did not believe they were about to obtain a ‘dishonest profit.’.
[US]E. Rickenbacker Fighting the Flying Circus (1965) 1: Office. The cockpit of an airplane, where the pilot sits.
[US]G.T. Fleming-Roberts ‘The Silenced Partner’ in Ten Detective Aces Oct. [Internet] Willy Morris, of the long-established confidence firm of Pollet & Morris, replied. He was seated in their ‘office’ one story above Main Street.
[US]‘Bill O. Lading’ You Chirped a Chinful!! n.p.: Climb Into the Office: Cockpit.
[US]M. Braly On the Yard (2002) 39: ‘We’ll rap tomorrow after breakfast.’ ‘Same office?’ ‘Now what do you think?’.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 112: His [i.e. a male prostitute] sexual stomping ground is his office.
[US]Simon & Burns Corner (1998) 117: [of a drug-dealer’s street corner] And off he goes, a fifteen-year-old entrepreneur on his daily commute to the office.
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 2: We got some hennimus [Hennessy] and park in the ‘office’ the corner of 155th Street 8th Avenue, in front of the supermarket.

2. a toilet, a privy [abbr. house of office under house n.1 ].

[UK] [title] The Grand Mystery...proposals for erecting 500 Publick Offices of Ease in London and Westminster [OED].
[US]Baker et al. CUSS.

3. a hint, a warning, a ‘tip-off’; usu. in phrs. get/take the office, give (someone) the office [SE office, a duty to another, a service, i.e. the lookout’s duty is to give a warning].

[UK]Low Life Above Stairs I v: (To the Pit) A Friendly Office you our Love may do [...] Cough, or cry Hem! should any one approach.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. VII 205/2: When he had the office given to him by En-l--d, he was then to win.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) II 131: One cannot help doing a good office, when it comes in one’s way.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Boxiana II 436: The office was immediately given, when a farmer jumped into the ring, and lanced his eyes.
[UK]Observer (London) 29 Nov. 4/3: Josh received the office to go forth.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 188: The friends of Brown had the office given to them.
[UK]Era (London) 15 Mar. 12/1: He seemed as if he was on the look out for some ‘office’, and the issue proved that he was not ‘wide awake’ for nothing.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[Aus]G.C. Mundy Our Antipodes I 163: The gaol-bird [...] and the chain-gang desperado [...] were in possession of sufficient ‘office’ to enable them to go straight to the bush-rendezvous.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Apr. 4/1: On our arrival there we received the office and lost no time in wending our way to the convincing ground.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: It was found that the prisoners were [...] only waiting the ‘office’ of King.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 99: Ride about the country till I give you the office. [Ibid.] 245: How the deuce did you get the office in time?
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 9 Nov. 6/3: A jovial Sydney boniface ‘took the office’ about the winner of the Melbourne Cup.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Camp-Fire Yarn’ in Roderick (1972) 140: My mate sent me the office that she was coming.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 80: I got the awfice from a toff [...] that I was wanted.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 36: Ike ’ad give them two men as were with ’im the office and a promise of a pot or so when the jorb were done.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 July 36/2: But Bandy couldn’t take no orfice, ’e’s such a fool.
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 4 Mar. 2/6: Whether he got wind about it, / Or he got the orfis / [...] / He were off in half a switch.
[UK]Sporting Times 11 July 1/4: Guv’nor, I’ve got the office to put yer through it, but as I see yer’ve got a lady with yer, I’ll let it go for to-day.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 95: Le Fay leaned back a second time and stroked his moustache three times, the ‘office’ that Janissary was happy in the possession of a trilogy of tens.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 245: It was the crook office. It told the boy he had nothing personally to fear from Strong-arm.
[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Prison Parlance’ in AS IX:1 27: office (to get the office). To get the sign that everything is O.K.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 167: All mobs have [...] a system of signs and signals (called ‘offices’).
[US]C. Rawson Headless Lady (1987) 34: If I don’t get the office soon, I’m blowing.
[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 323: Office, A signal.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 810: office – A warning or sign of recognition from one to another person.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 59: Then they must have had the office from one of the dog-eyes for suddenly the game broke up.

4. information (with no inference of secrecy).

[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 296: Neal, on ‘the office’ being given to him, left the Isle of Wight.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 89: I had a sweet one today in the fifth — A waiter gave me the office on him — I won a grand on it and slip the waiter a yard and a half for the tip.

5. (UK/US prison) a signal.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 142/2: There are few ‘offices’ used by prisoners to each other, but what the ‘screws’ are ‘fly’ to.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Sept. 24/1: Ultimately, the police gave the ‘office,’ the battle was stopped, and Nolan got the money.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 200: After that take the office from me.
[US]M.C. Sharpe Chicago May (1929) 261: Office—signal.

In phrases

give (someone) the office (v.) (also sing the office)

1. to tip off, to give a warning.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: To give the office; to give information, or make signs to the officers to take a thief.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry II v: Why, there’s that fellow giving the office to his pal now.
[UK]‘Paul Pry’ Oddities of London Life I 72: My mate give’s me the hoffice, and I bolt’s out.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 7 Nov. 3/1: Connor became alarmed and gave those upstairs some kind of office.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK](con. 1837) Fights for the Championship 357: The office was given that Swift’s bellows were out of order.
[UK]Dickens Great Expectations (1992) 16: You brought no one with you? [...] Nor giv’ no one the office to follow you?
Inquirer (Perth, WA) 11 Feb. 3/2: [A] couple of women who happened to be present, and who, to use the slang term of thieves’ English, immediately ‘gave their pals the office’ .
[US]Memphis Dly Appeal (TN) 12 Mar. 3/3: If a thief sees an officer [...] to his companions he ‘sings the office’.
[Aus]M. Clarke Term of His Natural Life (1897) 52: She’s got to stall off the sentry and give us the orfice.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 243: She gave me the office, and I soon had it.
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 62: I tipped my hand to him, and raised it $100, at the same time giving Mose the office not to raise.
[US]C.W. Gardner Doctor and the Devil 48: I gave Dr. Parkhurst ‘the office’ (that’s Bowery for a hint).
[Aus]‘G.G.’ Sporting Sketches in Sportsman (Melbourne) (18/10/1898) 5/8: ‘He ’ad just given the office to the bloke with the pencil’.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 395: OFFICE: to ‘give the office’ is to give a signal to a confederate. It is usually done by raising the hat.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 98: You shift th’ leather. Then give th’ party who’s been touched th’ office to go after Sheeny Joe.
[Aus]J. Furphy Such is Life 40: Of course, I ripped across to give the fellows the office.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 21: They’ll sit through one o’ them long spiels [...] watchin’ fer somebody that’s wise to give ’em the office when to cut in wit’ the kind applause.
[UK]Marvel 16 June 591: If I gives him the office, he gen’rally takes the tip.
[UK]D. Stewart Devil of Dartmoor in Illus. Police News 15 Oct. 12/3: ‘The infernal coppers won’t be long before they come up [...] the sooner we give him the office the better’ .
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 74: [He] then gave his ‘pal’ on the outside the ‘office’ to come in and ‘turn the trick’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 412: Give him the office – give him the signal.
[UK]J.B. Booth London Town 313: The man outside [...] looks around to see if they are being followed, and ‘gives the office’ if they be.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 43: He knew who I was—I know the waiter was givin’ him the office.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: Francis and four of the bouncers [...] were already there, waiting for me to give them the office.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Madame La Gimp’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 244: I give him the office I wish to speak to him.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 178: The boss almost shook his wig off giving me the office.
[US]J. Thompson Getaway in Four Novels (1983) 52: Move. Go ahead of me. If you spot him, give me the office.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 33: He gave me the office that some action was coming down the street.

2. (Aus.) to survey an individual, prior to allowing them admission .

[Aus][A. Harris] (con. 1820s) Settlers & Convicts 91: The preliminary of ‘giving the office’ (token) had been gone through; we had been scrutinized through the slightly open door, and my companions being recognized [...] it was thrown open.

3. to inform, to tell, with no inference of warning.

[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 58: The thief’s confederate, who, ‘gives the office,’ and tells where booty may be found.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 233: ‘Who gived you the office?’ said the untidy one.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 18 Apr. 22/3: But a friend who was acquainted with the real state of affairs, gave Adonis the office, and he was seen no more about the house of Smart.
[UK] ‘’Arry on Marriage’ in Punch 29 Sept. 156/1: Who give you that orfice, dear boy? It is wonderful rum, swelp me bob.
[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Voces Populi 7: He giv me the orfice straight about Killivan and Smithton, he did!
[US]Ade ‘The New Fable of the Lonesome Camp’ in Ade’s Fables 273: She would give Friend Husband the Office to move to one side [...] and not ruin the Ensemble by butting in.
[US]Jack Kofoed ‘Another Little Drink’ in All-America Sports Mag. Feb. [Internet] The boss gave us the office to get working.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Shakedown Sham’ Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective May [Internet] You’re staying right here until I give you the office to scram.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 57: The Lord does another bit of a grin – and gives the whale the office to vomit Jonah up on dry land again. Pronto!
tip the office (v.)

1. to make some form of sign.

[UK] ‘Smith’s Frolic’ in Holloway & Black (1979) II 61: He tipt me the office to give him a leg.
[Aus]Sydney Herald 18 June 4/2: [A]s you sport the tip top slang, as you should tip us the office to gammon the queer uns, so up and give it ’em right and left and no mistake.
[UK]Era (London) 14 Mar. 3: Well, I got home, tipt Muggins the office that I was off for a jaunt.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 60: office Information conveyed by a look, word, or in any way by which the person receiving it is intelligibly impressed. ‘The cove tipped the office, and I was fly to the cop,’ the fellow gave me the hint, and then I knew it was a policeman.
[UK]T. Taylor Ticket-Of-Leave Man Act IV: I’ve tipped the old woman the office, and planted the tools.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Suicide Stunt’ Speed Detective Apr. [Internet] ‘We haven’t anything else we’d like to do, have we, Chuck?’ And I tipped my stunting chum the office.

2. to betray a secret.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 246/2: Tipping the office (Soc., 18 cent.), Revealing a secret – frequently in connection with some doubtful proceeding.

SE in slang uses

In compounds