Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tin adj.

1. (US campus) best, admirable.

[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 67: tin, adj. Best, as of clothes.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 300: I may not be a tin sport but I keep my thinker going all the time.

2. see tin-pot adj.

In compounds


see separate entries.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

tin-badge (n.) (also tin cop)

1. (US) an auxiliary or volunteer police officer: also attrib.

Buffalo Enquirer (NY) 21 Feb. 7/2: ‘What have you detected?’ the alleged Pinkerton akeds of one of the tin-badge sleuths.
[US]‘Ed Lacy’ Men from the Boys (1967) 71: That tin-badge cop they sapped up yesterday — that your boy? [Ibid.] 74: Why would a top operator like Smith go around slugging a tin cop?
[US]N. Nye Long Run (1983) 24: The tinbadge would take him off the hook.

2. a private detective.

‘Ed Lacy’ Best That Ever Did It (1957) 23: She [...] was hell bent on hiring herself a private dick [...] I figured you’d be the cheapest tin badge she could get.

see separate entries.

tin cow (n.) (also tinned cow) [note synon. WWII US Army armored cow/city cow]

(US tramp) tinned milk.

[[UK]Hull Dly Mail 19 Nov. 4/3: ‘The Tin Cow’ He added water ‘to make the milk up’].
[UK]Globe (London) 24 Dec. 1/3: We read of gruesome concoctions, such as [...] tinned milk that could only have come from a tinned cow instead of the natural quadruped.
[US]Independence Day Reporter (KS) 11 Nov. 1/5: We must have something hot to go with this damned tinned cow.
K. Mayo That Damn Y 188: Fresh milk, not ‘tinned cow’ [...] was a much appreciated treat.
[US]N. Putnam West Broadway 126: Out come Mrs. P. from the depths of her canned-goods box and welcomed us over the tinned cow.
[US]C. Samolar ‘Argot of the Vagabond’ in AS II:9 389: Milk is cow-juice; canned milk, tin cow.
[UK]Portsmouth Eve. News 7 June 10: ‘Like the American cowboy, they have come to prefer trinned cow!’.
[US]St Mary & Franklin Banner-Trib. (IA) 28 Feb. 3/3: A fight [...] based on a can of tinned cow stolen from the kitchen.
[US](con. 1920s) J. Thompson South of Heaven (1994) 4: Maybe you can pick up a can of tin cow, huh?
[US]A. Pearl Dict. Popular Sl.
tin dog (n.) (also dog, tinned dog, tin of dog) [note WWI milit. corned dog, canned beef]

(Aus./N.Z.) canned meat.

[Scot]Glasgow Herald 19 Sept. 8/1: Fresh meat [...] is a very welcome change from everlasting and tasteless ‘tinned dog’.
[Aus]Kalgoorlie West. Argus (WA) 26 Mar. 9/5: [heading] Tinned Dog. This vulgar and comprehensive designation covers in West Australia nearly every article of food put up in tins.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 1 Jan. 2/1: A breakfast of ‘tinned dog’.
[Aus]Worker (Brisbane) 27 May 10/2: What matters about a few miners living on rice and tinned dog.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘The Ghosts of Many Christmases’ in Roderick (1972) 504: The storekeeper packed the case of tinned dog, etc.
[Aus]Western Mail (Perth) 27 Dec. 32/2: Here’s to the boys in the back blocks [...] to the man whose Christmas dinner is a tin of dog with syrup for an entree.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 25 Aug. 85/6: All the best was tinned for us [...] As we called the beef we bit ‘Tinned dog’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 9 July 22/5: Although tinned dog and other scran / Along this line is dear / I found that I had made enough / Top buy two pots of beer.
[UK]Lawrence & Skinner Boy in Bush 249: ‘Jam and dog both mean “side”?’ ‘Verily. Only dog is sometimes same as bully tinned meat.’.
[Aus](con. WWI) A.G. Pretty Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: tinned dog. The preserved meat issued to the troops.
[Aus]North. Standard (Darwin) 24 July 10/3: Lack of sufficient fruit and vegetables [...] and a preponderance of tinned dog are said to be responsible for severe dental troubles.
[UK]E. Hill Territory 426: If you had a camp cook he rang the changes on ‘tinned dog’ with curry or sea-pie.
[Aus]D. O’Grady Bottle of Sandwiches 30: We’re out [...] o’ tinned dog, an’ out o’ weed.
[Aus]J. Carson in Ammon Working Lives 158: Inside my swag I had four tins of ‘tin dog,’ or bully beef.
[Aus]R. Beckett Dinkum Aussie Dict. 53: Tinned dog: Corned beef or mutton.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 163: Dogs also appear metaphorically in bush talk in the term for bully beef — tin dog.

see separate entries.

tin grin (n.)

(US campus/UK teen) a person wearing orthodontic braces.

Shreveport Jrnl (LA) 6 Dec. 18/7: If you haven’t got [...] braces [...] you’re out of style — Tin Grin from Shreveport.
Corvallis Times (OR) 3 Aug. 23/1: 10-year-old Tina [...] flashes her first ‘tin grin’.
OnLine Dict. of Playground Sl. 🌐 tin-grin n. rude name for someone wearing braces on their teeth.
tin hare (n.)

1. (mainly Aus.) the electric hare used for greyhound racing, also attrib.

[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 7 Oct. 10/2: The tin hare has come to stay. The law says that betting on coursing is legal, and a tin hare is a hare skin with stuffing .
NSWPD 2nd Ser. Vol. 131 7906: I have been out to the ‘tin hares’ myself, it is a poor person’s pastime and quite a lot of cash changes hands there [AND].
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 7 Apr. 13/9: Dogs have been pursuing that enemy, the tin hare, without change.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 34: [A]t Manly he had his miniature golf course and at Maitland a ‘tin hare’ track.
[Aus]J. Holledge Great Aust. Gamble 124: [I]n Melbourne, for example, ‘tin hare’ greyhound racing did not start until 1956.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1235/2: since late 1920s.

2. attrib. use of sense 1, pertaining to greyhound racing.

[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 26 Aug. 8/8: The tin hare craze has got hold of the people of Sydney [...] even the two-up schools are being deserted.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 24 Nov. 5/3: Those who clamour for the continuation of ‘tin hare’ racing [...] must do so with their tongue in their cheeks.
Hindquarters Bulletin: On Active Service (New Guinea) 10 Mar. 2: It’s not the RSPCA ... or a tin hare outfit [AND].
[Aus]Age (Melbourne) 10 Sept. 7/3: Melbourne’s first ‘tin hare’ racing since 1927 .
[Aus]Northern Territory News (Darwin) Focus ’69 109/1: Many top notch tin hare chasers tried at open coursing are ‘left for dead’ by very ordinary live hare chasers .
W.H. Bracht Greyhounds 123: In mechanical lure racing, often referred to as tin-hare racing, dogs chase an electrically or mechanically powered artificial lure on a circular or straight track [AND].

3. a train, esp. a rail-motor, i.e. a small passenger train consisting of the engine and one coach; also attrib.; thus as v., to travel on such a train.

F. Clune Free & Easy Land 190: We tin-hared sixty miles to Ayr on the Burdekin Delta. There is only one class on the tin-hare (rail motor) [AND].
[Aus]K. Tennant Battlers 159: The ‘Tin Hare’s’ whistle was heard in the distance.
M. Leyland Great Ugly River 9: Now we rocked along in the two-carriage train known to the locals as the ‘Tin Hare.’.
[Aus]Sydney Morning Herald 8 Oct. 37/1: It is the last of the ‘tin-hare’ railmotors [AND].
tin hat

see separate entries.


see separate entries.

tin lizzie (n.) (also Liz, lizzie, tin-liz) [affectionate nickname]

1. (orig. US) a Model T Ford.

[US]Tacoma Times (WA) 14 Sept. 3/1: City courts (Buffalo, NY) must decide whether a flivver is a tin lizzie or not.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 17 Dec. 12/1: He owns four houses, a ‘tin lizzie’ and three lots.
[US]W.Y. Stevenson At the Front in a Flivver Explanatory 🌐 I should be back there washing my old ‘Tin Lizzie’ in some muddy horsepond, right now.
[NZ]N.Z. Truth 21 June 1/7: He had trouble with his ‘tin Lizzie’.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 4 Mar. 23/2: He came a gutzer, took the count, and was rushed Immediately In a tin-liz to the quacks.
[US]S. Lewis Arrowsmith 182: Hanging a dusty rag behind a second-hand tin lizzie?
H.G. Wells Shape of Things to Come 63: He marketed his ‘flivver’, or ‘tin lizzie’, as it was affectionately called.
[US](con. 1910s) J. Thompson Heed the Thunder (1994) 215: They managed to get through the crowd to the sheriff’s tin lizzie.
[US]Reader’s Digest Apr. 60/1: It is as simple and homely as an old tin Lizzie [DA].
[Aus]D. Niland Call Me When the Cross Turns Over (1958) 232: Joe had sold his tin lizzie.
[US](con. 1916) G. Swarthout Tin Lizzie Troop (1978) 15: You get those men out of those Tin Lizzies and into formation.
[Aus]J. Doughty Gold in Blood 131: I jacked up the Lizzie’s driving wheel.
[Aus]J. Carson in Ammon Working Lives 133: I noticed there were only three types to be seen — the Buick, the Dodge and the mighty Tin Lizzie [...] They used to say [...] nothing in this world would stop a ‘Lizzie’ from getting you to your destination.

2. (orig. Aus.) any kind of ageing, broken-down vehicle.

[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 525: ‘What about mottercar?’ Mr. Oakroyd enquired sympathetically. ‘Oh, poor old Liz! She was napoo before I got up to Newcastle.’.
[UK]M. Marshall Travels of Tramp-Royal 80: Their cars are, nine times out of ten, ‘tin Lizzies.’ For to pull the Good Samaritan stunt from a deluxe model would be too ridiculous.
[Aus]D. Niland Shiralee 72: [of a truck] Their mate [...] they let sit under cover with the tin lizzie’s owner.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 35: ‘Better touch wood,’ Grave Digger replied [...] ‘There ain’t ainy wood in this tin lizzie.’.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Start in Life (1979) 121: If the other bloke didn’t stop his feeble insults he’d take him and his instalment-plan tin-lizzie to pieces and pelt him with the rusty bits.
[Aus]K. Willey Ghosts of the Big Country 177: Then we cranked up the Lizzie and shouted ‘Righto! / All aboard for the Daly River-O.’.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 30: No need of a blood-red underslung tin lizzie with the power of a Spitfire flashing up and down the motorway.
tin mittens (n.) [mitten n. (1)]

(US Und.) a person who arranges something at a high price.

[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Tin mittens, a crafty unprincipled lawyer who tells his client that he can defeat justice, provided the sum paid is large enough for the fixing.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 310: tin-mittens. A fixer. By implication, one who likes to hear the coin clank in his hand.
tin-pot (adj.)

see separate entry.

tin ribs (n.)

1. (UK Und.) a policeman.

[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 320: A policeman ... A fly, [...] body-snatcher, raw lobster, tin ribs, stalk, danger signal, terror etc.

2. an exceptionally thin person.

[UK]E.W. Rogers [perf. Harry Freeman] ‘Four-p'ny-a'p'ny Banquet’ 🎵 Next day I had another feed, the kids did all chi-hike me / Said they, ‘That ain’t old tin-ribs’.
tin shield (n.) [metonymy]

(US) a police officer.

[US]A. Rodriguez Spidertown (1994) 117: My tin shield, he say that they cun’t help comin’ t’ answer these calls [...] if they out in a call on 911, thy gotta come.
tin shirt (n.)

(US Und.) a bullet-proof vest.

[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/1: I’m sending yuh a couple of trailers, with tin shirts – gorillas from th’ Big Apple.
tin star (n.)

(US) a private detective; a country police officer; thus tin star detective.

[US]St Paul Dly Globe 30 Sept. 3/3: Amateur Sleuths. A Couple of Tin Star Detectives Who Were After a Murderer.
[US]Capital Jrnl (Salem, OR) 17 Oct. 4/1: The ‘tin star’ detective who was arrested in the South End last winter.
[US]Colored American (Wash., DC) 8 Dec. 4/1: Washington, who was then a ‘tin-star detective’, [...] decided to inform on Curtis.
[US]Chicago Eagle 5 Feb. 8/6: The ‘discovery’ of Mrs Gunness [...] proved to be a hoax by a ‘tin star detective’.
[[US]Omaha Dly Bee (NE) 7 June 4B/1: There are too many private detectives with tin stars and mail order diplomas.
[US]Oklahoma Miner 12 Aug. 5/3: ‘I’m cussing out a blankity-blanked, mutton-headed, tin-starred boob!’ says he.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]A.J. Pollock Und. Speaks n.p.: Tin star, a rural police officer.
tin throne (n.) [SE throne/throne n.]

(US prison) a cell latrine.

[US]G. Milburn ‘Convicts’ Jargon’ in AS VI:6 441: tin throne, n. The cell slop bucket.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 223/2: Tin throne. (P) The cell slop bucket in unmodernized prisons.

In phrases

tin-pan concert (n.)

(US) a concert of music performed on impromptu ‘instruments’ (similar to the earlier ‘rough music‘ on 16th cent. UK).

[US]N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 18 Aug. n.p.: There is talk about giving you the benefit of a tin pan concert some evening soon.
A.S. Roe Worcester in the Spanish War 238/1: To further relieve the melancholy [...] a tin pan concert or confusion is had.
Red Cross Mag. 9 146: The ships were decorated and a tin pan concert was given in the evening.
[US]Overland Mthly n.d. 8/3: A friend of mine brought dire consequence up on her self by giving a tin-pan cincert during the evening ‘Quiet Fifteen’.