Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tank n.1

[tank (up) v.]

1. (also beer-tank) a drinker, a drunkard; also an eater (see cit. 1930).

Salina Dly Republican (KS) 25 Sept. 3/2: A Tank — Person who enjoys any kind of drink [...] one with tremendous capacity.
[US]Sun (NY) 5 Mar. 25/1: ‘Now, St Louis was my hoodoo town,’ said Ex-Tank No. 3 of the Harlem Club of Former Alcoholic Degenerates.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘Mollie Matches’ in Sandburrs 48: I can’t set up, an’ booze an’ gab like I onct could; I ain’t neither d’ owl nor d’ tank I was.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Mar. 14/1: ‘This is my ideee of ’eaven,’ / Said a soaker with a sigh, / As he passed his empty pewter; ‘I’m Tom Carr, / An’ I’m Mudgee’s champion beer-tank – there you are!’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 20 Aug. 8/4: And I repeat that I decline / To be a sort of walking mine, / Or cash dispensary, or bank, / For ev’ry stray dramatic tank / Who happens to require a beer.
[UK]W. Muir Observations of Orderly 229: A few other slang words which I have come across in the hospital, and which seem to me to bear the mark of the old army as distinct from the new are: [...] ‘tank-wallah,’ a drinker.
[US]S. Lewis Main Street (1921) 388: This Mullins dame took two quarts of whisky to the dance with her, and got stewed before Cy did! Some tank, that wren!
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Boss Tramp’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 55: Then along came a Bowery actor, / A regular free-lunch tank.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 469: ‘All right, tank, give us a break,’ Red said as Les drank.
[US]J. Mitchell ‘A Sporting Man’ in McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon (2001) 123: What happened to all the tanks I palled with years ago?

2. see tank town n. (1)

3. (Aus./US) a pint of beer [? influenced by SE tankard].

[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 84: Tank, a pint of beer.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 26 Sept. 1/8: But send us tanks of ginger-beer, / Mixed with ale in pewter.
Worker (Wagga Wagga, NSW) 27 Sept. 7/3: All me, if Wrong were only dead / I’d raise a hearty cheer; / I’d wave a banner overhead, / And shout a tank of beer!
[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl. 75: Tank, a pint of beer.

4. (US) a distended stomach, a beer belly.

[UK] ‘Eighteen Pence’ 🎵 She took it in so cosy, she's got an awful ‘tank’ / She said she wasn't thirsty, but this is what she drank.
[US]M. McBride Swollen Red Sun 73: He had a tank that hung over his belt, which gravity seemed to have gotten the better of.

In phrases

go in the tank (v.) (also go in the water) [fig. use of boxing jargon go in the tank, to lose a fight deliberately; ult. SE tank, a swimming pool, thus synon. with take a dive under dive n.1 ]

1. to surrender, to give up, esp. when such a surrender is by no means necessary.

[[US]A. Baer Two and Three 5 Jan. [synd. col.] Flopper Fulton [...] tosses off his famous double backflop into a tank full of gate receipts].
[US]C.S. Montanye ‘Publicity for the Corpse’ in Thrilling Detective Dec. 🌐 All the Hollywoodenheads had gone in the tank for her with the greatest of ease and pleasure.
[US]R. Graziano Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956) 245: Nobody give me no dough to go in the water with Shank [...] Did I go in the tank? Was there a dump? Did anybody clean up with the books? Nah.
[US]C. Himes Big Gold Dream (1969) 64: The racketeers who owned him sent him to the tank so often he got both his eardrums burst.
[US](con. 1949) J.G. Dunne True Confessions (1979) 184: ‘Who’s going in the water tonight, Polo?’ ‘Anyone goes, it’s the negrito in the semi.’ [Ibid.] 189: Polo said the colored one’s going in the tank.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak 137: To go in the tank – to lose a boxing contest deliberately, usually for betting purposes.
D. Jenkins Slim & None 233: Your ex-husband is suggesting that [...] I should lob a couple of three-putts on Oakland Hills to make sure Scott wins. Go in the tank, in other words.

2. to collapse, to go badly wrong.

[US]T. Dorsey Florida Roadkill 114: I’ve got a twenty-million-dollar new phase about to go in the tank because of you.
in the tank (adj.) [SE tank, a swimming pool; one is ‘sodden’ with liquor]


[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 112: When Spermwhale was almost in the tank, a fifth of bourbon or Scotch in the huge red hand.
on the tank (adj.)

(Aus.) drunk.

[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 27 Nov. 8/2: Others took no truck whatever— / Fancied he were on the tank. / But he weren’t. In sober ernest. / He goes shoeless awl the way.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Redheap (1965) 161: ‘The old woman, it appears, gets on the tank’ .

SE in slang uses

In compounds

tank town

see separate entries.

In phrases

get one’s tank filled (v.) (also get one’s tank full)

(US) to become drunk.

[US]F. Francis Jr Saddle and Mocassin 147: One of these chaps from Texas come in there to paint the town, and got his tank full.
[US]Lantern (N.O.) 14 May 3: Lay around that barroom all night on Poydras Street and get his tank filled.
wash one’s foot in the tank (v.)

(US black) to drive a car very fast.

[US]Z.N. Hurston Seraph on the Suwanee (1995) 792: He cut through traffic like a razor and kept on going to the highway. No sooner did he hit it than he did what Angie and Kenny’s crowd called washing his foot in the tank.