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).

[US]S. Crane George’s Mother (2001) 85: The bartender came often. ‘Gee, you fellahs er tanks,’ he said in a jocular manner, as he gathered empty glasses.
[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]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.

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. [Internet] 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.

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.

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.