Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tank n.1

[tank (up) v.]

1. [late 19C–1940s] (also beer-tank) a drinker, a drunkard; also an eater (see cit. 1930).

2. see tank town n. (1)

3. [late 19C-1940s] (Aus./US) a pint of beer [? influenced by SE tankard].

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 ] [1910s+]

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

2. to collapse, to go badly wrong.

in the tank (adj.) [SE tank, a swimming pool; one is ‘sodden’ with liquor]

[1970s+] drunk.

on the tank (adj.)

[1900s] (Aus.) drunk.

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)

[late 19C] (US) to become drunk.

wash one’s foot in the tank (v.)

[1940s] (US black) to drive a car very fast.