Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pony n.

1. in monetary senses [? relatively small sums, as a pony is a small horse; Bee claims ‘the one [i.e. the bet] being derived from the other [i.e. the horse]’; note Sinks of London Laid Open (1848) misdefines pony as ‘£50’].

(a) money in general.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Tom and Jerry I iv: It’s everything now o’days to be able to flash the screens – sport the rhino – show the needful – post the pony – nap the rent – stump the pewter.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 63: The pleasing sounds to them are ‘Post the poney — down with the dust — P.P.’.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 119: Poney, money.
[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 1 Nov. 3/3: [Villains] have lots of names for money, such as [...] ‘pony’.

(b) £25, orig. 25 guineas.

[UK]M. Robinson Walsingham II 97: I want nothing from her but her rouleaus: and she is so d----d cunning, There is no touching her, even for a poney*. (*Half a rouleau or twenty-five guineas).
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy II 242: In my former pal’s stakes I stood only a pony.
[UK]Egan Bk of Sports 298: ‘I will bet you, Sam, 10l. on the fight!’ The friends of Sam and Spring agreed to make it a Poney.
[UK]Lytton Money III iii: Flat, a pony on the odd twick. That’s wight.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Feb. 1/1: Surely a wealthy Councillor cannot feel the loss of a pony.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) II 180: A pony means twenty-five pound, old feller.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 29: Well, you’ve saved your master a pony this fine morning.
[US]J. O’Connor Wanderings of a Vagabond 134: [of a UK racecourse] A thousand throats are stretched to their utmost, crying out their slang betting phrases of ‘monkies,’ ‘ponies,’ ‘tenners,’ ‘fivers,’ ‘one to three,’ ‘four to six,’ etc.
[Aus]Clarence & Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW) 18 Jan. 4/6: It is grand ‘form’, however, to call [...] £25 a ‘pony’.
[UK]Sporting Times 6 Sept. 2/5: Queer language, this of ours, no doubt. In England ‘a pony’ is five-and-twenty pounds, in America a glass of beer and in the dictionary a small horse.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 339: Did he pay up? Of course he did. A ‘pony’ to wit, and on the nail.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) I 149: I think I can put a pony or fifty pounds in your pocket. [Ibid.] 343: I bet a level pony (£25).
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 11 Mar. 4/5: I’m game to bet a level ‘pony’.
[UK]E.W. Rogers [perf. Vesta Tilley] My Friend the Major [lyrics] Know the Major's always stony, / Always up to sundry pranks. / Meets you and demands a pony, / Borrows it and gives no thanks.
[UK]M. Williams Round London 202: He plays whist at his club for pony [twenty-five pounds] points.
[Aus]Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 3: A ‘level thousand up’ for fifty sovereigns was the game; / Old Chor. put down his ‘pony’ and the Kernel did the same.
[UK]Sporting Times 1 Jan. 1/5: A bookie to whom I owe five ponies has made a miraculous recovery from double pneumonia!
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 7 June 9/6: Slang of Money [...] Specific sums are variously named. £500 is a ‘monkey’; £25 a: ‘pony’; £10, a ‘double finnup’; £5, a ‘single finnup’ (word probably a Yiddish form of the Geman ‘funf’) .
[UK]N. Lucas Autobiog. of a Thief 158: I had a ‘pony’ in cash when I left London.
[UK](con. 1910s) J.B. Booth Sporting Times 258: Peeling off five fivers, he thrust them into Rufus’s right fist with, ‘There’s a pony, if it’s any good to you’.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 40: I might need to bite you for a pony.
[Aus]S.J. Baker in Sun. Herald (Sydney) 8 June 9/3: The underworld has an extensive vocabulary of financial terms. Among those recorded by Detective Doyle are: [...] ‘pony,’ £25; ‘spot’ or ‘century,’ £100; ‘monkey,’ £500; ‘grand,’ £1,000.
[UK]‘Charles Raven’ Und. Nights 39: Here’s a pony for any inconvenience you may have been caused. Now flip off.
[UK]R. Cook Crust on its Uppers 39: I’m about to stuff my pony in my kick.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 90: What’s the maximum fine anyway — a score? a pony?
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 107: Give us a quid or two dad / or a tenner / or a pony maybe.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Boys from Binjiwunyawunya 305: Fivers and tenners, eh. Lady Godivas and bricks we used to call them [...] Twenty-five quid was a pony. And fifty quid was a monkey.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 135: Pony all round. Here i’ comes.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 164: I could tell you about bills, Aitkenside owes me a pony.

(c) a double-headed coin.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 908/1: C.19–20.

(d) (N.Z.) one pound sterling; occas. £5.

[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 11 Feb. 7: Before leaving Wellington this youthful nobleman ‘tapped’ a Minister of the Crown for a pony [DNZE].
[NZ]H. Church Tonks 148: Done for a pony [...] Make it a fiver [DNZE].

(e) (Aus.) A$25; A$50.

[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxviii 10/2: pony: £25 or $25. Rhyming for macaroni.
[Aus]Ozwords Oct. [Internet] A pony is $50 (formerly £25).
[Aus]T. Peacock More You Bet 67: ‘$25’ was, and is, known as a ‘pony’, as was 25 pound.

2. a bailiff, esp. one who accompanies a debtor on a day out from prison [? he carries people off].

[UK]D. Carey Life in Paris 7: Whilst you are compelled to drop your anchor in the Levant, or obliged to pad the gray poney* within a narrower limit, I am off to the glorious round of Paris. *A person who has a day’s rule from the Bench, or Fleet, is generally accompanied by a companion belonging to the establishment, who is in the slang phrase denominated a poney.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

3. US campus uses.

(a) (also automobile) a literal translation of a classical text, a ‘crib’ [‘So called, it may be, from the fleetness and ease with which a skilful rider is enabled to pass over places which to a common plodder present many obstacles’ (Hall, College Words and Customs, 1856)].

[US]Harvard Register Sept. 194: I’ll tell you what I mean to do. Leave off my lazy habits [...] and stick to the law, Tom, without a Poney.
[UK]Tour through College 30: Their lexicons, ponies, and text-books were strewed round their lamps on the table [F&H].
[US]Gallinipper Dec. n.p.: The ‘board’ requests that all who present themselves will bring along the ponies they have used since their first entrance into College.
[US]Yale Literary Mag. xx 76: I am a college pony, Coming from a junior’s room; / I bore him safe through Horace and saved him from a flunkey’s doom.
[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 46: Pony, a translation of a classic text.
[US]W.C. Gore Student Sl. in Cohen (1997) 11: pony n. Same as ‘horse’ n. 1, q.v. An expression known to have been in use at this University as early as 1869.
[US]E.H. Babbitt ‘College Words and Phrases’ in DN II:i 50: pony, n. A literal translation used unfairly in the preparation of lessons.
[US]R.W. Brown ‘Word-List From Western Indiana’ in DN III:viii 586: pony, n. A literal translation. Also called a horse. An interlinear translation is frequently called an automobile. College slang.
[US]R. McAlmon Village 137: Her quickness at discovering pupils who used ponies to help them translate their Latin.
[US]H. Sebastian ‘Negro Sl. in Lincoln University’ in AS IX:4 290: ride To use a pony (horse or trot) in an examination, as in I rode all the way in that exam.
[US]J.B. Herrick Memories 25: I didn’t play poker or use a pony in Latin or Greek [DA].
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 48: cheat sheet – A pony.
[UK]Sounds 9 July 22/2: After leaving college his vaguely literary ambitions found him earning a living by turning out ‘ponies’, the Stateside word for those little revision booklets English (or US, in this case) Lit. students buy when they haven’t read, say, ‘Bleak House’ and there’s an exam tomorrow morning [OED].
[US]Eble Sl. and Sociability 16: A striking example from college slang is the apparent loss of the most pervasive set of college slang items of the nineteenth century, words conveying the image of traveling the easy way — that is, being carried by a horse or pony — to refer to using a translation for Latin class. In the days when Latin was a required subject in British and American schools, pony, horse, and trot were widely known slang terms for ‘a literal translation’.

(b) one who offers illicit help with an examination.

[US]A.W. Tourgée Toinette (1881) 290: It became one of my tasks to learn and repeat her lessons to her until she partly understood them. She used to boast of me among her companions as her ‘pony’ [DA].
[US]L.P. Boone ‘Gator Sl.’ AS XXXIV:2 156: A cribber must find a pony to ride (someone to give information on the test), or secure a cheat sheet (key).

4. fig. use of SE pony in its sense of a small horse.

(a) (orig. US) a small glass of beer or other liquor; thus pony-glass, a small glass, with a capacity of approx. 6ml (2fl oz).

[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. in Slices 81: A choice swig at the ‘poney’ – (all at the expense of the benevolent landlord!).
Riverine Grazier (Hay, NSW) 21 Aug. 2/4: But of she’d change her ‘must and shall’ into you ought or should, / I’d go right home as (hic) sober as a deacon (hic) from here; / But she’ von’t - so make dot pony a schooner glass of beer.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 29 Nov. 15/1: They drink absinthe, ponies of cognac, and smoke cigarettes.
Hamilton Spectator (Vic) 3 Sept. 3/8: ‘Have you no recollection of what occurred yesterday?’ ‘Let’s see! I was all right until I met a man. He was an old friend. I think we each had a pony of beer.’ ‘Only a pony!’ ‘Only a pony’.
[US]C.F. Lummis letter 23 Oct. in Byrkit Letters from the Southwest (1989) 42: Beer for 15 cents a ‘pony’.
[US]S. Crane Maggie, a Girl of the Streets (2001) 25: Say, what deh hell? Bring deh lady a big glass! What deh hell use is dat pony?
[US]Imperial Press & Farmer (San Diego, CA) 1 Feb. 7/2: Oh, sound the ringing hewgag and lift high the brimming ‘pony!’.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘Hostages to Momus’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 213: I brought him a pony of brandy and his black coffee.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 392: Oh! some drink rain and some champagne / Or brandy by the pony.
Dly Teleg. (Sydney) 16 Dec. 8/6: What is to be charged for the ‘long,’ the ‘medium,’ the ‘pony,’ the ‘lady’s waist’ of lager, and so on? Barmen were asked these questions yesterday, and for answer many of them could only scratch their heads, look puzzled, and say they were blowed if they knew .
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 287: Yes, says Alf. Hanging? Wait till I show you. Here, Terry, give us a pony.
[US]E. Caldwell Bastard (1963) 13: Plunging into the bar, he poured five ponies of gin down his throat.
[Aus]New Call (Perth) 10 Nov. 5/4: Do you like your beer in a tankard, schooner, mug, or are you one of those dainty persons who prefers a ‘lady’s waist,’ a goblet, a ‘pony’ or a lip tumbler.
[UK]W. Attaway Let Me Breathe Thunder (1940) 12: ‘A pony and two glasses,’ ordered Step, slapping the bar with the fat of his hand.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 36: He filled the two pony glasses again.
[Aus][C.A. Wright] Caddie: A Sydney Barmaid (1966) 84: I had noticed he never drank anything else, and the pony was the smallest beer sold.
[US]K. Cook Wake in Fright [ebook] He ordered a pony of beer — the smallest amount sold.
[UK]A. Baron Lowlife (2001) 188: I boosted myself with a pony of Scotch.
[Aus]N. Lindsay Bohemians at the Bulletin 72: At the first pub we came to he started drinking again, refusing to leave it till he had several rums to my pony beers.
[Aus]J. O’Grady It’s Your Shout, Mate! 15: We got ponies, glasses, middies, an’ pots, see [...] Now a pony’s four ounces—.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 86/2: pony smallest glass of beer served in pubs in imperial measure times, usually 5 ounce here and Sydney, 4 ounce other places in Australia; originally American for small glass of liquor.
[Aus]B. Moore Lex. of Cadet Lang. 202: jug the largest of four sizes of beer-glass/container [...] vidilicet pony, middy, schooner, jug.
[UK](ref. to 1950s) C. Lee Eight Bells & Top Masts 139: These were the 1950s. [...] [Australians] drank themselves silly on ponies, midis, but usually schooners.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

(b) (US) a (small) dancer or chorus girl.

[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. x: I went into the pony ballet of a La Salle Theatre show—can you see me as a pony?
[US]F.S. Fitzgerald This Side of Paradise in Bodley Head Scott Fitzgerald III (1960) 62: Hey, ponies — how about easing up on the crap game and shaking a mean hip?
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 224: Slim [...] promptly fell in love with Patsy, the pony who led the front row.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 11: The whole Ziegfeld chorus, from the ponies to the showgirls, would be hired to fan us.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 85: She was a neat little piece, about pony size, with big black eyes. [Ibid.] 192: She was only a pony—about five foot two.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 155: A tan broad as flashy as a Cotton Club pony.
[US]R. Campbell Alice in La-La Land (1999) 35: Four women beyond midle age, three of them looking like Norman Rockwell grandmothers, the fourth like an aging chorus pony.

(c) (US drugs) a weak measure of heroin [play on horse n. (7)].

[US](con. 1948) G. Mandel Flee the Angry Strangers 274: Little caps of Horse cut to a Pony. A Pony pop couldn’t hook so much beef.

5. (US) a racehorse; thus the ponies n., horseracing.

[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 187: Fact is, I overshot the mark a bit in buying that last pony [...] Best bit of pony flesh in all England.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Get Next 9: It’s many a long day since I’ve been a Patsy for the ponies.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 8: Now as a general thing I don’t monkey with the ponies.
[US]G.R. Chester Five Thousand an Hour Ch. i: I didn’t know that you cared for the ponies.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson ‘Done for the Double’ in Three Elephant Power 136: Her husband is dead, leaving her the whole of his colossal fortune, and, [...] she is now engaged in ‘doing it in on the ponies’.
[US]R. Lardner Big Town 194: I more than broke even by winning pretty close to $10,000 on the ponies down there.
[UK]G. Kersh Night and the City 10: I’ve been a bit of a mug [...] I thought I could beat the ponies and I lost a lot.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 58: ‘What do you think we should play him for?’ [...] ‘I’d say the ponies.’.
[US] ‘Ed Lacy’ Lead With Your Left (1958) 17: Every extra dime went on the ponies.
[US]P. Rabe Murder Me for Nickels (2004) 45: Just handlers who bring in the ponies sometimes. The ponies that surprise everybody by winning.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 58: I’d love to lay under those palm trees and follow the ponies.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 31: Club set immediately to work, licking his pencil, picking ponies.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 43: What did Steve like? [...] The ponies?
[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 82: Ted’s plotted watching the ponies from Kempton.

6. in attrib. use of sense 5.

[US]Sun (NY) 24 Feb. 8/4: His head agates gleam with that Hope twinkle that makes all pony bugs look alike.

7. one who is ‘ridden’.

(a) (US black) a young woman, a lover.

[US]Johnny Temple ‘My Pony’ [lyrics] Babe, I ain’t had no ridin’ since my pony been gone.

(b) (also pony girl) a prostitute or promiscuous woman.

[US]J. Stearn Sisters of the Night 43: If Peggy had been prettier [...] she might have been a call or a pony girl. [...] A pony is a cross between a B-girl and a call-girl.
[US] ‘Honky-Tonk Bud’ in D. Wepman et al. Life (1976) 57: The ponies didn’t peep, the dispatchers were alseep, / And everyone was at peace.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 53: The stable pony eyes staring blankly into mine.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Nov. 9: pony – slut [...] ‘I decided she was a pony when she went home with a guy she didn’t even know.’.

8. (drugs) crack cocaine.

[US]S. Yurick Warriors (1966) 78: The pony-junkies noticed nothing. They were down, and drowned in the lose-gloom, and were getting those empty-pocket, come-down shakes.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Spring.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 17: Pony — Crack Cocaine.

9. a ponytail hairstyle.

[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 7: Red an’ green lasers splash round catchin’ blond ponies, skanky beards, orange lipstick.

In compounds

pony-bag (n.) [sense 1b above; such bags are insured up to £25,000]

(UK Und.) a small box of cash carried into a bank by a security guard.

[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 6: Mostly he went for ‘pony-bags’, which are the small boxes carried across the pavement to the bank by a lone security guard. They are called pony bags [...] because [...] a pony is twenty-five, and the bags were insured to contain a maximum of £25,000.
pony boy (n.)

1. (US) in sadomasochistic use, a submissive male used as a ‘horse’.

[US]interview in Murray & Murrell Lang. Sadomasochism (1989) 108: Pony boys are prety common: it’s one of the best ways to humiliate most guys.

2. (US) a young male homosexual [sense 6a above].

[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 274: That pony-boy in the bar be sayin’ Poopy like him better!
pony girl (n.)

1. see sense 6b above.

2. (US) in sadomasochism, a female slave who is subjected to ‘equestrian training’.

[US]B & D Pleasures 56 in Murray & Murrell Lang. Sadomasochism (1989) 108: Dominant male, 30s, wishes to correspond and meet with anyone who is interested in pony girls. I have trained many submissive females in the art of being a pony girl.

In phrases

play the ponies (v.) (also play the horse(s))

to bet on horseracing.

[US]H. Blossom Checkers 60: He [...] threw up his job and started to play the ponies.
[US]Ade ‘Lonesome Trolley-Riders’ in True Bills 2: These imitation Pastimes are not calculated to keep a Man up after 10 P.M., especially if he has been accustomed to playing the Ponies and doubling up on the First Eighteen.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 27: If you’d quit playin’ the horses, we might be summon, too!
[US]H.C. Witwer Smile A Minute 336: I know all about you birds which plays the ponies.
[US]O.O. McIntyre New York Day by Day 13 June [synd. col.] He has made several small fortunes, but admits he lost them playing the ponies.
[US]H. Roth Call It Sleep (1977) 408: Yuh play de ponies, dontcha?
[US]‘Toney Betts’ Across the Board 304: I started playing horses in the early Twenties.
[UK]L. Dunne Goodbye to The Hill (1966) 65: He was talking about [...] playing the ponies.
[US]J. Wambaugh Choirboys (1976) 129: At one of those gin mills where he plays the horses.
[US]H. Gould Fort Apache, The Bronx 270: If they didn’t booze so much, and play the horse and chase broads they wouldn’t need the extra money.
[US]C. Hiaasen Double Whammy (1990) 101: Maybe you see me [...] playing the ponies out at Hialeah.
[US]S. Frank Get Shorty [film script] Apparently, way it went, he invited her to come to Santa Anita to play the ponies with him. She told him what to do with that and he gave her one on the tush.
[US]N. Green Shooting Dr. Jack (2002) 47: ‘He straighten his act out?’ ‘Hell, no. But he stopped playing the horses.’.
[Aus]J.J. DeCeglie Drawing Dead [ebook] Seemed like a good idea [...] to play the ponies for just a little while.
push ponies (v.)

of a pimp, to promote prostitutes.

[US]Maledicta IX 150: The original argot of prostitution includes some words and phrases which have gained wider currency and some which have not […] pushing ponies (pimp hustling broads).

SE in slang uses

In phrases

feeding the pony (n.) [? the shape/movement of the hands]

the digital stimulation of a woman’s genitals.

[UK]Roger’s Profanisaurus 3 in Viz 98 Oct. 13: feeding the pony v. One-handed groping of a lady’s toothless gibbon (qv).
off one’s pony [i.e. fallen over]

(US) in a state of collapse from excessive drinking.

[US]H. Ellison Rockabilly (1963) 65: You’d better hope the Colonel doesn’t breeze in here while you’re off your pony.
ride the white pony (v.) (also ride the baloney pony)

(US) of a woman, to have sexual intercourse astride the man.

[US](con. 1986) G. Pelecanos Sweet Forever 4: Lady took a long ride on that white pony.