Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pipes n.1

1. the voice.

[UK]Trial of Treasure Biiii: By the masse, and well said, but first let us sing, I must tune my pipes first of all with drinking.
[UK]Beaumont & Fletcher Knight of the Burning Pestle I i: Carry him this sticke of Licoras [...] ’twill open his pipes the better, say.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy IV 78: My Friend must needs be so Frolicsome to Tune his Pipes, and entertain us with a Song.
[UK]N. Ward Vulgus Britannicus III 40: Nor did the Rabble spare his Pipes, / Of Mortal Clay.
[UK]W. King York Spy 72: His Harmonious and well Tun’d Pipes.
[UK]‘George Barnwell’ in Universal Songster I 19/1: Now soon this voman did persuade him / Vith her fascinating pipes.
[US]D. Corcoran Picking from N.O. Picayune 70: It [i.e. laughter] is liberally let out through ever-acting escape pipes.
[US]J.H. Green Reformed Gambler 121: You cut me all up in little pieces, and put my singing pipes out of tune.
[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 40: I [...] began to cry, and howl, and shriek, setting my pipes to their highest pitch.
[UK]Old Hunks in Darkey Drama 5 50: Don’t strain your pipes, ole man, like dat!
[UK]J. Greenwood In Strange Company 212: ‘Chirp to him, Carrots,’ growled the old man [...] ‘keep his pipes agoin.’.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 28: More than once he had let drive with a Pop Bottle at the umpire and then yelled ‘Robber’ until his Pipes gave out.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 56: He turns the hot-air into his pipes and comes out with the assertion that I couldn’t write a postal card [...] and finish right.
[Can]R. Service ‘Insomnia’ in Ballads of a Bohemian (1978) 439: Of tea I’ll make a rousing brew, / And coax my pipes until they croon, / And chant a ditty to the moon.
[US]J. Lait ‘Second from the End’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 190: But where’s your pipes? Don’t I remember you with the Herald Square Comic Opera Company in ‘Satan’s Sweetheart?’.
[US]G. Lee ‘Trouper Talk’ in AS I:1 37: Even when I warbled, an’ my pipes are sweet, I couldn’t dent the old boilermaker’s convention.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 18 Dec. [synd. col.] Femme warblers [...] So many of them have pipes of pure velvet for a few notes only to have them flatten out like a Saroyan plot.
[US]J. Archibald ‘Skip Tracer Bullets’ in Popular Detective June [Internet] ‘Do somethin’,’ Willie yipped at the cops, but forgot his rusty pipes.
[US]P. Hamill Dirty Laundry 195: ‘I want you to talk to me in a minute,’ I said. ‘So keep your pipes oiled.’.
[US]J. Wambaugh Secrets of Harry Bright (1986) 291: Hey, it’s Fred [...] Pipes aren’t quite as good as old Harry Bright’s, but not so bad for a hoofer.
[US]D. Woodrell Muscle for the Wing 62: Willie, go on out there and turn your pipes loose on ‘Beast of Burden’.
[US]C. Hiaasen Native Tongue 311: The girl had great pipes.
[UK]Guardian Guide 22–28 Jan. 22: In the words of the skinny kid with the big pipes from Hoboken, ‘we got high hopes’.
[US]J. Stahl Plainclothes Naked (2002) 1: Tony Zank’s mother piled down the rest home corridor, screaming [...] ‘Pretty good pipes for an oldster,’ said McCardle.
[US]C. Hiaasen Nature Girl 9: His [...] boss had suggested that he try telephone work. ‘You got the pipes for it.’.

2. the lungs, esp. of a singer.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ You Can Search Me 94: She has the most elegant line of language that ever left the pipes.
[US]H. Green Maison De Shine 260: His pipes’ll be ruined singin’ in all that smoke.
[US]Mencken letter 11 Dec. in Riggio Dreiser-Mencken Letters II (1986) 416: Unable to clear her throat, her pipes got clogged up.
[US]Mencken letter 23 Mar. in Riggio Dreiser-Mencken Letters II (1986) 624: The tropical air will clear out my frozen pipes.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 14 June 7/2: My, Mr., you must have a fine pair of vocalizing pipes.
[UK]J. Cary Horse’s Mouth (1948) 303: I felt giddy. A bit much for the old pipes. I sat down and laughed. And then I began to cry.
[US]M. Rumaker Exit 3 and Other Stories 139: I’ll get you some mescal and maybe that’ll warm up your pipes.
[US]S. King Stand (1990) 184: Your pipes are sick.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 187: She has a big voice by nature, belter’s pipes.

3. (also pipe) the throat.

[US]J. Tully Beggars of Life 115: I drank it without taking a breath and asked for another. ‘You sure got a hot pipe, Kid,’ said the conductor.
[US]‘Hy Lit’ Hy Lit’s Unbelievable Dict. of Hip Words 3: bad pipes – Sore throat.
[US](con. 1969) C.R. Anderson Grunts 143: Hey, Chief, let’s go to the vill and get the old pipes cleaned out, eh? – and a bottle of whisky and maybe some grass for the rest of the squad.

4. (US campus) the upper arms.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.

5. the vocal chords.

[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 67: She’d taken out her dog’s pipes. Yapped too much.

6. see pipe n.1 (1d)

In phrases

clear one’s pipes (v.)

1. to take a drink in order (lit. or fig.) to clear the throat.

[UK]Antidote Against Melancholy in Ebsworth Choyce Drollery (1876) 118: It will clear his pipes, and moisten his lights, / If he drink alternatim a pot of good ale.
[UK]J. Crowne City Politicks I i: He can’t speak, he’s so hoarse; he’s gone to drink a glass of sack to clear his pipes.
J. Whitney Genteel Recreation (1820) 69: But first to clear your Pipes, we’ll drink.
[UK]Comic Almanack Oct. 65: I’m bottle-holder for a glass of max, / So clear your pipes, my jolly cocks o’ vax.

2. to clear one’s throat, esp. preparatory to singing.

Fletcher Wild Goose Chase V:vi: Be ready, sirrah / And clear your pipes; the music now.
[UK]Smollett (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas II 122: I am a chanter at your service, and amuse myself with clearing my pipes, as you will hear.
[UK]J. Townley High Life Below Stairs II i: I am really hoarse; but—Hem—I must clear up my Pipes.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Peeping Tom 29: Come – clear up your pipes and give him a song.
[UK]Caledonian Mercury 14 Oct. 4/2: Here the Champion made his debut as an orator, and after lushing a bit, by way of clearing his pipes, he gave a bit of a stave.
[UK]I. Pocock John of Paris II ii: john: I heard your daughter sing a couplet. [...] ped: That’s right, Rosee; clear your pipes (she takes a guitar).
[UK]‘Bill Truck’ Man o’ War’s Man (1843) 379: He concluded with a desperate ‘aha!’ to clear his much clogged pipes.
Olio 31 July 68/1: All hands ahoy there, and clear your pipes, and give us the Lucy’s song.
[US]‘Jonathan Slick’ High Life in N.Y. I 38: Clear your pipes, feller citizens; let’s give ’em a song.
[UK]J.B. Buckstone Jack Sheppard 48: Silence for the captain! and clear your pipes for a chorus.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 39: He cleared his ‘pipes’ and gave me a look.

3. in fig. use, to lose one’s emotions, to ‘let off steam’.

[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 106: A pious old matron, that every morning us’d to scold at her maids [...] not that they were in any fault, but only, as she said, to clear her pipes.
[US](con. 1967) E. Spencer Welcome to Vietnam (1989) 114: That’s how fighters have been clearing their pipes for centuries. A ritual alcoholic bath then reprimed and ready.
knock one’s pipes out (v.)

to work oneself to exhaustion.

[UK]A. Payne ‘You Need Hands’ Minder [TV script] 9: And I’ve been knocking my pipe out for the past two days trying to get you in with this diamond merchant.
[UK]T. Pratchett Pyramids (1990) 120: After you’d knocked your pipes out seeing to it that the nobility had their tickets to eternity, were you allowed to turn your expertise homeward [...] ?
open one’s pipes (v.)

1. to sing.

[UK]N. Ward Compleat and Humorous Account of Remarkable Clubs (1756) 227: Then he who is, amongst ’em, the most celebrated Singer, to exhilerate [sic] the rest, begins to open his Pipes.
[UK]Preston Chron. 19 Aug. 4/3: He [...] began to open his pipes.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 273: Your pegger [...] at once opens his pipes and lets out a loud-sounding challenge.
BostonPhoenix.com 17–24 Oct. [Internet] He sings so gently and smoothly on the opening ‘Yamore’ [...]. Keita does open his pipes full bore on the driving ‘Madan,’ which is based on a rhythm from a Malian harvest party.

2. to clear one’s throat.

N. Monsarrat This Is the Schoolroom (2000) 178: Just open your pipes and let 'em 'ave it – that's the only way.
put up one’s pipes (v.) (also pack up one’s pipes, poke up ...)

to cease from an action; to stop talking.

[UK]Olde Antichrist 148: Than maye the B[ishop] of Rome put up his pypes, that may he take his leaue of his great gainyng money marte.
[UK]W. Birch ‘Parson of Wollaton’ in May & Bryson Verse Libel 147: But when that he spied that cleare day was broke, / He put up his pypes and his leave he toke.
[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1923) 14: Then in faith put vp your pipes, and giue mee leaue to speake.
[UK]Nashe Unfortunate Traveller in Works V (1883–4) 32: He could haue found in his hart to haue packt vp hys pipes, & to haue gone to heauen without a baite.
[UK]M. Hawke Killing is Murder 23: This Imposter may put up his Pipes, and set down by weeping Crosse.
[UK]‘M.W.’ Marriage Broaker II i: But ’tis time I Put up my pipes.
Ramsay Eagle and Robin 49: Poke up your pypes, be nae mair sene At court.
set up one’s pipes (v.)

1. to yell, to scream.

[UK]Smollett (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas I 23: I happened one day to scratch myself, upon which, setting up my pipes, as if he had flead, my mother came running in.
Ladies Mag. Oct. 449/2: If you interfere with me, I’ll soon make you set up your pipes.
Boston Book 87: And oh! sweet pigs! ye musical sons of thunder-! set up your pipes and squeal a deafening chorus into the ears of the Massachusetts Executive Council.
A. Marsh-Caldwell Angela I 43: Come along to your tea; and don’t you set up your pipes a-crying, master Tommy, and a disturbing of your mamma.

2. to complain; to make a fuss.

Student & Schoolmate July 303: Don’t set up your pipes to that tune, or you ’ll drive me right out of the house, and won’t get anything by it either.