1. as a ‘hollow’ part of the body.
(a) the vagina.
|Miseries of an Enforced Marriage Act III: In troth, sister, we two to beg in the fields, / And you to betake yourself of the old trade, / Filling of small cans in the suburbs.|
|Strange Newes from Bartholomew-Fair 2: To entice young punys, I lye as open as Noonday, sit down at the dore, set one foot to the right, the other to the left, as far distant as I can spread my imperfect Limbs, and cry Lads: here’s a can of the best liquor in the fair, claping my hand on my market-place.|
|Songs Comic and Satyrical 125: Here’s the Down Bed of Beauty which upraises Man, And beneath the Thatch’d-House the miraculous Can.‘The Sentiment Song’ in|
|‘The Chapter of Smutty Toasts’ in Icky-Wickey Songster 8: Here’s the thatched house, the miraculous can!|
|Sl. and Its Analogues.|
|‘Smokey’ [comic strip] in Tijuana Bibles (1997) 38: Shove that can baby. I going to unload.|
|Far from the Customary Skies 39: Oh, fiddle, fiddle, fiddle / While you can, / Before she lurns to sell ’er can.|
(b) (US) the buttocks; the anus; also used generically for the whole person (see cite 1952).
|Zone Policeman 88 113: I come near catchin’ the brat up by the feet an’ beatin’ its can off.|
|Front Page Act II: I don’t know, getting my can blown off.|
|‘Shakin’ the African’ [lyrics] Better than the Black Bottom, boys, it’s really in there! / It started up here, too! / Oh, shakin’ that Afro-can!|
|Big Con 141: All he has to do is sit around on his can.|
|Catcher in the Rye (1958) 75: I have my hand on your back. If I think there isn’t anything underneath my hand – no can, no legs, no feet, no anything – then the girl’s really a terrific dancer.|
|Redemption in G. Feldman (ed.) Protest (1960) 118: You’re really in luck, son[...] The lady you stole the stuff from doesn’t want to put your can in jail.|
|I Love You Honey, But the Season’s Over 143: He’s lookin’ for a business partner, not somebody to sit on her can in Sarasota sewin’ curtains.|
|Cunning Linguist (1973) 121: ‘Angry? I could kick your can all over this forest’.|
|Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 23: Can: (Park The) Sit down, park the carcase.|
|Dolores Claiborne 10: Nor was he gonna [...] change her diapers and wipe the shit off her fat old can.|
|Roger’s Profanisaurus in Viz 87 Dec. n.p.: can US n. Bottom.|
|Mad mag. July 36: These aren’t the rules of kick the can, Dylan. Never said which can I have to kick.|
(c) (US) used as a euph. for ass n. (2) in various senses, e.g. pain in the can, flatter the can off etc.
|Sporting Times 12 Nov. 2/2: I must have been what some folks call a ‘can,’ [...] when I listened to you.‘Landmarks’|
|Pimp 120: They were flirting their ‘cans’ off.|
|Bonfire of the Vanities 462: ‘You got any a those things they take the cans off the shelf in the supermarket with?’ ‘Yeah, I got some [...] and I’m gonna take your can off.’.|
(d) (Aus./US) the human head.
|DN IV:iii 198: can, head. ‘I’ll bust your can, if you don’t look out.’.‘Terms Of Disparagement’ in|
|‘The Faltering Knight’ in Chisholm (1951) 71: It knocks me can in, this ’ere game uv life.|
|Rough Stuff 92: I didn’t try to pull any sob-stuff on this dick, if I had he would have torn my can (head) off.|
|Spanish Blood (1946) 174: I make money without getting my can knocked off.‘Trouble Is My Business’ in|
|Viva La Madness 311: No mercy. Two [bullets] in the can.|
(e) the mouth.
|(con. 1912) George Brown’s Schooldays 186: I thought I told you not to open your can about that filthy swot.|
2. (US) a bomb; thus can-maker, a bomb-maker.
|(con. 1914–18) Three Lights from a Match 113: Shells clanged. Spike tried to keep on, but after a few of those G.I. cans had burst near enough to throw dirt on him, he gave up and lay in the ditch.|
|It’s a Racket! 221: can maker — One who manufactures bombs, especially nitroglycerine, black powder, or stench bombs.|
|[||(con. 1860s) Life of Johnny Reb 302: Canister consisted of a large group of small balls inclosed in a cylindrical tin cover, or ‘can’ [...] they rained death upon the advancing foe].|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 42: can [...] a bomb [...] can maker A bomb maker.|
3. by meton., a barman.
|Hooligan Nights 22: Nod to the can — which is the local term for the barman.|
4. as a room, place or container.
(a) a small room, e.g. in a hotel.
|Daily Trib. (Bismarck, ND) 23 Oct. 4/1: A hotel is a ‘chuck mill’ or ‘hashery’; a small room is a ‘can.’.|
(b) (US) a water closet, a lavatory.
|DN II:i 26: can, n. Water-closet.‘College Words and Phrases’ in|
|Vocab. Criminal Sl. 22: can [...] a lavatory, toilet, urinal.|
|Enormous Room (1928) 48: ‘The can stinks.’ They did not smile and said, ‘Naturally.’.|
|25 Oct. diary in Aaron (1985) 387: Evelyn has been searching all morning for a room for Eddie, one [...] not too many stairs up, near ‘the can’.|
|They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? in Four Novels (1983) 32: Not even the girls can go to the can when she’s around.|
|Life in a Putty Knife Factory (1948) 144: It is, beyond doubt, the biggest and most magnificent can on earth – a veritable Taj Mahal of toilets.|
|Catcher in the Rye (1958) 31: I went down to the can and chewed the rag with him while he was shaving.|
|Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 12: They’d turned on in the can before they left The Hoof, going with the last joint they had between them.|
|(con. 1940s) Tattoo (1977) 47: He tried to imagine her going to the can like everyone else.|
|Brown’s Requiem 58: Stan The Man moved from his perch at the jukebox and walked back to the can.|
|Native Tongue 219: I’m in the can.|
|(con. 1986) Sweet Forever 58: He [...] had a few drags off a cigarette, then went and had a seat on the can.|
(c) a prison, a police station lock-up; as generic can, imprisonment.
|Vocab. Criminal Sl. 22: can [...] A place of confinement; a prison; a cell.|
|Hop-Heads 25: Whenever I get a ‘jolt’ in the can (county jail) they make me ‘kick out’ my habit in the ‘tanks’.|
|You Can’t Win (2000) 157: We were then taken down to the city ‘can’ where they searched us thoroughly.|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 48: Coppers are always heaving her into the old can.‘Dream Street Rose’ in|
|Sun. Mail (Brisbane) 13 Nov. 20/8: The watch house is the ‘can;’ detectives are ‘demons’ and plain-clothesmen are ‘bulls’.|
|Cry Tough! 4: Then there were the other boys [...] All in the can.|
|Sun. Herald (Sydney) 8 June 9/4: Among American borrowings recorded in Detective Doyle's list are: ‘Blow,’ to depart, go away; ‘boob’ and ‘can,’ gaol; ‘black stuff,’ opium.in|
|Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1964) 108: The cops took the kid into the can.|
|Last Exit to Brooklyn (1966) 20: The next thing ya know the lawll be knockin on my door and I’ll be back in the can.|
|Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) 34: So one night the marshals come by and it’s back to the can, parole violation.|
|Big Huey 16: If I was nicked for this [i.e. heroin dealing] I was looking at big heaps of can.|
|Goodfellas [film script] 48: Jeannie’s husband went to the can just to get away from her [...] Nobody goes to jail unless they want to.|
|Grand Central Winter (1999) 124: Being in the can, it seems, was just the grist Richard needed for his muse.|
|Pound for Pound 50: A stern ‘Tex-Mex’ judge [...] promised him some time in el bote, the can.|
|‘Hookahs’ [lyrics] My nigga got guilty, he's stressing / [...] / my niggas dem locked in the can.|
|Scrublands [ebook] Lucie wanted to throw him in the can and sweat him.|
(d) (US Und.) a still.
|Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/3: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘Can,’ a still.|
(e) (US Und.) a safe.
|Flynn’s mag. cited in Partridge DU (1949).‘Dict. Und.’ in|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 519: I start seeking the small can, or safe, that I know is concealed in a clothes closet.‘Cemetery Bait’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|Rap Sheet 81: He worked fast and probably cut his par time for busting into a can by at least two minutes.|
|He who Shoots Last 48: Wrecker, whose livelihood depended on his ability to open a can faster than any tin opener.|
|(con. 1940s–60s) Straight from the Fridge Dad 24: Busting a can Cracking a safe.|
(f) (US Und.) a bank.
|Und. Speaks 18/1: Can, [...] a bank.|
(g) (US) a shipping container.
|Wire ser. 2 ep. 1 [TV script] What does the Marine Unit have to do with a bunch of dead girls in a can?‘Collateral Damage’|
5. in the context of drugs.
(a) a 5oz (140g) container of opium.
|Heathen Chinee 31: Chinese smoking opium [...] comes in small tin boxes holding about four ounces, and worth from $7.75 to $8.30 a can.|
|‘Life in a New York Opium Den’ in Professional Criminals of America [Internet] It is imported from China in an oblong brass box about five inches long, two and a half wide. The can is only half filled, as in warm weather it puffs up and would overflow the can if allowance was not made for this swelling.|
|Darkness and Daylight in N.Y. 571: The best quality of this sells for eight dollars and twenty-five cents a can.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 196: There’s a lot of sufferin’ [...] with hop goin’ to fifteen bones a can, ’stead of seven.|
|God’s Man 175: A can of it [i.e. opium] used to sell for five dollars – five dollars for less than a pound.|
|Black Mask Aug. III 54: Neatly piled on it was an opium smoking outfit, together with a can of ‘Mud’.|
|Underground Dict. (1972).|
(b) a 1oz (28g) container of opium.
|Helena (MT) Indep. 19 Nov. 7/4: The consignment [...] was the largest [...] in many years in the west, Mr. Cass said after checking the 57 one-ounce cans of opium.|
|Und. Speaks 18/1: Can broker, opium trafficker.|
(c) 1oz (28g) of morphine.
|Und. and Prison Sl.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|Narcotics Lingo and Lore.|
(d) approx. 1oz (28g) of marijuana.
|Joint (1972) 37: Blake confessed ownership of a small can of the narcotic.newspaper report 1 Jan. in|
|Pimp 127: I want a sixteenth of ‘girl’ and a can of reefer.|
|(con. 1950s) Whoreson 139: Cop me half a can of weed.|
|Runnin’ Down Some Lines 170: Man, in them olden days you could score a match. No more. Don’t even see no more can or lid!|
|Mr Blue 115: $1 a joint, three joints for $2, or a can (a Prince Albert can at that) for $10.|
|ONDCP Street Terms 5: Can — Marijuana; 1 ounce.|
(e) (Aus.) a phial of morphine, sufficient for a single injection.
|Big Huey 13: It’s [i.e. morphine] really good shit, man. [...] You can have it for five bucks a can.|
6. a pocket.
|A. Mutt in Blackbeard Compilation (1977) 159: Why kick with 418 bones left in the can.|
|Keys to Crookdom 414: Purse, poke, leather, sock, can.|
7. as vehicles.
(US) to dismiss from a job or relationship.
|Argus-Leader (Sioux falls, SD) 1 Nov. 22/2: ‘Where’s Violet?’ [...] ‘I gave her the can,’ said Charlie.|
(a) (US) a dilapidated, run-down, malfunctioning vehicle, incl. a ship.
|[||TAD Lex. (1993) 24: This is about a friend of mine who sent for a flivver car [...] Well he sent 10 milk cans to the flivver factory and told ’em to send back a car. They sent him a car and a check for $12 saying he had sent too many cans.].in Zwilling|
|TAD Lex. (1993) 24: Did you see that old can of his outside?in Zwilling|
|Death Ship 4: I was not mate on this can, not even bos’n. I was just a plain sailor.|
|Runyon on Broadway (1954) 405: I come to be riding around in an old can.‘The Three Wise Guys’ in|
|Decade 325: I borrowed this can from one of the iron riggers. Some crazy crate, huh?|
|Last Man Off Wake Island 197: We had the company of another vessel on the voyage to Hawaii, both of us under escort of a ‘can’ — disrespectful term for destroyer.|
|Drugs from A to Z (1970) 56: can (1) a car.|
(b) a plane.
|Mister Roberts II v: They’re landing planes at Okinawa and that’s where my can is.|
(US, mainly Chicago) a brothel.
|Short Stories (1937) 145: ‘I don’t like can houses,’ the kid said. ‘A young fellow, he got to have girls.’.‘A Casual Incident’ in|
|(con. 1910s) Studs Lonigan (1936) 57: There’s a can house around on Fifty-seventh Street.Young Lonigan in|
|Fellow Countrymen (1937) 421: ‘Me, I’d like to go to a can-house.’ ‘I’m laying off that. I’m a married man, and I love my wife.’.‘Comedy Cop’ in|
|Really the Blues 22: The Roamer Inn was like a model of all the canhouses I ever saw around Chicago.|
|Real Jazz Old and New xi: The whole Storyville era when jazz grew up in the canhouses of New Orleans [W&F].|
|(con. 1910s) Sometimes I Wonder 36: Playing can-house music wasn’t too healthy for a young man trying to fnd himself.|
|(con. mid-late 19C) Wilder Shore 216: As for the can houses, [...] the husbands are staying so close to their wives like they were first maried.|
|AS XLVI:1/2 77: [H]ouse of prostitution [...] can house.‘Urban Word Geog.’|
see separate entry.
see can opener n. (5)
(US prison) to escape from jail.
|Hobo’s Hornbook 152: Then Alton he got busy, and produced a fancy briar, / And we crushed the can at midnight, and decked an eastbound flyer.‘The Dealer Gets It All’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
(US) to be dismissed from a job.
|Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch. x: The girls down at Wilbur’s show decided to give a beefsteak in honor of the prima donna getting the can.|
(US) to accept a bribe; to act in a corrupt manner.
|Life Its Ownself (1985) 88: Vegas says somebody went in the can every time there’s an upset. Vegas thinks World War Two was fixed!|
(US) sexually aroused.
|Crimson Hairs 89: She took me over her lap and put some vaseline on her finger and gave me a long massage [in the anus]. By the way, she always liked to do that before she sent one of her girls into a room with a man. She claimed that it gets them hot in the can and makes them work good .|
(orig. US) ejected unceremoniously, thrown out.
|Bessie Cotter 6: She’d throw Violet right out on her can if she found out.|
see suck someone’s dick under dick n.1
see under swap v.
see under sweat v.2
(Aus.) stop talking!
|Digger Dialects 26: give your can a chance! — See ‘kennel-up’.|
a general excl. of disdain, dismissal, arrogant contempt.
|Racket Act II: Guts, my can!|
(US) shut up! be quiet!
|Blackhawk Howitzer 50: Shut your – can! [HDAS].|
SE in slang uses
see tomato-can vag under tomato can n.
(US) a party devoted to drinking beer.
|How the Other Half Lives 38: A man lies dead in the hospital who was cut to pieces in a ‘can racket’ in the alley on Sunday. [Ibid.] 226: Once pitched upon, its occupation by the gang, with its ear-mark of nightly symposiums, ‘can rackets’ in the slang of the street, is the signal for the rapid deterioration of the tenement, if that is possible.|
(Irish) a term of abuse.
|Everyday Eng. and Sl. [Internet] Can of piss (n): derogatory term i.e. ‘You’re some can of piss’.|
(orig. naut.) to take the blame that should be another’s, to do the ‘dirty work’; esp. as left carrying the can.
|Sharpe of the Flying Squad 333: ‘taking the can back’: Being left to do the dirty work.|
|Spiv’s Progress 173: I do all the work and you sit back and take the profit. I take the can back .|
|Roll On My Twelve 72: Something did go wrong, and little Roddy’ll carry the can.|
|(con. 1940s) Borstal Boy 55: He couldn’t take the can back if it happened again.|
|Breaking of Bumbo (1961) 65: It is impossible to get hold of the Commanding Officer [...] Bumbo decides to carry the can himself.|
|Cockade (1965) I iii: You dropped old Smiler in it. He carried the can.‘Prisoner and Escort’ in|
|All Bull 112: He was concerned with the here and now, for which he, poor man, carried the can.|
|Breaking Out 340: I don’t fancy a nice well-meaning bloke like you having to carry the shit-can for all this.|
|Auf Wiedersehen Pet Two 249: Neville’s turn to carry the can ...|
|Observer Business 22 Aug. 24: Carry the can. Most [...] lose out here, being prepared to sacrifice their staff rather than their own necks.|
|Indian Express 22 May [Internet] They establish a portal; get an insane valuation, go public, and get money out. The people who will be left holding the can will be investors.|
|Birthday 85: Only me to carry the can, except I jacked work in when the firm went bust.|
to fetch beer from a bar.
|St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 3 Dec. 17/7: ‘Chasing the can,’ ‘rolling the rock’ and ‘working the growler’ al mean sending the tin can down to the corner bar-room for beer.|
|Two Summers Girls and I 72: I’d go after it, Roy, only it’s too early for any self-respecting youth to chase the can.|
|Joey the Dreamer 132: You’ll have a bunch o’ coin, and you won’t chase the can or hit th’ bottle — ’r beat up yer wife.|
|in Postal Record 83: My main duties in this joint were to help the half stewed editor look for his specs [...] and to chase the can for the foreman.|
(US) to go on a drinking spree.
|Penguin Dorothy Parker (1982) 200: ‘Once I had a gal,’ he said, ‘used to try and throw herself out of the window every time she got a can on. Jee-zuss’.‘Big Blonde’ in|
(US) to drink or purchase drinks.
|Guilelmensian (Williams Coll.) 289: Harold’s room-mate was a Sophomore who puffed a T.D. and went to Ad. for the purpose of Hitting the Can.|
|Pensacola Jrnl (FL) 6 Oct. 6/3: He’s been hittin’ the can — chasin’ the duck.|
(Aus.) to amaze, to astound.
|Mail (Adelaide) 17 Mar. 1s/5: An’ it knocked the Darriwella crowd’s can right in when they read [...] th’ Govnor and his offsider had [...] the most enjoyable time.|
(US) to beg in the street.
|Dark Ship 199: Other seamen were sent to Times Square to ‘rattle the can’ as they solicited contributions from the public.|
(US) to buy beer from a tavern and bring it home for drinking there (cf. rush the growler under growler n.3 ).
|N.Y. World 5 June 9: He was an adept at coaxing money out of a turnip – could stand up a ‘drunk’ on a dark night with the best of them – and when it came to ‘rushing the can’ there was no man on ‘de Hook’ who could rush it oftener or drink deeper or fight harder than he.|
|Fables in Sl. (1902) 58: He learned to Chew Tobacco and Spit through his Teeth, shoot Craps and Rush the Can.|
|Toothsome Tales Told in Sl. 105: During the exercises the can was rushed at intervals [...] at the expense of the philanthropic Estelle.|
|Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 28: A bunch of town loafers were sitting around rushing the can and hitting the bottle.|
|Milwaukee (WI) Daily Journal 18 July 2/3: You rushed the growler, the can or the pitcher [DA].|
1. (US) to play an unpleasant trick on.
|Sun (NY) 24 Feb. 8/3: The game’s been tying a can to me since Dave Gideon was a $2 plunger.|
2. (also hang a can to, tie a can on, tie the can to) to reject or dismiss (a person).
|Girl Proposition 36: [She] wanted to know why, if Man was such a Bunch of Trouble, they were not willing to tie a Can to him.|
|Big League (2004) 23: I gotta good notion to tie a can on you for the rest of the season.‘The Low Brow’ in|
|Ten-Thousand-Dollar Arm 172: Why did they tie the can to Homer Kennedy? [Ibid.] 200: I hope they tie the can to you so tight you’ll never be able to get it off.‘The Phantom League’ in|
|Gas-House McGinty 195: Boy, if I had a wife like Porky’s got [...] I’d tie the can to her.|
|Sports Winners Feb. [Internet] Listen, boss [...] if you don’t tie the can to that dope’s tail I’m through!‘Home Runyon’ in|
|Dream Merchants 69: The rumor’s all over town that Ronsen’s tying a can to you.|
|Vice Trap 36: Well, there it was. I had the old can tied to me. [Ibid.] 42: I just took the day off [...] He hung the can to me for it.|
|Magic of Blood 103: If he didn’t like our work he’d have to tie a can to the both of us, because if you go, I go.|
3. to stop (an activity).
|Money in the Bank 163: Tie a can to the funny stuff, see? If I want to laugh, I’ll read the comic strip.|
to condemn, to reprimand.
|Torchy 163: He don’t dare tie the can to you without reportin’ higher up.|
(Aus.) to pay for a round of drinks.
|in DAUS (1993).|