Green’s Dictionary of Slang

bender n.1

[SE bend]

1. in monetary uses [the ease with which the thin metal could be bent; Bee: ‘Bender [...] takes its name from the form, the usual shape of the old coin, which were bent, twice, adversely, presenting the appearance at the edge of the letter (s)’].

(a) a sixpence (2½p).

[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 134: I say, my kiddies, there’s two bobsticks of slim, a bender for ale, and a flag’s worth of lightning to pay. [Ibid.] 178: Sixpence. A bender.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 259: The flue-faker will drop his bender with as much pluck as the honourable does his fifty.
[UK]Egan Finish to the Adventures of Tom and Jerry (1889) 162: Her helegant silk pelisse, which cost ‘seven bob and a bender’ per hard.
[UK]Dickens Pickwick Papers (1999) 562: ‘Will you take three bob?’ ‘And a bender,’ suggested the clerical gentleman... ‘What do you say, now? We’ll pay you out for three-and-sixpence a week. Come!’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 July 3/3: Two bob and a bender.
[UK]Thackeray Newcomes I 119: By cock and pye, it is not worth a bender.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville M. or N. I 118: ‘On this minnit, off at six, Buster; Two bob an’ a bender, and a three of eye-water, in?’ ‘Done for another joey,’ replied Buster, with the premature acuteness of youth foraging for itself in the streets of London.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 18 July 2/6: For our next coin in value twenty names are found, viz: - ‘sixpence,’ ‘bandy,’ ‘broder,’ ‘cripple.’ ‘downer,’ ‘fiddler.’ ‘fyebuck,’ ‘half-hog,’ ‘kick,’ ‘lord of the manor,’ ‘pig,’ ‘pot,’ ‘say saltee,' ’sprat,’ ‘snid,’ ‘simon,’ ‘sow's baby,’ ’tanner,’ tester,’ and ‘tizzy’.
[UK]Household Words 20 June n.p.: The sixpence is a coin more liable to bend than most others, so it is not surprising to find that several of its popular names have reference to this weakness. It is called a bandy, a ‘bender’, a ‘cripple.’.
[UK]Exeter & Plymouth Gaz. 4 Feb. 5/6: A sixpence [...] has been a ‘tester‘ [...] a ‘lord-of-the-manor,’ a ‘bender’ and a ‘cripple’’.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 7 June 9/6: Slang of Money [...] Sixpence is a ‘sprat,’ ‘zack,’ ‘tanner,’ ‘fizzy,’ ‘bender,’ ‘cripple’’.
[Aus]Western Mail (Perth) 28 May 21/1: [from Daily Mail, London] Twenty or thirty years ago a sixpenny bit used still to be known as a kick or a bender.
[UK]M. Marshall Tramp-Royal on the Toby 21: I was given a fistful of fags and one-and-a-bender.

(b) a shilling (5p).

[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Egan Boxiana IV 652: When to pass on the whip-hand makes his tender in browns, or glistner, Harry Hase or bender.
[US]Commercial Advertiser (N.Y.) 1 Feb. 2/3: The buffer demanded twelve benders, which was more than the whole five owned, but [they] promised to go and satisfy the party, and they departed apparently contented with a night’s lark.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Dickens ‘Slang’ in Household Words 24 Sept. 75/2: Shillings [are] bobs, or benders.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]H. Kingsley Austin Elliot I 112: How about the two bulls and half a bender.

2. as parts of the body [their physical functions as joints].

(a) the arm .

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[US]Schele De Vere Americanisms 582: Bender, in the sense of a spree, a course of drinking, is the facetious name given to the arm.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 1: Bender - The arm, ‘Over the bender’ synonymous with ‘over the left’.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

(b) the elbow; often in phr. over the bender

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 26/2: In England the Bender is the elbow.
[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.

(c) the leg [lapsed in mainstream sl. by 1900 but adopted by US blacks c.1940].

Longfellow Kavanagh xii: Young ladies are not allowed to cross their benders in school [F&H].
(con. 1905) J.O. Jespersen Growth and Structure 248: American and especially Boston ladies [...] are reported to be [prudish], speaking of their own benders instead of legs [W&F].
[Ire]P. Boyle At Night All Cats Are Grey 82: Musky Burke – a harmless poor gawn [...] who every evening made a round of The Stations on his bare benders.

(d) the knee.

[UK]Preston Chron. 16 Mar. 3/3: ‘She fell downstairs and hurt her courtesy bender.’ ‘Her what?’ [...] ‘Why, her knee’.
[US]Manchester Spy (NH) 28 June n.p.: [as cite 1850].
[US]Hillsdale Standard (MI) 10 Oct. 1/2: [W]hen I went to bed, I [got] down on my benders and ask for snows.
[UK]Sporting Times (London) 15 Feb. 3/2: ‘I’ll go down on my bloomin’ benders [...] an’ swear as what I’ve said’s the truth [...] top me if it ain’t’.
[US]Pittsburgh Courier (PA) 27 Aug. 11/1: Every time the idea cut through your conk-piece it gave you the creeps in your benders.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 26: His boots came up over his fat benders two.
[US]Hughes & Bontemps Book of Negro Folklore 481: benders: knees.

3. as a homosexual, and related uses [note Guild Dict. (1965): ‘bender: A homosexual who submits to passive anal intercourse’].

(a) a male homosexual; also attrib.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 26/1: Bender. [...] 2. (P) A passive pederast.
[US]Trimble 5000 Adult Sex Words and Phrases.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 146: passive partner [...] bender.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 48: A mustachioed bender whose method of correcting the younger boys’ Latin unseens was to run his [...] hands up the legs of their shorts.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] You’ve got Aids. You’re a bender. End of story.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 26 June 3: It’s the Loaded lad and the Bloomsbury bender who are brothers under the foreskin.
[UK]B. Hare Urban Grimshaw 3: There’s Frank, the nonce, the sex offender, / but he can’t help it because he’s a bender.
[UK]J. Niven Kill Your Friends (2009) 20: Having some moustachioed arse-demon [...] pummel away at you [is] the bender equivalent of a married couple’s Friday night.
[UK]D. O’Donnell Locked Ward (2013) 314: ‘You a poof?’ [...] ‘I don’t like that word’ [...] ‘Well what word dae ye want us tae use? Bender? Bent shot?’.
[UK]Guardian 29 July 32/2: It is a mistake to to class words such as ‘bender,’ ‘fag,’ ‘poofter’and ‘shirtlifter’ as euphemisms. In the 1950s and 60s they were usually vicious terms of abuse.
[Aus]G. Gilmore Class Act [ebook] [H]e’d found out nothing more than Oscar Druitt was a bender.
[Aus]P. Papathanasiou Stoning 131: ‘[H]e’s probably a closet bender himself, all teachers are, benders or paedos’.

(b) a term of abuse for an unpopular individual, esp. juv.

[UK]Indep. Education 8 July 2: ‘Battyman’, ‘bender’, and ‘bumboy’. These terms are not reserved for those young people perceived as lesbian or gay. Rather, they are generalised terms of abuse, used against youngsters, particularly boys, who deviate from the norm.

(c) (N.Z.) a Catholic [? link to sense 2, i.e. f. a Protestant perspective].

[NZ] McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl.

In phrases

over the bender [‘it is historical in common English that a declaration made over the elbow as distinct from not over it need not be held sacred. Probably from early Christian if not pagan times. The bender is always the left elbow...’ (Ware). Note also the Victorian custom of ‘over the left’, i.e. pointing with one’s right thumb over one’s left shoulder, implying disbelief]

a phr. implying that the previous statement is untrue (cf. bender! excl.).

[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. 24: Over the bender – over the bridge.
[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Scamps of London I iii: dever: We swear you can! bob (aside): Over the bender.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn).
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 190/2: Over the bender (Old English). Implying that the statement made is untrue, e.g., ‘You’ll pay me cock sure on Monday?’ ‘Yes – over the bender.’.