Green’s Dictionary of Slang

uptight adj.2

also tight
[SE tight, tense]

1. tense, nervous, annoyed.

[US]J.M. Cain Postman Always Rings Twice (1985) 190: I’m getting up tight now. [Ibid.] 192: I’m up awful tight, now. I think they give you dope in the grub, so you don’t think about it.
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Duke 83: I was all tight.
[US]Baker et al. CUSS 210: Tight Tense at the last minute.
[US]T. Wolfe Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1969) 20: Something’s getting up tight, there’s bad vibrations and he wants to break it up.
[US]E. Bunker Animal Factory 16: I’m uptight. I never thought I’d miss a man so much.
[US]Ice-T ‘Radio Suckers’ [lyrics] They realize you gotta get some people uptight.
[US] in J. Breslin Damon Runyon (1992) 9: You are as tight as a man who has to fight Joe Louis. I insist you have a drink.
[UK]Observer 4 July 23: I didn’t handle it well. I became edgy and uptight.
[US]H. Dowd ‘Crazy Summer’ [Internet] You have to relax a bit Don, we are going to be staying with Aunt Elaine for the next two months and you can’t stay this uptight all that time.
[US]G. Pelecanos Shame the Devil 287: ‘You look a little tight, too.’ ‘Got a minor problem, is all it is.’.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 216: You’re all uptight cos you’re a virgin. You’re fanny’s depressed.

2. formal, unbending, strait-laced.

[UK]A. Baron Lowlife (2001) 34: She was cold and uptight.
[UK]J. Mandelkau Buttons 18: 130 cases of beer are mysteriously ripped off from an uptight catering firm.
[UK]M. Dibdin Tryst 8: In Brighton she had been quite prepared to smoke a little grass [...] but she had always drawn the line at harder stuff. But on the West Coast, this attitude was labelled ‘up-tight.’.
[UK]Guardian Guide 19–25 June 4: The original uptight white guy.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 12 May 6: In the uptight, grey-flannel post-Eisenhower era.

3. under emotional control.

[US]Current Sl. III:4 10: Uptight, adj. Inhibited.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) H. Huncke ‘Joseph Martinez’ in Eve. Sun Turned Crimson (1998) 220: I kept myself uptight to keep from smashing something over their heads.