Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tick n.3

[abbr. SE ticket, the writing down of one’s debt]

1. (also ticky, tik) credit, a line of credit; usu. as on tick ; also attrib.

[[UK]Dekker Gul’s Horne-Booke 31: No matter upon landing whether you haue money or no, you may swim in twentie of their boates ouer the river, upon Ticket].
implied in run on tick
[Ire]K. O’Hara Two Misers I i: Bled so freely! but, no tick; no, no, the rooks would not tick.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Tick. To run o’tick; take up goods upon trust, to run in debt.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Subjects for Painters’ Works (1794) II 289: Possess’d of tick, for cash men need not range.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK] ‘Widow Waddle, of Chickabiddy Lane’ in Merry Melodist 6: Her neighbour, Tommy Tick, a tally man was he.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 10 Mar. 146: He only averaged a profit of fifty per cent. on his commodities, doled out in pennyworths, appertaining unto which was that expressive monosyllable ‘tick.’.
[US]Flash 14 Aug. n.p.: New York Wants to Know [...] How much tick that candy man [...] carries with him. We understand he has dipped pretty deep in Mr Credit’s affections.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Feb. 2/1: We must send down our subscriptions [...] and no doubt they will give me ‘tick’.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 May 1/5: Hard up—No tick with your washerwoman.
[UK]G.W.M. Reynolds Mysteries of London II (2nd Ser.) 154: Be Jasus! there’s the potheen bottle empty – and no tick at the public!
[Ind]Delhi Sketch Bk 1 Oct. 130/1: Why sir, it is just to open a fresh tick with the tradesmen.
[UK] advert in ‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue (1857) 45: He can turn out Toggery of every description very slap up, at the following low prices for ready gilt – tick being no go.
[UK]T. Hughes Tom Brown at Oxford (1880) 25: I say, Henry [...] not to my tick, mind! Put them down to Mr. St Cloud.
[UK]‘Old Calabar’ Won in a Canter III 138: ‘We soon stuck up a tick with her, and every man Jack of us that could manage to get a nag, went in for one’.
[UK]Besant & Rice Golden Butterfly III 50: Some should have unlimited pocket-money, and all should have unlimited tick.
[UK]E.J. Milliken ‘Cad’s Calendar’ in Punch Almanack n.p.: Quarter-day, too, no more chance of tick.
[UK]Sporting Times 18 Jan. 1: The nice young gentleman who had outrun his tick in two months.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 18 Nov. 3/6: According to the printed regulations refreshemnts are provided for Cash Only [but] some hon. members run monthly ‘ticks’.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 179: What with the washerwoman, the tick tailor, an’ the chandlery shop-keeper, these blokes owes so much in small sums.
[US]H.E. Hamblen Yarns of Bucko Mate 37: He explained that I had been drugged and shanghaied aboard, freely admitting that he had enticed me into the clutches of the boarding-master, for which he received five dollars’ worth of ‘tick’ at the bar.
[UK]Labour Leader 8 June 3/3: [headline] The War Was being Run on Tick / But some day the bill would have to be faced.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 6 Oct. 6/3: He hadn’t paid the midwife [...] the £6, although a year had elapsed since the birth of the infant. This was ‘tick’ with a vengeance.
[US]J. London Valley of the Moon (1914) 175: I needed the job. The grocery wouldn’t give me any more tick.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 18 Oct. 6/3: Tick sent my pea and trotter business bung.
[UK]J.B. Booth London Town 213: I win tree, four tousand pound! [...] I ’ave no more ticks!
[UK]J.B. Booth Sporting Times 278: Bet on tick? The only tick the working man’s gort is at the chandler’s shop on the corner.
[Aus]L. Glassop Lucky Palmer 232: How’s that going to look in the ‘Mail’? ‘“Lucky” Palmer, owner of Laughing Water, sued for feed bill.’ I won’t get any tick at all.
[UK]J.M. Meiring Candle in the Wind 68: The ou Baas will give us tik.
[UK]J. Speight ‘The Funeral’ Till Death Us Do Part [TV script] You can get a bit of tick there. I mean if you’re an old-age pensioner you can get a bit of credit.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 37: A tireless extender of tick to skint merchants.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 101: No tick, and not a smidgen of dust.
[UK]Guardian 29 May 19: The reality for the majority was terraced houses, outside toilets, electric meters and ‘tick’ from the corner shop.
[UK]R. Milward Ten Storey Love Song 149: He zips round to Johnnie’s to pay back the £200 ticky.
[Scot]G. Armstrong Young Team 124: They’ve took another bar ae dope [...] waw a week’s tick on it.

2. a creditor.

[UK]‘A Pembrochian’ Gradus ad Cantabrigiam 133: tick, a creditor.

3. a dunning letter, a bill.

[UK]Thackeray Pendennis I 157: The Captain had [...] been round and paid off all his ticks.
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Adventures of Mr Verdant Green (1982) II 199: What was the damage of the tick?
[UK]‘Cuthbert Bede’ Little Mr. Bouncer 141: Do I owe you any money? [...] Have you any ticks in my name [...] I can refer you to Stump and rowley, my bankers; and I daresay, they’ll soon make it all square with you.
[UK]Leeds Times 23 May 6/5: Uncle Umberglowth had remembered them for ‘a thou or two’ which would help pay off outstanding ‘ticks’.
[US]E. Wittmann ‘Clipped Words’ in DN IV:ii 121: tick, from ticket. A tradesman’s bill.

In derivatives

ticking (n.)

the obtaining of goods on credit .

‘Oxford Ale’ in Wharton Oxford Sausage (1814) 57: Hail, ticking! surest guardian of distress! Beneath thy shelter pennyless I quaff The cheerful cup.

In compounds

tickman (n.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

go on tick (v.) (also go a-tick, …on tic, ...upon tick)

to fall into debt; to run up credit.

[UK]Wycherley Love in Wood III i: A poor wretch that goes on tick for the paper he writes his lampoons on!
[UK]G.A. Stevens Adventures of a Speculist II 293: He had been obliged to go a-tick for fifty pounds.
[UK] in Egan Bk of Sports 105: But tho’ our motto’s T.Y.C. [i.e. Thames Yacht Club], we never go on tic.
[US]Letters by an Odd Boy 25: You would not have blabbed it [...] when Traddles went tick for tarts.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Dec. 4/4: I got elected to the House, / And then I went on ‘tick’.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 17 Nov. 100: Lots of fellows had gone on tick [...] and paid up after the holidays.
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1228/2: 1640 [...] –ca. 1800.
on tick (also on tic, upon tick)

on credit; also attrib.

[UK] ‘An Oxford Scholar’ in Wardroper (1969) 198: We must upon tick be drunk.
[UK]Dryden An Evening’s Love Act III: Play on tick, and lose the Indies, I’ll discharge it all to-morrow.
[UK]J. Phillips Maronides (1678) VI 63: While every Tom, and every Dick, / Struts in his Ribbons upon Tick.
[UK]Rochester ‘Timon’ in Works (1999) 258: Hast thou lost deep to needy Rogues on Tick / Who ne’er could pay, and must be paid next Week?
[UK]J. Oldham ‘A Satyr’ Poems 174: Reduc’d to want, he in due time fell sick, Was fain to die, and be interr’d on tick.
[UK]Cibber Woman’s Wit I i: Let him turn Beau, and live upon Tick.
[UK]R. Estcourt Fair Example II ii: I’ll lock up my Money; and so let her e’en play upon Tick if she will.
[UK]C. Walker Authentick Memoirs of Sally Salisbury 106: Light-finger’d Sally beat her heartily, and demolish’d a new Suit of Cloaths just procur’d upon Tick.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 55: I have known some Men of Honour that have lost great Sums upon Tick.
[Ire]W. Wilkes ‘Humours of the Black Dog’ in A. Carpenter Verse in Eng. in 18C Ireland (1998) 261: I want a little Chink: / For upon Tick I never draw my Drink.
[UK]Thief-Catcher 16: There is another Class of dangerous Rogues, who are known by the Name of Tickers [...] The Trade of this Tribe is to buy Horses, Oxen [...] Cloth, Hops, Malt, Corn, and all other Commodities upon Tick or Credit.
[UK]Thrale Thraliana i Aug.-Sept. 127: [O]ne of the first showy Houses they built was a Tavern for the Reception of the Officers—on which was written—in imitation of a favourite Tavern in London—Pontack. I soon could draw all the Customers from this House said my Father—how so? why by setting up one over against it and writing ’pon tick.
[UK]M. Robinson Walsingham IV (1805) 89: I can’t give you any money this winter; I must deal all upon tick.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) I 250: He takes up goods of me, on tick indeed; but these great men are good pay in the long run.
[UK]P. Egan Key to the Picture of the Fancy going to a Fight 9: Very little [betting] is done upon tick, as staking is now the most preferable and decisive mode of betting.
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 87: It is no go to have a whole supper on tick.
[UK]Mr Mathews’ Comic Annual 23: Obliged to go on tick for a pen’orth of cat’s meat the other day.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) 15 Mar. 3/3: Reform — Go no more on tick.
[UK] ‘Frisky Poll Of Broker’s Alley’ in Knowing Chaunter 19: So he sarv’d out goods upon the tick.
[UK]‘F.L.G.’ Swell’s Night Guide (K4) 220: On the Mallett Goods on Tick.
[US]W.C. Hall ‘Mike Hooter’s Bar Story’ Spirit of the Times 26 Jan. (N.Y.) 581: The fellers down in Mechanicsburg wouldn’t sell on ‘tick’.
[UK]F.W. Farrar Eric II 217: All serene; give us two bottles of beer — on tick, you know.
[US] diary W. Hilleary in A Webfoot Volunteer (1965) 19 May 73: A few of us went to town [...] & procured some bread ‘on tick.’.
[UK]London Life 7 JUne 4/1: lt is not true, as I am told, that Spurgeon’s clock was got on tick.
[US]Bismarck Trib. (ND) 29 Mar. 5/1: An individual was taken in for the night, the head of the establishment not being able to withstand his piteous appeals for a night’s lodging on tick.
[US]C.A. Siringo Texas Cow Boy (1950) 76: I built it from an old torn down house that I bought [...] on ‘tick’ for I was then financially ‘busted.’.
[UK]H. Smart Long Odds I 73: ‘Buy the colt he can’t, unless they are willing to sell on tick, which is not at all likely’.
[UK]Regiment 4 July 208/3: I'm going to strike again. That’s more than the regiment watch does. I got mine on tick.
[Aus]H. Lawson ‘A Double Buggy at Lahey’s Creek’ in Roderick (1972) 598: James [...] got his powder and shot and caps there on tick when he was short of money.
[UK]A. Binstead Pitcher in Paradise 166: I endeavoured to persuade a jockey to ride it [i.e. a horse] on tick.
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Two Battlers and a Bear’ in Lone Hand (Sydney) Feb. 376/1: He ate on tick, and lodged on tick, and drank on credit.
[US]J. Lomax Cowboy Songs 266: Or spend that derned old well machine / And all he can get on tick.
[Ire]S. O’Casey Juno and the Paycock Act I: What’ll we do if he refuses to gives us any more on tick?
[UK]M. Harrison Spring in Tartarus 287: The printing I’ve had done on tick.
[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 14: He took a little shop, starting with a few packets of stuff on tick.
[Ire]L. Doyle Back to Ballygullion 149: If he ever gave anybody stuff on tick he wanted the whole history of them from the Flood down.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 38: When Seaton’s face grew black for lack of fags she had trotted around to various shops asking for some on tick till Thursday.
[UK]T. Wilkinson Down and Out 112: It’s all right if you’ve got fifteen pounds [...] working on tick, but if you need a fuckin’ sub, what’s the point?
[UK] in R. Graef Living Dangerously 97: My friend used to get ounces on tic.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers 63: [A]n occasional on-tick customer of Vinegar Veronica’s.
[UK]N. Barlay Curvy Lovebox 66: Now you want this gear on tick.
[UK]R. Milward Ten Storey Love Song 2: Johnnie from upstairs sorted him two blotters and two ecstasies on tick.
River Tick (n.)

debtors’ prison.

[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 99: He had been enabled to steer clear of the shoals and rocks of Dun Territory and the River Tick.
run on tick (v.) (also run (a) tick, run in tick, run up a tick, run upon tick)

to set up a line of credit, to get into debt.

[UK]British Museum Additional Mss 37999.lf.66: They would haue [...] run on tick with Piggin for inke and songs, rather than haue lost the show of your presence [OED].
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: [...] to run a tick, to go on the Score, or a trust.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 9 Jan. 85: Men of thy Principles seldom venture out their Money, except to the Ale-House or Tavern, to wipe off the Chalk, and clear Old Scores, and then run fresh upon Tick again.
[Scot]J. Arbuthnot Hist. of John Bull 74: Paying ready money that the maids might not run tick at the market.
[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: To run on Tick; To go on the Score, or Trust.
[UK]Fielding Don Quixote III i: Besides other Articles she ran in tick Twenty Shillings for Thunder and Lightning.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. 1725].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 10 Nov. 84: He was sure the Grandpater would be very angry if he knew I’d been running up a tick.
[UK]Western Mail 15 Feb. 12/5: ‘There is a duty on the part of a husband to see that his wife does not run on ‘tick’.