tickey, noun

ticcy, tickieShow more Also ticcy, tickie, ticky, tiekie, tikie, tikkie.
Etymology disputed.
Pettman’s theory that the word comes from Portuguese pataca a colonial coin, or French patac ‘small coin’ (via the French Huguenots) is neither phonetically nor semantically likely. M.D.W. Jeffreys, in ‘Tickey: Origin of the Word’ (Africana Notes & News, Vol.10), points out that pataca was derived from Arabic bataka dollar, piece of eight (a coin of high value), while the French pataque referred to coins in circulation in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and Brazil. The Malay tiga ‘three’ is also unlikely, as by the 19th century, when the coin was introduced, the influence of Malay was no longer strong.
Boshoff and Nienaber suggest British English dialect ticky ‘small’ as a possible origin (Afrikaanse Etimologieë, 1967). Both Xhosa and Zulu use itiki for the coin, described by lexicographers as being borrowed from South African English, but it is possible that itiki was in fact a rendering in the Nguni languages of a Dutch or English word, such as Dutch stukje ‘little bit’, or English ticket (see quotation 1912), or even threepence (i-tiki-peni becoming u-no-tiki and then itiki, according to some, and recorded by Pettman). Jeffreys refers to Portuguese Angola, where the universal currency, a brass rod worth about 3d., was known as ntaku, but decides upon the Hindu taka (a stamped silver coin) as the origin of itiki in the Nguni languages of the east coast (whence it came into South African English usage). Jeffreys claims that other words for money in African languages have similar origins (Swahili pesa from Hindi pice, Zulu upeni a three-penny piece, from Hindi and Sanskrit pana), and that Zulu mali (money) is from Arabic malah (wealth, money), all resulting from early trading contact.
I. The name of a coin.
a. The standard name for the small silver three-penny piece (withdrawn from circulation in 1961). Also attributive.
Often used as a symbol of insignificant worth, lack of money (cf. ‘not a penny’), a very small amount of money (cf. ‘every last cent’), or small gain: see also figurative senses below.
[1855 R.J. Mullins Diary. 13 MayThe Kafirs do not understand the value of anything except 3d. bits. It is very expensive work, for they will take nothing below ‘Tick’, as they call it, whereas some time ago they wanted 1d. for everything because it was ‘inkulu’ (large) money.]
1871 Cape Argus 26 Aug. 2The Fields have not proved themselves worthy of ‘The Golden Dream,’ in which so many indulged, but yet they really might do more than descend to the vulgar tickey.
1872 C.A. Payton Diamond Diggings 128Coppers are altogether unknown on the diggings; the three-penny-piece, known as the ‘ticky’ is still in currency, but there is a considerable scarcity of these small coins.
1879 Mrs Hutchinson In Tents in Tvl 91Threepenny bits are the lowest coins which are in general circulation here...They are in great request among the Kaffirs, who call them ‘ticcys’.
1888 Cape Punch 25 Apr. 43Spillikins has sent us the following astonishing bill of costs: Lamed ass..10 bob. Lamed wife..tickey. Lamed self..7/6.
1894 C.E. Finlason A Nobody in Mashonaland 87When I saw them they were playing ‘tickey’ nap. [Note] An African term for a threepenny piece.
1899 S. Erasmus Prinsloo 121A full explanation of every tickie that may be missing.
1900 B. Mitford Aletta 57His life would not be worth a tickey. They would shoot him.
1903 Westminster Gaz. (U.K.) 25 July 2In purchasing-power the ‘tickey’ [of Johannesburg] is certainly not more than equal to the penny of London. In many cases its value is less than a halfpenny.
1912 New Eng. Dict. X.Ticky,..Residents of Cape Colony, whose memory goes back to c1850, state that they have known ‘ticky’ all their lives. The prevalent notion is that the word was first used by the Caffres or other native labourers; it is at present in Sesuto (the Basuto lang.), teke...But it is believed to have been a native imitation of some Dutch or Eng. word; e.g. of Cape Dutch stukje ‘little piece, little bit’,..and imitated by the natives.., according to others, of Eng. ticket, it being explained that on an occasion when a large body of natives were employed on a public work, they were, for want of small silver coin, paid with tickets for 3d., which were taken in payment by the provision stores, and redeemed at that rate by the authorities. Other statements or conjectures (e.g. that tikki was an attempt to say ‘little’) have been offered in the Cape Times, etc., Apr. to June 1912, but nothing in the form of evidence has been adduced.
1919 M.C. Bruce Golden Vessel 15Threepence is threepence, and not a ‘tickey,’ which is supposed to have originated in a Kaffir’s attempt at saying threepence, still the word is so much used that if you say in a Johannesburg tramcar, ‘I want a threepenny ticket,’ the conductor will not understand you, and you will have to translate it into the African ‘tickey’, which is not literate to say the least.
1928 J.W.N. Moller What Every Hsewife Should Know 103Put a tickey’s worth of liquid ammonia into a pint bottle.
1932 G.B. Shaw Adventures of Black Girl 42I do conjuring tricks for them; and..they only throw me coppers and sometimes tickeys.
c1936 S. & E. Afr. Yr Bk & Guide 1022The local term ‘tikkie’ (probably derived from the Malay ‘Tiga’ = 3, or perhaps from the Malay ‘pataca’ = doit) frequently heard, represents 3d.
1939 F.B. Young City of Gold 482Can you..swear honest you’re any better off now..than you was in them days when every tickey counted?
1948 H.V. Morton In Search of S. Afr. 45Before I set foot in South Africa I had never heard the word ‘tickey’. It is the South African name for a threepenny bit. It is almost impossible to live through a day anywhere in the Union without hearing this strange word mentioned.
1953 A. Mogale in Drum May 30I don’t come tickey-a-dozen. I’m awfully expensive.
1955 W. Illsley Wagon on Fire 29‘It’s God’s trufe, Oom Frikkie, I don’t make freppence a gallon on the stuff’...‘None of that nonsense, Ikay,..You’d sell your soul for a tickey’.
1956 A.G. McRae Hill Called Grazing 46I thought ruefully of the five shillings I’d paid him, all in tickies and pennies.
1963 Rand Daily Mail 11 May 1Thousands of South Africans — housewives, motorists, telephone-users and trade unionists among them — are opposed to the Government plan to abolish the traditional ‘tickey’ (2½c).
1963 S. Cloete Rags of Glory 326I have nothing to give you. I have no money. Not a tickey.
1965 S. Dederick Tickey 19‘Half a sixpence...’ she said. ‘Half a five-cent piece. It’s the same. It makes, it makes — one tickey.’
1970 S. Moore Informant, Port ElizabethWhen I was a child I could buy a tickey’s worth of sweets in brown paper expertly rolled into a cone-shaped container called a kardoesie.
1973 Cape Times 18 June 7I love the word ‘bioscope’. It is essentially South African. I hope it does not disappear like the ‘tickey’ which was a part of our heritage.
1980 A. Fugard Tsotsi 36There was only an old man in the shop buying a tickey plug of chew tobacco.
1985 Cape Times 23 Sept. 9Just about every cartoon character I could remember from the old days of the tickey bioscope.
1989 B. Courtenay Power of One 124‘You eat something, you hear. Here’s a ticky to buy a cool drink,’ he said handing me tiny silver coin.
1989 B. Ronge in Flying Springbok Nov. 13Do you remember tickeys? Did you know the amount of precious metal they contained was worth more than a one rand coin today? Think of that and tremble.
1990 Weekend Argus 17 Feb. 16Gold Burgerpond 1874, rare genuine Sammy Marks gold tickey 1898, gold Kruger Rands.
1990 Pace May 184It was a case of taximen fighting over unwilling passengers. For a tiekie-and-a-halfpenny, the powderkeg for a territorial war was detonated.
1992 Motorist Aug. 15Travel on a tickey...In these deregulation days, it’s a price free-for-all.
1993 Business Day 25 June (Suppl.) 11931 Tickey.
b. With distinguishing epithet:
long tickey figurative, colloquial, a device (usually a coin on a thread) used in a public telephone box in order to make calls without paying; tickey-wire, see sense 5 a.
1975 Het Suid-Western 13 Mar.Found guilty..for telephoning with a ‘long tickey’ from a public telephone booth. He..pleaded guilty to using..a ‘long tickey’. The ‘long tickey’ exhibited in court was a ten cent coin suspended from a cotton thread which was attached with a piece of cellotape.
1975 E. Prov. Herald 17 Mar. 6Fined R45 (or 90 days) last week by a George magistrate who found him guilty of fraud for using a ‘long tickey’ to make a call from a public telephone booth.
2. In historical contexts. In full tickey beer: a beer (costing 3d. a bottle) produced in the past in Cape Town.
1888 Cape Punch 15 Feb. 88What is the most appropriate drink for an undertaker who trades on credit? — Why, Tickey Bier.
1891 J.P. Legg in Cape Illust. Mag. I. 96‘Tickey Beer,’ with various names of liqueurs are well known, such as Van der Hum.
1910 J. Runcie Idylls by Two Oceans 177Given a shilling, can a bag of Kat River, a bottle of tickey, and a full meal go into it?
1910 J. Runcie Idylls by Two Oceans 179He went into a public-house and called for beer — generous tickey.
1911 P. Gibbon Margaret Harding 173Off to the station on my tootsies and take train back to the land of ticky (threepenny) beer and Y.M.C.A.’s.
1928 N. Stevenson Afr. Harvest 197The men were celebrating their master’s wedding with Cape brandy and tickey beer.
1947 L.G. Green Tavern of Seas 13Only the middle-aged will remember the ‘tickey beer’ of wistful memory. Breweries supplied it in bulk, and it was bottled by the bar proprietors. It actually cost threepence for a large bottle.
1964 in L.G. Green Old Men Say 59Just before de barrel, murrer, I was drinking tickey beer, But I took too much, dear murrer, So to home I could not steer.
1985 A. Tredgold Bay between Mountains 161The strong south-easter buffeting under Elsie’s Peak dusted sand into our tickey beer.
1987 W. Steenkamp Blockhouse 8I’ve had a guts-full...Nothin’ to drink but bloody awful tickey beer or a glass of dop that takes the linen off your guts.
II. Figurative senses.
3. Designating that which is inexpensive. Often attributive, passing into adjective.
1873 Standard & Mail 9 Sept. 4Men and women who are so partial to three-penny bits as the current Sunday coin..‘tickey’ religionists...The great multitude of ordinary men and women one meets in the street are of the ‘tickey’ Christian class.
1931 K. Lindsay ’Neath Sn Cross 40Oh, those!..Most of them are only ‘ticky’ spectators...On some South African stations they charge a ticky for a platform ticket. A lot of people come to watch the trains in out of sheer idle curiosity. It’s a cheap form of entertainment, see?
1992 T. Tisani in Cue 4 July 9The audience is taken on a quick flight back to the pulsating township music of the fifties and sixties. The cast..of genuine artists..is complemented by young men who ably portray in movement and style what it must have been like to attend those tickey shows.
4. Alluding to the size of the tickey.
a. Denoting small physical size.
i. A nickname given to small people.
1911 L. Cohen Reminisc. of Kimberley 64As for ‘Tickey’ Erlich, he’d hardly been conceived, much less invented.
1965 S. Dederick Tickey 19‘Oh, Rebeccah, is that why I’m called Tickey?’ ‘Dat was the name I give you. I jes’ said to Merrem, let’s call her Tickey, she’s so small.’
1970 W. Malcolm Informant, Kabwe (Zambia)Tickey — nickname given to small person.
1971 Argus 10 May 23Full credit must go to former Durban jockey ‘Tickey’ C—.
1971 Sunday Times 14 Nov. (Mag. Sect.) 8Their most famous clowns were Tony Francisco and (in recent years) ‘Tickey’.
ii. In the adjectival phrases two bricks and a tickey high, half a brick and a tickey high, etc.: very small, very young; short of stature.
1970 Cape Times 30 MayIn the days when he was two bricks and a tickey high..a tickey was his reward for every furry digger caught.
1970 M. Weitzman Informant, JohannesburgHe is two bricks and a tickey high.
1975 Darling 26 Feb. 111Inside there’s this tiny little ou half a brick and a tickey high, with a smashed nose and curled-over ears.
1976 Darling 9 June 74He laughs. ‘I called it Mr Brian because the staff at Riviera have been calling me “Mr Brian” since I was two bricks and a tickey high.’
1986 Black Ace Dec. 11He may only be a tickey high to his boss, Solly Mogare’s driver, but pint-sized Lungi Bohlela proved a wizard when reading the nap on the greens.
1989 Cape Times Sept.I have been travelling to and from Namaqualand since I was shorter than two bricks and a pre-decimalization tickey.
1990 People 22 Nov. 14Since he was a brick and a tickey tall, wildlife has been his passion.
1990 Weekend Post 1 Dec. 7 (advt)The fact that Napoleon was only two bricks and a tickey high didn’t stop him from getting a foothold in much of the civilized world.
b. Referring to a small surface area. In the adjectival phrase or adv. phr. on a tickey, turn on a tickey [perhaps translation of Afrikaans tiekiedraai (see quotation 1980)], in a small area or circle; accurate(ly); transferred sense, in a short time, rapidly.
1971 Informant, GrahamstownI’ve learned to turn the wheelchair on a tickey.
1976 D. Taylor in Reader’s Digest Aug., 1977 226In boats that could touch 100 km/h and turn on a tickey, I learned how to handle the newly caught animals (sc. dolphins).
1977 Sunday Times 20 Oct. 5The power-assisted brakes, disks on all four wheels, stop the car — and it’s big — on a tickey.
[1980 D.B. Coplan Urbanization of African Performing Arts. 440Glossary, Tickey Draai, (Afrikaans, ‘turn on a tickey’ — a threepence), A Coloured-Afrikaans dance derived from Cape square dancing in which couples turn rapidly around in one spot.]
1991 M. O’Shea Informant, KokstadHe could turn his car on a tickey.
1992 D. Richardson on TV1, 1 Apr.He was so accurate — when he bowled that last over he was on a tickey.
1992 J. Van der Horst in Sunday Times 23 Aug. (Business Times) 2This market can turn on a tickey..and the cost of missing the opportunity when the market does rally is much higher.
5. Special Combinations.
Many of these terms are still in use despite the disappearance of the coin, the change in currency, and the rise in prices.
a. (from sense 1)
tickeyaand /-ɑːnt/ [Afrikaans aand evening], a small-scale fund-raising venture in which entrance to an event or game, or the price of something to eat, was formerly a tickey;
tickey-box, see as a main entry;
tickey-diver, one who dives for coins to entertain tourists;
tickey-draai, see as a main entry;
tickey-drive or tickey evening, see tickeyaand;
tickey-I-do, a dice game;
tickey-wire, long tickey (see sense 1 c).
1934 Friend 9 Feb. (Swart)On Friday night a ‘tickey-aand’ was held to augment the funds of the local branch of the Voortrekkers.
1970 S. Sparks Informant, Fort BeaufortThe school held a tiekieaand to raise funds for sports equipment. (Evening’s entertainment where you pay a 3d to enter for different competitions — outdated now because of metric system but widely used by English-speaking people in the Karoo and other Afrikaans areas.)
1971 E. Prov. Herald 13 Oct.Members of the Dutch Reformed Church of the Tsitsikamma held a five cent function (Tiekieaand) in the church hall..various games which were much enjoyed by young and old were played.
1956 S. African’s Holiday & Trav. Guide 69The liners..call regularly [at the Cape Verde Islands], and the islands’ boatmen-traders and ‘tickey-divers’ swim out to welcome them.
1973 Beeton & Dorner in Eng. Usage in Sn Afr. Vol.4 No.2, 62Tickey drive,..Evening’s entertainment at wh[ich] participants paid threepence to enter an event or game.
1948 E. Rosenthal Afr. Switzerland 82A photograph of the formal presentation of the result of a ‘Tickey Evening’ in 1939. It was in aid of the South African Governor-General’s National War Fund, and the flat charge for every stake threepence.
1972 K.C. Oram Informant, GrahamstownCake sales, a bridge drive, a tickey-evening, or whatever you call it nowadays.
1986 Poster, GrahamstownVictoria Girls’ High tickey evening.
1975 S. Sepamla in New Classic No.1, 11In street-corners it is ‘tickey-I-do’, you know the game of dice.
1970 K.M. Brand Informant, East LondonTickey-wire. A device used to evade putting a coin in the slot of a public phone booth.
b. (from sense 3)
tickey bazaar, a general store carrying a range of cheap goods;
tickey-line noun [probably from the name given to a cheap line of sweets], especially in the townships, anything cheap, particularly an ‘easy’ woman or a cheap prostitute; any small-scale organization, as a shebeen (sense 1), stokvel (sense 1 a), etc.; as adjective, cheap, small-scale, poorly-funded;
tickey-shop, see tickey bazaar;
tickey-snatching, on the stock-market, small-time profit-taking, used especially of small investors buying few shares and selling at the first rise in price; also attributive; so tickey-snatcher, a stock-broker dealing in small numbers of shares; a small investor; a mean person, a ‘skinflint’.
c1929 S. Black in S. Gray Three Plays (1984) 109Gwen:..I suppose you’re in commercial life? Camelia: Well, I was cashier in a tickey bazaar.
1977 F.G. Butler Karoo Morning 28He did assure me that if I behaved myself, he would take me to Hyam’s Tickey Bazaar..and buy me a present.
1964 Drum Nov. 36Zel:..These are people who have a very high choice in women and to find a woman who would suit their choice, it would be very Hard. Drum: You mean you can’t plant a ‘tickey line’ in their ranks?
1973 The 1820 Vol.46 No.6, 19Stokvel groups range in importance from what is commonly called the ‘Tiekie-Line’ type, where membership fees are small, to the ‘Big-time’ and ‘Who’s Who’ kind where, as the names suggest, only top-crust names adorn the lists, and fees are known to range from upwards R10 a head.
1973 The 1820 Vol.46 No.6, 19 [see stokvel sense 1].
1974 Drum 22 May 55Kid Windsor Castle decides that we should go to a ‘Tickeyline’ stokvel which is taking place not far away and he is a member of this club.
1977 P.C. Venter Soweto 182The Tickey-lines were, as the nickname implies, cheap prostitutes who knew how it felt to be the underdog.
a1977 K.M.C. Motsisi in M. Mutloatse Casey & Co. (1978) 76Thomas had been trying to avoid Sponono ever since he realised he was in love with Mita. ‘Ja, Thomas, you tickeyline,’ Sponono said. Thomas looked up at his old flame, nodded his head and said, ‘Hiya, Spo.’
1984 C. Mathiane in Staffrider Vol.6 No.1, 31‘Ja,’ said the woman, ‘you think I am a ticky-line. You leave me sleeping at the hotel and you rush to your high society wife.’
1985 Black Ace in Drum Oct. 4Tickey line soccer...Although they are by no means the only teams hard hit by recession, Orlando Pirates and Moroko Swallows Ltd seem to be the worst off.
1992 J. Thom Informant, SpringsIn White society, Tickey-line seems to me to refer to cheap sweets when used by English speakers, and cheap women when used in Afrikaans.
1959 M.W. Spilhaus Under Bright Sky 128You cannot get him out of a bazaar, or what we in our day used to call a ‘tickey shop’.
1924 L. Cohen Reminisc. of Jhb. 82Barney..asked how the — I dare sell my own shares, and that if I wanted three hundred threepenny bits, why didn’t I ask him to give me them, and not go tickey-snatching like a blasted (noun substantive).
1970 F.G. Butler Informant, GrahamstownTickey-snatcher. Cheese-parer.
1974 D. Rooke Margaretha de la Porte 100I bought shares, to sell again on the first rise: tickey-snatching, Father called it.
1978 Cape Times 10 Apr.The tickey-snatching lives of middle-class respectability.
1979 J. Gratus Jo’burgers 201Avoiding the main stockbrokers.., George stopped at the offices of some of the jobbers, the ‘tickey-snatchers’ who dealt in small quantities of shares.
c. (from sense 4 a)
tickey-stock, on the stock-exchange, the stock of a small company or group.
1991 Sunday Times 3 Mar. (Business Times) 2Tickey-stock Royal takes a place in the guinea seats. Unsung Royal Corporation has one of the lowest profiles yet the highest success rate of any public company...On value for money Royal group shares have the potential to grow at a faster rate than the bigger boys.
The standard name for the small silver three-penny piece (withdrawn from circulation in 1961). Also attributive.
a beer (costing 3d. a bottle) produced in the past in Cape Town.
Designating that which is inexpensive. Often attributive, passing into adjective.
Alluding to the size of the tickey.
A nickname given to small people.
very small, very young; short of stature.
Referring to a small surface area. In the adjectival phrase or adv. phr. on a tickey, turn on a tickeyperhaps translation of tiekiedraai (see quotation 1980), in a small area or circle; accurate(ly); transferred sense, in a short time, rapidly.
on the stock-exchange, the stock of a small company or group