I'm not quite the shilling

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New Member
Hungary, hungarian
Hi everyone,
I'm translating a queen song (I'm going slightly mad) and there's an expression or idiom which I'm not quite sure of:
I'm not the shilling. Is it an idiom? Can anyone clarify what it means?
  • Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    It's usually said about someone else!

    I'm not quite the shilling
    One wave short of a shipwreck
    I'm not at my usual top billing

    It's abbreviated from the more usual expression:
    He's not the full shilling.
    So he is not complete, something is missing.
    Often used to imply mental deficiency.

    Other expressions you may hear:
    He's not the full quid.

    Or from the olden days, when the pound was made up of 20 shillings,
    He's 19/6 to the pound. read as "nineteen and six" = 19 shillings and 6 pence.

    More modern variants: "He's a few beers/cans short of a six pack"


    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    A similar phrase with the same meaning, if not quite the same form:
    "He's not playing with a full deck." There are lots more of these.

    Welcome to the forum, by the way.


    Senior Member
    Brioche has got it correct. Another variation, and there are many, "he is a few sandwiches short of a picnic". Implies that the person is missing something. In fact the real underlying meaning is that he is thought of as "subnormal in some way".


    New Member
    In times gone by taverns in seafaring towns sold rum in glasses that had graduation marks on.A full glass was a shilling, so if you ordered a drink and didnt have your glass filled up you were given strange looks as you were not the full shilling.
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