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Spin the drum

Posted by Lewis on October 03, 2003

In Reply to: Spin the drum posted by ESC on October 01, 2003

: : : does anybody know where we get the saying "To spin the drum" when police refer to searching someones house/home.

: : One reference says it is a British term but no origin was listed. "When the premises in which he/she lives are searched, London police call the procedure 'spinning drums.'." From "The Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, 1995).

: : The image I get is when the drums spin and a lottery number is selected.

: SPIN (SOMEONE'S) DRUM - vb., British. "to make an official search of someone's house, in the jargon of the police force. 'Drum' is one's home, spin provides the play on words, referring to spinning of a drum in a fairground lottery. In 1990 spin has been heard as an expression synonymous with 'up yours,' and is accompanied by a one-fingered gesture." "The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang" by Tony Thorne (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990).

Rhyming slang "drum and bass" = place.

"Spinning the drum" is part of the procedure for choosing prizes in the "Tombola" and so the police use the phrase to mean in particular a search that may produce some unexpectedly incriminating evidence as well as what they actually expect to find.