16/2/2022 11:45 pm  #1

On The TL, What Does That Mean?

I recently heard in a show from the '40's that term they used "TL" as in the "on the TL" phrase of a sentence.   I remember the first time I heard it used by BIng 40 years ago I didn't know what it meant and I still to this day don't.   Does anybody know what "TL" means?


17/2/2022 12:38 pm  #2

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

The only thing I know close to that is DL for down low.

I'm not hip to 1940s lingo, I am still learning the cool phrases from 1909.


18/2/2022 8:26 am  #3

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

The Free Dictionary suggests that it could be toilet.


11/5/2022 1:03 am  #4

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

Do you remember if this was related in the show you heard from the 'forties or by Bing's comment to some reading material? 

In the pre-internet days, I'm sure I heard this abbreviation being used in an American light comedy (I think) film of the same era and also briefly wondered what it meant. I seem to remember an exchange taking place between a group of younger people as to whether one of them had read a particular letter or magazine article (or some such). On replying "TL", the same person being asked then added another abbreviation, which I now can't remember at all.Having just been reminded of this by your post, curiosity got the better of me. I've just “Googled” and (no word of a lie) fourth down, up popped this definition from of all things “(Merriam) Webster's Dictionary" and it states:

Definition of TL;DR
1: too long; didn't read – used to say that something would require too much time to read

This now leaves me wondering if in this long forgotten film, “DR” was the second abbreviation that was mentioned
Altogether, now: “Like Webster's Dictionary, we're ….” (fill in, choosing your own favourite Camel riding country).


Last edited by Ian Kerstein (11/5/2022 1:32 am)


11/5/2022 7:51 am  #5

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

I kind of forgot exactly how the phrase was used, I'm sure I was listening to a Bing radio show and that's where I heard the "on the TL" being used.  I get the feeling it meant something like a secret.   But I don't know, it didn't sound like it meant too long, but it's been so long since I heard this show I forget.  I still hear a Bing radio show every week so maybe it'll pop up again in a show.  I'll report back if it does. 

     Thread Starter

12/5/2022 2:32 pm  #6

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

I will do, too. It might have been from for example, one of the scripted exchanges with perhaps a guest star on the Chesterfield shows or some such? I so wish I could even begin to identify the American film I heard it referred to from all those years ago. I also wish Bing's wonderful hit of "It's Easy to Remember" (but so  hard to forget) was true in this case.  As David says, it certainly has the ring of 1940's lingo to it, although for some uexplained reason, I'm rooting for it to be "Malcolm's" toilet. 

Last edited by Ian Kerstein (12/5/2022 2:34 pm)


12/5/2022 5:38 pm  #7

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?


Here is a link that gives some insight to "Strictly on the TL"


Best Regards,



12/5/2022 11:10 pm  #8

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

Thank you, Ben. That was very thoughtful and wonderfully broadens the options.
I'm now wanting to hear Bing's (or indeed Bob's) usage of this, myself.
I wonder if Time's Life magazine ever had a view on this?

Oh dear. I think I've taken the title of Bing's, "Let's Not Be Sensible" too much to heart!

Last edited by Ian Kerstein (12/5/2022 11:11 pm)


12/5/2022 11:11 pm  #9

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

Thank you Benclink.   That line of explanations was the best explanation of this term that I've seen.   While most of them do believe TL is an offer of an exchange of compliments heard by others for one of yourself.  It seems the second explanation there is more closer to how I think I've heard it (I say I think because it's been a while since I've heard it used).   That 2nd explanation of TL is: "The phrase "I've got a flash for you" would be a closer fit in these contexts. This would seem to be more consistent with the note that explains it as an alert, perhaps on the sarcastic side, that what is about to be said is a secret."   I believe that this may be the one.  But still till I hear it used again on another Bing radio show, I can't be sure. 

But thank you for the best thorough explanation of a term I haven't been able to figure out in 40 years.  I can now sleep again and boy are my eyes bloodshot. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


     Thread Starter

12/5/2022 11:31 pm  #10

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

It sounds like a true "Bingo!" moment, then. That's great that it seems as if this has been satisfactorily settled. Archiefit, forty years of wondering now brought to rest (and hopefully those eyes).
I've often wondered over the origins and precise definition of Lobosco's mentioned, "On the DL" (Down Low). Is this used to define when the rhythm takes over?
Being an antiquated Brit, I believe I'm going to need some hipper expertise, here!


12/5/2022 11:52 pm  #11

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

Now DL is a phrase I've heard.  And as far as I know it's a lot more recent term than TL.   Mod folks of today use it, you know, hep cats like us.  Anyway, DL means Downlow, as in "On the downlow".   Which means a secret that you shouldn't repeat.  "Keep it on the downlow" meaning a confidentiality that's not to be repeated.
How's that for an official sounding definition of a term less official young people will use?

     Thread Starter

13/5/2022 12:11 am  #12

Re: On The TL, What Does That Mean?

Ah, you clever chap!
That is an excellent sounding definition of an informal phrase I will now begin using at every opportunity.
Friends and family my age and older will surely be impressed and my younger friends will stare at me with ever increased puzzlement. Thank you, kind sir!


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