Criminal Slang Glossary for 1890 to 1919
In 1910, if someone said they were “blowing the peter,” — it’s not what you’re thinking. From approximately 1890 to 1919, that term meant they were going to blow-up a safe to rob it, and the person doing it was likely a yeggman, slang for safe robber.
If someone wanted to buy some “happy dust,” it meant that he/she wanted to purchase cocaine.
An inmate, pig, trader, hustler, and moll were all slang terms for prostitute. If she was “on the turf,” it meant she was a streetwalker. If “she got jugged by a peeler, and thrown in the Irish club house,” it was slang for “she got arrested by an Irish cop and was taken to jail.”
“Jail arithmetic” was a slang term ‘cooking the books’ by an accountant, bookkeeper, or bank employee who was embezzling money, and trying to cover it up. In other words, his arithmetic would get him sent to jail.
They also had “rappers” back then, but it was slang for a civilian who informs to or files a complaint with law enforcement.
Just completed and now posted on HCD is the Criminal Slang Dictionary of 890 words and phrases used by underworld figures from 1890 to 1919 (approximately). Check it out for yourself and don’t get nipped tanking the white mule while driving your sneeze wagon.
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A Dictionary of 890 Slang Words and Terms used by Criminals and Underworld Figures from approximately 1890 to 1919.
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A – Top
A beef stew singer—A bad soloist.
A boost—-Talking for the interests.
A bum lamp—A bad eye.
A bum mit—A sore arm or crippled hand.
A bum steer—False information or direction.
A bundle—Package from home; a woman; a roll of greenbacks.
A cheap thief—One who steals from churches.
A cold meat party—A wake.
A crimp—Runner for sailors’ boarding house.
A fairy—A young girl.
A fall guy—One who assumes blame to shield others.
A flat joint worker—-An assistant crooked gambler.
A flat wheel—A crippled leg or foot.
A flat worker—One who steals from dwellings.
A flying jib—A talkative drunk.
A four-flusher—A bluffer, a braggart.
A full—An arrest.
A good fellow—Thief who spends freely and pays bills promptly.
A green goods man—One who sells worthless securities or bogus money.
A gridler—An English street singer.
A gun moll—A woman pickpocket.
A hum shaft—A bad leg
A hunch—A tip; a presentiment.
A jolt—Doing time in prison.
A knock—Talking against the interests.
A lift—A help.
A mizzen mast worker—A top-story thief.
A moll buzzer—A thief who robs women only.
A nerver—A dead-head. One who gets in or who is passed by without paying.
A panhandler—A beggar.
A pig—Thief’s prostitute.
A pin-head—A dumb fellow or a know-nothing.
A quality gentleman—A man of birth and refinement.
A rag—A woman.
A rumble—A noise or outcry from the victim.
A skirt—A woman.
A smart fellow—A thief who makes a good haul and escapes arrest.
A sosh on—Drunk.
A square head—A Swede.
A stool pigeon—Thief who informs on others for protection.
A sure thing gambler—One who bets with suckers at races and steals.
A swell booster—Successful female shoplifter.
A swell mob—Gang of thieves with money and clothes.
A swell mouth—A first class lawyer.
A title tapper—One who raises money on forged deeds.
A trusty—Convict who carries tales to authorities.
A valentine—A short jail sentence.
A Willie boy—An effeminate man; submerged manhood.
Alias—A false name.
All to the good—All right, gained.
Alley rat—Thief who robs persons in alleys.
Angel—A person with money, one easily cheated.
Arithmetic dog—Crippled dog, who puts down some legs and carries others.
Auntie—Keeper of assignation house.
B – Top
Bad dough—Counterfeit money.
Badger—One man blackmailing another caught in a compromising position with his mistress.
Baldy—An old man.
Bandwagon—The majority; the crowd; successful ones.
Bang up—-Done right; good; red handed; without warning.
Barker—Auctioneer; street or sidewalk solicitor.
Batter—To knock on back door; to beg; to solicit.
Beak—A magistrate; a judge.
Beanery—A cheap restaurant.
Beat—To escape; to defraud; to overcome.
Beefer—A complaining or informing person.
Beef—To holler; complain; to tell;
Belched—Told it; informed; gave up information.
Benny wooden—A coffin.
Bested—An advantage; overcome.
Big mitt—Crooked gambler.
Bit—A term in prison; a share of the spoils.
Black Maria—Wagon for hauling purposes.
Blackie—Person with dark hair; surname for a crook with black hair.
Blackmail—A woman decoys a man and her alleged husband demands a fee for injury to his peace of mind.
Blanket mortgage—A conveyance to defraud creditors.
Blanket stiff—A western tramp.
Blew in—Came in; came to town.
Blind baggage—Front end of a baggage car with no doors.
Blind—A make-believe; a stall; a pretense; an excuse.
Block—A watch; to oppose; to head off; to stop; human head.
Bloke—Another person; a dumb fellow.
Blowed-in-the-glass—A trustworthy pal; professional; a fact.
Blowing a peter—Blowing open a safe.
Blowing—Spending freely; treating ; leaving a place.
Blow—To tell around; to leave a place; to let alone.
Bo—A fellow man; a tramp; being short for hobo.
Board stiff—Walking advertisement.
Bobbed up—Appeared; came in; heard from.
Bobby—An English policeman.
Boil up—A hobo washes clothes and himself by a camp fire.
Boiled dinner—An Irishman; a New England meal.
Boiled out—After visiting Hot Springs for baths.
Boiled shirt—A soft shirt.
Boiling up—Stopping at water to wash clothes, etc.
Bolt—To leave in haste; to oppose.
Bonnet—A hat; a sky piece; a lid.
Booby Hatch—City jail.
Booked—Registered at a police station.
Bootleg—Sell or carry liquor against law.
Bouncer—One who keeps order in the house; private officer.
Bowl of suds—Glass of beer.
Bowling up—Drinking up.
Box man—Safe blower.
Brace—To beg; to ask; a combination.
Brass up—Divide the spoils.
Break away—Separate; to leave.
Brich—Front trouser pocket.
Broke a leg—Got arrested.
Buck—A priest; a male black man; a dollar; to oppose.
Bucket Shop—Where stocks are sold but not delivered; a gambling den.
Bug house—Insane asylum.
Bull buster—One who assaults policemen.
Bull con—Untruth; false information ; fictitious story.
Bull Pen—Police hold-over.
Bum rocks—Diamonds with flaws in them.
Bum Steer—Wrong direction; false information.
Bunco—To rob; to cheat.
Buried—Convicted; cheated; hid.
Burr head—A black person.
Bust—A blow; a strike.
Buster—A burglar’s tools; a fighter.
Butt in—Getting into conversation without invitation.
Button—A poison used to kill dogs.
Buzz the Rube—To converse with the victim or the one unaware of the plot.
Buzzard—A chief of police; a mean person.
C – Top
C.A. coat—Coat with slits to hold begged food.
Cadet—An enticer of young girls.
Call down—A reprimand.
Call the turn—To identify person, or see through a deal incomplete.
Can—Bottom; backside (butt).
Candy kid—Fair haired boy with woman.
Canned—To get discharged; arrested.
Cannon—Gun; a pick-pocket.
Capper—Go-between for gamblers; fakirs; encourager.
Card—A playing card folded as a pouch containing opium.
Case note—Dollar bill.
Caunfort Ladron—Head of a gang of thieves; master thief.
Central office—Police headquarters.
Chalked—Cell marked with chalk; thieves’ marks for personal information.
Charlie Adams—A Yankee jail.
Cheap—Mean; stingy; economical.
Check kiting—Dating ahead checks and expecting to have money to meet same.
Cheroo—Quit; warning of a confederate.
Chew the rag—To talk.
Chicken feed—Small change.
Chip damper—A money till.
Chippy—A young woman of doubtful character.
Church hypocrite—One who steals while he prays.
Clam—An easy mark; quiet.
Clouting—Stealing at night; assaulting.
Cockroaches playing marbles— Tumbling bugs rolling up their eggs in cow manure.
Codger—An old man.
Cod—Tantalize; a joke.
Coffin varnish—Bad whiskey.
Coke head—A user of Cocaine.
Coke or moker—A user of Cocaine.
Cold feet—Lost courage.
Cold one—Dead; no value; bottle of beer worth drinking.
Come back—A complaint; a reply; response; detected; discovery, etc.
Come on—A sucker; a mark; an enticer.
Come-along—A tool for forcing a safe.
Coming home—Released from prison.
Con—Conductor; falsity; lie; a convict; consumption.
Cop a heal—To sneak upon
Cop the coin—Steal the money.
Copped out—Arrested; stole; prevented from being counted.
Cracker—A poor Southerner.
Cracking—Speaking about; forcing; an attempt.
Crapper—State prison; toilet.
Creeper—Woman who steals from drunks; sneak thief; rubber shoe.
Crib—A saloon; house of prostitution; joint; hang out.
Critter fiend—Horse thief.
Croaker—One who kills.
Crook—One who makes a living without work, dishonest.
Cross lots—Over country; avoiding roads.
Crumbed up—Full of lice.
Cuter—The prosecuting attorney.
Cutting—Division of the spoils.
D – Top
D. and S.—Dangerous and suspicious.
Damp powder—Not to be feared; fake agitator.
Dead one—Person without means.
Deck hand—A domestic.
Derby—A good haul.
Dick—Detective; sheriff; criminal publication; The Detective.
Dinge—A black person.
Ditch—To leave; to cast away; to abandon; get left; hide; sidetracked.
Divorced—Temporarily separated by court action.
Doing a bit—Serving time in prison.
Doing time—Serving time in prison.
Doniker—Prison cell toilet.
Dope—Information; medicine; drugs; narcotics.
Doss house—A lodging house.
Double crossed—To betray confidence; fooled.
Doubled up—Got married.
Douse the glim—Put out the light.
Down and out—In needy circumstances.
Drag—Horse and wagon; burglar’s tool; political influence; draw of smoke from pipe, cigarette or cigar.
Dress suit burglar—Lobbyist; slippery fellow; smooth person.
Dressed in—To prepare for prison sentence; being measured, photographed, haircut, and donned with prison uniform.
Dressed out—To receive discharge; suit money, etc., when leaving prison.
Drop of hat—Quick.
Duck—A pail; an object used for signal.
Duck—To leave; to dodge; to sneak away.
Dump—Hang out; low resort.
Dump—Place; city, town or burg.
Durry Nacker—A German female hawker (a sales person who shouts).
Dust—Money; to run away.
E – Top
Easy money—A certainty; money made without physical effort.
Elbow—Fly cop; a detective.
F – Top
Fagin—Thief; a person who teaches others how to steal.
Fall back—A friend; money or re-sources to use in case of need.
Fall Guy—Thief who takes blame and penalty to save pals.
Fall money—A fund maintained by thieves for their protection.
Fan—To locate pocketbook; to feel one’s way; to inquire; to search.
Fence—A receiver of stolen property.
Fill in—To become one of the party; no active part.
Fine as silk—In good condition.
Finger prints—An ink impression of the finger tips used for identification.
Finger—An officer of the law.
Fixed—Bribed; bought; pre-arranged.
Flash—A roll of money, real on the outside, small amount inside; a look.
Flat joint—Crooked gambling joint.
Flatties—Policemen that walk beats.
Flatty—Police officer who walks a beat.
Flim-flammer—Short change operator.
Flip—Too forward; too outspoken.
Floater—A traveler; a tramp.
Flop—To stop; lie down; rest.
Flounder—A person from Newfoundland.
Flush—With plenty of money.
Fly Cop—A detective.
Four flusher—One who acts for effect.
Frame up—Pre-arranged affair.
Free board—In jail.
Freeze—Retain; to keep.
Fresh Fish—A new hand; a newcomer.
Front Office—Office of Chief of Police or Chief of Detectives.
Front—A showing, good clothes.
Full up—All needed.
G – Top
Gag—Any begging trick; any old game of fraud or cheat.
Gall—Cheek; brazen; forwardness.
Galway—A Catholic priest.
Game—Courageous; full of courage; perseverance.
Garbage joint—A cheap restaurant.
Garroter—A robber who strangles and uses force.
Gash—A fast woman.
Gay cat—One who gets information, for robbers by selling trinkets in places.
Gazaboo—An unknown man.
Gentleman burglar—A well-dressed burglar.
Get away—Successful escape; retreat.
Get on the outside of something—To eat.
Getting by—Missed but not molested; living without work; not detected.
Ginny—An Italian woman.
Giving up—Paying for protection; dividing; giving information.
Glad hand—A hand shake without real friendship.
Glad Mitt—Warm welcome; a helping hand institution similar to Salvation Army.
Glim Grafter—Fake Optician.
Glims—Eyes; spectacles; light.
Goat—Resources; a factional politician.
Gofer—Safe, with time lock.
Going out—Prisoner’s release.
Goldie—A surname applied to a person with light hair.
Goniff—Jewish word for pickpocket.
Goods—Money; stolen stuff; spoils; incriminating evidence.
Gooseberry—A line of clothes.
Gorilla—A thief who uses violence.
Graft—Dishonest money; something easy.
Gran—Leg; an old person.
Gravel train—Go between of Lobbyists who buy up legislators.
Grease—To pay for protection; pay tribute.
Greasy coat thief—Pickpocket who steals only enough for beer and hangs
out in bar rooms.
Grifter—con artist, swindler.
Grit—The road; to steal.
Gum—Rubber hose used for beating prisoners.
Gun maker—One who teaches boys and girls to become thieves.
Gun—A thief; pickpocket.
Gunning—With gun in pocket looking for an enemy.
Guy—To tease; a man; a stranger.
H – Top
Hand me down—A ready made suit of clothes.
Hand out—Begged food given in response to an appeal of hunger.
Hard stuff—Gold and silver.
Harness bull—Uniform officer.
Harnessed box—A safe with extra bars or protection in front.
Hash slinger—Waiter; restaurant worker.
Hay rack—Cell bed.
Head light—Diamond stud; a whiskey nose.
Heeler—A politician in a ward, called a ward heeler; a bouncer.
Hep—To be aware; to catch on.
Herring—A British subject.
Hinky Dink’s—Clark Street, Chicago; a resort in Chicago.
Hip—Wise, aware of.
Hitting the grit—Traveling.
Hitting the pipe—Smoking opium.
Hitting the pot—Drinking out of a can.
Hitting the road—Traveling.
Hitting the stem—Smoking opium.
Hock shop—Pawnbroker’s store.
Hock—Pawner. To pawn something.
Hog box—A crooked faro box.
Hoister—Shoplifter, one who steals in stores, from counters, etc.
Hole with rings around—Doughnut.
Home guard—Resident of the town.
Honey—A black person.
Hooligan—A bum; an English loafer or hoodlum.
Hop joint—Place where opium is smoked.
Hop scotching—Crossing the country and avoiding the main traveled roads.
Hop talk—Bragging; exaggeration; talk without facts.
Hoppers—Hotel bell boys.
Hot air—Senseless talk.
Hot coppers—Dry throat; recovering from a drunk.
Hot—Stolen in town; being looked for; reported stolen.
Hours—Time given a person by the authorities to leave the city.
Hunch—Presentiment; a tip.
Hustler—A prostitute who solicits business on the streets.
I – Top
Icy mitt—The shake from a sweetheart.
In limbo—Doing time in jail.
Inmate—A prostitute who works in a brothel.
In quad—In jail.
In trouble—In jail; a charge against him.
Irish club house—Police station.
Irish slum—Cheap jewelry that tarnishes in a short time.
Italian hand—An unseen force.
J – Top
Jail arithmetic—Making up a false list of expenses to cover up embezzlement.
Jap—A Japanese person.
Jar—To surprise; to compel.
Jersey lightning—Bad whiskey.
Jim Crow car—A car for black people only.
Jimmie a bull—To stop or kill a policeman.
Jimmy—A bar with a crook in it so as to produce leverage.
Jobbed—Prearranged unjustly convicted.
Jobs put over—Crimes committed.
John Bater—A victim; a sucker.
John O’Brien—Irish stew; a freight train.
Johnnie yegg—A tramp safe blower.
Johnnie—One who enjoys the company of women.
Joint—Meeting house for thieves; resort where liquor is sold.
Jolts—-Years in prison.
Josh—To joke; ridicule; to make fun of; a country person.
Jug—A jail; a safe; building where money is kept.
Jungles—Woods or brush outside of city limits.
Junk—Bogus jewelry; worthless paraphernalia.
K – Top
Keister—Satchel; grip; valise; bag; a safe.
Kiann—A mixed breed dog.
Kid—An infant; a joke; a tease.
Kike—A worthless or unsuccessful Jew thief.
Kisser—The mouth; the face.
Kite—An immoral woman.
Knocker—One who speaks against the interests of another.
Knockout drops—A drug used to stupefy.
Knowledge box—A school.
L – Top
Lathered up—A safe’s cracks soaped shut, ready to put in the nitro.
Law ghost—A lawyer who never appears in court, but prepares cases for trial, looking up law, etc.
Lay out—Gambling outfit; opium outfit; an illegal collection.
Laying on the side—Smoking opium.
Laying paper—Passing worthless checks, drafts, etc.
Leeping—Effect of cocaine on the eyes.
Leery—Afraid; doubtful of.
Lemon pool—Two playing against one in a game of pool; beat at pool by two confederates.
Lemon—One’s nose; nothing; a fake.
Life boat—A pardon.
Life saver—Drink of whiskey.
Live wire—Active person, tiling or place.
Lobster—A slow person; one without much intelligence; unsuccessful.
Log cabin—A saloon.
Lost a man—One of the gang arrested while in operation.
Louse House—Cheap boarding house.
Lover—Supported by the wages of sin or by a fallen woman; a pimp.
Lusher—A hard drinker.
M – Top
Madam—Keeper of house of ill repute.
Main bull—Chief of police or detectives.
Main guy—Head person.
Main squeeze—A head fellow.
Main stem—Principal thoroughfare.
Make one—To recognize; to identify.
Marble Heart—Cold reception; no attention; deaf ear.
Mark—An easy person.
Marks or Merits—Behavior record in prison.
Masher—A loafer who tries to force his acquaintance on women.
Measured—Signalized by the Bertillon system.
Meat wagon—Body; hearse.
Merchant—One that runs a shell game.
Mission stiff—A missionary; a convert.
Mixed-ale philosopher—A drunken speaker.
Mizzen Mast Worker—Top story burglar.
Mob—A gang of pickpockets.
Mob—A number of persons banded together for the purpose of stealing.
Moll Buzzer—One who robs women only.
Moll—A prostitute; a woman.
Moniker—A name; an alias.
Moonlighter—A midnight prowler.
Moonshiner—One who makes whiskey and pays no government tax.
Mug—To photograph; the face; an Irishman; a photograph.
Mush fake—One who mends umbrellas and wash tubs, etc.
Musser—A fighter; a bully.
N – Top
Nancy—An effeminate man.
Necktie Party—A hanging.
Nickel movement—Five cent or cheap whiskey.
Nickel snatcher—Conductor or cashier.
Nifty—Show temper; contrary.
Nix—No; stop it.
Nose warmer—Short stemmed pipe.
Notch house—House of prostitution.
Notch Moll—A female inmate of a house of prostitution.
Notches on gun—Number of men killed.
Number two—A shovel.
Nut College—Insane asylum.
Nut head—Crazy man.
Nut squealers—Men working the shell game.
Office man—Officer from police headquarters.
Office—Signal; recognition; cue.
Old Gazabe—Old man.
On the gun—Picking pockets for a living.
On the hog—Financially embarrassed ; broke; beating way about the country.
On the hummer—Financially embarrassed ; broke; beating way about the country.
On the quiet—Forcing a safe without the use of explosives.
On the turf—Prostituting streetwalker; inmate of house of prostitution.
On the water wagon—Not drinking.
One spot—A dollar bill.
Outsiders—An instrument for turning keys from the outside.
Pad money—Money to pay for one’s lodging.
Paddy—Padlock; an Irishman.
Pan handler—A beggar.
Panel worker—Male or female who rob persons after enticing them into a room.
Panhandlers’ heaven—A locality where the natives are liberal to beggars.
Parole—Conditional release from prison.
Peach—To inform; a good one.
Pen—Penitentiary; state or Government prison.
Peter man—A safe blower.
Petered out—Tired; worn out.
Phoney—A substitute; bogus; not real.
Picking flowers from century plants—Not working.
Pick-up—Arrested accidentally without any specific charge.
Piker—A lounger; to view without paying; busybody.
Pike—To look at; to view; the road.
Pill—A portion of opium rolled into a ball and ready to be cooked and smoked.
Pipe-dream—Something not real; idealistic idea.
Pipe—To look at; something sure; something easy.
Planted—Hid; saved; buried.
Plant—To bide; a hiding place for stolen goods.
Plater-—One who breaks glass windows to steal.
Plugger—One who encourages you to enter a game of chance.
Poacher—Tramp; sheep thief; one who does not work.
Poke out—Begged food or sandwich ; a lunch or food handed out the back door.
Political pauper—No good in politics anymore; poor politician.
Porch climber—Thief who gains entrance by climbing up a porch.
Pork dump—A poor place to stay; poor boarding house.
Pot slinger—Cook, kitchen help.
Pound the ear—Sleep.
Pratt leather—Pocket book carried in hip pocket.
Pratt—Stealing pocket-books from hip pockets.
Pressing brick for the city—Walking around; doing nothing.
Props—Diamonds or other jewelry
Prowlers—Plain clothes officers or men.
Psalm singer—A trusty; an informer in prison.
Puffed up—Mad; proud; elevated opinion of one’s self.
Puffer—One who boasts or speaks in exaggeration.
Puffin rod—A revolver.
Punk boy—A boy trained by tramps to steal for them.
Push—Associates with; crowd.
Q – Top
Queered—Forestalled; prevented; stopped; informed on.
Rag—Handkerchiefs; dress; a woman; paper money; a flag.
Rank—No good; strong; without concealment.
Rapper—One who tells; testifies; complains; or prosecutes.
Reef a leather—To raise the lining of a pocket in order to get out a pocketbook.
Reported—A voluntary visit of a thief on arrival in town to the office of the chief of police.
Right—One who protects thieves, and trusted by them.
Ringer—An exact duplicate.
Ripped—Lots of stealing.
River Rat—A river thief; one who hangs out at a river.
Rocq soup—A kettle of hot water.
Rods—Iron supports under a car.
Roll—Currency in a roll; fund of money; a stake.
Romped-on—Arrested; slugged; detained.
Rough house—Fight; carousal; disorder; confusion.
Rough neck—A bully, rough fellow; fighter.
Rounding to—Confessing; informing.
Roust-about—Laborer with no settled home; steamboat laborer.
Rubberneck—An inquisitive person.
Rube—A farmer; an easy person;, stranger in town.
Rustler—Horse or cattle thief—western thieves.
S – Top
Salt Creek—Death; executed; gone forever.
Salve—A patronizing talk; con-talk; bogus tales; inducements.
Sawdust—Dynamite; saloon in a mining town; circus arena.
Scoff house—Eating place.
Scoff—Eating hastily; without manners.
Scot free—Escaped; with no restraint.
Screw—A tool; a key; the jailor or turnkey; go away.
Screw—Turnkey; to leave.
Scouting—Fugitive, avoiding certain locations.
Scrub squad—Sanitary gang in prison.
Selling platter—Small store; poor race horse.
Set down—A square meal.
Settled—Sentenced to prison.
Shabang—A poor house.
Shack—A poor house; A small cabin to live in.
Shadowed—Followed; kept track of; actions noted.
Shaneen—An Irish upstart.
Shark hunter—A thief looking for drunken men to rob.
Sheeney—A Jew; a Hebrew; a stingy person.
Sheet—Register at hotel or police station.
Shine—A black person.
Shiner—A black eye.
Shook down—Made to give up money for protection or information. (Shake down).
Shooting a jug—Blowing a safe.
Shorts—Transfer point on short runs of a street R. R.
Shovel stiff—Laborer with a shovel.
Shoving the queer—Passing counterfeit money.
Shyster—A no good lawyer who does small and mean things.
Side door sleeper—A box car.
Silvertop—A light haired person.
Sizzorbill—A long legged man; a farmer.
Skidoo—Leave; go; same as “23.” (23 Skidoo)
Skunk—A mean person.
Sky pilot—Minister of the gospel.
Slack—Back talk; response.
Sleep Hollow—A New Jersey Prison.
Slinging the lingu—Talking in a foreign tongue.
Slob—An easy, unkempt person; an ignoramus.
Sloughworker—Thief who robs country houses.
Slow grafter—Day light burglar.
Snitch—One who tells.
Soaking—Placing in pawn; hitting.
Sounding—Locating a man’s pocket book.
Soup—A concoction made by boiling dynamite in water and then drawing off the bottom, which is nitroglycerine, used for safe-blowing.
Speak easy—A joint; illegal bar room.
Spieling—Talking; walking; waltzing.
Spike Hennessy—An old-fashioned method of safe blowing; using gunpowder.
Spiked—Stopped; prevented; soda water or other drink containing whiskey.
Spill—Terminus; transfer point of a R. R.
Split—A division of spoils.
Sponging—Accepting, without returning, hospitality.
Spot—Term given to a year in prison; one spot, one year; two spot is two years, etc; waiting, meeting or viewing a place.
Sprouter—A fluent speaker.
Square box—An honest faro dealing box, wherein a player has a chance.
Squared—Making good a loss; arranged so there will be no prosecution.
Staking—Assisting financially; giving; loaning.
Stall—Something to divert attention ; one who assists pick-pockets.
Stand pat—Being firm; refusing to give up information.
Star boarder—One who enjoys all the privileges; one with financial backing.
State—Tobacco furnished by the state.
Steamed grub—Prison fare.
Steerer—Pilot for a gang of thieves; grafter.
Stick—To remain; to wait.
Stick-up—A highway man or robbery.
Stiff—An old person; a dead person.
Stir-simple—A lack of reason; dullness caused by long confinement in prison.
Stone jug—A prison built of stone.
Stood out—Taken out of line in prison for violating the rules.
Stood up—Stood up in line with other thieves for identification.
Stool Pigeon—A thief who gives officers information about other thieves.
Stowaway—Hid away on a carrier to avoid paying fare; a politician on a padded administration payroll.
Stretch—A term in prison.
String ’em—Fool them.
Strings and Bonnets—Fuses and caps used by safe blowers.
Strong-arm—Robbed by force.
Struck—Measured by the Bertillon system.
Student—One on the administration payroll who does not work.
Summer boarder—One who stays a short time and acts foolish and queer.
Sure-thing man—A crooked gambler.
Sweat box—An imaginary steam heated box used by the police to force confessions from prisoners. In reality it is a series of crossfire questions and confusing questions.
Swell mob—Expert pickpocket.
Switch—Transferring; passing to another; substituting.
Tab—Check; to keep track of or account of, (keep tabs on).
Tailed—Followed by a detective.
Tart—A girl of questionable character.
Thimble rigger—A swindler at the shell game.
Third degree—A violent method of the police to coerce a confession or gain information.
Third rail—A pickpocket on a R. R.
Tip your mitt—Make known your purpose; exposed.
Tip—A warning ; advance knowledge.
To the hay—To bed.
To the sheets—To bed.
Toad skins—Paper money.
Togged up—Dressed up.
Tommy buster—A man who beats prostitutes and lewd women.
Tommy—A girl of questionable character.
Tool—One of a gang of pickpockets who does the actual stealing.
Touch—A theft by pocket picking.
Tout—One who gives supposed advance knowledge of race returns.
Track 13 and a washout—A term in a western prison.
Trolly—An improvised carrier for notes, etc., in prison.
Tub—Glass of beer.
Turn a trick—A theft accomplished.
Turned out—Released from prison; enter on a career of crime.
Twenty-three—An invitation to leave; originated in New Orleans, La.
Uncle—A prefix to the name of a pawnbroker.
Under cover—In hiding; of reserved intentions, or thought.
Underground wires—Persons in public life who quietly secure a prisoner’s release.
Unfortunate—Arrested, tried and convicted.
Up the river—Sentenced to Sing Sing, a New York prison.
Use the wax—To take an impression of a key.
Vag—A vagrant; person with no means of support; charge used by the police
on account of meaning most any misdemeanor.
Vestry thief—A conman who works in churches.
Vise—To be aware of what is transpiring.
Vugged—Convicted of vagrancy.
Walk the plank—Shown up to a collection of officers.
Wedged in—Put in same cell to secure information.
Weed—Tobacco; to separate the good from the bad.
Welcher—One who informs; a quitter.
Wet Goods—Stolen Goods.
Wharf rat—One who steals around the wharves on the river front.
Whiskey tenor—A bad soloist.
Whop—Less than thirty days in prison.
Wienie—A sausage; loaf of bread.
Windjammer—A talkative person.
Wing—An arm; section of prison; to shoot in the arm.
Wingy—A person with one arm.
Wood—A policeman’s billy club.
Woody—To go mad; insane.
Wrong—Not to be trusted by thieves; an honest man.
Y – Top
Yap—An easy victim.
Yegg—Tramp thieves; safe blowers.
Yenshee—Residue left in the pipe after smoking opium, which is boiled over
again and smoked.
If you found this Criminal Slang Dictionary useful, please link to this page:
Title: Criminal Slang Dictionary of 1890 to 1919
Description: An online glossary of 890 words and terms used by criminals and underworld figures from 1890 to 1919.