Slang, Colloquial, Street terms for theft, shop lifting, pickpocking, general crime, the taking of property/ ownership
June 6, 2007 5:24 AM   Subscribe

please give me, all your Slang, Colloquial, Street terms for theft, shop lifting, pickpocking, general crime, the taking of property/ ownership, conartisty

im looking for all Slang, Colloquial, Street terms for theft, pickpocking, general crime, the taking of property/ ownership that anyone has ever come up with or used... historically and currently

from cockney slang like
tealeaf = thief
halfinch = pinch

to general terms like
Adsa pricing it & five finger discount.

im basically looking to make a big list, but at the same looking for the more obsure terms I might not have heard of and havent seen on
posted by complience to Writing & Language (60 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Nicking = stealing
posted by kenneth at 5:33 AM on June 6, 2007

Fingersmith = pickpocketer (from a Roald Dahl short story)
posted by smackfu at 5:35 AM on June 6, 2007

Ten-fingered discount.
posted by orange swan at 5:39 AM on June 6, 2007

There's a lovely Scouse expression: "Twocking" - which comes, I think, from the Police acronym "Taking Without Owner's Consent."

Usage: "Some fookers twocked me car".
posted by Jofus at 5:42 AM on June 6, 2007

5-finger discount, boosting
posted by heartquake at 5:47 AM on June 6, 2007

dipping = pickpocketing

blagging = stealing stuff in general, but b & e in particular
posted by worker_bee at 5:47 AM on June 6, 2007

UrbanDictionary ones you might not have seen: taxed, and nab. Other phrases include "he's robbed off with my x" or even "she did one (ran away with) with my y".
posted by xvs22 at 5:52 AM on June 6, 2007

posted by pieoverdone at 6:03 AM on June 6, 2007

pocketing = put sth in your pocket w/o paying
posted by mateuslee at 6:03 AM on June 6, 2007

"Rolling" someone, i.e the lad rolled Petey for his phone or 'Let's roll that guy'.
posted by thelongcon at 6:09 AM on June 6, 2007

Watch out for "gank". I remember some folks using it as a substitute for "fuck" for a few years.
posted by notsnot at 6:11 AM on June 6, 2007

1. In Australia, at least when I was a kid (not *too* long ago), to steal something was sometimes described as to 'flog' it. Confusingly, 'flog' also means to sell something in the UK.

2. Edan, a brilliant and funny American rapper, has a song called 'Run that Shit!' about stealing, in which the title seems to be a reference to stealing. It's all tongue in cheek though (read his bio at if you want a good laugh).
posted by 8k at 6:11 AM on June 6, 2007

Giving it to the man.
posted by goo at 6:19 AM on June 6, 2007

To trouser something (this really only applies to money) is variant of pocketing I suppose.
posted by ob at 6:27 AM on June 6, 2007

14 comments in and the most common term hasn't been reported yet? How odd.

gaffle v. to steal
posted by majick at 6:27 AM on June 6, 2007

posted by DawgterFeelgood at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2007

to fleece
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:37 AM on June 6, 2007

Just add "de-" to the object that's been stolen, as in, "She de-cookied him," or, "Help, I've been de-monied!!"
posted by hermitosis at 6:53 AM on June 6, 2007

To hork.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2007

jux: to rob
posted by milarepa at 7:00 AM on June 6, 2007

It cost free ninety-nine.
posted by ktrey at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2007

Don't forget "yoink". The extra part of this one is that if you say "yoink" as you are "yoinking" something, it immediately transfers posession of the "yoinked" item to the "yoinker".
posted by utsutsu at 7:04 AM on June 6, 2007

Hoist, (as in 'lift') a verb used in the sense of "he hoisted that from the shop" and also as a noun to describe the stolen articles, i.e. "a bag full of hoist"
posted by muckybob at 7:06 AM on June 6, 2007

"five fingers and a bit of fear" in italian (from my father)

As in "what did that cost"

"five fingers and a bit of fear"
posted by jannw at 7:10 AM on June 6, 2007

"borrow", with the quotes.
posted by Meagan at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2007

"came up on", as in "I came up on some loot".

and yes, in reference to Edan/Rap - "Run your ___" is sticking someone up. "Run your kicks (shoes)", "Run it"
posted by cashman at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2007

Mook= noun; petty thief, low level scammer- NYC
posted by kimdog at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2007

to "thieve" something.

grab, "acquire", commandeer (though not really slang; dictionary meaning: to seize arbitrarily)
posted by dreamsign at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2007

"Hit a lick" (& "Hit Up")

Pull a 211, Pull a 459 (police codes)

I don't know how to categorize this one - but people say "come off' - like "come off that argyle sweater, homie."
posted by cashman at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2007

(cf Infinite Jest: "he did sometimes promote small valuables from apartments")
posted by mattbucher at 7:52 AM on June 6, 2007

Four-finger discount. (The Simpsons' version of five-finger discount)
posted by JMOZ at 8:24 AM on June 6, 2007

"Squired" -- stole + acquired
posted by SoylentErin at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2007


I've never heard "gank" in any context other than stealing things, and I think it's fairly common with gamers (e.g., "ganking" things from other players). But then again, maybe my gaming friends just don't have to worry about the other meaning nonsnot suggests ;)
posted by fogster at 9:17 AM on June 6, 2007

Growing up in London any dodgy goods with a questionable source of origin that were being offered for sale in pubs were always referred to as "having fallen off the back of a lorry"

and for terceiro, who said:
"Also, I hate to be an off-topic ass"
Well you nailed that one right on the head didn't you?

posted by worker_bee at 10:03 AM on June 6, 2007

Grift or grifter: con artist

hit a lick or pull a lick: to steal, most used in rap and the hyphy movement

roll: ie. we rolled that dude for his car
posted by nerdcore at 10:05 AM on June 6, 2007

David Maurer's The Big Con is an excellent, though somewhat dated, survey of confidence men with a lovingly detailed explanation of the argot.

Please terceiro! Don't hurt em!
posted by shothotbot at 10:11 AM on June 6, 2007

Chock, or chalk, for steal. Not sure how it's spelled. Used in mid-late 90s Bay Area, though I don't think I've found anybody from elsewheres that's heard it.
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2007

Here are some references for you:

The Big Con -- this book was put together by a linguist who hung out with con artists.

Where The Money Was, the autobiography of bank robber Willie Sutton, will give you the lowdown on old-school bank robber slang.

The movie Miller's Crossing is rich in 30s criminal slang.

David Mamet's House of Games has lots of con artist slang.

For modern slang, check out 50 Cent's autobiography From Pieces to Weight. No, seriously. Monster by Sankiya Shakur will help will LA gangsta slang. The Wire has tons of great drug-dealer slang, but much of it is Baltimore-specific.

For international pickpocket slang, get the book Travel Advisory by Arno

For English slang, check out the autobiography of a Britsh stick-up artist named Razor Smith, A Few Kind Words and A Gun. Also, the films of Guy Ritchie and the television show The Sweeney.

I have here next to me Enemies of the Underworld, published in 1917, which has a Vocabulary of the Underworld in the back of it. Since I can't expect you to find it, here are some choice selections:

Alley rat -- a person who robs persons in alleys

A moll buzzer -- robs women only

A flat worker -- steals from dwellings

A pig -- theif's prostitute

Bad -- Good [yeah, in 1917]

Bull buster -- one who assaults policemen

Blowing a peter -- cracking a safe [giggle]

Boilermaker -- a lover

Brass up -- divide the spoils

Creeper -- woman who steals from drunks

Dip -- pickpocket

Fan -- to locate the pocketbook

Gun -- a pickpocket

Greasy coat thief -- pickpocket who only steals enough for beer

Gorilla -- a thief who uses violence

hoister -- shoplifter

Heel -- sneak thief

Irish clubhouse -- police station

Italian Hand -- an unseen force

Johnnie Yegg -- a tramp safe blower

Jimmie a bull -- stop or kill a policeman

Mizzen Mast Worker -- top story burglar

Punk boy -- a boy trained by tramps to steal for them

Plater -- one who breaks windows to steal

Shark hunter -- a thief looking for drunken men to rob

Tool -- the member of a pickpocketing gang that does the stealing

Yegg -- tramp theives, safe blowers
posted by Bookhouse at 10:27 AM on June 6, 2007

My middle school friends used the fictional store "Jackie's" to imply that something was stolen. If something was from Jackie's, it wasn't bought and paid for. They thought this was just astonishingly clever.

Also, this poem is basically a goldmine of crime slang from the late 19th century, but unfortunately it seems that the meanings of some of the terms are no longer known for certain. Doug Hofstadter makes a valiant effort to interpret it in his book Le Ton beau de Marot. It's worth reading anyway, though.
posted by crinklebat at 10:34 AM on June 6, 2007

More books :

Prison Stories by Seth Ferranti (prison slang and Spanglish gangster slang)

Inside by Michael Santos (prison slang)

Here's Jim Goad's Guide to Prison Slang

For police slang, David Simon's Homicide, Edward Conlon's Blue Blood and Wild Cowboys by Jackall will have nuggets in them (the last one very technical).
posted by Bookhouse at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2007

not exactly slang, maybe, but I like to say I've "made off with" whatever.
posted by catatethebird at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2007

"Involuntary Profit Share Program"

is something i coined years ago because i often worked shit jobs for idiots who'd get all manner of bonuses, salaries with more digits than mine, and benefits up the wazoo whilst I would get zero recognition for being their workhorse. Hence the comic name given to what is creative theft of things that were repurposed or used elsewhere. Anything liberated under the Involuntary Profit Share Program had to be for good reason and not for sheer frivolity or the thrill of taking something.
posted by kuppajava at 11:56 AM on June 6, 2007

Maybe we made up this word but we used to say "Skife" when we stole something.
Like "yoink" (see above), it's good to say "skiiiiiiiiiife" (draw out the 'i') while you're actually in process of stealing.
We used to skife liquor from the medi-mart all the time.

Another one is "fell off the truck" as in
"where did you get that new iPod dude?"
"it fell off the truck, dude!"
posted by Hugh Jorgan at 12:49 PM on June 6, 2007

Something which has been stolen is also called "hot."
posted by JMOZ at 1:35 PM on June 6, 2007

I like "liberate."
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2007

re: "hork", to me (east coast USA), it means vomit, not steal. ("He horked all over the back seat of the car")

In retail-speak, "shrinkage" refers to the stuff that gets shoplifted, usually in abstract terms like dollar value over a period of time rather than in concrete terms like naming the specific things that were stolen. Typically in a context of planning for the year ahead, or reporting on the year just finished. "We forecast 5% shrinkage this year, reduced from 8% last year because of the new security system")

Also, maybe obvious but what the hell...
to cop something
to bogart something
to lift something
to boost something
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:34 PM on June 6, 2007

Well, I was an idiot and got edited out. Sorry.

I will re-submit swipe (as in, "Jerry swiped the iPod from the sleeping guy in the library") and point you to an interesting (but very short) list from BBC's Wordhunt: Dodgy Dealings. Mostly not stealing-related, but does include "twoc" (mentioned above) and Glasgow Kiss, ie, a head butt.
posted by terceiro at 2:49 PM on June 6, 2007

to relieve (someone of an item)
to separate (as in, a fool from his money)

also, some eponyms:
fagin (n.)
abbie (vt.)
winona (n., vt.)
posted by rob511 at 4:58 PM on June 6, 2007

I was up on gaffle (we said "gaff-o") and gank, but I thought I'd add a couple of 'em that I haven't seen: acid and bite. Acid is perhaps better known for being the origin of the genre "acid jazz," which was techno made from jazz samples. Bite and biters should be familiar to anyone who's listened to rap since, say, 1982.
posted by klangklangston at 5:47 PM on June 6, 2007

slightly off topic

if you get caught/maybe arrested, you're said to have gotten 'bucked'

Did you hear? Dan got bucked by the cops last night.
posted by baserunner73 at 7:08 PM on June 6, 2007


Way before the TV show, when somebody got punked it referred to being robbed. "That guy got punked for his wallet."
posted by Mijo Bijo at 1:22 AM on June 7, 2007

What are you going to do with this list, complience?
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:16 AM on June 7, 2007

Bite isn't really taking, it's copying, parroting. If someone says "he bit my style", they didn't take his clothes, they copied his clothes. If someone says "you bit my rhymes", you didn't take them somehow - you copied them. Like you'll never hear anybody say "He bit me for my car" or "I'll roll up and bite you for your ends."

Gaffle is similarly incorrect, in my opinion. It really means to get played or get ...well ... fucked over.

But this is slang, and language is fluid, so I'm more adding my opinion than trying to make any kind of hard and fast fist-slamming declaration.
posted by cashman at 11:36 AM on June 8, 2007

As a counter example, I've heard "bit my kicks" in the context of a robbery.

And gaffle is broad, but carries within it theft as part of the "fucking over."
posted by klangklangston at 11:12 AM on June 9, 2007

my family always says "put the glad hand to". As in, "Can you believe, i left my wallet on the table for five seconds and someone put the glad hand to it!"

Not sure where this comes from. I've only ever heard us say it! But it always cracks me up.
posted by silverstatue at 6:13 PM on June 9, 2007

I'd really have to question the "most common" comment, majick.

I've never heard of gaffle--seems to me, if you aren't an eminem/dr. dre fan, it's not a term you'd know, and it was used incorrectly anyway then, like cashman said. It's more a way of getting over on somebody than stealing something.

Flogging, the involuntary profit sharing program, ganking--those I've heard of.
posted by misha at 6:13 PM on June 10, 2007

To nim (archaic), to kipe (Western Washington State) or kife (Utah), to hook (attested in Tom Sawyer), to snag, to snitch (in the sense of theft, spoken only of edibles pilfered in small quantities for immediate personal use; also noun as in 'Is that peanut butter cookie dough? Give me a snitch.').

Of course, the fact that English has 500 of these words is natural, given the central position of theft in Anglophone material and social culture.
posted by eritain at 2:12 AM on July 4, 2007

I don't know if you'll see this, but I found a great one reading Huckleberry Finn: "smounch". As in, "I went and smounched some spoons from the pantry". It's used repeatedly toward the end of the book, when he and Tom are constructing their elaborate plot to free Jim. Well worth reading the book anyway, and there may be more elsewhere in it -- I just noticed smounch because it's so good to the ear...
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:55 PM on July 15, 2007

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