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  Cant English
Abbess The mistress of a brothel
Abram Naked
Abram cove A word used among thieves which signifies a naked or poor man. It can also mean a lusty strong rogue
Abram men A beggar who pretends to be mad
To sham abram To pretend to be sick
Academy Brothel
Ace of Spades A Widow
Acorn "To ride a horse foaled by an acorn" is to be hanged on the gallows
Adam Tiler A pickpockets associate, who receives the stolen goods, and runs off with them
Affidavit men A witness for hire Someone who will swear to anything in court if paid to do so
Air and exercise "He has had air and exercise" (ie he has been whipped at the carts tail)
Ambidexter A lawyer who garners fees from both plaintiff and defender
To Amuse To fling dust into the eyes of the person intended to be robbed; also to invent some plausible tale to delude a shopkeeper in order to put them off their guard
Amuser A rogue who uses the above tactic
Anabaptist A pickpocket caught in the act, and punished by being thrown into a pond
Anglers Pilferers or petty thieves who with a stick having a hook at the end, steal goods out of shop windows, grates etc. Also someone who 'draws in' victims in order to rob them
Angling for coppers Begging out of a prison window with a cap or box let down on the end of a long string
Arch Rogue The chief of a gang of thieves or gipsies
Ard Hot, stolen
Ark A boat
Ark ruffians Rogues who in conjunction with watermen, robbed and sometimes murdered on the water by picking a quarrel with passengers in a boat, boarding it, plundering, stripping, and throwing them overboard
Artichoke Hang (see hearty choke)
Aunt A prostitute or someone who procures prostitutes
Avoir Du Pois Lay Stealing brass weights off the counters of shops
Autem Bawler A priest
Autem Divers Pickpockets who operate in churches and temples
Autem Mort A female beggar who hires children in order to inspire charity
Babes in the wood Criminals in the stocks or pillory
Badge A term for one who has had his hand burned as punishment for theft
Bagged Flash Magic Item
Bandog A bailiff or sheriff
Barrow man A man under sentence of transport
Bat A very common prostitute
Bawd A justice of the peace or magistrate
Bawdy basket A Criminal who sells items from door to door, but makes most of their living by stealing
Beef to "cry beef" is to give an alarm. To "be in a mans beef" is to wound him with a sword
Begger maker A man who owns a tavern
Beilby's Ball To "dance with Beilby's ball" is to be hung
Bene Good
Bene Bowse Good beer
Bene Cove Good fellow
Bene Darkmans Good night
Bene feaker Counterfeiter
Bene feaker of gybes Counterfeiter of false passes
Ben A fool
Bess or Betty A crow bar
Bilboes The stocks or prison
Bilk To cheat or con
Bing To go or escape
Bingo Brandy or other spirit
Bingo boy A drinker of brandy
Bingo mort A female drinker of brandy
Birds of a feather Rogues of the same gang
Bite To steal
Black art The art of picking a lock
Black box A lawyer
Blasted fellow An abandoned rogue or prostitute
Blater A stolen calf
Bleaters Those cheated by a Jack in the Box (See Jack in the box)
Bleating rig Sheep stealing
Blow To "bite the blow" is to steal the goods
Blue pigeons Thieves who steal lead off houses and other buildings
Bluffer An inn keeper
Blunt Money
Boarding school Prison
Bob Shoplifter's assistant, One who receives stolen goods
Boned Seized, arrested
B oredom Risk
Borrow To steal
Boung A purse
Boung nipper A cut purse
Box-man Thief specialized in cracking safes
Brimstone An abandoned woman or thief
Broken Finger A serious injury
Bubber A thief who steals less value
Bung nipper A pickpocket
Burning the ken To flee a tavern without paying your bill
Bus napper A constable
Bus napper kenchin A watchman
Buttock and file A prostitute who steals from their clients
Button A fake coin
Buzman A pickpocket
Cackle To inform on a thief
Calle A cloak or gown worn as a disguise
Canters Thieves or beggers
Canting Crew Thieves or beggers
Cap Take an oath
Captain Sharp A person in a fixed game of chance whose job is to bully those who refuse to pay their debts
Caravan A large sum of money, or one who is cheated of a large sum of money
Cattle Prostitutes or gipsies
Charactered To have your hand burnt as a punishment for theft
Charm A lockpick
Chatts The gallows
Clank A silver tankard
Clank napper A silver tankard stealer
Clear Very drunk
Click To hit
Clicker The person who divides the booty between a group of thieves
Climb up a ladder to bed To be hanged
Cloy Steal
Cloyes Thieves
Cly A pickpocket
Cly the jerk To be whipped
Cockles, to cry To be hanged
Colt One who lends a horse to a highway man, or an apprentice thief
Confect Counterfeited
Cannon Pickpocket
Content A person murdered for resisting a robbery
Contraband Illegal goods
Cove A man
Cracksman A house breaker
Cramp word The sentence of death
Crash Kill
Crawl in a hole Hide
Crib House
Crop Hang
Cull An honest man
Cullability Easily cheated
Curbing law The act off hooking items out of a window (see angling)
Cursitor A bad lawyer
Dangle To hang
Danglestuff Rope
Darbies Chains (handcuffs)
Darby Easy money
Darkee A dark or hooded lantern
Darkmans Night time
Dawb Bribe
Deadly nevergreen The gallows
Derrick A hangman
Dimber Damber A chief thief
Ding boy A mugger
Dive To pick a pocket
Dive A thieves hideout
Dodgies Innocent
Dommerer A beggar who pretends to be mute
Drag To follow a cart or wagon in order to rob it
Draw-latches Robbers of houses
Drawing the King's picture Counterfeiting coins
Dromedary A bungling thief
Dropping a glove Losing a hand (legal punishment)
Dress up Tie up
Dub A lockpick
Dub Lay To rob a house by picking its lock
Dummee A pocket book or purse
Dumps Coins made of lead
Die Hard Show no fear or remorse at the gallows
Earnest A promise to pay
Equipt Well dressed, rich
Expense Money Bribe
Fagger A small boy who passed through a window in order to unlock the door to the house
Family man A receiver of stolen goods
Fam lay Palming an item in order to steal it
Fams Gloves
Fang Dog
Fen A prostitute
Fence To sell stolen goods, One who buys stolen goods
Fencing ken A place where stolen goods are hidden
Fidlam ben Thieves
Figging law The art of picking pockets
Figure dancer One who alters the numbers on notes of credit, or other paper money
Filcher see Angler
Flag waving Planning
Flash Magic
Flash ken A thieves hideout
Flash lingo Thieves cant
Floating hell A prison ship
Flog To whip
Fob Cheat
Footpad A common thief
Fork To pick a pocket
Fortune teller A judge
Foyst A pickpocket
Frummagemmed Strangled or hanged
Fun A cheat or trick
Fuzz To pretend to shuffle a deck of cards
Gallows bird A thief or pickpocket or someone that associates with them
Game Any mode of robbery
Gamon To deceive
Gaoler's coach A cart used to take felons to execution
Gentleman Thief
Gentleman's master A highwayman
Getting stripes To be flogged
Gibberish Thieves cant
Gilt A thief who picks locks
Ginny A crowbar
Glazier A thief who breaks windows in order to steal
Glim A lantern used in housebreaking
Goin' home Jail break
Goin' legit To die
Grandpa Judge
Grease Bribe
Gregorian tree The gallows
Gudgeon A gullible person
Guesthouse Jail
Gull A gullible person, to cheat someone
Hamlet A senior constable
Hang gallows look A villainous appearance
Hang in chains A vile, desperate person
Harmans The stocks
Have a chat with Kill
Hearty choke To be hanged
Heave To rob
Hempen fever A person who has been hanged is said to have died of "hempen fever"
Hempen widow One whose husband was hanged
High pad A highwayman
Hike To run away
Hired help Accomplice
Hitman Assassin
Hizzooner's guest Prisoner
Hoist To rob by entering through a window that had been left opened.
Hole in need of plugging Informant
Hoodwink Blindfold or fool someone
Hooked Captured
Hookers See angler
Hubbub A riot
Hue To whip
Hush Murder
Hush money A bribe
Invited Arrested
Iron Money
Ironmongers shop To "keep an ironmongers shop" is to be hung in chains
Jack in a box A card sharper
Jack Ketch Hangman
Jail bird prisoner
Jammed Hanged
Jem A gold ring
Jemmy A crowbar
Jiggers Whipping post
Jordain A stick or staff used by muggers
Juggler's box The device used to burn the hands of criminals
Jukrum The permission of the head of a thieves guild to operate within his territory
Kate A lockpick
Ken A house
Ken Miller or Ken Cracker Housebreaker
Ketch Hangman
Kiddeys Young thieves
King's plate Chain's, shackles
King's pictures Money
Knight of the blade A bully
Knight of the post A man willing to give fake evidence for money
Knight of the road A highwayman
Knock-knock Hello
Laced mutton A prostitute
Lag A man transported for a crime
Land pirate A highwayman
Lay Danger
Leaf To "go with the fall of the leaf" is to be hanged
Lid Door
Lift Steal
Lightmans Daytime
Little snakesman A small boy passed through a window in order to open a door
Lone Wolf Thief, independent
Long tongued Unable to keep a secret
Lowre Money
Lully priggers Thieves who steal wet clothes off clothes lines
Lurch To be "left in the lurch" is to be betrayed by ones companions
Mad Tom A begger who feigns madness
Made Stolen
Made man A member of the thieves guild, high-standing
Mark The target of a confidence game
Maunding Begging
Milch cow One who is easily tricked out of his money
Moabites Bailiffs
Mob Group of thieves
Mobility The commoners, intended as a pun on 'nobility'
Moon curser A thief who uses the darkness as cover for his crime
Moon men gypsies
Moon pigs Night watchmen
Morning Drop The gallows
Mort A woman
Moss Lead stolen off the top of buildings
Mot A woman
Myrmidons Constables
Nab To seize
Nab the stoop To be put in the stocks
Napper A cheat or thief
Napper of naps A sheep stealer
Natty lads Young thieves or pickpockets
Neck weed hemp to be made into rope
Needle point A card sharper
New drop The gallows
Newman's lift The gallows
Nig The metal clipped off a coin by a criminal
Night magistrate A constable
Nim To steal or pilfer
Nip A cheat
Noisy dog racket The crime of stealing brass door knockers from doors
Noozed Hanged (or married)
Nose A criminal who gives evidence against his colleagues in order to gain a lighter sentence
Nubbing Hanging
Nubbing cheat The gallows
Nubbing cove The Hangman
Nubbing ken The courthouse
Nypper A cutpurse
Oak A rich man
Oaken towel A cudgel
Office To "give office" is to tell constables of a thieves activities
Old hand A experienced thief
Onion A seal or signet ring
Overseer A man in the pillory or stocks
Pad The highway
Pad borrowers horse thieves
Pair of eyes A lookout
Palaver A tale told in order to avoid blame for a crime
Panny House
Papa Porker Guard, head of the
Parenthesis The stocks
Parings The metal clipped off a coin by a criminal
Patter flash To use thieves cant
Paum Conceal in the hand
Peach Turn informer
Peeper A spying glass (telescope?)
Penance board Pillory
Pennyweighter Thief who replaces valuable goods with worthless ones
Petty fogger A lawyer willing to undertake any cause
Piece man Trader of knowledge on where stolen property can be sold
Pig An officer of the law
Pigeon A person easy to cheat
Pigeon plucker Con-artist/swindler
Pig poker Dagger

Money, silver, gold etc...

Poney Money
Pop Pawn
Pop shop Pawnbroker
Porridge Prison
Posse mobilitatis A mob chasing a criminal
Poulterer A man who opens mail and steals the money enclosed within
Pound Prison
Prad Horse
Prad lay The act of cutting the saddlebags of horses in order to steal their contents
Prig A thief
Prig napper One who catches a thief, A bounty hunter
Priggers Thieves
Priggers of prancers Horse thieves
Priggers of cacklers Robbers of henhouses
Prince Prig Head of a group of thieves or gypsies
Provendor The victim of a thief
Public Ledger A prostitute
Pull Arrest
Purse collector Pickpocket
Puzzle-cause A lawyer who does not understand the case
Quarromes A body
Queer "To queer" means to confuse someone
Queer bail Someone who pretends to have money in order to act as surety for an arrested person. When the person is released they disappear
Queer birds A person who when released from prison returns to a life of crime
Queer bit makers Counterfeiters of coins
Queer bung An empty purse
Queer cove A thief
Queer cuffin A justice of the peace
Queer ken A prison
Queer mort A diseased prostitute
Quod Prison
Quota A thieves share of the booty


Rag Paper money
Rank rider A highwayman
Rap Taking a false oath
Rascal Rogue or villain
Rat An informer, To turn informer
Rattling cove A coachman
Rattling mumpers Beggers who beg from coaches
Reader A pocket book or purse
Reader merchants Pickpockets
Ready Money
Recruiting service Highway robbery
Repository A goal
Resurrection men Those employed by scientists to steal bodies from churchyards
Rhino Money
Ribbin Money
Ridding the rope To hang
Ringing the charges Exchanging silver coins for those made of less valuable metal
Roast Arrest
Robert's men Successful thieves
Rooton Committing crimes
Rot gut Cheap spiritous liquor
Rounder Burglar, professional
Rovers Pirates, wandering thieves
Rub Run away
Ruffles Chains or shackles
Rufflers Beggers who pretend to be wounded soldiers or sailors
Rug Safe and secure
Rum Fine, good, valuable
Rum beck A justice of the peace
Rum bite A clever trick
Rum bob A skilled apprentice thief
Rum bung A false purse
Rum cod A purse filled with gold
Rum diver A skilled pickpocket
Rum dubber A skilled lock picker
Rum file A skilled pickpocket
Rum fun A clever trick
Rum pad The highway
Rum padders Skilled and successful highwaymen
Rum prancer A good horse
Rushers Home invaders
Salmon An oath taken by a beggar
Scapegallows One who deserves and has escaped the gallows
Score Loot from a theft
Scragged Hanged
Scragg'em fair A public execution
Scratch Injury
Screw A lock pick or skeleton key
Shadow dance Hide
Sham A trick
Sharper A con man
Sheriff's journeyman Hangman
Sheriff's ball An execution
Sheriff's hotel Prison
Sheriff's picture frame Gallows
Shop Prison
Shoplifter One who steals froma shop
Shoulder tap Backstab
Show Trial
Signals Plan (noun)
Sing Call out, inform
Slang Chains or shackles
Slang Thieves cant
Slipgibbet see Scapegollows
Smooth Quiet
Snap the glaze Break a window
Snapt Captured
Sneak A pilferer
Snoozing ken Brothel
Sop A bribe
Spring-ankle warehouse Prison
Squeak Escape, "To squeak" means to confess
Squeakers Organ pipes
Stalling ken Place where stolen goods can be sold
Star the glaze Break a jewellers window
Stoop The pillory
Stop hole abbey The central hideout or guild hall for a thieves guild
Stretching Hanging
Stuling ken Place where stolen goods can be sold
Swaddler A thief who beats and murders his victims
Swag Booty
Sweating Removing metal from a coin, by using chemicals
Swing Hang
Switch Sell
Tail A prostitute
Tayle drawers A thief who steals swords from a mans belt
Tea with the pigs To have "tea with the pigs" means to be tortured
Teize A flogging
Thatch-gallows A man of poor character
Thief takers Someone who associates with thieves in order to arrest them and obtain rewards
Three-legged mare The gallows
Three-legged stool The gallows
Tilted Floor Wall
Tinker Healer, underworld
Tom of Bedlam see Mad Tom
Topping cheat The gallows
Topping cove Hangman
Touch Arrest
Trounce Punish
Tuck in bed Knock unconscious
Tucked up Hanged
Turncoat One who has betrayed his friends
Turn off Hang
Twig Realize that something is up
Two to one shop Pawnbrokers
Uncle Fence
Underdubber A prison guard
Upright Man Chief thief of a guild
Used up Killed
Vamp Pawn
Varlets Criminals
Vincent's law The art of cheating at cards
Visiting the neighbors Burglary
Vowel To write an IOU
Waterpad River pirate
Wedge Silver plate
Whack A share of booty obtained by fraud
Whip jacks Thieves who pretend to be sailors in order to gain free passage on boats and ships
Wiper Handkerchief
Wiper drawer A pickpocket who steals handkerchiefs
Wooden ruff Pillory
Wry neck day Day of execution
Yelp Cry out for the
Zad A very crooked person

  Cant Treasure
Berry Wine Sapphire
Bits Money
Booze Jewel
Bronze Bronze
Chunk o' Brandy Ruby
Chunk o' Gin Diamond
Fancy Booze Jewelry
Finger Joint Ring
Green Beer Emerald
Lobe Latches Earrings
Milk Pearl
Noose Necklace
Rust Copper
Shiny Tin Platinum
Stuffing Loot
Tin Silver
Yellow Tin Gold

Time is measured in hours after sunset or sunrise.
After sunset is "clean," after sunrise is "dirty."
One hour is called a finger.
"Fingers" can be divided into three 20 minute periods called "knuckles."

  Time Cant Translation
Noon "Six dirty fingers"
Midnight "Thumbs"
3:00 am "Nine clean fingers"
2:20 pm "First dirty knuckle on the eighth finger"
1:19 pm "Seventh dirty finger"
4:45 am "Second clean knuckle on the tenth finger"
Near Sunrise "Gettin' dirty"
Near Sunset "Almost clean"

If a thief suspects that he can be overheard, hand gestures may be used.
In this case, the back of the hand is "dirty" and the palm is "clean."
There are hundreds of variations in this scheme.
Thieves planning a crime will agree beforehand on which to use.

  Cant Size
   Tall man Big
   Short man Small
Cant Weight
   Fat lady Heavy
   Thin woman Light

Specific lengths and weights are given in the normal measurements.

Thief #1: "Knock-knock, Blackhand an I were flag wavin' bout visiting Papa Porker's crib at seven clean fingers. We're lookin' fer a third gentleman for a pair o' eyes. Interested?"
Thief #2: "What style of stuffing ya wanna to borrow ? Who's your uncle?"
Thief #1: "Uncle's out of town. We're gonna pick bits.
Thief #2: "That's fat lady work. Sounds too boring. I'm not interested."

Thief #1: "Hello, Blackhand and I were planing on burglarizing the Captain of the Guard's house tonight at 1:00 am. We need a third theif to act as lookout. Are you intrested?"
Thief #2: "What kind of loot are you going to steal? Who's your fence?
Thief #1: "We won't need a fence. We are going for money only."
Thief #2: "That's going to be heavy work. Sounds too risky. I'm not interested."

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