Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mooch v.

also mouch
[for a detailed analysis see Liberman (2008 157ff) who sees it as one of a number of terms found in pan-European slangs meaning concealment and/or cheating; these in turn suggest an old Germanic word with cognates in Celtic and Latin with a basic meaning of darkness or mist. The proposed ety of OF muser, to hide, is seen as a descendant of these, rather than the origin ]

1. (also mootch) to pilfer, to steal; thus mooching/mouching n. and adj.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor IV 418/2: I don’t mean to say that if I see anything laying about handy that I don’t mouch it (i.e. steal it).
[Aus]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 115: Sandy Macintosh looked fit for anything, from ‘mouching’ up to murder.
[UK]Belfast Wkly News 21 Dec. 3/2: Blest if there ain’t ‘Mouching Sam’.
[UK]H. Baumann ‘Sl. Ditty’ Londinismen (2nd edn) v: Yet moochin’ arch-screevers, / Concoctin’ deceivers, / Chaps as reap like their own / What by tothers were sown.
[US]T.A. Dorgan Indoor Sports 11 Dec. [synd. cartoon] There’s that fathead [...] trying to horn in on our Christmas dinner. He mooched two dinners from us already.
[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 33: By work the Kid meant either mooching or stealing.
[US]G. Milburn ‘The Dealer Gets It All’ in Hobo’s Hornbook 152: I’ve done some niftik moochin’ with the best bums on the road. / I’ve been out on the lush-graft – and cracked a pete or two.
[UK]W.R. Burnett Nobody Lives for Ever 239: [B]ig tough cops who didn’t give a goddam how they handled a guy who had nothing on him they could mooch.
[US]S. Bellow Augie March (1996) 171: ‘I have a buck [...] let’s get some chow.’ ‘Hang on to it, we’ll mooch something.’.
[US]Ocean’s Eleven [film script] Danny mooched Sam out of something like a hunded thousand bucks.
[US]J. Ellroy Widespread Panic 114: Don’t snitch documents, don’t mooch monographs.

2. (also moose) often constr. with along, off, out etc, to walk, to go, to amble along.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 424/1: They go mouching along as if they were croaking themselves.
[Scot]Dundee Courier 13 June 7/5: If you are ardent to mooch about all day [etc.].
[UK]E. Pugh Man of Straw 333: No, Let’s mouch fust.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 384: I yapped it in his phiz: ‘Y’ ole Galway, you, yer an ole hypocrite’; then I mooched.
[UK]B. Pain De Omnibus 37: ’E wasn’t goin’ ter be nowheer wheer that young chap could come moochin’ rarnd ter find art ’is address.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 249: Er cheese [...] hid on ther top iv ther wall, till er good charnce come t’mooch with it.
[US]Eve. Star (Wash., DC) 11 Sept. 20/2: Once in a while a guy that’s partly stewed mooches in here.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Stoush O’ Day’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 28: An’, as he mooches on ’is gaudy way, / Drors tribute from each tree an’ flow’r an’ bush.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 85: I was getting ready to brace the ex-bo who makes his kippings here for a chance to tell of the doings of the bums, when you moosed in and now are trying to spoil the graft.
[US]Broadway Brevities Dec 19: When we mooch along into Annie’s diary, we've got still worse coming.
[UK]Wodehouse Inimitable Jeeves 110: I was mooching slowly up St James Street.
[US]G. Milburn Hobo’s Hornbook 33: Says he, ‘And if you are a tramp, / And not a bum or chronika, / Mooch on down to the water tank / And there chalk up your monika’.
[Ire]‘Myles na gCopaleen’ Best of Myles (1968) 259: Suddenly rings bell for morning period; class look at each other, mooch out shifty-eyed.
[US]Baker ‘Influence of American Sl. on Australia’ in AS XVIII:4 256: A bonzer sheila and a dinkum bloke got stoushed by a push before the Johns mooched along.
[Ire]P. Kavanagh Tarry Flynn (1965) 177: ‘We’re as well be mooching off,’ said Paddy rising.
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 21: He came mooching along the track, one morning.
[UK]H. Tracy Mind You, I’ve Said Nothing (1961) 31: You may be mooching along, intending no harm to a soul.
[Aus]D. Stivens Scholarly Mouse and other Tales 66–7: The boss muttered something about bloody nuisances and mooched off.
[Ire]L. Daiken Out Goes She 9: The B.B.C. [...] gave me scope to mooch around in the overcrowded districts of several cities.
[NZ]V.G. O’Sullivan Boy, The Bridge, The River 69: A neighbour swore he’d seen Dip mooching round his missus.
[UK]A. Payne ‘Willesden Suite’ Minder [TV script] 48: Just pop up and mooch around as if you know what you’re looking for.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 488: Last of all, languorously, letting his hips roll insolently as he mooched into the building.
W. Boyd Trio 240: Spend a couple of days filming Troy mooching around Brighton.

3. to beg, to sponge, to cadge, also vtr, to beg from; thus mooching n.

[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 22: mouch v. To go about sponging on your friends. Gen.
[UK]Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 64: MOOCH, to spunge (or sponge) to obtrude yourself upon your friends just when they are about to sit down to dinner, or other lucky time, — of course, purely accidental.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 108/2: As for his ‘lush,’ that was mooched from others in different ‘lush drums’ frequented by the ‘cross’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]Indoor Paupers 1: Most of these people knew how to mouch or beg with skill and effect.
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 145: Moochin’ spiles workin’ jes ez workin’ spiles moochin’. The two don’t go together nohow.
[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 71: He mooched a railroad ticket East, fed with the rest of the gents who took the run-out powders then and landed in Baltimore without enough coin to buy a pack of Durham.
Derbys. Advertiser 2 Dec. 25/4: ‘I’m off to “mouch” my tea’.
[US]T.A. Dorgan Silk Hat Harry’s Divorce Suit 13 Nov. [synd. cartoon strip] You are charged with mooching upon the public highway.
[US]Wash. Times (DC) 19 Aug. 10/4: He tried to mooch Oscar, the bartender, for some beer.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 703: ...pretending to be mooching about for advertisements when he could have been in Mr Cuffes.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 60: I’m not going to crawl around mooching discounts, not from nobody.
[UK]‘George Orwell’ Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 190: When I was in Oxford I mooched bread, and I mooched bacon, and I mooched beef, and every night I mooched tanners for my kip off the students.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Young Manhood in Studs Lonigan (1936) 272: Flannagan, you lousy paper salesman, give these mooching bastards a quarter.
[US]T. Heggen Mister Roberts 87: Mooch! — all the bastard does is mooch [...] He’s the penny-pinchingest, moochingest bastard I ever knew!
[US]W. Burroughs letter 4 June in Harris (1993) 130: He is [...] always mooching junk, saying: ‘No I don’t want to buy any. I’m kicking’.
[US]B. Hecht Gaily, Gaily 107: There were no coins to mooch in the empty, windy streets.
[US]R.D. Pharr S.R.O. (1998) 172: Sometimes he came to J&J’s to mooch a drink.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 145: He could usually be found at the back door of the kitchen, mooching canned goods and fresh fruit.
[US]L. Heinemann Paco’s Story (1987) 115: Officers Miller and Webb [...] come wandering in, casual and assertive, mooching their dinners.
[US]G. Indiana Rent Boy 32: I’ve seen Chip agree on a price with a client and then mooch all kinds of other shit out of them once he gets to their place.
[US]G.V. Higgins At End of Day (2001) 181: What you’re gonna tell us we’ll be gettin’ outta this, while you’re moochin’ room and board?
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 97: He needed to mooch a wardrobe.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 57: I’m tired ay mooching offay chicks tae supplement my income.

4. to play truant; esp. as on the mooch

[UK]F. Kilvert Diary (1944) 12 July 220: The child had mouched from school last Monday and had wandered about all day with scarcely any food.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.

5. (also smooch) to loaf around.

[UK]C. Hindley Life & Adventures of a Cheap Jack 59: When not employed [he] ‘mouched’ about .
[Aus]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 129: Gyp [...] mouched after me with drooping tail.
[UK]E. Packe diary 7 Aug. 🌐 Watched soccer game, mooched about.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Spring Song’ in Chisholm (1951) 9: An’ ’ere’s me, ’ere, / Jist moochin’ round like some pore, barmy coot, / Of ‘ope, an’ joy, an’ forchin destichoot.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 156: Things go on same : day after day : squads of police marching out, back : trams in, out. Those two loonies mooching about.
[UK]J.B. Priestley Good Companions 92: What would Sturry be doing mouching about here now?
[Aus]L. Glassop We Were the Rats 29: I went home and mooched around the house.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 7: My mother did object to the way he smooched around in baggy trousers and his jersey a different colour under the arms.
[UK]N. Cohn Awopbop. (1970) 59: Mooching along with his transistor held up tight against his ear.
[UK]P. Fordham Inside the Und. 17: Freddie’s gang were generally mooching around.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 24: There has always been at least one Williams mooching self-righteously about this sceptr’d isle.
[Ire]P. McCabe Breakfast on Pluto 12 : Mooching around in the kitchen looking for a prayerbook or something.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 7: Tough Tony mooched around the main shopping thoroughfare.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 18: Moir mooched by the desk [...] he wasn’t ready to leave.

6. (UK tramp) to live as a tramp.

[US]H. Kemp ‘Cashing In’ in Cry of Youth 75: He has mooched it on from star to star.

7. to take.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 44: He’ll never quit — He can smoke anything a tall [sic] — Say some of the heaters that he mooches would kill a horse.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 24: I put a lamp on and mooched a cigarette. I lit it.

8. (US) to enter surreptitiously.

[US]T.A. Dorgan in Zwilling TAD Lex. (1993) 58: (Johnson Sneaked In To See Jeff Box Ruhlin) Jack Johnson mooched in to see Jeffries fight Ruhlin in Frisco way back in 1901.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 140/2: Mooch In. 1. To walk in unconcernedly where one does not belong. 2. To enter and stroll about, as police casually investigating suspicious premises.

In phrases

mooch off (v.) (also mouch off)

(US) to laze around.

[UK]E. Raymond Tell England (1965) 199: He was mouching off quite sad and sulky about it all.
[US]A. Maupin Tales of the City (1984) 140: I don’t want you to think I’m just sitting around on my ass mooching off.
mooch the stem (v.) [main stem n. (4)]

(US) to beg in a city’s main street.

[US]Times (Shreveport, LA) 12 May 3/5: The ‘punk’ is then sent out to ‘mooch the stem’ (beg for money).
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 12: And State Street, Chicago, bo. He sure mooched that stem. Dimes every time.
[US]J. Conroy World to Win 57: I mooched the stem, and Dude there battered the privates.
[US]I.L. Allen City in Sl. (1995) 41: The phrase on the stem is hobo jargon for walking the main street of a town, sometimes panhandling and begging, or, as they said, mooching the stem or piping the stem.
on the mooch

1. living as a professional beggar.

[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘City Police Court’ 3 Oct. 234/1: Prisoner.You see she was on the mooch, and happening to nim a prop from a swell’s fancy kingsman, a cakey-pannum-fencer, as ought to know better, peached on her.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 78: He was a pretty obvious fruit and strictly on the mooch.
[Ire](con. 1930s) K.C. Kearns Dublin Tenement Life 201: Oh, yeah, they were on the mooch, begging for a drink.

2. in search of a given commodity, e.g. money or drugs.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 64: on the mooch, on the look out for any articles or circumstances which may be turned to a profitable account.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[US]Kerouac letter 14 July in Charters I (1995) 494: I was on the mooch in my recent trip to NY.
[Scot]I. Welsh Filth 316: I’ve snorted my last half G and I’m on the mooch for mair posh.

3. (also on the mouch) wandering about.

[UK]Wild Boys of London I 285/1: Don’t you get on the mooch round there.
[UK]E. Pugh Tony Drum 193: I started on the mouch, and mooned about all over the shop for ever such a time.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 140/2: Mooch, on the. [...] 3. Moving about with studied nonchalance, especially while engaged in a criminal pursuit; to get around on the squash.

4. on the lookout.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

5. (Irish) playing truant.

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

6. (drugs) addicted to drugs.

[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 140/2: Mooch, on the. 1. Currently addicted to the use of narcotics.