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).
[UK]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.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[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.

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.
[UK]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.
[UK]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.

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.
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.
[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.
[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.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 57: I’m tired ay mooching offay chicks tae supplement my income.

4. (also smooch) to loaf around.

[UK]C. Hindley Life & Adventures of a Cheap Jack 59: When not employed [he] ‘mouched’ about .
[UK]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 129: Gyp [...] mouched after me with drooping tail.
[UK]E. Packe diary 7 Aug. [Internet] 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.

5. (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.

6. 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.

7. (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.

8. (Ulster) to play truant; esp. as on the mooch

[Ire]Share Slanguage.

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.
[UK]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.