Green’s Dictionary of Slang

patter n.

[patter v.]

1. (UK Und.) a trial, verdict and sentence [the patter is that of the judge, counsel, witnesses etc, dismissed as such by the prisoner].

[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 13 Jan. 34/2: I heard him say before last Sessions, that he would have a Man or two by next Patter, I suppose he meant, before next Sessions.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 42: I’ve received my Patter; I’ve had my Trial.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving [as cit. 1753].
[UK]‘Cant Lang. of Thieves’ Monthly Mag. 7 Jan. [as cit. 1753].
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964).
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 186: Going to the Sessions House in the Old Bailey one morning, upon the grand patter, [...] he [i.e. the rcorder of London] left his watch behind.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 133: The Patter is also trial at the Old Bailey.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 19/1: Suppose there were to be any ‘pinching’ in the case, what would become of our ‘stuff’ — [...] They take it from you, and while you are waiting for ‘patter,’ keep so much every week out of it for your grub and lodgings.

2. (also patter-clatter) any form of speech or speechifying, e.g. a street seller’s sales talk, a judge’s summing up.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 42: I’ve received my Patter; I’ve had my Trial.
[UK]G. Stevens ‘The Toper’ in Songs Comic and Satyrical 74: The politic patter, / Which both parties chatter.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 180: Gammon and Patter. Jaw talk, etc. A fellow that speaks well, they say he gammons well, or he has a great deal of rum patter.
[UK] ‘A Song, How a Flat became a Prigg’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 21: But that was no matter, he stood as the pattur, / He gammoned the twelve.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Apr. XVI 26/1: The coachmen and chairmen being a little obstropolos, was obliged to tip them a little patter.
[UK]‘An Amateur’ Real Life in London I 454: Poll, says I, hold your luff—give us no more patter about this here rum rig.
[UK]Mr Mathews’ Comic Annual 9: Ev’ry member elate, in boisterous mirth is clattering, / Such patter and prate, – in person each gets fatter in.
[UK]Northern Star (Leeds) 27 Feb. 7/6: The patter-clatter of the ‘Learned’ Gentleman was finally terminated by the Alderman dismissing the case.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 61: What a flat, send I may live, if he can stag chaff from square patter; why, you nunk, couldn’t you tumble to the pallary.
Liverpool Mail 10 Mar. 3/3: [of a scolding wife] David (a man of meek and kindly spirit) had long suffered from the patter-clatter, never-ending, scolding tongue of his worser half.
[UK]W. Phillips Wild Tribes of London 84: He padded the country lanes – and, my eye! didn’t the narvous old ladies shell out when Jack dropped the patter.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch ‘City Police Court’ 3 Oct. 234/1: Prisoner.- Your honor, I’ve won the shiney rag, now, and mayhap shall get sevenpen’north, so Don’t be hard upon a cove as is in for patter.
[UK]Derby Day 155: ‘That will do, mother,’ he said; ‘I think I have had my five shillings’ worth’; but the gipsy would not be ‘choked off’ until she had finished the ‘patter’ she had learnt by heart.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 199: Having learned all the patter-clatter, he used to work away in right down earnest.
[UK]R. Rowe Picked Up in the Streets 231: Mother Brimstone did the pious patter as well as any parson.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 17 July 7/2: You come on thar, Cully, and I slings you the patter — see?
[UK]R. Whiteing No. 5 John Street 221: ‘Walk up, walk up!’ That was the patter.
[UK]Sporting Times 28 Mar. 9/2: Offers me £10,000 per week to appear at his house, and do what he calls ‘some spicy patter’ for fifteen minutes.
[UK]‘Ian Hay’ First Hundred Thousand (1918) 5: They are a little shaky in what an actor would call their ‘patter’.
[UK](con. 1916) F. Manning Her Privates We (1986) 38: All I learnt in the army was me drill an’ care o’ bloody arms. I knew all the fuckin’ patter before I joined.
[US]‘Mae West in “The Hip Flipper”’ [comic strip] in B. Adelman Tijuana Bibles (1997) 92: Lotta fell for the the Schnozzola’s patter and went up to his apartment.
[UK]S. Jackson An Indiscreet Guide to Soho 42: The coster is as chirpy as ever and no historian could tell from [...] his patter that he has been through all the hell that the Luftwaffe could hand out.
[UK]W. Hall Long and the Short and the Tall Act II: You’re a real one for handing out the patter.
[UK]T. Keyes All Night Stand 136: The station identification [...] is over and Rube is starting the patter.
[UK]B.S. Johnson All Bull 217: He could talk his way into and out of almost anything if he chose to; he had a great line in patter.
[US]C. White Life and Times of Little Richard 135: Rupe had reservations about the overall flavor of Richard’s between-song patter.
[UK]D. Jarman letter 22 May Smiling in Slow Motion (2000) 130: Gingerbits and I have become experts in the patter.
[US]E. Weiner Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 109: He’ll can the spicy patter and everything’ll be jakeloo.

3. underworld slang, cant; latterly general slang (see cites 1890, 1896).

[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 150: Gammon and patter is the language of cant .
[UK]‘F.L.G.’ Swell’s Night Guide K4: Patter Slang.
[UK]H. Kingsley Hillyars and Burtons (1870) 313: None of your Greenwich Fair, New Cut, Romany patter.
[US]R. Burdette Rise and Fall of the Mustache 177: He’s a toney old cyclopedia on the patter, is old Fitchy.
[UK]G.R. Sims Three Brass Balls 208: It is thieves’ patter, but someone in the crowd understands it well enough and answers him.
[US]Ft Worth Dly Gaz. (TX) 29 Aug. 6/4: America does not boast of a distinctive thieves’ slang, or ‘patter’.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Sincerest Form of Flattery’ in Punch 20 Sept. 144/2: They ain’t fly to good patter, old pal, they ain’t copped the straight griffin on slang.
[UK]Pall Mall Gaz. 25 Sept. 7/3: He ‘patter’ [...] was the secret of her success. She possessed an inexhaustible fund of slang .
[US]Deming (N.M.) Headlight 28 May 1/3: The language of criminals – the argot of Paris, the ‘patter’ of London has been carefully investigated by numerous writers.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 458: Patter, The slang of the underworld.

4. talk considered as empty chatter.

[UK]‘One of the Fancy’ Tom Crib’s Memorial to Congress 39: Gemmen, before I touch the matter, On which I’m here had up for patter.
[UK]Lytton Pelham III 292: Stubble it, you ben, you deserve to cly the jerk for your patter.
[UK]W. Leman Rede Sixteen String Jack I vi: Stash your patter and come along!
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: Of course the ‘patter’ was about the affair at Doncaster — who were going and who were not.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 244: Well she could do the French’s patter, as she’d been there afore.
[UK]Henley & Stevenson Admiral Guinea I vi: Stash your patter, damn you.
[UK] ‘’Arry on a ’ouseboat’ in Punch 15 Aug. 76: Riparian rights? That’s the patter of Ahab to Naboth, of course; / But ’tis pickles like you make it plausible, louts such as you give it force.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 25 May 531: They put down all that patter about storing the nuggets with the Company as so much dust in the eyes.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Black Gang 406: All the same old patter.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 105: Cut out the patter man.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 492: No patter, no nothing.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 159: They would think him empty and dull if he didn’t keep the patter going, though not so much that she would think him a motormouth.

5. a (foreign) language.

[UK] ‘’Arry on Commercial Education’ in Punch 26 Sept. in P. Marks (2006) 125: Three patters and two quid a week will not suit / Yours disgustedly / ’Arry.

6. in fig. use, attitude, lifestyle.

[UK]I. Welsh Glue 35: Ah dinnae hud wi that sort ay patter; as if ye huv tae be aw torn-faced tae drive a fuckin lorry.
[UK]I. Welsh Decent Ride 80: So the burd’s gaunny be fish food in twenty minutes, but ah’m no that struck oan her patter.

In compounds

patter-clatter (n.)

see sense 2 above.

In phrases

flash patter (n.)

criminal slang.

[UK]New Sprees of London 3: It's no use of me cracking wids of flash patter to you.
[UK] [pamphlet title] Chanting Slums, Flashcribs, and Dossing Kens, with all the Rowdy-Dowdy and Flash Patter of Billingsgate and St. Giles'. Being a Complete Stranger's Guide to Life in London.
[UK]T. Frost Corsican Bros. 102: You are as helplessly ignorant as the greenest canary-bird that was ever plncked at Frascati’s. You cannot, for instance, talk the flash patter of the City.
[UK] ‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ in Punch 31 Jan. n.p.: But the lark’s when a goney up with us they shut / As ain’t up to our lurks, our flash patter, and smut.
[US]Atlantic Jan. 62/2: Pierce Egan, once a notorious chronicler of the prize-ring, the compiler of a Slang Dictionary, and whose proficiency in argot and flash-patter was honored by poetic celebration from Byron, Moore, and Christopher North.
[UK]W. Green Life & Adventures od a Cheapjack 137: The bill in question had been very freely distributed about London at the time by a puffing tailor, who had a turn for flash patter.
[UK]Belgravia Mag. 72 80: Don’t want none of my flash patter, dontchyer? I'm too flash, am I? If yer says that again it’ll be ’ands up.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 202: He used the flash patter of his clan.
R. Dorgelès Wooden Crosses 6: You’re never going to drive these poor blighters daft already with your flash patter.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 77: ‘What does he mean by fake the bosh?’ Bendigo inquired. ‘It’s flash patter for playing the fiddle.’.
T. Burke Beauty of Eng. 343: It is said that the term ‘flash,’ as a description of [...] a certain kind of slang (flash patter), originated with the Flash men — the pedlars who assembled at the Flash Bar inn.
(ref. to mid-19C) A. Humphreys (ed.) G.W.M. Reynolds 155: The opening scenes in Smithfield are pure Newgate. Dick Flairer and Bill Bolter are well down with the flash patter.
tip the patter (v.)

to flatter, to ‘shoot a line’.

[UK] ‘A Chaunt by Slapped-up Kate and Dubber Daff’ in Swell!!! or, Slap-Up Chaunter 46: There’s fifty rum coveys have tipt me soft patter / And slang’d me ‘the tuliping she’.