1. [late 16C–mid-17C; mid-19C+] (also stale) a pickpocket’s helper who distracts the attention of the victim whose pocket is being emptied or purse cut.
2. [17C+] any form of decoy who works with a criminal gang.
3. [late 18C] (UK Und.) a pickpocket’s manoeuvre whereby a target is pinioned and rendered open to theft.
4. [late 18C+] a pretext, which offers an opportunity to steal.
5. [mid-19C] (UK Und.) the act of rendering a victim vulnerable to a pickpocket.
6. [mid-19C+] an act of time-wasting or prevarication, an excuse.
7. [1910s] (Aus./US) a hoax; a disappointment.
8. [1920s] (US Und.) a fraudulent alibi.
9. [1920s] a misdirection.
see separate entry.
[mid–late 19C] a pickpocket’s or other thief’s assistant; also attrib.
[mid-19C] (UK Und.) to carry out a pickpocketing technique in which one member of the team walks in front of the victim, slowing him or her down while another picks the pocket.
[1910s] to act in a deceptive, misleading manner.