1. (also stale) a pickpocket’s helper who distracts the attention of the victim whose pocket is being emptied or purse cut.
|Euphues (1916) 81: ‘Then I perceive, Lucilla,’ said he, ‘that I was made thy stale and Philautus thy laughing stock.’.|
|Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher (1923) 12: [...] then dogge the partie into a presse where his staule with heauing and shouing shall so molest him, that hee shall not feele when wee strip him of his boung.|
|Belman of London (3rd) H1: He that picks the pocket is called a Foist. He that faceth the man, is the Stale. [Ibid.] H2: Then does the Stall keepe a thrusting and a Iustling, whilst in the mean time the Foist is either in their pocket or the Nip hath the purse fast by the strings.|
|Roaring Girle V i: He with the wand is both a stale, whose office is, to face a man i’ the streets, whilst shells are drawn by an other.|
|Little French Lawyer III iv: Are we made stales to one another?|
|Works (1869) III 8: Liues like a Gentleman by sleight of hand, / Can play the Foist, the Nip, the Stale, the Stand, / The Snap, the Curb, the Crossbite, Warpe and Lift, / Decoy, prig, Cheat (all for a hanging shift).‘A Brood of Cormorants’ in|
|Ragged School Mag. Dec. 294: I was sometimes the ‘tool,’ and sometimes the ‘stall’ or ‘nark’. Our profession was ‘moll tulers (or ladies’ pickpockets) .|
|Vocabulum 85: stall One whose business it is to conceal as far as possible the manipulation of his confederate who is trying to pick a person’s pocket. The stall places himself either in front, back, or side-ways, or by any strategem attracts the attention of the intended victim. Any thing said or done by which the attention is directed from the true state of the case is called a stall.|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 8/2: In an instant he was surrounded, and prevented by the front ‘stalls’ from advancing from the park, while the rear ‘stalls’ pressed sufficiently strong to keep him in the fix wanted.|
|Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 7 Sept. n.p.: Finally, Charley James, the ‘stall,’ [...] took him in tow and made him an adept.|
|Five Years’ Penal Servitude 243: Don’t yer know what a ‘stall’ is? Why, to be convenient, handylike, in the way to stow the ‘foulcher’ when she’s nobbled it.|
|Thirty Years a Detective 39: Two of the ‘stalls’ will immediately manage to get in front of the man – and these men are called ‘front stalls’ – this is done for the purpose of stopping him.|
|Tramping with Tramps 387: The dip’s companion, the one who bumps up against the victim or otherwise diverts his attention while the dip robs him, is called the ‘stall’.|
|Life In Sing Sing 260: The tool picked his mark and the stalls crushed him against the tail of the rattler.|
|Wash. Post 3 July 3/1: ‘What’s the matter, Hop? What’s gettin’ fierce?’ asked big Joe, the stall.|
|Gay-cat 303: A pickpocket’s companion, or confederate, is called a stall.|
|Milk and Honey Route 215: Stall [...] also refers to the yegg assisting the high diver or pickpocket.|
|(con. 1905–25) Professional Thief (1956) 17: One of the operations in picking pockets is to ‘prat a man in,’ which means that one of the stalls backs into a prospect and pushes him around gently in order to get him in a proper position.|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|‘I Was a Pickpocket’ in Men of the Und. 76: The duty of the ‘stalls’ was to distract the attention of the ‘sucker’ [...] or otherwise hide the operations of the ‘dip’.|
|World’s Toughest Prison 819: stall – A pickpocket’s partner, the man who jostles the victim in order that the ‘wire’ may work to better advantage.|
|Pimp 86: A ‘cannon’ [...] took the vacant stool in my right. His ‘stall’ took the one on my left.|
2. any form of decoy who works with a criminal gang.
|Works (1869) I 71: To Sharkes, Stales, Nims, Lifts, Foysts, Cheats, Stands, Decoyes / T’a Cut-purse, and a pocket picking Hound.‘Travels of Twelve-pence’ in|
|Memoirs (1714) 6: Faggot and Stall, Such as break into Peoples Houses, and taking away what they please, gag all therein.|
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang.|
|Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 125: Stool [sic], help, assistance.|
|Birmingham Dly Post 26 Dec. 3/4: ‘We worked our “garotting business” [...] My mate in front of the man was called “Front Stall”; the other [...] behind the man, was called “Back Stall” ’.|
|Memoirs of the US Secret Service 62: They also declared that I was only ‘a stall’.|
|Police! 320: A watch or watcher ... A marking, stall, whisper, stump, crow.|
|Autobiog. of a Gipsey 414: I used to go wirin’ in the main-thoroughfares with the Brennans to stall back and front. [*Footnote: when a juvenile prig attains the dignity of a ‘single-handed wire,’ he is usually accompanied during ‘working hours’ by two comrades who act, respectively, as ‘front’ and ‘back stalls’. The duty of the ‘stall’ is to keep a sharp look-out for the police, and to relieve the operator of any watches, purses, etc.].|
|Confessions of a Detective 79: It never occurs to him that he’s being used as a ‘stall’ for a lot of finished grafters.|
|Enemy to Society 42: The bosses put some guy on the ticket fer mayor or governor who’s got a good rep and use him fer a stall to elect a lot of crooked guys.|
|Keys to Crookdom 419: Stall. Thief’s assistant.|
|Third Degree (1931) 153: A well-dressed young girl [...] makes an excellent lookout or ‘stall’ for her male companions.|
|Phenomena in Crime 138: The purpose of the ‘stall’ being to distract the attention of the shop assistants.|
|Men of the Und. 51: These three expert bank ‘stalls’.in Hamilton|
|Crnal Close-Out n.p.: The ‘moll-buzzing’ went on also [...] Invariably, this was a two-girl operation; they had to have a ‘stall’ to pass the purse to as they fled.|
3. (UK Und.) a pickpocket’s manoeuvre whereby a target is pinioned and rendered open to theft.
|Life’s Painter 159: Here it will be necessary to explain making of the stall, as they term it, one pick-pocket gets in front and squeezes backwards, another behind you, and pushes forward; one each side of you, which, if they can get your arms up, they will prevent your getting them down, again, and then you are sure to be robbed.|
|Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 269: stall a violent pressure in a crowd, made by pick-pockets for the more easily effecting their depredatory purposes; this is called making a rum stall in the push.|
4. a pretext, an excuse, esp. that which offers an opportunity to steal or cheat.
|Life’s Painter 136: I was wipe-priging, we made a regular stall for a tick and reader, but the cull was up to us, and we couldn’t do him.|
|Life, Adventures and Opinions II 60: Various impositions, practised daily on the unwary [...] such as making a stall for a reader.|
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 100: STALL, a pretence, a dodge. Ancient cant.|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 254/1: One of the lads [...] induced a woman to let him have a halfpenny for ‘a stall;’ that is, as a pretext with which to enter a shop for the purpose of stealing, the display of the coin forming an excuse for his entrance.|
|Five Years’ Penal Servitude 361: No men pronounce themselves as thieves by trade and everyone has what is termed a ‘stall,’ i.e. he professes to some handicraft or trade by which to designate himself, and which is a blind stall to his real proceedings.|
|Sharping London 36: Stall, a pretence.|
|Confessions of a Detective 41: They keep a lot of old barrels and bottles for a stall, that is, a show; but never a cent of revenue has their bugjuice paid.|
|Truth (Sydney) 1 Jan. 8/3: ‘Oh, strike me, / But this are a blooming stall’.|
|Enemy to Society 148: We’re nothing but a lot of grafters, always looking for the best of it and using all those noble sentiments for a stall to get him to put his fingers in the fire for us.|
|Vocab. Criminal Sl. 80: stall [...] A pretense; an equivocation.|
|Und. and Prison Sl.|
|Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in Four Novels (1983) 136: If anything goes wrong you can use the old stall, you know, that you [...] just went there to grab us red-handed.|
5. (UK Und.) the act of rendering a victim vulnerable to a pickpocket.
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 30/1: He was sure there must be a ‘century’ in it [i.e. a purse] [...] and if we would give him a ‘stall’ he would ‘pinch’ her before she entered the carriage that was waiting for her.|
6. an act of time-wasting or prevarication, an excuse.
|Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 July 2/6: Riley made a stall for himself, by pretending not to be aware of his criminal position.|
|Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 45/1: You need not sit down beside us [...] but make some ‘stall’ to the ‘bloke’ and go right out again.|
|S.F. Chron. 6 June 11/5: He [i.e. a con-man’s victim] beefs an’ de bull con tries make a stall.|
|Maison De Shine 180: The ideer o’ handin’ me that stall, Mis’ Mangle, when yunno I’ve sawr Bill Mangle’s legs covered by them tights, goodness knows how often!|
|TAD Lex. (1993) 78: Huh — I know that chicken he’s with – I’m just going up to buzz him for a stall.in Zwilling|
|New York Day by Day 17 Nov. [synd. col.] ‘What’s your stall, bo? Youse going to slowe me away?’.|
|Gay-cat 207: An’ then I thinks mebbe it was a stall er somethin’.|
|Chicago May (1929) 253: Along comes a letter from Kelly, telling me he had been arrested in Toledo. It was a stall.|
|Gangster Girl 159: Annie was stumped for an answer except a stall.|
|Little Sister 201: The old cigarette stall.|
|DAUL 207/2: Stall, n. [...] 2. Any maneuver to win postponement or delay.et al.|
|Syndicate (1998) 52: I was able to come up with a stall.|
|Riot (1967) 40: I thought this list was suppos’ta be a stall while you guys tunnelled your way.|
|Drop Dead, My Lovely (2005) 35: Savvy pros [...] well versed in the fine art of giving a mug like Ingalls the big stall.|
7. (Aus./US) a hoax; a disappointment.
|Shorty McCabe on the Job 101: Hammond couldn’t tell it was a stall. He blazes merrily ahead surveyin’ [...] when the rumor comes to camp that this new line is all a fake.|
|(con. WWI) Gloss. Sl. [...] in the A.I.F. 1921–1924 (rev. t/s) n.p.: stall. A hoax; disappointment.|
|Prison Stories Mar. [Internet] Dis is a stall [...] Dis book is queer! Whoever heard of a banker givin’ kale to a warden?‘The Electric Warden’|
8. (US Und.) a fraudulent alibi.
|AS IV:5 345: Stall—A faked alibi.‘Vocab. of Bums’ in|
9. a misdirection.
|White Moll 216: it looked as though Deemer [...] wore the money-belt for a stall, and that he had the sparklers safe somewhere else all the time.|
see separate entry.
a pickpocket’s or other thief’s assistant; also attrib.
|Dict. of the Flash or Cant Lang. 165/2: Stalsman – an accomplice.|
|Liverpool Mercury 14 Jan. 38/2: [They] were as good stallsmen for the dip as they ever had and [...] they deserved their whack.|
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 101: stallsman, an accomplice.|
|gloss. in Occurence Book of York River Lockup in (1999) 37: I want a stalsman buttoner to nail prads.|
|Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].|
|Police! 320: An accomplice ... A stalsman, blocker, riveter, edgeman.|
(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.
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 21: Chucking a Stall when one rogue walks in front of a person while another picks his pockets.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|
|F&H].Seven Years Penal Servitude n.p.: I said to my pal, ‘chuck me a stall and I’ll have that.’ What did I mean? Why, keep close to me, and cover what I’m doing [|
|Autobiog. of a Gipsey 416: My missus – as fly a bewer, she were, as ever chucked a stall, a reg’lar tip-top tamtart.|
to act in a deceptive, misleading manner; to play for time.
|Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 26 Apr. 4/3: It was funny to see [Honus] Wagner put up a stall in the ninth [...] in an effort to show he could step from one side [...] to the other.|
|New Cambria Leader (MO) 26 Oct. 3/5: The clerk put up a stall. ‘I’ll have to send for the auditor to open the safe,’ he told the stranger.|
|Aussie (France) VII Sept. 3/1: By the way, Sergeant, give us yer name and number, so that they’ll know that I’m not putting up a stall, and here’s mine.|
|(con. WWI) Soldier and Sailor Words 269: Stall, To Put Up A: To mislead: to deceive.|