Green’s Dictionary of Slang

stall n.1

[SE stall, a decoy bird]

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.

In compounds

stall off (n.)

see separate entry.

stallsman (n.) (also stalsman)

[mid–late 19C] a pickpocket’s or other thief’s assistant; also attrib.

In phrases

chuck (someone) a stall (v.)

[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.

put up a stall (v.)

[1910s] to act in a deceptive, misleading manner.