Green’s Dictionary of Slang

come-on n.

[SE excl. come on!]

1. (US Und.) a dupe, a victim of a confidence trickster; a prospective victim; a ‘steered’ prospect.

[US] E. Townsend ‘The Reward of Merit’ in Near a Whole City Full 172: Then he was tried at other work; piloting ‘come-ons’ to the city, steering them to the turning joint.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 31: Tod’s main hold is to creep into the ‘reading room’ of a Rube hotel after the chores are done of an evening and throw salve at the come-ons.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 39: ‘And how did he guess you were a come-on?’ ‘Every American is a come-on, Shorty,’ says the Boss.
D. Runyon ‘Song of the Ironworker’ in Morn. News (Willmington, DE) 23 Nov. 4/3: The half of them are come-ons, an’ the other half’s a scream.
[US]B. Cormack Racket Act II: You used to stall – tease along the come-ons – for Beauty Parker’s mob.
[US]C. Himes ‘A Modern Marriage’ in Coll. Stories (1990) 120: He didn’t mind being a come-on for that night.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 292: come-on 1. See mark. 2. A mark who has been put on the send and is returning to be fleeced.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 47/1: Come-on. 1. A gullible prospect for swindling.
[SA]L.F. Freed Crime in S. Afr. 107: A ‘sap’, a ‘cluck’, a ‘boob’, a ‘come-on’, or a ‘chump’ is a dupe or a victim.

2. (US Und., also come-on ghee) a con-man, a swindler; also attrib.

[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden and Mr Paul 95: De con man and come-on.
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘The Poet and the Peasant’ in Strictly Business (1915) 78: One of McAdoo’s come-on squad, I guess.
[US]J. Lait ‘Taxi, Mister!’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 139: He will have the concentrated shady knowledge of all the bloods, pikers, come-ons, roisterers, gamblers, cheaters, beaux, rich men’s sons, and poor men’s daughters.
A. Baer Speeches of Fuller Durham 25 July [synd. col.] They are the finest organized gang of come-ons in the country.
[US]C.G. Givens ‘Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 April; list extracted in AS VI:2 1930 132: come-on, n. Confidence man.
[Aus]‘William Hatfield’ Sheepmates 172: He’s a dirty ‘come-on’ for that speelerin’ Fritz.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 47/1: Come-on ghee. A swindler.
[UK]‘P.B. Yuill’ Hazell and the Three-card Trick (1977) 61: Big Blondie and the other two come-ons started nudging and geeing up Gannex.

3. (US) a snare, an inducement, a lure; also attrib.

[US]Ade Forty Modern Fables 67: He is a Come-On for any Bunco Game in the List.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 401: Come-on game – trick devised to rob victim of his money.
[US] (ref. to 1898) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 270: She could chatter the artistic comeon to a john.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 15 Mar. [synd. col.] Fannie Brice and Judy Garland should be enough of a come-on for ‘Everybody Sing’.
[US] ‘I’ll Gyp You Every Time’ in C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 180: He wants to give out a prize as a come-on to the crowd.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 211: A come-on absolutely irresistible to an Irishman fond of his whisky.
[US]T. Thackrey Gambling Secrets of Nick The Greek 236: The come-on [...] is that the wager seems to occur to the guy right on the spot.
[US](con. 1940s) E. Thompson Tattoo (1977) 127: You know that’s just a come-on to get you to buy the effing candy.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 50: the come on is the method used to entice a potential bunny.
[UK]J. Hawes Dead Long Enough 32: Difficult, Brainy, Tall and Skinny, as a come-on in the virtual Personal Columns of life, appreciates over the years.

4. (US) patter or sales talk, a line; also attrib.

[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ It’s Up to You 65: I handed back to Clara J. the come-on speech she had given me earlier.
[US]R. Chandler Big Sleep 109: I guess these [notes] were just a come-on.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 182: If I resisted their come-on even a little, it was only because of my obsession with the music.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 156: Come on . . . The way someone acts, his general manner and way of approaching others.
[US]L. Hansberry Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window in Three Negro Plays (1969) I i: With hoked-up come-ons.
[US]R. Price Ladies’ Man (1985) 182: Guys [...] opened their come-ons with questions about the chemical properties of phosphorescent paint.
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 137: Some of the come-ons are oddly seductive.

5. a gullible fool.

[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 182: You’re a regular come-on. I guess the adorable Sadie has handed you a josh.

6. (also come-in) a sexual invitation, either through a look or through words.

[US]E.W. Calder ‘Black 13’ in Spicy Adventure Stories Aug. [Internet] I wasn’t quite sure whether she was giving me the come-on stuff.
[US]Berrey & Van den Bark Amer. Thes. Sl.
[UK]R. Mais Brother Man (1966) 65: Course she never meant anything at all ... was jus’ handin’ him the ole come-on.
[US](con. WWII) B. Cochrell Barren Beaches of Hell 170: You gave me plenty of come-on at the dance.
[US]L. Bangs in Psychotic Reactions (1988) 62: Many of the Troggs’ songs [...] were immediate come-ons and male self-aggrandisement.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 136: I’m not interested. Which is always a come-on.
[UK]I. Welsh Filth 297: I’m getting the come-on here big-time.
[UK]Guardian Rev. 15 Jan. 2: There was no aftermath to this gentle, entirely verbal little come-on.
[UK]L. Theroux Call of the Weird (2006) 62: Summer did her best to be enthusiastic, issuing bawdy come-ons.

7. the personification of sense 6, a sexually alluring woman.

[US]J. Gray ‘The Nudist Gym Death Riddle’ in Vice Squad Detective [Internet] She was the big come-on in this racket, but he wanted her to himself.
[US]Winick & Kinsie Lively Commerce 171: A B-girl (also called a ‘come-on’ or ‘percentage girl’ or ‘drink rustler’) often spends six to seven hours in a bar.
[US]‘Randy Everhard’ Tattoo of a Naked Lady 6: I can’t remember which one of them I saw first: the blonde come-on dressed like she had an exhibitionist streak a mile wide or the square in the coke bottle glasses who was eyeballing her like she was nothing but something to look at.

8. a dare.

[US]R. Graziano Somebody Up There Likes Me 237: It’s about time I got a come-on for a fight in this joint.

In compounds

come-on boy (n.)

a male prostitute who entices a client and then, instead of sex, has him beaten and robbed by a confederate.

[US]G. Legman ‘Lang. of Homosexuality’ Appendix VII in Henry Sex Variants.
[US]Guild Dict. Homosexual Terms 8: come-on boy (n.): A young boy who lures a homosexual into a remote place where an accomplice is waiting to rob him or to extort money from him.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]Maledicta IX 146: Many of his [i.e. G. Legman’s] other terms (boy or come-on boy, peg house and show house, dick-peddler, floater, handgig, live one, muscle in, trade) prove he used to know the words and music of gay prostitute slang but is now out of date.
come-on ghee (n.)

see sense 2 above .

come-on guy (n.) (also come-on man)

1. (US) the member of a confidence trickster team who lures the victim into the circle.

[US]J. Tully Jarnegan (1928) 150: When you were the come-on guy with the medicine-faker.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl. 28: come-on man. One who brings suckers to a con game, a shill.
[UK]J. Curtis Gilt Kid 20: Come on guy for a con gang, ain’t you?

2. (US tramp) a hard worker, who encourages others.

[US]‘Dean Stiff’ Milk and Honey Route 202: Come-on guy – A fellow who boosts things along on the job, for which the boss gives him on the sly a little more pay.