1. a hard, demanding job.
|Bk of Sports 19: It would be lucky for them if they ever caught him in such a predicament again — it was a regular sweater!|
|(con. 1840s–50s) London Labour and London Poor I 126/2: The business is a sweater, sir; it’s heavy work.|
2. a harsh, demanding employer.
|Manchester Guardian 21 Mar. 7/4: A sort of middlemen, called ‘sweaters’, who get it [i.e. tailoring work] by men and women at starvation prices .|
|Alton Locke (1850) 97: Were not the army clothes, the post-office clothes, the policemen’s clothes, furnished by contractors and sweaters, who hired the work at low prices, and let it out again to journeymen at still lower ones?|
|Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 105: sweater common term for a ‘cutting’ or ‘grinding’ employer.|
|Sportsman 4 Apr. 2/1: Notes on News [...] Victims of Whitechapel Jew ‘sweaters’.|
|Daily News 21 Feb. in (1909) 237/2: In the second number of the Charity Organisation Review there is a short account of a co-operative needlework experiment, the object of it being to emancipate poor workwomen from the ‘sweaters’.|
|East London Obs. 30 June 3: [headline] A Sweater’s Meeting.|
|How the Other Half Lives 121: Many harsh things have been said of the ‘sweater,’ that really apply to the system in which he is a necessary, logical link. It can at least be said of him that he is no worse than the conditions that created him.|
|Truth (Sydney) 28 Apr. 1/6: The Japs will soon [...] (like other Great Powers) be in the front ranks as ‘scabs’ and ‘sweaters’.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 12 May 4/7: The Sweater-Boss bloats in his pride / [...] / With slaves famine-thin in his shop.|
|Sun. Times (Perth) 17 Apr. 2nd sect. 9/1: They Say [...] That this notorious sweater hasn’t a friend in the district. That his ‘friends’ are raising a subscription to send him to the South Seas.|
|Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1955) 604: The surest way to obtain better conditions would be to elect gangs of Liberals and Tory land-grabbers, sweaters, swindlers and lawyers to rule over them.|
|Brisbane Courier 30 Sept. 12/4: A plot by the Bruce-Page Govrnment ‘to reduce the basic wage’ [...] and to give local protection to the ‘sweaters’.|
3. in specific use of sense 2, a pimp.
|N.E. Police Gaz. (Boston, MA) 5 Oct. 5/2: Carrie Western has left [...] bag and baggage. Her sweater will have to patronize swill barrels [ibid.] John Winslow Brown [...] is a sweater for Maria Hall, alias Jo. Brown!|
4. (US campus) a worrier.
|Current Sl. I:1 4/2: Sweater One who worries unnecessarily, esp. about minor matters.|
|(con. 1969) Grunts 137: At least that worthless, chickenshit sweater of an XO, that panicky bastard Lancaster is dead.|