Green’s Dictionary of Slang

plant n.

[plant v.1 (1)]

1. (orig. UK Und.) a hiding place for stolen goods; thus the goods themselves.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Plant [...] The Plant is the place in the House of the Fence, where the Stoln Goods are deposited.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) n.p.: Plant. The place in the house of the fence where stolen goods are secreted. Any place where stolen goods are concealed.
[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 258: plant: To hide, or conceal any person or thing, is termed planting him, or it; and any thing hid is called, the plant, when alluded to in conversation; such article is said to be in plant; the place of concealment is sometimes called the plant, as, I know of a fine plant; that is, a secure hiding-place.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[Aus]Sydney Herald 18 June 4/2: [T]he little-un grabbed you, and there was sich a plant in your fob as never was seen.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 108: The plant’s as safe as the Bank.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 15 Nov. 101/4: A few days since [...] a boy [...] accidentally noticed in the crevice of a rock a small package of sheet lead, neatly wrapped and securted with wire [...] This is what is technically termed ‘a plant’ and no doubt the money has been left thus deposited by some thief.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 14 Mar. 2/5: Dwyer brought her into an interior apartment, where, on lifting a cask, she proved her veracity by exhibiting ‘her plant,’ [i.e. 100 stolen sovereigns] rolled up in brown paper.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 26 Mar. 4/2: He informed me that he had a ‘plant’, which he would make over to me, as it might be ‘sprung’ while he was in gaol.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 256: Plant a hidden store of [...] valuables.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 12 Sept. 5/4: Before the day is over he confesses all about it and the next night is occupied by him, and the police, in unearthing the ‘plant.’.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 302: I found the plant, fenced it, and have left enough behind for George’s lawyer.
[US]C. Panzram Journal of Murder in Gaddis & Long (2002) 99: Then I would go away and plant everything in a prearranged hiding place [...] I would return, lift my plant, go on to New York.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Three Wise Guys’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 406: His plant may be discovered.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US](con. 1920s) G. Fowler Schnozzola 72: The club had two ‘plants’, a plant being the hiding place where the owners stored illegal liquor.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 813: plant – A hiding-place for loot.

2. a swindle, a fraudulent trick.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 47: A dead plant is made upon him.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 52: The gentleman was bothered into the deposit of his money to play with one who was a dead nail! A plant!
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 241: A regular plant was to be made, by some of his myrmidions, to clear me out, by first letting me win a few thousands, when they were to pounce upon me, double the stakes, and finish me off.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 189: ‘He should have tried mustachios and a pair of military trousers,’ said the Jew. ‘So he did [...] and they warn’t of no more use than the other plant.’.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 3 Jan. 3/6: A ‘plant’ was made for another ‘shove,’ but luckily the scheme got wind.
[UK]G.J. Whyte-Melville Digby Grand (1890) 16: I never suspected a ‘plant’ of any kind.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour 346: He had formed a scheme for doing our Sponge—a man that we do not think any of our readers would trouble themselves to try a ‘plant’ upon.
[Aus]Melbourne Punch 20 Nov. 3/3: DODGE.-Noun, a move, a fakement, a notion a fixin, humbug, hankypanky, a plant, &c., &c. This word is of almost universal application.
[UK]Wild Boys of London I 75/1: I sez, sez I, it’s a plant which the Flash ’un set on, and Mat’s only his decoy.
[UK] ‘’Arry on the Turf’ in Punch 29 Nov. 297/1: But if M.P.’s can’t give the straight-tip, wy our Parlyment’s simply a ‘plant.’.
[UK]A. Griffiths Chronicles of Newgate 409: Thrilling long-winded descriptions of robberies and other ‘plants’.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘A Genteel Occupation’ Sporting Times 22 Feb. 1/2: She talked, and still talked—’twas a party of the plant— / And where is the woman deficient in ‘mag?’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 23 Dec. 1/4: The Scandinavians thought it was a plant, and got into a blue funk.
[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] He knows a Good Thing When He Sees It [lyrics] I thought, ‘This is a bit of a plant’ / My poor mind I couldn’t quite ease it.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 8 June 562: I didn’t steal the nuggets! [...] nor did the boy; but if you want my opinion I’ll give it you. The whole thing is a plant.
[UK]Marvel 15 Oct. 16: Fifty quid, supposed to be stolen from Mr. Barker last night [...] I know where that’s gone to. It’s a plant.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Death on Pine Street’ in Nightmare Town (2001) 212: Everybody understands that the whole thing was a plant.
[US]D. Runyon ‘The Brakeman’s Daughter’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 509: How can anybody be sucker enough to fall for such a plant as this?
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]C. Himes Cotton Comes to Harlem (1967) 33: Did you suspect it might be a plant?

3. any form of criminal activity.

[UK] ‘The Song of the Young Prig’ in C. Hindley James Catnach (1878) 171: I have a sweet eye for a plant.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 113: ‘He’ll do,’ said the Dodger. ‘A prime plant,’ observed Master Charley Bates.
[UK]C. Reade It Is Never Too Late to Mend II 245: He is no use, he has turned soft. I have heard him refuse a dozen good plants the last month.
[UK]W. Hooe Sharping London 35: Plant, a pre-concerted plan to swindle or commit robbery.
[UK]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 88: You bet some plant is on that we know nothing about.
[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 35: He had to make a ‘plant’ in a hotel for all night.
[UK]D. Stewart Dead Man’s Gold in Illus. Police News 10 Apr. 12/1: ‘The cove as carries out a plant by which he collars over four thousand quids wasn’t born yesterday’.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 259: ’Alf o’ them there gilt-edged barneys as you read about in the newspapers – the big bank scoops that talk in five or six figures o’ speech, the choice plants as ruin perhaps hundreds o’ once happy homes.
[UK]Boys’ Realm 16 Jan. 266: It’s a plant from first to last.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Gentlemen, The King!’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 177: This is a perfect plant, indeed.

4. a hiding place for burglary tools.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 89/2: In that case our ‘drum’ would be ‘turned over,’ the ‘plant sprung’ where the ‘tools’ were hidden and then nothing would save us from a ‘boating’.

5. a hiding place for illegally acquired money; cit. 1931–4 refers to money that is not stolen, but the possession of which contravenes prison rules.

[UK]Sl. Dict. 256: Plant a hidden store of money.
[Aus]‘Price Warung’ Tales of the Early Days 291: ‘That’s thirty pun — I’ll make it guineas!’ ‘Ho, ho! Vy, yer must ’ave a nice plant someveres, Dicky!’.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 181: They only found a few rolls on him. [...] They think he’s made a plant somewheres.
[US]Wash. Post 11 Nov. Misc. 3/5: When he was searched, a ‘plant’ was found in his cuff links consisting of a folded ten-thousand dollar bill.
[US]D. Clemmer Prison Community (1940) 334/2: plant, n. 1. Money or loot which is hidden because of danger, or for protection.

6. a person targeted for robbery.

[UK]J. Greenwood Seven Curses of London 88: A person marked for plunder – a plant.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 63: The following crook’s words and phrases date from the days of the old Old Bailey: [...] a person marked out for plunder – a plant.

7. a slander.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 5 Jan. 3/3: It’s all a plant upon my virtuous character, which every body knows; I’m a highly moral man, and goes to church.

8. a detective, a spy, a decoy, esp. one who works under cover in a criminal gang; also any undercover police activity.

Man of Pleasure’s Illus. Pocket-book n.p.: Nanty—nanty pallary; she's a plant on the swell to stag his lumber and cop his denarley. Stall away —hook it; nanty piping.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Ask Mamma 441: The impudent fellow who pretended not to know the Frenchman. Regular plant as ever was made.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 79/2: I was afraid there might be some ‘plant’ on us; so for the remainder of the time it was resolved that we would stay in the old woman’s ‘drum’.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 245: The majority of them did not strike me as being likely subjects for a ‘plant’.
[UK]T. Burke Limehouse Nights 240: Sure it’s a toff? [...] Sure it ain’t a plant?
[US]J.B. Hendryx ‘System’ in Underworld Sept. [Internet] ‘How do you know you ain’t up against a plant right now?’ ‘A plant?’ ‘Yes, a plant. How do you know I ain’t been sent here to get your goat?’.
[US]E.H. Lavine Third Degree (1931) 11: He simply tells his superior [...] that he is on a ‘plant’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]‘Ed McBain’ Killer’s Wedge (1981) 21: Brown’s on a plant [...] A plant. A stakeout, call it what you want to.
[US]N. Heard Howard Street 165: Hell, for all I know he could be a plant.
[UK]G.F. Newman You Flash Bastard 254: ‘You lost me ten quid there, pal,’ the plant said earnestly.
[US](con. 1940s) C. Bram Hold Tight (1990) 32: You won’t have to live there [i.e. a brothel], Erich. We’ll have our plants for that.
[UK]Guardian G2 14 Sept. 3: Was she a plant?

9. (UK/US Und./police) a trap; often in the form of an item that is deliberately left vulnerable and under surveillance, e.g. a briefcase, in the hope that a thief will pick it up; occas. used of the act placing such an object.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 55/2: This [i.e. thieving] soon became ‘tumbled to,’ and a ‘plant’ was laid for him.
[UK]J. Greenwood Dick Temple II 246: It isn’t a plant? [...] It isn’t a dodge to get at me – to show me up?
[UK]G.R. Sims Three Brass Balls 101: This is what they call a plant, your ladyship, and the sooner the police know of it the more likely we are to get your necklace back.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 30 Aug. 22/1: By the ‘plant’ was not meant a botanical specimen, but a trap or plot to ‘put away’ another prisoner.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ In Bad Company 83: It’s a bloomin’ plant, I’ll take my oath.
[US]A.H. Lewis Boss 99: It’s a plant!
[UK]S. Scott Human Side of Crook and Convict Life 15: It was a plant for small fry, and I, who was wanted for jobs far different from this one, had stepped into it.
C.B. Yorke ‘Snowbound’ in Gangster Stories Oct. n.p.: I wouldn’t have been surpised if Suds Garland had made a plant and then tipped the narcotics agents to raid me.
[US]T. Thursday ‘Good Luck is No Good’ in Federal Agent Nov. [Internet] ‘I might of known it was a plant when I sees that cat!’ whined Mr. Todd.
[US]R. Chandler Farewell, My Lovely (1949) 237: If this is a plant, two guys goes out in baskets.
[US]D. Dressler Parole Chief 255: He couldn’t be that dumb! I figgered it was a plant.
[US]R. Prather Scrambled Yeggs 115: There’s a pretty good chance we’ll both wind up in the gutter, if your bloodthirsty chums get any ideas this dream of yours is a plant.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 145: If you’re thinking the car was placed there as a plant, I think that’s nonsense.
[US](con. 1949) G. Pelecanos Big Blowdown (1999) 158: ‘They caught her with that opium in her room. Got her dead to rights!’ [...] ‘Her manager said it was a kind of plant.’.

10. (US) one’s home.

[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 July 3/1: I am a Doctor - a vegetable Doctor - vegetating wherever I can get a plant.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 392: He dragged me over to Bayonne, N.J., to have dinner at his plant.
[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 37: [J]ust let some good bunk guy [...] show him [i.e. a respectable citizen] where he can beat [...] some bucket shop or somethin like that out of a bunch o’ dough, an’ he'll hang a record to his plant to dig up a bankroll.

11. (US) a buried corpse.

[US]Salt Lake Herald (UT) 5 Dec. 7/1: I raised a plant last week and sold it as a valuable specimen.

12. (UK/US Und.) a place targeted for a crime, e.g. a bank.

[US]J. Hawthorne Confessions of Convict 171: The ‘plant’ we were aiming at was a one-story building of brick.
[US]Number 1500 Life In Sing Sing 261: They had a plant further on. But we had to wait till one of the mob went for some soup.
[UK]D. Stewart Vultures of the City in Illus. Police News 8 Dec. 12/1: ‘This ’ere is the crib [...] The best plant, Jem, we’ve had for a blooming long spell’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 414: Plant. A place located to burglarize.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 158/2: Plant, n. [...] 10. A place marked to be robbed.
[UK]D. Stewart Vultures of the City in Illus. Police News : .

13. (US) a venue, e.g. to display one’s wares.

[US]C.L. Cullen More Ex-Tank Tales 223: The gin-millist was to get his’n as the provider of the plant for the display and the raffling of the goods.

14. a site where a street-seller is established.

[US]C.L. Cullen More Ex-Tank Tales 43: The darky bootblack whose plant was outside the moistmill.

15. (US) a casino, a gambling den.

[US]Inter Ocean (Chicago) 25 Jan. 34/4: Not even in the half-on-the-level plants was it esteemed the proper quirk to let a soused man push over his gig-lamps for chips.

16. a hiding place for a person.

[Aus]E. Dyson ‘The Picnic’ in Benno and Some of the Push 13: Me ’n’ a John discovered the plant.

17. (UK Und.) the manufacture and selling of counterfeit money.

[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 269: I’ve known fair topping daddies at the plant – no kid!
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 158/2: Plant, n. [...] 3. An establishment for the production of illicit commodities, as tax-evading whiskey, counterfeit labels or currency.

18. a trick, a tease.

[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 114: PLANT: a plan, plot, or surprise.
[US]R. Chandler Long Good-Bye 295: I’m sick of cops.’ He looked surprised. Then he grinned. ‘That was a plant, kiddo,’ he said cheerfully.

19. (orig. US) someone who has been deliberately placed in an environment, typically an audience, where they respond (ostensibly as just another punter) to a call from the stage for ‘volunteers’.

[US]P. White ‘Stage Terms’ in AS I:8 437: Plant—A member of an act planted in the audience or the orchestra pit who performs his share of the act from there, or who comes upon the stage from the audience to take part in the performance as a supposed non-member of the profession.
[US](con. 1920s) J.T. Farrell Judgement Day in Studs Lonigan (1936) 593: The priest here is not a real member of the clergy, he has been serving as a plant in our initiations.
[UK]P. Terson Apprentices (1970) II iii: There were these three fellers, but they were just plants.
[UK]Observer Rev. 9 Jan. 2: Am I being honest? Am I a plant?
[Ire]P. Howard PS, I Scored the Bridesmaids 149: Can we ignore the hecklers at the back. They’re obviously plants.

20. (drugs) a hiding place for drugs or drug-taking equipment; thus the drugs or equipment thus hidden.

[US]F. Williams Hop-Heads 33: A ‘plant’ is a package of dope sewed deep in the lining of a fiend’s clothes or tucked snugly in the toe of his shoe. It is his cache in the event that he is thrown in jail.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 134: He got my plant, Georgie [...] but you saved yours, didn’t you, Georgie? [...] The sack contained his ‘plant,’ an eye-dropper with a hypodemic nedle soldered to it with sealing wax, and a small paper of morphine in a little tin box.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 118: Luciell and Jimmie always carried a small heroin ‘plant,’ or supply, sewed in their clothing.
[US]D. Maurer ‘Argot of the Und. Narcotic Addict’ Pt 2 in AS XIII:3 189/1: plant. 3. Equipment for taking narcotics, or materials from which such equipment can be made, concealed about the person or in one’s cell in prison.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]J.E. Schmidt Narcotics Lingo and Lore.
[US]R.R. Lingeman Drugs from A to Z (1970) 211: plant (1) a hiding place or a cache.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[US]ONDCP Street Terms 17: Plant — Hiding place for drugs.

In phrases

in plant (adj.)

(Aus.) hidden away.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 258: plant: To hide, or conceal any person or thing, is termed planting him, or it; and any thing hid is called, the plant, when alluded to in conversation; such article is said to be in plant.
[Aus]Satirist & Sporting Chron. (Sydney) 11 Feb. 2/3: He never had an opportunity of getting a run, being in ‘plant’ .
rise a plant (v.)

(UK Und.) of a thief, to unearth some loot from where it has been hidden by them or by another thief.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 258: To rise the plant, is to take up and remove any thing that has been hid, whether by yourself or another.
spring a plant (v.) [spring v. (3) ]

(UK Und.) to uncover a hiding place, usu. one which another villain uses for their plunder.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 259: To spring a plant is to find any thing that has been concealed by another. To raise the plant, is to take up and remove any thing that has been hid, whether by yourself or another.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 20 Mar. 3/1: You remember when that yaller-faced varment of an overseer jacketed me for smugging [...] Strike me lucky if I shouldn’nt a cotch’d it if you Jemmy hand’t a sprung the plant.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 26 Mar. 4/2: He informed me that he had a ‘plant’, which he would make over to me, as it might be ‘sprung’ while he was in gaol.
[US]Calif. Police Gazette 2 Feb. 3/3: To use the words of one of the thieves, [the police] ‘raised the plant,’ and transferred the property and defendant Eidelman to the Station House.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 84: springing the plant To discover the place where stolen property is concealed; to remove stolen property from its place of concealment. ‘When I was in the old doss I told my skinner to see Jack and tell him to spring the plant, fence it, and send me my regulars, as I wanted to melt it.’ When I was in the Tombs I told my lawyer to see Jack, and tell him to remove the plunder from the place in which we hid it, to sell it, and send me my share of the proceeds, as I wanted to spend it.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 18/1: She was too late, and Jem had ‘sprung’ the ‘plant’ and ‘namased’ with the ‘gilt’.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 256: To ‘spring a plant’ is to unearth another person’s hoard.
[UK]Dundee Courier 13 Juiy 7/4: He told me of a plant, about a mile out of town, so we’ll start after dark to-night and spring it [...] It’s wedge.
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 39: If the police are on his tracks they’ll spring the plant here, and the whole thing’ll be blown.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘Red Mike’ in Sandburrs 60: Mike gets d’ tip that Emmer’s got two bits [...] Mike wants her to spring her plant an’ chase d’ duck.
[Aus]Stephens & O’Brien Materials for a Dict. of Aus. Sl. [unpub. ms.] 114: ‘To spring a plant’ on anyone is to siddenly discover something to or of them.