Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nab v.1

[ety. unknown, but cf. nap v.1 (6)]

1. [mid-17C+] (also nib) of objects, to snatch, to steal, to seize.

2. [late 17C+] to apprehend or arrest someone.

3. [late 18C+] (UK Und., also knab) to catch or capture a person unawares; to catch, in sense of to hit; to take or seize.

4. [mid-18C+] (US) to obtain for oneself, to grab; thus in a sexual context, to seduce.

5. [late 18C+] (also nib) to catch someone out, esp. if cheating.

6. [1980s] (US tramp) to steal a ride on a train.

In compounds

nab-cramps (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) handcuffs.

nab-crib (n.)

[early 19C] the police cells.

nabman (n.) (also nabbing-cull) [SE man/cull n.1 (4)]

1. [late 18C–early 19C] a policeman.

2. [early 19C] (UK Und.) a bailiff.

In phrases

nab it on the dial (v.) [dial n.]

[mid–late 19C] to take a blow on the face.

nab the cramp (v.)

[late 18C–mid-19C] (UK Und.) to receive a death sentence.

nab the regulars (v.) (also nap the regulars) [regulars n.]

[mid-19C–1900s] (UK Und.) to take one’s usual share of a robbery’s proceeds.

nab the rust (v.) [SE rusty, refractory (of horses)] [late 18C–mid-19C]

1. orig. of horses, to be ill-tempered, sullen.

2. to be punished.

3. (UK Und.) to receive money.

nab the snow (v.) [snow n.1 ]

[late 18C–early 19C] (UK Und.) to steal linen that has been put out to bleach or dry.

nab the stifles (v.) [SE stifle, the condition of being choked]

[19C–1900s] (UK Und.) to be hanged.

nab the teize (v.) (also nab the tease, ...teaze, nap the teaze, ...teize) [tease v.1 ; whippings were often public]

[late 18C–early 19C] for a prisoner to be flogged as a punishment while in prison, rather than in public.