Green’s Dictionary of Slang

blind n.1

[SE blind, any means or place of concealment]

1. in the context of deceit.

(a) an excuse, a pretence; a person used to fool onlookers, e.g. to disguise a relationship.

[UK]New Canting Dict. n.p.: A blind a Feint, a Pretence, a Shift, an Artifice, to make a Person believe the contrary of what is intended.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate His Account 22 Nov. 10/1: The Studder’s, a Gang of Thieves, travelling most of the Kingdom with their China-ware, which was a Blind to conceal their Rogueries.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 12: Blind—a feint or excuse.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 30 Aug. 3/2: We hare too much reason to fear that the avocation [of hawking] is adopted more for a ‘blind’ than any thing else, by these skulking, idle fellows.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[UK]W. Hooe Sharping London 34: blind, something done to deceive.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 9: Old Ann has gone a durrynackin with a fakement and some spunks for a blind. / Old Ann has gone a-begging with a written placard and some matches for a blind.
[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 226: The chief actors, with their immediate supporters, had travelled as a ‘blind’ on omnibuses, with hampers of pigeons and men displaying guns, as though they were going to a pigeon-shooting match.
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 1 Jan. 3/2: Who was the nincompoop with her in the morning? A mere blind. [...] This was a wrong ’un [...] and she daren’t own she was going to meet him. So she gave the other ‘smudge’ a dollar to fetch her.
[Aus]‘Miles Franklin’ My Brilliant Career 125: It is nice to have an old auntie, as a blind, is it not?
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 145: You heard your party say ‘Twenty-third Street ferry?’ [...] That was a blind.
[UK]Magnet 3 Sept. 26: That tale that I spread about us calling in at Bordeaux was only a blind.
[US]F. Packard Adventures of Jimmie Dale (1918) I i: It was a blind, of course. He worked alone, absolutely alone.
[Ire]Joyce Ulysses 320: I know where he’s gone, says Lenehan, cracking his fingers. – Who? says I. – Bloom, he says, the courthouse is a blind. He had a few bob on Throwaway and he’s gone to gather in the shekels.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 7: The names on the door were blinds.
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 145: The Chinese tong set-up is used by the Mafia to transmit narcotics and other contraband; such things as laundry bales, cases of Chinese vegetables and packages of tea are blinds.
[US]‘Curt Cannon’ ‘Now Die In It’ in I Like ’Em Tough (1958) 56: She’d come into the Dewdrop as a blind.
[Ire]J. Morrow Confessions of Proinsias O’Toole 93: Time to pack it in [...] when even a mindless vessel like Tessy Hagan has you taped well enough to pull a blind like that!
[Aus]R. Aven-Bray Ridgey-Didge Oz Jack Lang 19: Blind Subterfuge.

(b) (US/UK Und.) one who distracts from the activities of a criminal, typically a pickpocket’s assistant.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 12: Blind [...] One who stands before another while he robs a third person.
[US]H.L. Williams N.-Y. After Dark 13: Experts in picking pockets, as ‘stalls’ and ‘blinds’.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 37: The brats make swell blinds.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 117: [He] hoped the man was a blind.

(c) (Und., mainly US) a supposedly legitimate business which in fact masks a criminal one; thus blind man.

[[UK]Paul Pry 29 Jan. 1/2: it is no more than a common ‘dancing shop,’ [...] the cognomen of ‘Wine and Supper Rooms’ being a blind].
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 Jan. 1/1: An alleged watchmaker of Wellington-st. has no time for anything but stolen gold [...] his jeweller’s shop is a blind of the most barefaced variety.
[US]‘Old Sleuth’ Dock Rats of N.Y. (2006) 50: The men ostensibly were fishermen, and their boat was stated to be a fishing-boat; and to lend color to the claim, the men did go off between times on fishing expeditions, and the latter little trick had been their best ‘blind’ and ‘throw off’.
[US]V.W. Saul ‘Vocab. of Bums’ in AS IV:5 338: Blind—A legitimate business used to conceal an illegitimate one.
[US]J. Archibald ‘When a Body Meets a Body’ in Popular Detective Sept. 🌐 Louie once ran a cigar store in Shamokin but it was only a blind to take horse bets.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 26: blind man One who operates a legitimate business as a screen for criminal activity.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 29/1: Blind, n. [...] 2. Any deceptive exterior concealing an illegal establishment or criminal activity.
[UK]J. Gosling Ghost Squad 152: I imagine Bernstein thought that it [i.e. a smart shop] gave an aura of respectability to his nefarious enterprises; for all this was a blind.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 791: blind – A legitimate business enterprise used as a cover under which to operate a criminal enterprise.
[UK](con. c.1920) A. Harding in Samuel East End Und. 220: I think his shop may have been a ‘blind’ for another business.

2. night-time; thus do a blind, to do a ‘moonlight flit’.

[UK] song in Barrère & Leland Dict. of Sl., Jargon and Cant I 136/1: Then it’s down with the bedstead, and let us away, / Pack up all we can in the blind, / And long ere the morning, / Without any warning, / We’ll leave back-rent and landlord behind.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

3. (US prison) an area of the prison hidden from the authorities’ sight.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July 🌐 Blind: Area where correctional officers cannot see, as in ‘Let’s go to the blind.’.

In phrases

on the blind

(Aus.) at risk, on chance, without any prior information.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 2 Nov. 14/2: ‘C.X.G.’ [...] is going ‘on the blind,’ or does not know what he is talking about, when he says that it was a rare thing to see a dingo on Strzlecki Creek, a few years back, when the S.A. Government was paying for scalps.
All Abaht It (London) (1919) Feb. 62: What about getting it – ‘one on the blind’? [AND].
J.L. Moore Canine King 30: The dog is cast off ‘on the blind’ to use the expression by which a sheep-man admits his own impotence [AND].
[Aus]I.L. Idriess Cattle King 63: He had taken up country on the ‘blind’, without ever having seen it.
D. McLean Roaring Days 62: When you’re on opal country [...] you have to sink ‘on the blind’.