Green’s Dictionary of Slang

filch v.1

[Liberman (2008) suggests Ger. argotic filzen, ‘comb through’; Ribton-Turner, A History of Vagrants (1887), notes Welsh yspeilio, to steal, with a ‘common’ change from p/sp to f plus Lowland Scot. pilk, to pilfer]

1. (orig. UK Und.) to steal; to rob.

[UK]Awdeley Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 3: A Prygman goeth with a stycke in hys hand like an idle person. His propertye is to steale cloathes of the hedge, which they call storing of the Rogeman : or els filch Poultry, carying them to the Alehouse, whych they call the Bowsyng In, & ther syt playing at cardes and dice, tyl that is spent which they haue so fylched.
[UK]Tyde taryeth no Man in Collier (1863) II 47: But, cosen Cutpurse, if ought thou do get, / I pray thee let me haue part of thy cheate. / I meane not of thy hanging fare, / But of thy purse, and filched share.
[UK]Misogonus in Farmer (1906) II i: He looked for his purse: The cosener had filched it and left him alone to pay for the reckoning.
[UK]G. Whetstone Mirrour for Magestrates of Citties (2nd edn) K1: These idle persons [...] haue yet handes to filch, heades to deceiue, and friends to receiue.
[UK]Maroccus Extaticus To the Reader A3: A flat robberie [...] such a peece of filching as is punishable with ribroast among the turne spits at pie corner.
[UK]Marston Malcontent I viii: The Welshman stole rushes when there was nothing else to filch.
[UK]T. Tomkis Albumazar I i: I vnderstood his businesse Which I filch’t closely from him, while he reueal’d T’ his man his purposes and projects.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Farewell to the Tower-bottles’ in Works (1869) III 125: To filch or steal, I scarcely had a thought.
[UK]Long Meg of Westminster 17: To filch anything out of a house [...] I hold it in scorn.
[UK]Urquhart (trans.) Gargantua and Pantagruel (1927) I Bk I xxxvi: Those allegories, which Plutarch, Heraclides Pontincus [...] squeezed out of him, and which Politian filched again from them.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk I 43: We come not [...] to filch Linen or Woollen, / Nor yet to steal away your Pullen.
[UK] ‘On a Precise Taylor’ in Ebsworth Westminster Drolleries (1875) 85: If the Stuff allow’d fell out to large, And that to filch his fingers were inclin’d.
G. Etheredge ‘Mr. E.’s Answer’ in Sackville Poems (1979) 109: When they intend to make up Pack, / By filching Sheets, or Shirt from Back.
[UK]J. Hacket Memorial of John Williams II 128: Books he filcht what he would; For four Cellars of Wine, Syder, Ale, beer, with Wood, Hay, Corn, and the like [...] he gave not an account of Six-pence.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 182: He [upright man] stands in statu quo, all the Morts, Dells, and Doxies, or Women of the several Degrees and Orders amongst them, are at his Command; as likewise the best of whatever they Filch or Maund, that is, Steal or Beg.
‘John Sheppard’s Last Epistle’ in Dly Jrnl (London) 16 Nov. 1: To the Hundreds of Drury I write, / And to all my Filching Companions.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 99: I could make what I filched, and enough left to Game all the Week.
[UK]Pope Mother Gin 19: Wearied Cloyers, who recline In grassy fields suburbian all day-light, And snore away the filching toils of night.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 2: Scratching his pate the loon did stand, / With an old garland in his hand / Filch’d from a May-pole.
[UK]T. Gray Candidate 2: His lying, and filching, and Newgate-bird tricks.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Tales of Hoy’ Works (1801) V 250: The hang’d Thief, whose Friends had kindly filch’d him from the string.
[US]Irving & Paulding Salmagundi (1860) 409: Filched from the Spectator, who confessedly filched her from Otway’s ‘wrinkled hag with age grown double’.
[UK]B.H. Malkin (trans.) Adventures of Gil Blas (1822) III 138: The very scullions were at free quarters, and filched whatever they pleased.
[UK]J.H. Lewis Lectures on Art of Writing (1840) 88: None like he, Hath filched his works so copiously!
[UK]Vidocq Memoirs (trans. W. McGinn) III 119: I could not have guessed your haunt had I not been told that you filched some double-tripe (lead) on the boulevard Saint Martin.
[UK]C. Dance Alive and Merry II i: Have you never had a man to your back that you must try to filch other people’s?
[UK]Thackeray Punch’s Prize Novelists: George de Barnwell in Burlesques (1903) 148: The knave might filch his treasures, he was heedless of the knave.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 10 Mar. 3/4: From the daring burglar down to the humble filching sneak.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 17 Apr. 6/1: A fogle he’d filch from the queerest old bloak.
[US]Letters by an Odd Boy 9: He takes up with the filching business; is then betrayed for forty pounds.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 25 Oct. 1s/1: The Legislative Assembly [...] continue their efforts to filch one its greatest privileges from the Legislative Councuil.
[UK]Five Years’ Penal Servitude 235: They would follow and mix themselves up in the throng, ready to filch any stray article they could lay their hands on.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Apr. 4/2: Yet so degrading is the infatuation of the hour that there are men not ashamed to urge that the provision made for such undeserved suffering should be filched away in order to swell the portion of the deserted wives and babes of men whose lust for excitement sent them in search of men to kill in foreign lands.
[UK]H. Macfall Wooings of Jezebel Pettyfer 13: He filched a staff of sugar-cane from a sleeping street-seller’s basket.
[UK]Kipling ‘The Comprehension of Private Copper’ Traffics and Discoveries 169: Quietly filching the English weekly from under Copper’s armpit.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 29 Jan. 9/2: Filching the last penny from profits is filching it from girls’ wages [...] These women who toil at the clothing trades are [...] driven to the ‘easiest way’ by the women of America who buy, and who do not think as they buy!
[Ire]K.F. Purdon Dinny on the Doorstep 179: Why, even the leisure that their young hearts needed [...] was being filched from them.
[NZ]Truth (Wellington) 21 Apr. 6/6: [headline] Filching a Florin.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 198: It was the Old Story—a lot of Outsiders trying to filch the Profits of Honest Enterprise.
[UK]J. Franklyn This Gutter Life 179: The ponce filches from the prostitute and she in turn robs the roué.
[UK]S. Jackson Indiscreet Guide to Soho 52: There is also the pest who imagines that his brain child has been filched.
[US]B. Schulberg On the Waterfront (1964) 176: The petty, habitual filching of whisky, perfume, coffee, steaks.
[UK]H. Pinter Caretaker Act II: I can run you to the police station in five minutes, have you in for [...] daylight robbery, filching, thieving and stinking the place out.
[UK]C. Dexter Last Bus to Woodstock 134: The brands of writing paper so carefully filched from Crowther’s personal store.
[UK]P. Reading ‘Inter-City’ in Fiction 31: He fell / into the habitual practice of / filching his Sunday supper from the fridge.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 151: He hustled her to the ambulance, filched morphine and a hypo, shot her up while no one was looking.
[US]C. Goffard Snitch Jacket 227: He was filching the dude’s VA checks.

2. (US) to defraud, to cheat.

[US]J.H. Green Reformed Gambler 203: Thus they are drawn into the game of faro, and seldom go away without getting filched.
[US]H. Hapgood Types from City Streets 234: We ought not to filch him.

In compounds

filchman (n.)

a cudgel or staff.

[UK]Awdeley Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 4: The trunchion of a staffe, which staffe they call a filtchman.
[UK]Nashe Countercuffe to Martin Junior in Works I (1883–4) 80: A filch-man in his hande, a swapping Ale-dagger at his back.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching A3: He fylch the Cose without any fylch man.
[UK]Dekker Belman of London (3rd) C3: A short Truncheon in his hand, which hee cals his Filchman.
[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 17: Sturdy knaues play in Towns, and complaine of neede, whose filchman or staffe, if it be once warme in their hands.
[UK]W. Winstanley New Help To Discourse 131: The Upright-man is the Chief or Prince of the rest, who commonly walks with a short Truncheon in his hand, which he cals his Filchman.

In phrases