1. a confidence trickster, a cheat, esp. when telling ‘sob-stories’ or posing as a deaf-mute.
|Choice of Harlequin I viii: Though you’re a flashy coachman, here the gagger holds the whip.|
|Whole Art of Thieving 34: Gaggers [...] They are a very deceitful set of people in general, that deserve a prison more than relief: some of them go in a sailor’s dress, pretending that they were galley slaves, and that their tongues were cut out by the Turks, and their arms were burnt in the row gallies: to deceive the world they cut the strings of their tongues, and so swallow it down their throat, that none can perceive it, and make their arms raw by perpetual blisters; but if they were taken to the whipping post, the dumb would speak, and those that walk with crutches would shift without them.|
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Gaggers. High and Low. Cheats, who by sham pretences, & Wonderful Stories of their sufferings, impose on the Cedulity of well meaning People.|
|Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (3rd edn) .|
|Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1796].|
|Life and Adventures of Samuel Hayward 50: An hotel [...] distinguished for its life and fun, and visited by all the rum customers upon the pavé, from the four-in-hand whip to the neddy proprietor—traps, gaggers.|
|Sussex Advertiser 14 Apr. 4/3: [We] soon passed a long string of gaggers, priggers, Adam Tylers, fancy coves, autum [sic] morts, gammoners, sweetners, uprightmen, bully huffs, lully priggers, star gazers, and coves of all sorts.|
|Modern Flash Dict.|
2. a joker; in theatrical context, esp. of comedians, one who ad-libs.
|Punch I 69: Men with ‘swallows’ like Thames tunnels, in fact accomplished gaggers and unrivalled ‘wiry watchers’ [F&H].|
|Era 9 July 15/3: Actors in those days — especially those who played comic parts [...] were incorrigible ‘gaggers’.|
|Globe (London) 3 Mar. 1/4: The low comedy was much toned down [...] In other words, the gaggers were gagged [F&H].|
|Era (London) 13 Jan. 9/5: He was a great ‘gagger,’ and gagged through all his speaking parts.|
|First Hundred Thousand (1918) 106: The punctilious Mucklewame was still glaring severely after this unseemly ‘gagger’.|
|Eve. Teleg. (Dundee) 5 Nov. 4/3: [headline] Stage Gaggers who made History. Impromptu Lines in Famous Plays.|
|(con. 1860s) Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 78: She might make a good gagger.|
3. a tramp, a beggar, who uses ’true’ stories to enhance the basic beggar’s entreaties.
|Leicester Chron. 21 June 12/2: ‘Tom the Gagger‘ introduced Fred to a company of seven others.|
|Derbys. Advertiser 2 Dec. 25/4: ‘Gaggers,’ the higher class of treamps, with their plausible tales.|
|Leamington Spa Courier 20 Sept. 7/1: There are a great many tramps staying in this district at the present time [...] We have among us ‘gaggers’ (beggars).|
|Down and Out in Complete Works I (1986) 176: These (omitting the ones that everyone knows) are some of the cant words now used in London: [...] A gagger – beggar or street performer of any kind.|
4. (US Und.) a receiver of stolen goods.
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
5. (US tramp) a tramp who makes a living by telling stories.
|Hobohemia 47: Some of his associates are ‘gaggers’ who get their living — a scanty one — by telling tales.|