Green’s Dictionary of Slang

touch n.1

1. [16C] a trick, a dodge.

2. [18C–1920s] any item that will persuade purchasers to buy, albeit within certain price limits; thus a sixpence touch, a guinea touch.

3. [19C+] (also touch-off) an act of theft, esp. pickpocketing.

4. [mid-19C] (UK Und.) an arrest.

5. [late 19C+] (also the touch, touchdown) the act of cadging a loan, usu. small; thus the loan.

6. [20C+] (US Und.) the money gained illegally, e.g. that which is ‘stolen’ by a confidence trickster’s scheme; also in fig. use.

7. [1900s] (US Und.) the climax of a confidence trick, when the victim hands over their money.

8. [1930s] one from whom one obtains a loan or a monetary gift.

9. [1930s] the victim of a confidence trick.

10. [1930s+] a piece of good fortune; e.g. an acquittal.

11. [1950s+] a woman who can be easily picked up.

12. [1980s+] (N.Z.) one’s turn to buy a round of drinks; the round itself.

In compounds

touch artist (n.)

[1940s–60s] (US) a beggar, one who is always asking for a loan.

touch game (n.)

[mid-19C] (US Und.) synon. for Murphy (Game), the n. (1) in which a client, lured into a room by a prostitute, is beaten and robbed.

touch guy (n.) [guy n.2 (1)]

[1970s] (US) one who is constantly scrounging.

touch house (n.)

[mid-19C] (US Und.) any tavern or similar establishment where victims are robbed, beaten and even killed; they may also be subjected to the Murphy (Game), the n. (1)

touch merchant (n.)

[early 19C+] a petty thief.

touch-off (n.)

see sense 3 above.

In phrases

chew up old touches (v.)

[1950s] (US) to reminisce.

cut up (old) touches (v.) [lit. and fig. uses of cut up v.2 (3) ] [1920s+] (US Und.)

(also cut up, cut up old dough) to reminisce over old successes, villainies etc.

cut up the touch (v.)

(US Und.) to share out the spoils of criminal acts.

easy touch (n.)

1. money, whether loaned or extorted, that is easily obtained.

2. [1930s+] one who can be easily solicited for money or favours.

3. [1970s] (UK Und.) a robbery that can be carried out without difficulty.

4. [1990s+] a situation which is easily exploitable.

make a touch (v.) [late 19C+] (orig. US)

1. to borrow money, esp. when the donor is less than enthusiastic.

2. to pickpocket.

3. to make a winning bet.

on the touch

[late 19C] begging.

put the touch on (v.)

[mid-19C+] to (attempt to) borrow or extort money.

soft touch (n.) [soft adj. (3)]

1. [1920s] one who is easily beaten.

2. [1920s–70s] an easy job or sinecure; thus an easily achieved robbery or similar crime.

3. [1930s+] one who can easily be solicited for money, or goods or favours; thus as v., to solicit something from someone.

4. [1990s+] a sympathetic person, one who is easily persuaded.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

touch-trap (n.) [SE touch-trap, a contrivance that operates when touched]

[17C–19C] the penis.

touch-tripe (n.)

[late 17C] the penis.

In phrases

give someone a touch of them (v.) [fig. use of touch of ’em ]

[1920s+] (Aus.) to infuriate.

touch of ’em (n.) [euph.]

[late 19C–1900s] (Aus.) delirium tremens.

touch of the holy bone (n.) [ironic ref. to the supposed power of holy ‘relics’, but note bone n.1 (1a)]

[19C+] (orig. Irish, then US) sexual intercourse.

touch of the seconds (n.) [abbr. SE second thoughts]

[1950s+] last minute hesitation.