Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweat v.1

[fig. uses of SE]

1. to spend money.

[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.

2. (UK Und.) to lighten gold coins by immersing them in acid; thus sweater n., one who practises such deception; sweating n., this practice.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: sweating. A mode of diminishing the gold coin, practiced chiefly by the Jews, who corrode it with aqua regia.
[UK]‘Peter Pindar’ ‘Bozzy and Piozzi’ Works I (1812) 373: That Bad Shilling is of Johnsons making, His each vile Sixpence that the World hath cheated, And his, the art that every Guinea sweated?
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]N. Ames Mariner’s Sketches 124: A solitary Spanish dollar [...] having probably undergone a ‘sweating’ or partial fusion in a Chinese crucible before it was returned into the hands of a [...] white man.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[US]W.W. Fowler Ten Years In Wall Street 42: Making the values which pass through his hands perspire golden drops, just as the Jews clip and sweat the coin they handle.
[UK]Jevons Money and Mech. of Exch. 115: No one now actually refuses any gold money in retail business, so that the sweater, if he exists at all, has all the opportunities he can desire [F&H].
[US]A. Pinkerton Thirty Years a Detective 456: Gold coin is tampered with [...] One operation consists in ‘sweating’ or jingling the coin together in a buckskin bag, by which five per cent can be made.
[UK]E. Jervis 25 Years in Six Prisons 48: I had a man through my hands sentenced to fourteen years’ penal servitude for sweating gold in 1904.

3. to pawn.

[UK] ‘The Night Before Larry Was Stretched’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 79: They sweated their duds till they riz it.

4. to remove some of the contents of.

Simpson’s Journal in Hudson Bay Record Society I (1938) n.p.: Mr. Perring’s Keg is always at the service of his friends, and they sweat it unmercifully.

5. to deprive someone of something; thus sweating n. and adj.

[Ire]J.E. Walsh Ireland Sixty Years Ago (1885) 19: They passed the house of a publican, on Ormond quay, they determined to amuse themselves by ‘sweating,’ i.e., making him give up all his fire-arms.
[UK]A. Day Mysterious Beggar 265: We might just as well sweat him for five thousand as for five hundred.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 306: You lousy, sweatin’ old shyster you.

6. (UK Und.) of pickpockets etc., to subject a person or place to criminal activities; thus sweating n.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 17/1: They had been down from the ‘start’ only a day or two, and from what we had heard, had given the place a ‘sweating’.

7. to extract money, usu. through menaces or violence.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 232: sweat to extract money from a person, to ‘bleed’; thus sweating n.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 24 Jan. 4/4: These bodies of working men can [...] appreciate the true significance of the determination to make the men work at home, and can perceive whether this truly tends to facilitate ‘sweating’ [in] competition men thus individualised and separated – competition which could not be induced were the men congregated at work in the factories.

8. to squander money, whether one’s own or someone else’s.

[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 232: sweat [...] to squander riches.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 17 May 1/1: Kiddies in the puppy stage can be seen nightly doing in their dough [and] as long as they sweat their salaries devil a bit cares the proprietor.

9. (Aus.) to borrow (usu. a horse) without its owner’s permission.

[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 3 Oct. 5/2: At the Quarter Sessions to-day [...] Charles Jobson, for illegally riding (or sweating) a horse, one year.
[Aus]Sydney Morn. Herald 2 Apr. 3/2: ‘[S]weating’ [...] simply means seizing on a horse that may be found astray, and riding him till a reward is offered for him, when after a show of search for him he is returned to tho owners, and the reward quietly pocketed.
[Aus] Maitland Mercury (NSW) 1 Nov. 4/5: Sergeant Meagher has started to Narrabri, with a prisoner for Tamworth, James Lynch, who lately received three months for ‘sweating’ a horse.
[Aus]Glen Innes Examiner (NSW) 10 Mar. 2/6: An inherent mania for galloping horses [...] becomes a leading vice, culminating in horse and cattle stealing. The first step generally begins with ‘sweating’ a neighbour's horse, or illegally riding; then comes the ‘fancy’ for a particular horse, without the necessary means at hand of making a purchase.
[Aus]Morn. Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld) 2 Apr. 2/5: The other day John Perry, a man in the employ of John English, was sentenced [...] to six months imprisonment for ‘sweating’ a horse [...] The very next week, his master, the same John English, was charged with a similar offence — ‘sweating’ a horse belong ing to W. Pattison, of Rockhampton.
[Aus]Queanbeyan Age (NSW) 19 Oct. 2/5: The story about his being before the police court for ‘sweating’ a horse is quite true but, being a simpleton, he got into the trouble through another lad telling him the horse was his, and he might have a ride.
[Aus]Albury Banner & Wodonga Express (NSW) 25 Jan. 29/3: At the Yarrawonga, Police Court Patrick Burke proceeded against Patrick J. Woods for the offence known as ' sweating a horse.' [...] Mr Hargrave explained that the horse in question had strayed into defendant’s paddock, and that he was riding it about in search of its owner [etc].
Gosford Times (NSW) 29 Jan. 17/4: ‘Sweating’ a Horse. Alfred Beckett, a youthful apprentice of the State Boys’ Farm [...] was caught in December whilst demonstrating the feasibility of stoney-broke individuals riding on horseback. It wasn’t his own horse, but that was merely a regrettable circumstance.
Freeman’s Jrnl (Sydney) 14 June 12/1: To the uninitiated it may be explained that to ‘sweat’ a horse was to ‘borrow’ it, without the knowledge or sanction of the owner, and af ter riding it a great distance, abandon it to avoid the responsibility of being caught in possession.
[US]J. Greenway ‘Aus. Cattle Lingo’ in AS XXXIII:3 168: sweat a horse, v. phr. To steal a horse and ride it to the point of collapse.

10. (UK Und.) to melt down the solder that holds together an otherwise impenetrable strong-box.

[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 237/2: Sweat (Thieves’). To unsolder a tin box by applying fire, or a blow.

11. (US Und.) to break up stolen high denomination notes into smaller, legal bills.

[US]C. Hamilton Men of the Und. 115: After they had ‘sweated’ the big notes down to one-dollar bills.

In compounds

sweating-crib (n.)

a place where stolen gold and silver is melted down.

[UK]Kendal Mercury 24 Jan. 6/1: The ‘pad book’ or beggar’s directory. This is a record [...] of [...] the residences of ‘fences’ and the keepers of ‘sweating cribs’† [note] † Places where stolen plate is melted.

In phrases

sweat a cheque (v.)

(Aus./N.Z.) to spend all one’s pay on drink.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 21 Oct. 8/4: He had sweated his cheque at the hotel and found himself [...] with brain on fire, coppers hot, and a throat like the stove-pipe of Gehenna.