Green’s Dictionary of Slang

nipper n.1

[nip v.1 ]

1. (UK Und., also nypper) a cutpurse or pickpocket.

[UK]Fleetwood in Ellis Original Letters 1st Ser. II. 278: He that could take a peece of sylver out of the purse without the noyse of any of the bells, he was adjudged a judiciall Nypper [OED].
[UK]Greene Disputation Betweene a Hee and a Shee Conny-Catcher in Grosart (1881–3) X 173: This fellow he had heard to be one of the finest Nippers about the towne.
[UK]J. Day Blind Beggar of Bednall-Green Act I: Your nipper, your foyst, your rogue, your cheat, your pander, your any vile thing.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Nypper. a cut purse.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
[UK]A. Thornton Don Juan in London II 404: His proficiency was rewards by styling him a nypper and a foyster: the former term signifying a pick-purse or cut-purse, and the latter a pick-pocket.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 68: NIPPER [...] Old cant for a boy cut-purse.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]Sl. Dict. 237: Nipper [...] Originally a superior grade among cut-purses.
[Aus]‘Price Warung’ Tales of the Old Regime 53: The turnip stealers, the pocket-handkerchief ‘nippers’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 1 May 2nd sect. 9/1: They Say [...] That the nipper nuisance is becoming a painful one in Perth. That respectable citizens can’t gel blind drunk in pubs for these pests.

2. (US/Aus.) a thief or swindler.

[Aus]Sydney Gaz. 11 Apr. 3/3: I have been preyed upon by sharks, sharpers, flash-men, fencers, rum coves, squatters, nippers, lifters, and all the tag-rag-and-bobtail denoted by the worst words in the Slang Dictionary.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 25 Oct. 75/2: Alburtis, the notorious nipper thief is now in the city. There is a bench warrant out for him for [...] robbery of a store.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 23 Jan. 2/1: The thief proved to be one Henry King, a regular nipper in the self-appropriating line.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 19 Feb. 8/4: When off his beat, at eve he came, / Of ‘nips’ she’d be the tipper; – / Ah, shame on him who took those nips / To turn out such a ‘nipper.’.
[US]A.H. Lewis ‘The Rat’ in Sandburrs 108: Yes, d’ Rat’s a crook all right. He’s a nipper.

3. (US) a policeman.

[UK]J. Greenwood Little Ragamuffin 118: That a nipper was a policeman I well knew.
[UK]Indep. 22 Mar. 3: Nipper Read, the police officer who led the team.

4. a miser, a tight-fisted person.

[UK]C. Hindley Life and Times of James Catnach 104: He warn’t such a bad sort [...] But yet still a ‘nipper’.