Green’s Dictionary of Slang

pipe v.3

[? SE peep]

1. to look over, to inspect.

[UK]Worcester Herald 26 Dec. 4/3: He pipes you, he sees you.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 6 Jan. 76: A rare tippit here, Bill – a guinea to a shilling – pipe the tile – twig the mug.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 43: You may pipe the crib by seeing a board whereon is inscribed the name of the piano faker.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/2: Billy [...] minds ye dosent blab to mother about Joey pricking the vicker for a dolphin (stealing bread from a basket) ven doughy (the baker) was piping (looking) through the glaze (window) at the pictures.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: One of the ‘guns’ [...] not noticing his ‘judy,’ [...] took a ‘granny’ at one of the private ‘lush’ boxes, where he ‘piped’ her and a noted ‘gun,’ ‘lushing’ like blazes.
[UK]Macmillan’s Mag. (London) ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ XL 501: I just stopped to pipe (see) what was going on.
[Aus]Glen Innes Examiner (NSW) 26 Oct. 6/1: ‘I say Bill, pipe the bloke in the masher collar, wots he doin’ up yere in the ‘gods?’.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘A Plank Bed Ballad’ in Referee 12 Feb. n.p.: If I pipe a good chat, why, I touch for the wedge, / But I’m not a ‘particular’ robber.
[US]E. Townsend Chimmie Fadden Explains 93: She was givin him the greatest jolly I ever piped in me life.
[UK]Binstead & Wells Pink ’Un and Pelican 9: Jest pipe the markin’s on them — w’y this bloke counts hees shirts by the ’undred!
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 10 Nov. 7/2: Well the jolly cracksman nose it, / He can pipe the Sargint, too .
[US]R. McCardell Show Girl and Her Friends 62: I tipped Moxie to pipe all the free lunch layouts down the line.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 28: Pipe the geezer rushin’ the duck?
[Aus]Truth (Perth) 18 Feb. 8/6: I did frequent pipe that coupple [sic] / They seemed for to be attached.
[US]M. Glass Potash And Perlmutter 296: ‘Pipe them two high-livers,’ she hissed to the waitress at the next table.
[UK]Wodehouse Psmith Journalist (1993) 171: Pipe de leather collar she’s wearing.
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 293: Pipe the lucky Stiff! He’s got it on us forty ways from the Jack.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Knight’s Return’ in Chisholm (1951) 86: ’E pipes me dile again, then stammers out, / ‘I’m sorry, sonny. Stone the crows! It’s sad / To see yer face so orful cut about’.
[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 81: I got it right off that you was pipin’ me, too.
[Aus]Sun. Mail (Brisbane) 13 Nov. 20/8: Some ‘crook’ wandering casually in might say, ‘Piped anything in the kites?’ The underworldly are diligent readers of the newspapers, and no activity in their environs is allowed to escape their notice.
[UK]J. Phelan Letters from the Big House 36: I pipes the screw all careful.
[UK]J. Phelan Tramp at Anchor 142: Piping a grass while I slid a toke in my flowery.
[US]C. Clausen I Love You Honey, But the Season’s Over 125: Hey, girls, pipe the lot lice! Ain’t they funny-looking?
[UK]N. Smith Gumshoe (1998) 155: ‘That address?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘To pipe or rumble?’.
[UK]J. McClure Spike Island (1981) 134: Looks to me like a livin’-on merchant. We might pipe him.

2. orig. of a detective, to follow, to pursue; to spy on.

[US]N.Y. Morning Express 14 Nov. 3/8: On Friday Morning Officer Allison ‘piped’ a suspicious looking fellow through several streets for about two hours.
[US]Night Side of N.Y. 61: When they ‘spot’ a provincial person, or a newly-arrived foreigner, who looks as though it might pay to cultivate his acquaintance, one of the gang will ‘pipe’ or ‘dog’ him, to find out where he puts up.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. 202: PIPE, to follow or dog a person. Term used by detectives.
[UK]‘The Jargon of Thieves’ in Derry Jrnl 8 Sept. 6/5: Shadowing a man is ‘piping him’ .
[Aus]‘Rolf Boldrewood’ Robbery Under Arms (1922) 65: Some of the telegraphs piped us, I suppose.
[US]A.C. Gunter Miss Nobody of Nowhere 277: I [...] piped him after the manner of detectives.
[US] ‘The Great Bond Robbery’ in Roberts et al. Old Sleuth’s Freaky Female Detectives (1990) 57/1: Henry Wilbur had been ‘piped’ day in and day out.

3. to understand, to work out.

[US]J. London People of the Abyss 8: This he did with the palpable intention of letting me know that he had ‘piped my lay’.
[US]Little Falls Herald (MN) 31 Mar. 3/3: How to Operate the Shell Game with Profit [...] The boosters must tip the nut spieler if any ollies are piping.
[US]J. London Road 75: I piped the lay on the instant. He was a ‘fly-cop’ and the two hoboes were his prisoners.
[US]St Louis Post-Despatch 16 Jan. 25/2: Get this: And don’t stand there gotnecking (staring); I want you to pipe me.

In phrases

pipe down (v.)

(US Und.) to track down and arrest a criminal.

[US]G.P. Burnham Memoirs of the US Secret Service 155: ‘And the others?’ queried D---, waveringly. ‘Are all “piped down.” So it is well that you make a clean breast of it, Theodore.’.
[US] ‘Lady Kate, the Dashing Female Detective’ in Roberts et al. Old Sleuth’s Freaky Female Detectives (1990) 14/3: The man whom Kate had ‘piped’ down as a burglar, a forger, and possible assassin, was leading a double life.
pipe off (v.)

1. to recognize.

[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/2: Next morning, our ‘mob’ being all ready, we started separately for the steamboat, preferring the round-about way to the chance of being ‘piped off’.
[UK]Sporting Times 24 Jan. 5/3: Don’t stir a finger, or they’ll pipe off the pair on us and murder us.

2. to survey, to assess.

[US]National Police Gazette 13:33 11 Apr. 3/1: Some of these fly coppers in piping a place off should keep their ogles out of the sun.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 12/1: Therefore on this occasion he determined to ‘pipe off’ as to how they would act, without appearing to notice it.
[US]A. Pinkerton Reminiscences 89: The members of the Scott-Dunlap party approached the building ‘to pipe it off,’ or take observations.
[UK]Shields Dly Gaz. 24 Dec. 6/5: You sent me to pipe off old Jabbers and find out where he bought his goods.
[US]Shiner Gaz. (TX) 19 Dec. 1/3: I’m mopin’ ’long de railroad track waitin’ t’ pipe off de nex’ rattler an’ see if dey’s an empty on her.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 85: I just turns to pipe off the effect all this is ’avvin’ on ’em.
[UK]Harrington & LeBrunn [perf. Marie Lloyd] Should the Sexes Bathe Together [lyrics] If they didn’t, they’d ‘pipe ’em off’ [i.e. ogle female bathers] on the sly .
[UK]Sporting Times 15 Apr. 2/3: Sir Alfred piped him off so cold an’ uppish, as much as to say, blymy, if these sorts is a-comin’.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 23 3: That got me curious right away, and I begins to pipe him off.
[UK]E. Pugh Harry The Cockney 153: Don’t you let them think you’re piping ’em off.
B. Hecht Wonder Hat in Mayorga (1919) 279: What makes you pipe her off as being in love?
[NZ]F. Anthony ‘Helping Out Gus’ in Me And Gus (1977) 12: We took a seat and piped off all the good-lookers.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 1 Jan. 18/2: [P]rowling forms sidle from out of the shades and ‘pipe off’ those who pass along their ways.
[UK]C.G. Gordon Crooks of the Und. 126: G--- would be ‘piping him off’ from some unobserved point of vantage.
[NZ]F. Sargeson ‘That Summer’ in Coll. Stories (1965) 169: We’d stand in shop doorways and Terry’d pipe off everyone that went past.

3. to leave, to depart.

[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 369: We piped off for the jail.

4. to dismiss.

[US]E.W. Townsend Chimmie Fadden 31: His Whiskers pipes me off just den, and he says, says he, – ‘Get outter here, you brat,’ he says.

5. to make jokes.

[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 203: If you pipe me off like that there agin I’ll give you sich a bloomin’ ’alf-looper you’ll think it’s your bloomin’ birthday!
[US]Ersine Und. and Prison Sl.

6. to inform, to explain.

[US]F. Packard White Moll 178: I gets piped off to wot’s up, an’ it’s de same story dat Pinkie’s told, an’ de crib’s cracked, an’ de money’s gone.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

7. to ‘pump’ a person for information.

[US]J. Lait Gangster Girl 42: I’ve piped off this Gillespie set-up.