Green’s Dictionary of Slang

frame n.2

(UK/US Und.)

1. circumstances that combine to place an individual in a disadvantageous position, usu. leading to their arrest.

[US]L.H. Medina Nick of the Woods I ii: Attendance, should I need any, would be such as might ill befit your frame.
[US]Van Loan ‘The Spotted Sheep’ in Taking the Count 114: If he’s mixed up with a frame it ain’t on the sucker end.
[US]A.J. Barr Let Tomorrow Come 149: This is my second hitch, and I’m here on a frame.
[US]R. Sale ‘A Nose for News’ in Goulart (1967) 206: It’s a frame, my chickadee.
[US]J. Evans Halo in Blood (1988) 211: It scared him because that old San Diego beef against Fleming had been a frame.
[UK]I, Mobster 111: It’s a lousy stinking frame they’re pinning on him.
[US]R.E. Alter Carny Kill (1993) 78: You knife the old gent and hang a frame on the body with May’s name on it.
[UK] ‘Metropolitan Police Sl.’ in P. Laurie Scotland Yard (1972) 323: frame: the general scene, the area of suspicion.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] As well as me own bit of robbin, the supermarket had been hit by a couple of armed robberies [...] I’d be in the frame.
[UK]T. Black Artefacts of the Dead [ebook] Knox was in the frame then and I doubt he’s blameless now.

2. corruption, malpractice.

[US]Van Loan ‘Easy Picking’ in Taking the Count 295: ‘The paper boys won’t stand for it.’ ‘Aw, they’ve stood for lots worse frames.’.
A. Baer Old Dame Rumor 19 Oct. [synd. col.] It is rumored that the Carp-Levinsky fight was spiked [...] Maybe it was a frame and maybe it wasn’t.

3. the general situation, esp. that surrounding the suspects in a given crime.

[US]R. Chandler ‘Blackmailers Don’t Shoot’ in Red Wind (1946 ) 92: What’s the frame, Mac? Shakedown?
[US]W.R. Burnett High Sierra in Four Novels (1984) 331: Even if there’s a rumble and they make it stick, you may not have to do no time. We got the right frame.
[US]N. Algren Man with the Golden Arm 255: It began to feel like a dirty frame ’n I got scared.
see sense 1.
[UK]J. Cameron It Was An Accident 46: Where’s he fit in your frame then?

In phrases

out of the frame (adj.) (US black/campus)

1. very ugly.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: to’ out da frame – unattractive: ‘He was beyong ugly – he was to’ out da frame.’.

2. drunk.

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr. 8: to’ out da frame – [...] drunk: ‘I don’t remember what happened – I was to’ out da frame’.
put in the frame (v.)

(UK Und./police) to concoct evidence against a criminal, whether or not guilty of the crime under investigation.

[UK]A. Payne ‘Get Daley!’ in Minder [TV script] 70: Apparently Wedell’s son caved right in. Put the lot of them in the frame.
[UK](con. 1960s) A. Frewin London Blues 62: Is my name going to be put into the frame as Mr Big to protect someone else or what?