Green’s Dictionary of Slang

lurk n.

[SE lurk, to hide oneself, to lie in ambush, to remain furtively or unobserved about one spot]

1. (UK Und.) a form of fraud in which one pretends some form of distress in order to raise money from the credulous; thus go on a lurk, get money through false pretences.

[Scot]Life and Death of James Wilson 12: That hellish monster, William Burke, Like Reynard sneaking on the lurk.
[Scot]Edinburgh Rev. July 482: The Servants ’ Lurk — There are considerable numbers who go on the servants’ lurk , or as servants out of place.
[UK]Kendal Mercury 3 Apr. 6/2: Oh, no [...] he vont do for our lurk vatever.
[UK]A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 267: I’m thinking of working the ‘glim’ and going on the dreadful conflagrashun lurk.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 363/2: The term ‘lurk’, however, is mostly applied to the several modes of plundering by representations of sham distress. [Ibid.] 415: I met at Gravesend with seven chaps out on ‘the Spanish lurk’ as they called it – that is, passing themselves off as wounded men of the Spanish Legion.
[UK]Sl. Dict. 220: Lurk a sham, swindle, or representation of feigned distress. An imposition of any kind is a lurk.
[US]G.A. Atkins Brine letter Apr. 12 in Ribton-Turner (1887) n.p.: Another lurk I tried was the cripples, [...] I took it into my head to simulate rheumatism for a time.
[UK]‘Career of a Scapegrace’ in Leicester Chron. 10 May 12/1: We know it’s part of your lurk to carry about with you a mug as long as a fiddle. You should [...] put on a smiling kisser for the good of the company.
[UK]Answers 27 July 137/I: Begging of all kinds is divided into lurks, or branches [F&H].
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 412: You want ’er know how I come to get my lurk darkened?
[UK]Belfast Wkly News 21 Dec. 3/2: Sam [...] told me the ‘lurk’ [...] of most of the lodgers.

2. a hideaway, a meeting place; thus servant lurk, a public house where duplicitous servants meet criminals to plan mutually beneficial robberies.

[UK]H. Brandon Poverty, Mendicity and Crime; Report 56: Beer shops [...] are not only the lurking-holes of the worst, most idle, and dissolute of characters, but boys and girls, almost children congregate in them.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 97: I come out frim me lurk, ’n’ went over ther ground.
E. Dyson ‘Two Battlers and a Bear’ in Lone Hand (Sydney) Mar. 491/1: I’ve hit on er all-right lurk, where me gills ’n’Brown lies low while you sings [...] The ‘lurk’ [...] was a deserted weatherboard house, standing in a dead orchard.

3. (Aus./N.Z.) a dodge, racket or scheme; thus up to all lurks, wide-awake, cunning.

[UK] in Punch ‘Dear Bill, This Stone-Jug’ 31 Jan. n.p.: But the lark’s when a goney up with us they shut / As ain’t up to our lurks, our flash patter, and smut.
[UK]Morn. Post 18 Dec. 3/3: I’ve tried on most lurks and most lays broad and long, / But garottin’s the game for the brave and the strong.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 14 Jan. 6/6: Do you think I’d be such a — fool as to stick my fist into a man’s pockets after his gaunts when he’ll come and give it me himself; no, my boy, I’m on an alright lurk this time, take it from me .
[US]J. Flynt Tramping with Tramps 240: The English moocher has to resort to his ‘gag,’ and his ‘lurks’ are almost innumerable.
[Aus]Register (Adelaide) 13 July 4/6: All I’m afraid of is that some Melbourne cove will get on to our lurk and come across to nark the game.
[Aus]Brisbane Courier 29 May 6/3: ‘Lurk’ is distinctly an improvement on ‘dart,’ for it suggests concealment and a plan.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 8 Aug. Red Page 4: Dinnyhayeser set lurk, lumping polony Kingpin’s straight monniker, chatting dead sudden stink Fogwards by long punt.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘A Holy War’ in Rose of Spadgers 42: Yeh catch a tiny twinkle in ’is eye / Which gives the office that ’e’s pretty fly / To cunnin’ lurks.
[Aus]‘Banjo’ Paterson Shearer’s Colt 11: ‘Nothing doing with the red bloke, his trainer came up and narked the lurk,’ meaning thereby that their intended victim had been warned of the plot against him.
[Aus]A. Gurney Bluey & Curley 9 Dec. [synd. cartoon] I’m a wake-up to those coots. Beat ’em down that’s nthe lurk!!
[SA]H.C. Bosman Cold Stone Jug (1981) II 62: For all I know the whole thing could have been a lurk to lumber dagga into the hospital.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 25: When I read in the papers first that he was half Russian I thought it was just a lurk that McGrath had cooked up.
[NZ]B. Crump Hang On a Minute, Mate (1963) 191: It was such a good lurk it looked like getting permanent on us.
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 10: For every honest lurk man like Chilla there has to be a letter of the law regulation enforcer, a lurk detector like Brown Tongue Parker.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 25: Everyone needs moolah. If you haven’t got The Necessary they repo your wheels and turf you out of your fibro. So everyone needs a lurk.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 70/2: lurk [...] plan, ruse.
[Aus](con. 1950s) in P. Doyle Get Rich Quick (2004) 17: Back then I turned a dollar working a few different lurks.
[Aus](con. 1945–6) P. Doyle Devil’s Jump (2008) 124: You said you were on since [...] But all along you were rorting and running lurks.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].
[Aus](con. 1943) G.S. Manson Coorparoo Blues [ebook] ‘Lookin’ for this cove. He’s a bit swish but into the odd lurk’.

4. (Aus./N.Z.) a job.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 27 Sept. 29/2: Fur there’s whips er shine women, / An’ liquor an’ spons, / When yer lurk / Is ter work / Fur the demons an’ johns.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 5 June 4/8: I’ve got a job, a boshter lurk.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 15 Sept. 13/1: ‘Well, wotchadoinow?’ sezzi, / Alludin’ to ’is work. / ‘I aven gotakop,’ sezee, / ‘At presen’. Wot’s your lurk?’.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Intro’ in Songs of a Sentimental Bloke 20: I found ’er lurk / Wus pastin’ labels in a pickle joint.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Apr. 13/5: I was new at the lurk and full of pep.
[Aus]Williamstown Chron. (Vic.) 3 May 6/2: See the world whilst earning money. Who knows of a better ‘lurk’?
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 100: I can swing you a beaut little lurk in the Migrant Counselling Section.
[Aus]S. Gore Holy Smoke 26: And a lousy lurk that musta been, toilin’ for this pork cocky.
[Aus]D. Ireland Glass Canoe (1982) 144: That professoring must be a bloody good lurk.
[NZ]McGill Dict. of Kiwi Sl. 70/2: lurk job [...] ‘You’re on to a good lurk’, meaning a cushy job; c. 1916.
[NZ]McGill Reed Dict. of N.Z. Sl. [as cit. 1988].

5. (Aus.) a hanger-on, an eavesdropper.

[Aus]Baker Popular Dict. Aus. Sl.

6. (Aus.) the best place to meet someone or find some product or whatever.

[Aus](con. 1940s) T.A.G. Hungerford Sowers of the Wind 9: ‘It don’t take you long to get on to the lurks, Norm.’ [...] ‘I’m no lurk merchant, Mark,’ Cragie said placidly. ‘I just happen to go where the grass is greenest.’.
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ They’re a Weird Mob (1958) 159: Ask Dennis an’ Pat, matey. They know all the lurks [for picking up women].
[Aus]‘Nino Culotta’ Cop This Lot 77: Get some more [tobacco] in Italy. Nino’ll know the lurks.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 57: Lurk. Short cuts to success, easy ways of doing things [...] One who is proficient at profiting by such backdoor activities is a ‘lurk merchant’. He ‘knows all the lurks’.

7. (S.Afr.) cheap white wine, ‘rotgut’.

[SA]A. Lovejoy ‘The Smell of Tears’ at 🌐 2: In his pocket is exactly five Rand [...] Enough for a litre of lurk. But he doesn’t want a skal a filthy white wine.

In derivatives

lurkola (n.) [+ -ola sfx]

(Aus.) the practice (ostensibly illegal and generally denied by its practitioners) of bribing (with cash or kind) those with access to the public to tout a product.

[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. (2nd edn).
lurky (adj.)

(US campus) seedy, untrustworthy, weird.

[Aus](con. 1940s–60s) Hogbotel & ffuckes ‘The New People’s Flag’ in Snatches and Lays 51: The lurky mob can kiss my knob, / For now I have a foreman’s job [...] I am the Warden of Long Bay Gaol.
[US]G. Underwood ‘Razorback Sl.’ in AS L:1/2 62: He’s a lurky person if I ever saw one.

In compounds

lurkman (n.)

(Aus.) a confidence trickster, a petty criminal.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 415/2: The thing got so overdone, every beggar went out as a Spanish lurksman. Well, the beaks got up to the dodge, and all the Spanish lurksmen in their turns got to work the universal staircase, [...] (Tothill-fields treadmill).
[Aus]Baker Aus. Lang. 138: We are [...] originators of the following terms for various sharpers, tricksters and others who live by their wits: [...] lurk man, nineteener, piker, rorter [...] and amsterdam.
[Aus]West Australian (Perth) 23 Aug. 20/2: World War II [gave] lurk men (loafers).
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 31 Oct. 9/6: The full-time criminal who takes his sentences with a smile and is never a ‘dog’ (informer). He's usually a ‘bust’ man, hold-up man, ‘hotel barber,’ pickpocket, con man, or ‘lurk’ man (trickster thief).
[Aus]F.J. Hardy Outcasts of Foolgarah (1975) 10: The war between the lurk men and the law makers and lurk detectors on the other is being fought out.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. late 1950s) Amaze Your Friends (2019) 174: He still looked every inch the lurk man.
lurk merchant (n.)

(Aus.) an untrustworthy individual, poss. criminal; one who dodges work.

[Aus](con. 1940s) T.A.G. Hungerford Sowers of the Wind 9: ‘It don’t take you long to get on to the lurks, Norm.’ [...] ‘I’m no lurk merchant, Mark,’ Cragie said placidly. ‘I just happen to go where the grass is greenest.’.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 57: Lurk. Short cuts to success, easy ways of doing things [...] One who is proficient at profiting by such backdoor activities is a ‘lurk merchant’. He ‘knows all the lurks’.
[Aus]A. Chipper Aussie Swearers Guide 43: Lurk Merchant. tricky customer or work dodger.
[Aus]J. Byrell Lairs, Urgers & Coat-Tuggers xvii: [H]e’d always been a lurk merchant and, as such, a craft bargainer and arranger and camel bookie [...] and therefore hit Civvie Street with the equivalent of a small fortune in his personal kick.
[Aus]S. Maloney Sucked In 32: A wily old throwback, half class warrior, half lurk merchant.
[Aus]P. Doyle (con. 1969-1973) Big Whatever 13: Johnny Malone, alias Johnny the Lurk Merchant.

In phrases

accident lurk (n.)

those who beg on the basis of having suffered a bad accident.

[Scot]Edinburgh Rev. July 482: The Accident Lurk — Lurkers of this description [claim] that by some dreadful accident the bearer [of a fake document] has lost all, or at least the greater part of his property, sometimes by storm, at other times by flood [etc.].
dark lurk (n.)

(UK Und.) the ensnaring of a prostitute’s client, who is then beaten and robbed by her accomplice.

[UK]Shields Daily Gaz. 23 Jan. 4/1: The working of the ‘dark lurk’ is easily described. The woman loiters late at night in a quiet neighbourhood, her aim being to lead any foolish fellow to where the man is lurking, who sets on him unawares.
on the lurk (adj.)

(UK Black) in ambush.

67 ‘Skengs’ 🎵 On the lurk with the dots, tryna’ put 2 holes in an op / 674 that's my team add a K you're gonna end up in a box.
lurks and purks (n.)

tricks and bonuses.

[Aus]D. Ireland Unknown Industrial Prisoner 248: Perhaps it was the aches and pains of the flu or the accumulation of the feeling that because he did his work he missed all the lurks and perks others enjoyed.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Godson 123: [S]he now knew all the lurks and perks [of her job].
ring the lurk (v.)

to swap one confidence trick for another when the first is suspected.

[UK]Kendal Mercury 24 Jan. 6/1: In order to obliterate such impressions [i.e. of being a professional cadger] [...] the wily craft were necessitated to ‘ring the lurk’.