Green’s Dictionary of Slang

chiv n.1

also chev, chevy, chib, chieve, chiff, chive, chivie, chivvy, chivy, skiv
[Rom. chiv, chive, a knife]

1. (UK Und.) a knife or razor.

[UK] ‘Of the Budge’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 12: For when he hath nubbed us, / And our friends tips him no cole, / He takes his Chive and cuts us down / And tips us into the hole.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Chive, c. a Knife.
[UK]Hell Upon Earth 5: Chieve, a Knife.
[UK]C. Hitchin Regulator 20: A Chive, alias Knife.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 31: Chive, a Knife.
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 43: Tip me your Chive; give me your Knife.
[UK](con. 1710–25) Tyburn Chronicle II in Groom (1999) xxix: A Chive A Knife.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Chive, or chife, a knife, file: or saw.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 175: They will out chif sometimes, that is, their knife, and cut a hundred weight of lead, which they rap round their bodies next to the skin, this they call a Bible, and what they steal and put in their pockets they call a prayer-book.
[UK] ‘Flash Lang.’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 19: A knife, a chive.
[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 292: Chiv signifies a knife.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]D. Haggart Autobiog. 70: I eased him of his scout, skin, and pen chive.
[UK]Disraeli Venetia I 151: ‘Beruna!’ he shouted, ‘gibel a chiv for the gentry cove.’.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 57: schikster: What’s the slums of the swag? gonniff: Oh, all sorts of slums; prickers and chives, suppers and spreaders, fawney and fogles. [Ibid.] 75: Two stalwart coves appear with swords [...] and after being hammered into swords (which they call chives, or chive knife) they are hammered into a fight [...] one of the combatants cuts the other.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/1: Chiv, a knife.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 313/2: CHIVE ou CHIFF, couteau, lime ou scie.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 24 Oct. 603: The prisoner had a knife in his hand—the prisoner said, ‘Mind, I have got the chiv’ [...] I thought they were joking, and was about to torn away, when the prosecutor left hold of the prisoner, who jumped up and stabbed him three or four times with the knife.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 14 Sept. n.p.: Mortimer [...] surrendered, saying he would act ‘square’ and [...] handing over a ‘chive’ made of a watch spring.
[UK]W.H. Smyth Sailor’s Word-Bk (1991) 184: Chivey. A knife.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 503: We had a fight and he put the chive (knife) into me.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 10 Jan. 305: He said something about chiving, that he would chiv me if I did not go with him—I suppose chiv means a knife.
[UK]S. Watson Wops the Waif 9/1: ’Case yer’d lost yer bloomin’ chivie (knife) and couldn’t cut it.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘A Plank Bed Ballad’ in Referee 12 Feb. n.p.: I pulled out a chive, but I soon came to grief, / And with screws and a james I was collared.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 415: Alf Palmer – a chiv, blink, and snell-fencer.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 27 June 1014: The prisoner rushed in, and said, ‘Come on, Cannon, I want to fight you’—he had a knife in his hand—my brother said, ‘All right; put that chiv away and I will fight you’.
[UK]Derby Mercury 9 Jan. 8/3: Presently Selby pulls out a chivy (knife) and gives Big Tim a dig or two.
[US]People 6 Jan. in Ware (1909) 73/2: Presently Selby pulls out a chivy (knife) and gives Big Tim a dig or two — one on his arm and one at his face, and another at his leg.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 5 May 633: ‘They tried to use the chiv on me, and they got it used instead’—chiv means a knife.
[UK]A. Morrison Hole in the Wall (1947) 144: I’ll give it you same as Bob Kipps got it – s’elp me I will! I’ll give you the chive.
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 2 Apr. 278: While I was holding Taylor he said to Smith, ‘Stick that f—g chivvy into him,’ meaning a knife.
[US]J. McCree ‘Types’ Variety Stage Eng. Plays [Internet] I have frisked him for his rod and gat and fanned him for his chiv.
[UK]Luton Times 24 Apr. 6/7: When he saw the knife he said, ‘I’ll have this chivvy,’ and put it in his pocket.
[US]Day Book (Chicago) 19 Mar. 12/2: Nix on plunging that chive in your gizzard.
[US]Maines & Grant Wise-crack Dict. 6/2: Chive – knife or dagger.
[US]C.G. Givens ‘Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 132: chev, n. Knife or razor.
[US]Hostetter & Beesley It’s a Racket! 226: ghive [sic] — A knife; a dagger; or stiletto.
[US]Edith Johnson ‘Good Chib Blues’ [lyrics] When I get drunk I’m evil, I don’t know what to do, / Guess I’ll get my good chib and get something good for you.
[US] (ref. to late 19C) N. Kimball Amer. Madam (1981) 231: The girls carried chivs in their garters.
[UK]‘Red Collar Man’ ‘Chokey’ 99: ‘Chivs’ are razor blades fixed in a piece of wood and are very nasty weapons.
[UK]Illus. Police News 16 July 12/4: After the fight had proceeded for while, McGlashan called to the referee, ‘He’s using a “chivvy” Joey.’ A ‘chivvy,’ [...] was slang for a knife or razorblade, and when one oh McGlasban's supporters caught hold of Connolly’s hands he dropped a safety-razor blade on the ground .
[Aus]K. Tennant Foveaux 311: ‘Somebody been trying to do you up with a chivy?’ Doris asked, eyeing the scar.
[US]F. Swados House of Fury (1959) 115: Any time someone gets fresh you try to make a chib fight out of it.
[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 65: I ain’t got my chib.
[US]R. Chandler Little Sister 23: You could leave the skiv with Clausen.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 48: chev A knife; a razor [...] chevy A knife.
Dly Herald (London) 11 Feb. 5/4: The Elephant Boys have issued an edict: ‘Don’t say a word to a prison officer’ [...] The penalty is the chiv [...] usually a safety razor [or] any small piece of metal battered bewteen stones until sharp enough.
[UK]B. McGhee Cut and Run (1963) 9: Most of the boys do not make the grade as ‘chib-man’ simply because their natures are essentially decent. [Ibid.] 30: Three of the Hatchet (a local gang) were there before us [...] The ‘chibs’ were out. They were all set for trouble.
[UK]G. Melly Owning Up (1974) 122: He then pulled a chiv out of his pocket and was holding it so that it just touched the side of my throat.
[UK](con. mid-1960s) J. Patrick Glasgow Gang Observed 78: Her value to the gang lay in her willingness to secrete chibs in her handbag.
[UK]G.F. Newman A Prisoner’s Tale 149: He had seen prison chivs before, but nothing like that.
[UK]P. Manning ‘Sl.’ in Kray (1989) 62: To a Romany gypsy a chiv is a knife. / If you don’t want to be chived run for your life.
[UK]J. Morton Lowspeak.
[Aus]Tupper & Wortley Aus. Prison Sl. Gloss. [Internet] Chiv/Chive. Knife or other pointed instument. May denote both the weapon and the act of knifing.
[UK]A. Close Official and Doubtful 186: Don’t kid on you can tell a butterknife from a chib.
[UK]N. ‘Razor’ Smith Raiders 86: A wicked-looking chiv, made from a snapped-off piece of metal mop-bucket handle filed down to a point.
[UK](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 146: It’s a fuckin barry chib [...] best bit ay Sheffield ah’ve hud in fuckin yonks.

2. a knife slash, a stab.

[UK]Derby Mercury 9 Jan. 8/3: Suppose I give him a bit of a chivy and see how he likes it.

3. (also chib-mark) a scar (from a knife slash).

[UK]B. McGhee Cut and Run (1963) 9: Most of the blows he delivers with a weapon are motivated by self-preservation and fear: fear of carrying a ‘chib-mark’ on his face.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 175: ‘Freddie Hurst, big chiv from here to here,’ says Gene, running his finger from his eye to his chin.

4. something that mimics a pointed weapon.

[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 280: I find a chib — a rusty pole. I’m ramming it in the minibus door.

In compounds

chiv artist (n.) (also chib man, chib merchant, chev man, chiv man) [-artist sfx]

(US) an expert in using a knife.

[US]C.G. Givens ‘Chatter of Guns’ in Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 132: chev man, n. One who fights with a chev.
[US]D. Runyon Guys and Dolls (1950) 144: Daffy Jack, who is considered a very good chiv artist, aims at The Brain’s heart, but misses it by a couple of inches.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn) 48: chev man A knifer.
[UK]J. Phelan Tramp at Anchor 21: The big man was the redoubtable Harry Johnston, a notorious ‘chiv-man’.
[UK]B. Hill Boss of Britain’s Underworld 8: I always managed to leave my trade-mark on a few of them [...] I am still one of the best chiv merchants in the business.
[UK]T. Black Gutted 94: This was Mac the Knife [...] hardy Glasgow chib merchant.
[UK]T. Black Gutted 105: As he stood before me he was transformed into the chib-man of old. Mac was ready for a pagger.
chiving-lay (n.) [lay n.3 (1)]

1. (also chieving-lay) cutting the braces of a coach (the strong leather straps that suspend the body of a coach from the springs); the coachman then dismounts and, while his attention is distracted by one robber, an accomplice plunders the boot of its contents; thus chiving layer, one who robs in this way.

[UK]Hell Upon Earth 3: Some are for the Chieving-Lay; that is, cutting the Leathers which bear up the Coach.
[UK]J. Hall Memoirs (1714) 5: Chieving-Layers, Such as cut the Leathers which bears up Coaches behind, and whilst the Coachmen come off their Boxes to see what’s the Matter, they take a Box or Trunk from under his seat.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Chiving Lay. Cutting the braces of Coaches behind, on which the Coachman quitting his Box, an Accomplice robs the Boot.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd edn, 3rd edn) n.p.:
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

2. (UK Und.) cutting open the back of a coach to steal the large wigs worn by the passengers.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Chiving lay [...] cutting the Back of a Coach to steal the wig of a Gentleman within.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue (2nd, 3rd edn) Chiving Lay. [...] formerly, cutting the back of the coach to steal the fine large wigs then worn.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

3. the cutting off of a woman’s belt, thus stealing any jewellery or watches that might be attached.

[UK]Ordinary of Newgate His Account No. iv (Jos. Johnston) n.p.: The Chiving Lay is to frequent Masquerades, Balls, Assemblies, Installations and Places resorted to by Ladies of Quality, where by the Assistance of the Gang, the Ladies Girdles are cut with a keen Lancet or Penknife, and by drawing them off they often get a rich Buckle, and frequently a Gold Watch, &c.