Green’s Dictionary of Slang

kinchin n.

also kinch, kinchen, kinshin, little kinchin
[Ger. Kindchen, MDu. kindeken, a little child; NB ‘Sl. Terms & the Gypsy Tongue’ in Baily’s Mag. Nov. 1871 suggests origin in Hindi chinchinana, to squeak]
(UK Und.)

1. a (small) child.

implied in kinchin co
[UK]J. Taylor Crabtree Lectures 195: Cove. I will venture a training, [sic] or a noosing, ’ere I will want Lower, peckage, beane bowse, or duds for my Morts, & my Kinchins.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canters Dict.’ Eng. Villainies (9th edn) n.p.: Kinchin, little.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 50: Kinchin, Little.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn).
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68c: Canting Terms used by Beggars, Vagabonds, Cheaters, Cripples and Bedlams. [...] Kinchin, little, or Kitchin-coes, little rogues.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Kinchin A little child.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: The Ruffin nab the Cuffin-quere, and let the Harmanbeck trine with his Kinchins about his Coloquaron .
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 209: He taught his Pupil a deal of canting Words, telling him [...] Kinchin, a Child.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account of the Malefactors executed at Tyburn 18th March 1740 part II 7: The next exploit Jenny went upon was, Slanging the Gentry Mort rumly with a sham Kinchin (that is, Cutting well the Woman big with Child).
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 15: A Child – Kinchen.
[UK]Bloody Register III 170: The next exploit Jenny went upon was, Slanging the gentry mort rumly with a sham Kinchin (that is, cutting well the woman big with child).
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK] ‘Flash Lang.’ in Confessions of Thomas Mount 18: A Child, a kinchin.
[US]H. Tufts Autobiog. (1930) 291: Kinchen signifies a child.
[UK](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 188: The kinchin got about the old man’s heart, and he gave him his own name, and bred him up in the office.
[UK]Bell’s Life in London 13 Oct. 5/3: Your kinchins shall rule when you’re dead.
[UK]‘The Diary of a Libertine’ in Rake’s Budget in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 85: In the workhouse soon / Popp’d my girl and kinshin.
[UK] ‘A Hellebello In The Workhouse’ in Knowing Chaunter 26: For in nine months more, each a young kinchin bore.
[UK]J. Lindridge Sixteen-String Jack 68: ‘What a sufferer you are.’ ‘Ah, you may say that, kinchin — horrid, werry horrid, ain’t I?’.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/2: Kinch, or Kinchen, A child in general.
[US]G. Thompson Jack Harold 15: Who the devil is that little kinchin you’ve brought with you?
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 1 Dec. 3/3: Mr. Carroll on behalf of the erring ‘kinchen,’ made an affecting appeal to their Worships.
[UK]Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 9 Nov. 216: Kinchins and cullies, all must have their bingo.
Maitalnd Mercury (NSW) 30 Jan. 5/5/3: The kinchin, the slang name of the simple-looking lad who had robbed him.
[UK]C. Hindley Life and Adventures of a Cheap Jack 2: Nor is his crying pal the ‘Kinchin’ any more faithfully drawn.
[Aus]‘Price Warung’ Tales of the Early Days 106: I’ve ’erd it mumbled ev’ry Sunday since I was a kinchin.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 28 Sept. 15/1: But they never tire of the album, and every night the youth says, ’Um, that’s you when you were a kinchin, ain’t it?’.
[Ire]A. McCormick Tinkler-Gypsies of Galloway 104: The following words appear to be still in use in one form or another amongst Galwegian tinkler-gypsies – Kinchen – A child.
[UK]D. Stewart Vultures of the City in Illus. Police News 15 Dec. 12/2: ‘[Y]ou’ll get nothing out of me while you play the fool with that Kinchen.’ The housebreaker with a scowl here pointed to a little, pale-faced lad of about twelve years of age.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) Apr. 3rd sect. 17/6: Dick's father [...] he ran a small store in thc roaring days of the ‘‘Go’ when the now boss of the Boulder was a very small kinchin indeed.

2. a young woman, a little girl; thus attrib.

[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 43: Kid and Kinchin; Boy and Girl.
[UK]Whole Art of Thieving [as cit. 1753].
[UK]W.H. Smith ‘The Thieves’s Chaunt’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 121: Her duds are bob — she’s a kinchin crack.
[UK] ‘The Swell Coves Alphabet’ in Nobby Songster 27: K. stands for Kinchins, and kifer hung with hair.
[UK]H. Kingsley Recollections of G. Hamlyn (1891) 195: ‘So, boss,’ began the ruffian, not looking at him, ‘we ain’t fit company for the likes of that kinchin, — eh?’.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 27 Feb. 6/6: Kinchin theeves can’t tackle men, nor / Have a ounce of manly pluck.

In compounds

kinchin co (n.) (also kinchin(g) co, kitching co, kynchen-co, kynchin-co) [co = cove n. (1)]

(UK Und.) a child who has been brought up to thieving as a profession.

[UK]Awdeley Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 5: A Kitchin Co is called an ydle runagate Boy.
[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 76: A Kynchen Co is a young boye [...] that when he groweth vnto yeres, he is better to hang then to drawe forth.
[UK]Groundworke of Conny-catching n.p.: [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Belman’s Second Nights Walk B3: They take vpon them the names of Kinchin Coes, till they are growne Rufflers, or Vpright-men.
[UK]W. Winstanley New Help To Discourse 134: Kynchin-Coes, are little boys whose parents (having been Beggars) are dead, or else such as have run away from their Masters, and instead of a Trade to live by, follow this kind of life [...] the onley thing they practice, is to creep in at Windows or Cellar-doors.
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 59: [as cit. 1669] .
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68b: Give me leave to give you the names (as in their Canting Language they call themselves) of all (or most of such) as follow the Vagabond Trade, according to their Regiments or Divisions, as [...] Kitching-coes, little Rogues that first enter the Society.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Kinchin-coes c. the Sixteenth Rank of the Canting Tribe, being little Children whose Parents are Dead, having been Beggers, kinchin-coes also young Ladds running from their Masters, who are first taught Canting, then thieving.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 163: Kinching morts, and their coes, with all the shades and grades of the Canting Crew, were assembled.
kinchin cove (n.) (also kinchen cove) [cove n. (1)] (UK Und.)

1. a little man.

[UK]Dekker ‘Canting Song’ in Eng. Villainies (8th edn) O3: Now my Kinchen cove is gone By the Rumpad maunded none.
[UK]Dekker ‘Canters Dict.’ Eng. Villainies (9th edn).
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue I 50: Kinchin Cove, A little man.
[UK] ‘A Wenches complaint for . . . her lusty Rogue’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 16: [as cit. 1637].
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Kinchin-cove A little Man.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 198: [as cit. 1637].
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 207: Kinchen-cove, a little man.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Scoundrel’s Dict. 15: A little Man – Kinchen-cove.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue ms. additions n.p.: Kinchin Cove, a little man. Cant.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Life and Trial of James Mackcoull 40: He had got an Indorsation from a Kenchin-cove [sic] in Edinburgh, who laid Cain on Abel so smartly, that he lost his balance.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford I 68: ‘Look you, my kinchin cove,’ said she.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 56: KINCHIN-COVE, a man who robs children; a little man. Ancient cant.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].

2. a child brought up as a thief.

[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 113: Boy A Kinchen Cove.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/2: Kinchen Cove, or Prig, A young thief.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[UK]B.M. Carew Life and Adventures.

3. a man who steals children for gypsies, beggars, etc.

[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: kinchin cove a fellow who procures, or steals children for beggars, gipsies, &c.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
see sense 1.
see sense 1.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
kinchin lay (n.) (also kinchen lay) [lay n.3 (1)]

1. street stealing from children.

[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 386: ‘The kinchin lay’ [...] ‘The kinchins, my dear,’ said Fagin, ’is the young children that’s sent on errands by their mothers, with sixpences and shillings; and the lay is just to take their money away.’.
[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/2: Kinchen Lay, To go on an expedition for the purpose of robbing children sent on errands with money or any valuable article.
[UK]Fast Man 9:1 n.p.: [C]ertain thieves, who, not having sufficient tact to pick pockets scientifically, go out on the kinchin lay.
[UK]Glasgow Herald 1 Nov. 2/4: The kinchin lay [...] consists in catching small children sent on errands with the money ready in their hands.
[UK]Standard 13 Sept. n.p.: The prisoner is an adept at the kinchin-lay, a term known to the initiated for robbing children [F&H].
[UK]Illus. Police News 5 Feb. 4/3: A Ticket-of-Leave Man on the ‘Kinchin Lay’ [...] Hopkins [...] was charged with robbing children of portions of their clothing in the public streets.
[UK]J.W. Horsley Jottings from Jail 89: A damsel, aged 16 [...] following the footsteps of Noah Claypole on the kinchin lay.
[UK]Sheffield Eve. Teleg. 27 May 3/2: ‘The Kinchin Lay’. A Warning to parents [...] In this case the man took a sovereign from the boy’s hand.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 10 Apr. 2/5: Praps he’s on a kinchin lay, / Or galley shovin’ game.
[UK]E. Pugh Spoilers 66: Never doin’ no honest work out o’ quod from the time when they was [...] nickin the baby milk to when their poor ole shakin’ legs got them lagged on the kinchin lay.
[Aus]Age (Queanbeyan, NSW) 12 Jan. 2/6: Supposing any one of us was to get lumbered and flopped into that match box clink and a fire was to burst out, you can bet your sweet life that the lovely John Hopper and his missus and the kinchins would do a Carrington and leave the poor philgarlick in the booby hatch to frizzle.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Life and Death at the Old Bailey 62: The following crook’s words and phrases date from the days of the old Old Bailey: [...] a man who robs children – a kinchin cove.

2. in fig. use, i.e. devoting oneself to the topic of children.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 22/1: Nor is Mrs. Gladstone less ‘in touch’ with the populace than her ‘Grand Old Man.’ Like Noah Claypole, the Premier’s indefatigable spouse […] devotes herself to ‘the kinchin lay’ – the kids and the woman.
kinchin mort (n.) (also kinchen-mort, kinching mort, king’s mot(t), kitchen mort, kitchin mort) [mort n. (1)] (UK Und.)

1. a beggar’s child, or any child carried by a beggar in order to excite pity.

[UK]Harman Caveat for Common Cursetours in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 76: A kinching Mort is a little Girle, the Morts their Mothers carries them at their backes in their slates, which is their sheetes, and bryngs them vp sauagely tyll they growe to be ripe, and soone ripe, soone rotten.
[UK] Groundworke of Conny-catching [as cit. c.1566].
[UK]Dekker Belman of London D3: Kinching Morts [...] are girles of a yeare or two old, which the Morts (their mothers) carry at their backes in their Slates (which in the Canting tongue are sheetes).
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle V i: I have, by the salomon, a doxy that carries a kitchin mort in her slate at her back.
[UK]W. Winstanley New Help To Discourse 136: [as cit. 1608].
[UK]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 63: [as cit. 1608].
[UK]R. Holme Academy of Armory Ch. iii item 68b: Give me leave to give you the names (as in their Canting Language they call themselves) of all (or most of such) as follow the Vagabond Trade, according to their Regiments or Divisions, as [...] Kitchen Morts, little young Queans.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Kinchin-morts c. the Twenty seventh and last Order of the Canting Crew, being Girls of a Year or two old, whom the Morts (their Mothers) carry at their Backs in Slates (Sheets) and if they have no Children of their own, they borrow or Steal them from others.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 185: The Kinchin-morts are the little Girls that run in the Hand of these Gypsies and Beggars, or are carried at their Backs in Blankets.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: king’s motts female children carried on the backs of strollers and beggars, in order to claim the attention of the public, and excite their pity.
[UK](con. 18C) W. Scott Guy Mannering (1999) 148: The times are sair altered since I was a kinchin-mort.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict. [as cit. 1809].
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open 113: King’s mots, female children carried on the backs of strollers and beggars to excite the pity of the public.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

2. a young, virgin girl, destined to be a prostitute or beggar’s companion.

[UK]Awdeley Fraternitye of Vacabondes in Viles & Furnivall (1907) 5: A Kitchin Mortes is a Gyrle, she is brought at her full age to the Vpryght man to be broken, and so she is called a Doxy, vntil she come to ye honor of an Altham.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue.
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 113: Girl A Kinchin Mort.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK](con. 1737–9) W.H. Ainsworth Rookwood (1857) 163: Doxies, kinching morts, and their coes, with all the shades and grades of the Canting Crew, were assembled.
[UK]A. McCormick Tinkler-Gypsies of Galloway 104: The following words appear to be still in use in one form or another amongst Galwegian tinkler-gypsies – Kitchen-mort – A girl (?kinchen-mort).
kinchin prig (n.)

(UK Und.) a young thief.

[US]Ladies’ Repository (N.Y.) Oct. VIII:37 316/2: Kinchen Cove, or Prig, A young thief.
[UK]London Standard 22 Feb. 3/5: There were area sneaks, pickpockets, ‘kinchin-prigs’ and cross-coves.